Tips and tricks for staying ahead of the game. Learn how to navigate through the online PA portal of your application.


  • Apply early! Be proactive in knowing the date when CASPA opens.
  • We recommend that if you are not applying this year, create a CASPA account to see what requirements are needed so you are able to become more familiar with the site and the application process.

  • To ease the CASPA application process, keep a log of different programs you are applying to, create a checklist of pre-requisites, hours (shadowing, volunteering, clinical), letters of recommendations.

  • CASPA rolls over onto next year, so you’re saved of the hassle of inputting the same information for the next cycle!

  • We recommend looking through missions statements of programs you are interested in and recognizing to see if they resonate with your values. dsfsd

  • Below is a timeline we made for your reference

  • The timeline below may be used to guide pre-PA students in organizing their application process to a PA program. All PA timelines vary with respect to each individual's experience and pre-PA journey. This timeline is meant to act as a guide. 

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Personal Statement/Essay

  • Be genuine.
  • Write many rough drafts (write internal monologues, streams of consciousness to start off if needed).
  • Have others proofread your essay (those involved in the medical field and those who are not).
  • Your school or university may have writing workshops available to help you through the process.

  • Many programs require secondary applications with different deadline dates that may include additional essays. Allocate enough time for these deadlines.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Ask in advance!
  • A minimum of 3 evaluation letters and up to 5 maximum.
    • We highly suggest that at least one recommender is a PA.
    • One option is your employer as they are most able to comment on your work ethic and/or patient care interaction.
    • Another option is a professor who is able to comment on your academic performance.
  • Think through about whom you feel would be able to best advocate for you as an individual and is able to write you a strong letter of recommendation.

  • Let your recommenders know that their email and phone number are required to be provided on the CASPA application. 

  • Follow up as needed and don’t forget to thank your recommenders!

Letters of Recommendation

    • Ask in advance!

    • Minimum of 3 evaluation letters and up to 5 maximum. We highly recommend that at least of the recommender is a PA. Other sources may be your employers who have worked with you and are able to comment on your work ethic or patient care interaction or a professor who is able to comment on your academic performance.

    • Let your preceptors, teachers or work leaders know that you will be applying to CASPA and their email and phone number are required for the application.

    • We recommend allowing your recommenders a certain deadline of when you would like to submit your application to provide them an accurate due date.

    • Follow up as needed and don’t forget to thank your recommenders!

Academic History

  • Be able to provide information on high school and college(s) attended.

  • Transcripts will have to be ordered and sent directly from your undergraduate/community colleges to PA programs that you are applying to.

  • Keep track of recent standardized testing, such as GRE, through the appropriate website here.

  • Variable course requirements for different programs (ie: medical terminology, genetics, Spanish, etc.)

Logging Hours

  • We recommend creating an excel log of patient care hours.

  • Divide your hours into patient care and non-patient care hours for ease of CASPA organization purposes

  • Be able to describe the details of your engagement in these activities.

Achievements and Awards

  • Keep track and organize your achievements and awards that you may have obtained through patient care, academics, and volunteer involvements.

  • This also includes academic publications and research pertinent contributions.

Shadowing Hours

  • We recommend creating a shadowing hour log and keeping the contact information of the providers you have shadowed.

  • A shadowing hour log should most likely indicate the dates attended, hours completed, the name of the provider and their specialty. 

  • If possible, once completed, have the providers sign the recorded hours for verification.

Licenses, Certificates and Memberships

  • Be able to gather and organize your current licenses.

  • Examples include BLS, ACLS, working licenses (EMT, MA, CNA, phlebotomy), licenses and student memberships (CAPA, AAPA).

Financial Aid/Fee Waiver

  • CASPA charges a fee for the first program you apply to and another fee for each additional programs thereafter.

  • PA programs may have additional supplemental fees. A limited number of fee waivers are available on a first-serve basis. Find out if you qualify and how you can waive the initial CASPA application fee here.

Things We Wish We'd Known Before PA School

  • Read the article "Things We Wish We'd Known Before PA School: A PA Student Survival Guide" here.


  • Don’t give up!

  • Contact the school(s) that you applied to and find out what is weak in your application or call post-interviews to receive feedback.

  • Improve your current application (work on your GPA, obtain more volunteer and clinical hours) 

  • Practice mock interviews, sit in on classes, information sessions from the schools willing to provide it.