Primary Application Services

Primary applications for most schools must be filed with a centralized application service. The centralized application service for specific fields can be found in the table below. Centralized application services include information such as personal information, test scores, personal statements, experience, coursework, and letters of recommendationOnce your application is complete, the centralized application service forwards it to whichever schools you have designated. Each application service charges a fee for each school you apply to. For schools with rolling admission, submit your primary application as early as possible.

DentistryAssociated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS)
Medicine (Allopathic)American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS)
An overview of the AMCAS can be found here.
Medicine (Osteopathic)AACOM Application Service
NursingNursing Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS)
Occupational TherapyOccupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)
OptometryOptometry Centralized Application Service (OptomCAS)
PharmacyPharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)
Physical TherapyPhysical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS)
Physician AssistantCentralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)

back to top

Writing a Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to stand out among the other applicants and demonstrate how you are unique. It also provides a way to highlight something that may not stand out in the rest of your application.

Before writing the personal statement (at least 6 months before the deadline), think about the following:

  • What makes you passionate and interested in the field?
  • What makes you unique among the other applicants?
  • What are the things that you want the admissions committee to know about you?
  • Relate the content to the field that you are interested

While writing the personal statement (at least 3 months before the deadline):

1. Introduction

  • Set up what you are going to talk about
  • Should be attention getting

2. Body

  • Demonstrate your passion and interest in the field
  • Where is the proof? Documentation? Evidence? Provide specific examples.
  • Share what you learned
  • Be detailed
  • Is there anything that is left out?

3. Closing

  • Avoid including any new points
  • Remember that this is the last part that admissions committees will read, so leave a strong and positive impression!

Voice & style

  • Make sure the personal statement sounds like it is coming from you
  • Still keep the personal statement professional and appropriate
  • Things to avoid:
    • Trying to sound like you are an expert in the field
    • Listing your curriculum vitae

Make sure that you discuss each point equally

After writing the personal statement:

1. Remember the essay character/word limitations

  • Make sure you get EVERYTHING you want to say down first
  • Cross out what is not important
  • Different schools vary in the length requirement

Health ProfessionApplication ServiceMaximum Character CountHealth Profession
Allopathic MedicineAMCAS5300Allopathic Medicine
Osteopathic MedicineAACOMAS5300Osteopathic Medicine
Occupational TherapyOTCAS7500Occupational Therapy
Physical TherapyPTCAS4500Physical Therapy
Physician AssistantCASPA5000Physician Assistant
Public HealthSOPHAS1500Public Health
Veterinary MedicineVMCAS5000Veterinary Medicine


2. Consider the flow of the personal statement: Regardless of how much you cut out, make sure that the personal statement flows in regard to words and content

3. Proofread for grammatical and spelling errors

4. Have several people review:

  • For academic content: academic advisor, professor, community members, supervisor, etc. You can email your personal statement to the PAC Director or the Pre-Med Advisor for review. Just send it to or, respectively.
  • For field content: At least two healthcare professionals in the field.
  • To ensure that it sounds like the applicant: parents, close family and friends, etc.
  • Give reviewers at least two weeks to review your personal statement.

Contact the Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center if you have any questions or concerns that come up along the way!

back to top

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important component of the application process to health professional schools. The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to share information and insights regarding your character, motivations, and specific abilities that others observed. 

Preparation: Prepare for letter writers

    • Some fields or schools ask for specific aspects to be discussed by references. For example, allopathic medical schools have specific guidelines for letter writers. View the guidelines for your field and schools and then decide who would best be able to talk about these qualities:
  • What kind of letter do I need?
    • Letter of recommendation: Referee explains why you would be good in the field you are applying to
    • Letter of evaluation: Referee objectively evaluates your strengths and weaknesses in the field you are applying to
  • How many letters will I need?
      • The number and type of letters required vary by school
      • Create a letter of recommendation grid to determine how many of each type of letter you will need. The example below can be downloaded here.

    • If you are applying to a school that requires a letter of recommendation from a pre-health academic advisor AND you are a current student or graduate of UHM, then you can apply for a letter from the pre-health academic advisor here.

    The Ask: Ask for letter of recommendation

    • Whom should I ask?
      • Ask people whom spent time with you, admire your work, and can talk about you in detail
      • It is not about whom you know, but what they know about you!
    • When should I ask?
      • Give your referees at least a month to write the letter
      • Always give a deadline at least two weeks before the letter is due
    • How should I ask?
      • Be sensitive when you ask: find a moment when the person is not rushed or distracted
      • Ask if they can write you a strong letter or if they know you well enough to write a meaningful letter
      • If they agree, provide a packet; the more information you provide, the more detailed the letter

    Packet should contain the following: 
    Why you asked her/himSubmission instructions
    A list of courses you took from her/him and the grade(s) you receivedSubmission deadline
    Dates of interactionExamples: Semester took class, employment start and end dates, or volunteer period
    Any exceptional work you produced for her/himRecommendation/evaluation form, if applicable
    The area you hope s/he will addressA stamped, addressed envelope (postal service submission) or student and letter ID numbers (electronic submission)

    Follow up!

    • Check with your referees occasionally: have they had a chance to write yet?
      • Ask whether they need additional information/ materials
    • Once referees submit letters, regularly check with admissions office until you receive confirmation that all letters have been submitted
    • Most importantly, send a sincere thank you note to everyone who wrote a letter for you!

    Original letters of recommendation for graduate/professional schools or academic employment can be stored through various resources, if incase you need it for future use:

    back to top


The interview allows you to assess your compatibility with the school and to ask any questions that you may have. It also provides an opportunity to discuss any item or concern that you may have not been able to address in your application.


Different types of interviews:

  • One-on-one Interview – One applicant, One interviewer
    • Open-file Interview (interviewer has full/partial access to your application information)
    • Closed-file Interview (interviewer has no prior information about the applicant)
  • Group Interview – Multiple applicants, One or more interviewer
  • Panel Interview – One applicant, Multiple interviewers
  • Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) – Multiple applicants, Multiple interviewers (for more practice MMI question please visit BeMo’s Webpage)

Some schools will choose to give an open-file interview in order to speed up the process and have the interviewer start with a basic background of the applicant. Some schools give closed-file interviews to prevent personal bias based on GPA and test scores.

Before the interview/Interview preparation:

  • All costs incurred while interviewing are at your own expense, so plan and budget accordingly!
  • Know why you want to be your chosen health occupation: Have a specific experience or set of experiences to talk about that made you want to pursue the chosen path.
  • Research the school/program.
    • Know the school’s mission and vision.
    • Be able to answer how you fit the school and how it fits you.
  • Come up with questions to ask the school.
    • Use the interview as an opportunity to interview the school.
  • Visit the campus and find the interview location.
  • Think about what you are going to say.
    • Be ready to answer any questions the admissions committee may have about your application (e.g. low GPA or entrance exam score).
    • Be ready for scenario based questions, as it is a way for interviewers to learn more about you, your ethics, decision-making style, critical thinking skills and motivation level.
  • Plan ahead for transportation, room and board, parking, etc.
  • Complete as many mock interviews as possible.
    • Ask healthcare professionals with whom you have worked/shadowed, particularly those who are in the same career that you are pursuing.
    • The following offices provide these by appointment:
  • Plan an appropriate outfit.

interview attire

Dress comfortably and conservatively. If wearing a suit, do not take off the jacket during the interview. Refrain from wearing jewelry/piercings and cover up any tattoos. Maintain proper personal hygiene (e.g. males should be clean shaven). Do not wear any strong perfume/cologne as the smell may be distracting. You should dress as formally as all of the other interviewees.

Remember: You want to be remembered for what you said, not what you wore.

Day of the interview:

  • Arrive early, but not too early. (ex. If the interview is at 10am do not show up at 8am)
  • An arrival time 30min prior to the scheduled start time would be fine.
  • Be polite to everyone with whom you have contact, including your fellow interviewees!
  • Make sure your answers sound genuine, not rehearsed!
  • It is not a negative reflection on the interviewee if they have to stop and think for a minute about an answer to a question before they start talking.
  • Try to relax!

After the interview:

  • Send handwritten thank you cards to your interviewers!
  • If applicable, send them any follow up items for which they may have asked for (i.e. résumé).


  • During group interviews, avoid trying to answer the same questions that same way as everyone else.
    • Even if everyone has taken your response come up with a unique answer or add something extra.
  • Each interaction counts! Ensure that your phone message prompt (should they call and leave you a message), email address, and phone & email etiquette are professional.
  • Keep your social media profiles professional (in case interviewers decide to “google” you).
  • Do not bring your phone or large bulky bags or purses to the interview, if anything just bring a pad foliows


For field and school-specific interview information click here.

Contact the Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center if you have any questions or concerns that come up along the way!

back to top

Financial Planning for Health Professional Schools

Financial planning is a crucial step in applying to professional schools in the health field. It is important for students to create a plan and make decisions in their educational expenses. Students are highly encouraged to budget their finances before, during, and after professional school. Students can apply to financial opportunities every year. These are some steps to take in financing your professional school applications.

1. Become Informed and Involved

  • Learn about the basics of financial aid by visiting the HI FAS website.
  • Reduce any consumer debts, credit cards, or car loans.
  • Resolve any discrepancies. Good credit history can help with employment, insurance rates, interest rates, and other benefits.
  • Learn more about the types of financial aid opportunities available. According to UHM Financial Aid Office Services, the following below are the main types of financial aid:

Grants – Aid that is awarded based on demonstrated financial need. Grants do not need to be repaid.

Scholarships/Waivers – Aid that is awarded based on a variety of factors such as academic achievement, athletic ability, leadership, field of study, and/or financial need. Scholarships do not need to be repaid.

Employment – A work-study money that is earned by a student through a job on or near campus while attending school. Employment earnings do not need to be repaid.

Loans – Funds that are borrowed to help pay for educational expenses. Loans must be repaid, usually with interest.

2. Determine the Cost of Professional School Education

  • Research the costs of your professional school program.
  • Consider the following expenses for your professional school:

– Entrance Exam Prep Materials Fees

– Entrance Exam Fee

– Primary Application Fee

– Secondary Application Fee

– College Service Fee (Transcripts)

– Traveling and clothing for school interview Fees

– Professional School Cost of Attendance/Tuition

– Moving Expenses

  • Create a Budget Plan. Consider all possible costs and how you will manage them through financial aid and other opportunities.

3. Explore and Apply Early to Financial Aid Opportunities

  • Students are encouraged to apply yearly to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial aid eligibility.
  • Students are also highly encouraged to research and apply to financial aid opportunities each year prior to the next school year. Students can research and apply to the following resources:

   – Scholarships for Entrance Exam Prep

– UHM Financial Aid Services Scholarships

– UH STAR Scholarships

– College/School-, Department-, and Major-Specific Scholarships: Contact these offices for possible opportunities.

– Fee assistance programs (FAP) provided by your field’s application organization for possible waivers and discounts for entrance exam preparation and primary applications (e.g. AAMC and ADEA). The AAMC has expanded the income eligibility requirements, which has approval tied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty level guidelines. Eligibility requirements also include U.S. citizenship status and parental information. A reconsideration process for examiners who previously applied to the program has been implemented. More information about AAMC’s FAP eligibility requirements can be found here. The application deadline is December 20, 2020 and reopens in February 2021.“

– Scholarships offered by the professional school(s) to which you are applying

– Scholarships and grants offered by academic honor societies (e.g. Golden Key International Honour Society)

– Community Organizations, Charities, Other Non-Profit Organizations, and Professional Associations (e.g. Hawaii Community Foundation)

4. Obtain Further Financial Assistance


back to top

Re-applying to Health Professional School

Acceptance into any professional school is both a dream and a challenge for many students. However, the reality is that getting into any professional school is extremely competitive and therefore, not all students will get into the school to which they applied on their first try. For those who were not able to gain admission, your next step should be deciding how to move forward.

Re-applying is your second chance at becoming a more competitive applicant and it also provides you a reality check of who your competition is. In order to take advantage of the situation, it is important to take action through the following steps:

  1. Contact all the schools to which you were not accepted and ask for any feedback, specifically about which areas of your application that you need to strengthen.
  2. Review your application both holistically and in the following components:
    • Academic Record: If your GPA is not competitive, it is highly recommended to take post-baccalaureate classes or to pursue a master’s degree to obtain more education. This way, you are showing the professional school that you are able to compete at a graduate level.
    • Entrance Exam Score: For more information on entrance exam preparations click here.
    • Personal Statement
      • When re-applying, it is extremely important to change your personal statement to show that you have changed/grown since your last application.
      • Answer the question: “How am I a better candidate than the last time I applied?”
      • Write about specific events that shaped your decision for your selected field. Don’t list all your extra-curriculars (that’s what the application is for).
      • For more information on personal statement development, click here.
    • Experience (volunteering, research, etc.)
      • Think about which area of your experiences is lacking the most and work on that specific area
      • For more information on how to obtain different experiences, click here.
    • Interview
      • The Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising provides interview workshops as well as one-on-one interview practice with the Director.
      • For more information and tips on improving interview skills, click here.
  3. Re-evaluate the schools that you have selected and examine whether your application is competitive enough for the school’s expectations of the student.
  4. Schedule an appointment with the Director at the Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center or Dr. Maria Chun to discuss what you have found and decided on after completing Steps 1 to 3. To make an appointment, click here.

Your main goal as a re-applicant should be to show admissions committees how you have improved. However, do consider giving yourself enough time to improve and to confirm that you are ready to take on the challenges of professional school education.

Please note that admissions committees are expecting updated application essays including the personal statement when applicants reapply. 

back to top