Application FAQs

Do you have questions about applying to health professional programs? Check out the Application FAQs below. And who can keep track of all the terms and acronyms flying around health professional program applications? See the Application Glossary below for the most common ones in your chosen field.

Finally, before you begin scrolling down, are you signed up for a CPHA Applying to Health Professions Programs course? Do that here and get tons more information about applying to programs in your chosen field. Our application courses have more information than you knew to ask about, including more details in answer to the FAQs below!

Application FAQs

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Transcripts

How do I send my transcript to the centralized application service?

  • Log in to MyUW  and go to your Student Center.
  • Go to “Academic Records” and “Request Official Transcript.”
  • Your information will be filled in but double-check that it is correct.
  • Select the PDF option for your transcript.
  • Select the option for correct centralized application service (e.g., OTCAS for occupational therapy programs).
  • Pay, and you’re done.

 

Do I need transcripts for classes that transferred to UW-Madison?

Yes, you need transcripts from the institution where you took the class.

 

Do I need transcripts for college classes I took in high school?

Yes, you need transcripts for all college-level course work.

Centralized Application Services

Committee Letters

What are committee letters?

Committee letters are endorsements of applicants from a pre-health committee. What is a pre-health committee?

A pre-health committee is a panel of faculty and advisors who interview students who want to apply to health professional programs and then, based on that interview, write an official letter of recommendation for them — or choose not to write this letter. If schools have a pre-health committee and decline to write a letter in support of an applicant, that applicant must explain why they did not get a committee letter when they apply.

The philosophy of CPHA is to support students and alumni in your preparation for medicine. We do not approve what you do, but we will help you think critically about preparing. Nor do we endorse your application, but we will do everything we can to help you become a strong candidate for programs. We are here to listen, guide, provide recommendations, offer resources, and help in any way we can.

 

Does UW-Madison provide committee letters?

No, UW-Madison does not provide committee letters. We do not have a pre-health committee that offers this service.

 

So, what do I do when health professional programs ask for a committee letter?

You follow the guidelines for individual letters of recommendation.

CASPer

What is the CASPer exam?

CASPer is a situational judgment text (SJT). The acronym CASPer stands for Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics.

 

When should I take CASPer?

You can take the CASPer exam whenever you have time for it. After you submit and while you wait for your application to be verified can be an optimal time.

 

How do I prepare for CASPer?

  • You don’t study for CASPer like you do the DAT, GRE, OAT, PCAT, MCAT, etc. Thankfully, right? But you can read the CASPer website to learn what the exam entails, when and where you can take it, and to find answers to other FAQs.
  • In addition, it would be helpful to:
    • Review scenarios and think through different perspectives of the problem being presented. 
    • Read all the questions first. If you find a question confusing, focus on the ones you know you can answer and give them more time. You are assessed on the quality of the answers you provide.
    • Practice typing quickly. You have 5 minutes to answer three questions about the prompt.

 

Why do schools require the CASPer exam?

Health professional programs use CASPer to gauge an applicant’s people skills in areas of collaboration, communication, empathy, equity, ethics, motivation, problem solving, professionalism, resilience, and self-awareness.

Letters of Recommendation

Does UW-Madison provide a committee letter? How do I get one?

UW-Madison does not provide a committee letter. Follow guidelines for individual letters. 

 

How do letter writers submit their letter to my application? 

You do not need to get physical copies of letters. You will enter the contact information for each letter writer into the application service which will send an email to the letter writer with instructions for submitting. You will be able to see when they submit their letter, so keep track of this. And remember that you will not be able to read the letter. You must waive this right (on which see below).

 

Should I waive my right to see letters?

Yes, you should waive your right to see letters because it reassures schools that letter writers were not coerced into saying nice things about you.

 

Do I need all of my letters before I submit?

No. Many applications require that you upload at least two letters before submitting (PA, dental, optometry, OT, and PT require this), but allow other letter writers to add their letters after you have submitted. If your application service only allows a limited number of letters (like 4 or 5), then make sure you have letters that meet requirements for your programs.

 

When should I ask my letter writers to submit their letters?

Within 30 days after you submit your primary application is a good rule of thumb. The day you submit, email your letter writers thanking them again for being willing to write a letter for you, and ask them to upload their letter to your application in the next 30 days. And attach the following:

  • your personal statement
  • your unofficial transcript (which you can download in MyUW)
  • your resume

Personal Statements

When should I write my personal statement?

This depends on when you have time to reflect and write. Pre-writing can be helpful. It’s never too early to jot down thoughts, reflections, anecdotes, etc. you can use to explain to admissions committees why you are interested in your chosen profession, how you have tested this interest, and all the things you’ve learned about yourself, other people, your chosen field, and healthcare delivery in general.

Getting down to a writing schedule will involve lots of individual considerations. We recommend that you give yourself benchmark dates, beginning with self-imposed deadlines for your first and final drafts. Many put their final draft deadline sometime in the week before they plan to submit their application. You can then count backwards and plan on multiple drafts between your first and final drafts. When should you plan to have your first draft written? It depends on how much time you want between your first and final drafts. Some people start writing their personal statement in January of the year they apply. Most start later than that, and very few start before that. See what works for you, talk with us about your plans, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. The more drafts you write, the better your statement will be!

 

How can I get started writing my personal statement?

There are many ways. If sitting in front of a computer staring at a blank screen is daunting, first try using a Voice-to-text (V2T) app like Siri or Google Assistant. Tell your phone all the reasons you want to go into this field, all the things you’ve done to test this interest, and everything you’ve learned doing all the things you’ve done. Add this to the “notes” in your phone. Then, when you’re ready, read through and organize your notes. Divide them into things that inspired you to consider the field and things that you have done to explore and learn about the field. Be sure to include stories and examples that stick out in your mind!

It can be helpful to write your activity statements before writing your personal statement. This can do two things for you: 1) give you the opportunity to take stock in a reflective and thorough way of all the things you’ve done since beginning college, and 2) take a mental load off when you sit down to write your personal statement. If you write your activity statements first, you’ll know what you’ve shared in this earlier part of the application and will not feel as though you need to include everything you’ve ever done in your personal statement. (This isn’t possible.) Hopefully, what you have learned and why you value your activities will help you decide what to include in your personal statement. In other words, after taking the personal inventory you need to take in writing your activity statements, you will (ideally) be better primed to know what you want to have in your personal statement.

 

How can I get feedback on my personal statement?

CPHA allows every applicant two personal statement appointments and two activity statement appointments. We ask that you send a draft of your personal statement or drafts of 3 to 4 or your activity statements to the advisor you will be meeting with at least 24 hours before your appointment. If you are a current student, you can also take your statement to the Writing Center. And if you are an alum, you can meet with Madison Writing Assistance.

Interviews (Traditional and MMI)

What is a traditional interview?

A traditional interview is where you and one or more interviewers have an extended conversation. Traditional interviews can last from 20 to 45 minutes (or sometimes be longer). The interviewers will ask you questions about your interest in your chosen health profession, their school, your experiences, background, and personal traits and characteristics, challenges or problems in healthcare delivery systems, and possibly also scenario-based questions (i.e., what would you do if a patient or client was not following through on treatment).

 

What is an MMI?

An MMI is a Multiple-Mini Interview. Most MMIs include 5-10 “stations” of questions. Each station has a prompt you are asked to review. You are usually given around 2 minutes to think about your response and then get 6-8 minutes to share your response with an interviewer. Prompts vary. They may be about ethical dilemmas, standard interview questions, or involve scenarios in which you act out your response with an “actor” who plays the role of a patient or client.

 

How can I prepare for interviews?

With CPHA:

    • CPHA does mock interviews. If you are a current student, please make an appointment for a mock interview through Starfish after you have received an invitation to interview. If you are an alum, please email us at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu.
    • We have to limit the number of mock interviews we do for each applicant due to the demand of these appointments. You can do one traditional format mock interview and one mock MMI with CPHA in a single application cycle.
    • If you use your two mock interview appointments with CPHA, please feel free to email us at questions@prehealth.wisc.edu to see if we have a script of questions for other schools where you are invited to interview. If we have one for that school, we will be happy to email it to you!

With friends or family:

    • See if friends and/or family would be willing to help you practice for interviews.
    • Give them common interview questions or scripts you get from CPHA, tell them what to look and listen for, and then practice away.

On your own:

    • Get a list of common or (when possible) school-specific interview questions. Think about how you would answer them. Some people jot notes about their responses, lists of main points they want to include in an answer, significant stories or reflections they want to share in an answer.
    • You do not want to over- or under-prepare for interviews. You may want to write answers to common questions. If expressing yourself in writing is an effective way for you to gather your thoughts, great! Do be cautious, though, not to become reliant on what you write. You want to be candid and conversational when you interview and not tied to a script you have memorized.
    • Find out if your interviews are open-file (meaning, interviewers will have read your application), partially open (meaning, interviewers will have read your written statements but not seen your GPA or professional exam score), or closed-file (meaning, interviewers will not have read any earlier part of your application). How you answer questions will be different if the interviewers have read your written statements.
    • Read through all your application statements (whether the interviewers will have read them or not).
    • Read school websites thoroughly. You want to know how would answer the question, Why do you want to come to our school?, with specific reasons. If you can talk with current students in programs, they will be a great resource in knowing how to answer this question.
    • Remind yourself that the schools who invite you to interview think highly of you. They would not have invited you for an interview if they didn’t think you would be a great student in their program. They want to get to know you and learn what you are like in person. This should give you the confidence to be yourself!

 

I’m waiting (hoping) for interviews. What can I do in the meantime?

  • Follow schools where you applied on social media. See what they are promoting or doing as an institution. This may be useful to you later during an interview.
  • Email students at schools where you have applied to learn more about what they like about their school. The CPHA has alumni contacts at most schools!
  • Apply for FAFSA! Even if you have not been accepted or are on a waitlist, you should apply for financial aid through FAFSA. This will ensure that you have adequate funding in the event you start school.
  • Read a book, listen to a podcast, and diversify your social media feed to learn more about different perspectives in health care. A common interview question is about what you have been reading lately, so dive into some of the books on our reading list!
  • Be good to and take care of yourself. Waiting is a hard thing to learn to do well. You have worked so hard to be at this point. Enjoy being done with everything you have accomplished, find other good things to do in the meantime, and (learn to) rest.

 

Where should I send thank-you notes after an interview?

Send an email to the admissions office and include an attachment with an e-card. There are many free templates available through graphic design programs like Canva!

Financial Aid (FAFSA)

Should I apply for FAFSA?

Yes. Even if you have not been accepted or are on a waitlist, you should apply for financial aid through FAFSA. This will ensure that you have adequate funding in the event you get to start a health professional program.

Traffic Rules

What are traffic rules?

Traffic Rules are rules that guide two things: 1) when you communicate with programs about your decisions to (or not to) attend a program (i.e., accept an invitation to a program), and also 2) when a school must communicate its decisions to you (i.e., decline, invite, or put you on a waitlist to their program). In general, you are given less time to make decisions as the first day of classes approaches.

When should I submit my application? (and related questions)

When should I submit my application?

  • Dental & Medical:  late May or early June
  • PA:  early May if you are not waiting for Spring grades, late May or early June if you are waiting for spring grades
  • OT/PT/Vet Med/Optometry:  late July or early August
  • Public Health:  December or January for Fall start programs

 

Can I submit my application without a required test score (MCAT/DAT/OAT/GRE)?

Yes, but schools may not review your application until they receive your score. 

 

Can I add or change anything after I submit my application?

Most applications allow you to

  • Modify your biographical information
  • Add letters (if you haven’t added the maximum)
  • Add schools
  • Add new test scores

Some applications will let you

  • Delete or edit letter writer information
  • Add new experiences
  • Update courses during an academic update period (Dec-Feb)

Application Glossary

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Accelerated Nursing

  • AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses)
  • ANA (American Nursing Association)
  • ANF (American Nurses Foundation)
  • APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse)  APRN roles include: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Certified Nurse-Midwife.
  • BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
  • LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)
  • DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • MSN (Master of Science in Nursing)
  • NP (Nurse Practitioner)
  • RN (Registered Nurse)

Chiropractic Medicine

  • ACA (American Chiropractic Association)
  • ACC (Association of Chiropractic Colleges)
  • DOCM (Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

Dentistry

  • ADA (American Dental Association) — This is the professional organization for dental professionals.
  • ADEA (American Dental Education Association) — This is the organization focused on training dentists.
  • AADSAS (American Association of Dental School Application Service)
  • TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service) — This is the dental application for schools in Texas, which is primarily for Texas residents.
  • DENTPIN — This is the registration PIN you use to take the DAT and do everything related to your professional training as a dentist … forever.
  • DAT (Dental Admission Test) — You know what this is!

Medicine

  • AACOM (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) — This is the professional organization for osteopathic medical professionals.
  • AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) — This is the professional organization for allopathic medical professionals.
  • AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) — This is the primary application for DO schools.
  • AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) — This is the primary application for MD schools.
  • TMDSAS (Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service) — This is the application for medical schools in Texas, which is primarily for Texas residents.
  • MCAT (Medical School Admissions Test) — You know what this is!
  • VITA (Video Interview Tool for Admissions) — This is a video interview with five short questions you record and send to schools alongside or before an interview. The purpose is to gather responses to general questions leaving more time for specific questions during the 1:1 interview.
  • CYMS (Choose Your Medical School) — This is a tool that becomes available through AMCAS if you have at least one acceptance to a program. It allows you to indicate your intentions of attending a program and is meant to help schools manage filling their new incoming class.

Occupational Therapy

  • AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • OT (Occupational Therapist)
  • OTA (Occupational Therapist Assistant)
  • OTD (Doctor of Occupational Therapy)
  • OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service)

Optometry

  • AOA (American Optometric Association)
  • ASCO (American Schools of Optometry)
  • OAT (Optometry Admissions Test)
  • OD (Doctor of Optometry)
  • OptomCAS (Optometry Centralized Application Service)

Pharmacy

  • AACP (American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy)
  • APhA (American Pharmacists Association)
  • PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test)
  • PharmCAS (Pharmacy Centralized Application Service)
  • PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy)

Physical Therapy

  • APTA (American Physical Therapy Association)
  • DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • PT (Physical Therapist)
  • PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant)
  • PTCAS (Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service)

Physician Assistant

  • AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants)
  • CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • PA (Physician Assistant)
  • PAEA (Physician Assistant Education Association)

Podiatry

  • AACPM (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine)
  • AACPMAS (American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine Application Service)
  • DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine)
  • MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)

Public Health

  • APHA (American Public Health Association)
  • ASPPH (Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health)
  • CEPH (Council on Education for Public Health)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • MPH (Masters of Public Health)
  • SOPHAS (Schools of Public Health Application Service)

Veterinary Medicine

  • AAVMC (Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges)
  • AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association)
  • DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine)
  • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
  • VMCAS (Veterinary Medical College Application Service)