Menu Icon Search
Close Search

GPA and MCAT

Created 04.06.09 by Christian Becker
Share Comment

 

The discussion here will focus on the MCAT scores, timing, strategies and other issues.  Discussion about the content of the MCAT and details about the exam itself will be held to a minimum and would extend this already lengthy post too much.

The GPA

Obviously, the higher your GPA, the better. Generally, anything above a 3.5 GPA is considered very good and very competitive. Jumping from a 3.0 to a 3.5 GPA will make a huge difference in someone’s application, whereas jumping from a 3.5 to a 4.0 GPA will not be quite as dramatic (although it is obviously an advantage to have a 4.0 versus a 3.5 GPA).

The GPA really reflects how seriously an applicant has taken his or her undergraduate studies. A high GPA is a reflection of strong study habits and work ethics. Medical schools look at an applicant’s GPA for that reason – to evaluate if the applicant is likely to work hard in medical school. A high GPA has been found to be a very good predictor of success and the likelihood that someone will NOT drop out of medical school.

It is also worth pointing out that a high GPA can compensate somewhat for a lower MCAT score. The GPA usually does carry a lot of weight in the admission decision. If both MCAT and GPA are lower, admission to medical school becomes much harder. However, having said that, there is more to the overall application than the MCAT and GPA alone. An otherwise stellar application can also overcome a lower GPA and MCAT score – to a point.

The 3.0 GPA is a cutoff for most medical schools. However, some applicants are accepted every year that have a lower GPA, so this value is by no means absolute. Again, it all depends on the strength of the overall application…and the MCAT score.

For example, for the 2005 school year, 155 applicants were accepted to allopathic medical schools (out of 17,978 total accepted that year) with a GPA that was lower than a 2.75. (Undergraduate Grade Point Average, Medical School Admission Requirements, 2007-2008, page 29) So, it is possible to gain admission with a low GPA, but you can see from these numbers that this is very rare. Also, these individuals most likely had stellar applications otherwise.

For most of the allopathic (MD) medical schools, an average GPA of 3.0 is the minimum they will consider for extending interview invitations, regardless of what the rest of your application looks like, but there are a few exceptions.

The MCAT

The MCAT (or Medical College Admission Test) is one of the most dreaded parts of medical school preparation and is required by all U.S. medical schools, including all allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) schools. Note that most Caribbean and international medical schools do not require the MCAT.

As of 2007, the test is administered in a computerized format throughout most of the year. Before 2007, it was only given twice a year as a paper test-once in April and once in August.

If possible, you should try to take the MCAT early so you receive your scores back by the time you submit your medical school application (AMCAS for allopathic schools and AACOMAS for DO schools). Before 2007, it took sixty days to grade the MCAT and release your scores, so taking the April MCAT around April 15 gave you the best possible timing for submitting your applications early (around June 15).

The earliest date applications can be submitted is June 1, but you needed to wait for your MCAT scores to submit your application. So, in reality, your earliest day for submitting your application before 2007 was around June 15. With the 2007 changes, scores are now returned within thirty days (and supposedly the eventual goal is a fourteen-day turnaround at some point). To submit your applications on the earliest day possible, you should therefore plan to submit your applications June 1 and take the MCAT no later than thirty days before this date (May 1). Submitting your applications early gives you a huge advantage in the admissions game.

The MCAT score

Each of the three multiple-choice sections (biological sciences, physical sciences, verbal reasoning) is worth 15 points for a total of 45 points, but it is nearly impossible to achieve a perfect score. The average MCAT score each year is somewhere around a 24 (eighty in each section).

A good score that is competitive at most MD schools is around 30 and a stellar score is somewhere above a 34 to 36, which is competitive at the top medical schools in the country. A score of 36 or better would put you in the top 2 percent of the country. The writing sample is scored with a letter system from J (lowest) to T (highest), but is much less important than the number score. You never hear anyone mention the letter score. All you ever hear people talk about is the number, although some people insist that the letter score is also considered in the admissions process somehow.

To give you an extreme example that the MCAT is not the only measurement that is important, 60 applicants were admitted to allopathic medical schools in 2005 who had an MCAT score that was less than 17 (Performance on the MCAT, Medical School Admission Requirements, 2007-2008, page 27). Keep in mind that there are a few allopathic medical schools in Puerto Rico, for example, that have very low MCAT averages (20.1, 21.3, and 23). These schools could be responsible for many of these numbers. Again, this sort of low score is a rare exception. Essentially, an MCAT score below 25 will make it almost impossible for you to gain admission to allopathic (MD) medical schools. You will still be competitive for osteopathic (DO) medical schools, podiatry schools, and Caribbean medical schools.

For most of the allopathic (MD) medical schools, an MCAT score of 21 is the minimum they will consider for extending interview invitations, regardless of what the rest of your application looks like. For some of the more prestigious medical schools in the country, the minimum MCAT score is around 30 to 32, below which you will not make it past any screening for interviews, regardless of how strong the rest of your application is.

The more applications a medical school receives every year, the more the school tends to eliminate applicants by MCAT scores and GPA alone when screening applicants. It is the easiest and most cost-effective way to limit the search for competitive applicants – and especially the more popular and prestigious medical schools use these criteria more heavily.

Medical schools like to use the MCAT as a way of screening and comparing applicants since it is the most objective measurement. Your GPA varies with the difficulty of the courses you take and the type of college or university you attend for undergrad. The MCAT provides one way to compare everyone at the same level.

The MCAT score is a reflection of your ability to reason, think, and interpret charts and data. It has less to do with your work ethic or your ability to memorize, which are two factors reflected more by your GPA.

MCAT Preparation

The MCAT test is intended to test material presented in general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and general physics. For review, it is important to stress the most important concepts and information in each of these areas. Generally, it is better to know the basic concepts very well than to know a lot of information superficially. Having said that, most of the questions on the MCAT are very difficult, and often it feels like they are testing concepts you have never heard of. Some additional course work can be helpful, but is not required. Although it is not necessary to memorize every formula in physics, chemistry, and the other courses covered, you should know the bread-and-butter formulas of each subject, particularly in physics. Don’t focus on all the derivative formulas. Memorize the main ones – you will need them.

They may ask a question like “If I throw a ball out of a window 25 m above the ground, at an initial velocity of 15 m/s, how long will it take until it hits the ground? How far does it travel vertically until it hits the ground?” So, you will need to know your formulas to figure out these questions. However, most questions are not this straight forward.

You will need to decide what type of person you are and what you will need for preparation. Some students swear by commercially available review courses such as offered by Kaplan, Princeton Review, Columbia Review, Cambridge, and Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. They are rather expensive, with a price tag up to $1,500, but many physicians and other successful applicants strongly suggest you take a review course.

Review courses often provide a classroom type setting with lecture format to review pertinent topics in all the MCAT prerequisites. You still have to study the extensive review material that comes with the course as you would in any class.  Other programs just provide the materials and the plan without classroom lectures. In either case, they provide the structure and the plan to get you through all the pertinent material in an orderly fashion.

You still have to put effort into the prep course like any other class you have taken before. Just attending the prep course may not help you out much, although they do cover a lot of test-taking strategies, which are helpful for test taking in general and not dependant on how much material you learned. Also note that these courses work only for review. If you have not had physics or organic chemistry before, you cannot learn the material in the prep course. These are review courses.

They also offer practice tests throughout the course and provide hints and tricks, do all kinds of analysis of what was on previous tests, and help you with time management techniques and other topics. This type of review may be very well worth it if you are the type of person who is a procrastinator or needs a structured program that is already set up and scheduled.

For those who are able and willing to work through self-study, there are many good review books and book series from the same MCAT review companies.  The Student Doctor Network has also published its own MCAT review book. The books contain the same basic material used in the courses, but you are on your own. So, you have to set aside a certain number of hours per week for a few months to review and work through the materials on your own. Expect to prepare for three to four months before the test.

I would highly recommend purchasing the Web practice MCATs online. They are the real deal, made available by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), the makers of the MCAT and not some version made up by Kaplan, Princeton Review, or other test-prep companies. These practice tests are well worth the money and you can take them under real testing conditions. Set aside a few Saturdays at your library in a quiet corner, or at home – undisturbed. You can grade yourself at the end to see how you did. One of the practice tests is available free of charge. You can purchase additional practice tests online (http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/practicetests.htm ) for $35 each.

The MCAT is really a thinking test. You will need to know the sciences to do well, but many of the questions do not directly test knowledge. They may ask you to interpret some data or extract some answers from a passage. It has been said that you cannot really cram for the MCAT.

Average GPA and MCAT scores

Note that the two following tables give average GPA and MCAT scores for both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) school matriculants for a few years.

Data for allopathic (MD) schools

Entering Year Overall GPA MCAT (Verbal) MCAT (Phys) MCAT (Bio) MCAT (Essay) MCAT Total
2005 3.63 9.7 10.1 10.4 P 30.2 P
2004 3.62 9.7 9.9 10.3 P 29.9 P
2003 3.62 9.5 9.9 10.2 P 29.6 P
2002 3.61 9.5 10.0 10.2 P 29.7 P
2001 3.60 9.5 10.0 10.1 P 29.6 P
2000 3.60 9.5 10.0 10.2 P 29.7 P

Mean Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Scores and Grade Point Averages of U.S. Medical School Applicants and Matriculants, AAMC Data Book, 2006, page 38

Data for osteopathic (DO) schools

Entering Year Science GPA MCAT (Verbal) MCAT (Phys) MCAT (Bio) MCAT (Essay) MCAT Total
2004 3.36 8.24 7.89 8.53 - 24.66
2003 3.45 8.07 7.99 8.51 - 24.57
2002 3.44 8.06 7.97 8.50 - 24.53
2001 3.43 8.10 8.08 8.54 - 24.72
2000 3.43 8.11 8.18 8.69 - 24.98

Grade Point Averages and Mean Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Scores for Entering Students, Osteopathic Medical College Information Book, 2007 Entering Class, page 80

Note that it is easier to get into osteopathic (DO) schools than allopathic schools (MD) by roughly 5 points on the MCAT and something like 0.15 points on the GPA.

Regarding GPA calculation, MD schools count every course grade earned even if you have retaken a course. If you earned a “C” in organic chemistry the first time, retook the course and earned an “A” later, they will count both grades for calculating your GPA. DO schools only count the retake grade (“A” in this example) and not the lower grade you earned the first time.

The average MCAT score for MD schools is around 30 and GPA is around 3.6. For DO schools, the average MCAT score is around 25 and GPA around 3.4. Especially if your MCAT score and GPA are below these values, your extracurricular activities weigh heavier in the admissions decision and can make the difference between getting an interview and no interview.

Caribbean medical schools typically do not have any MCAT requirements with few exceptions. If they do, they will accept lower GPA and MCAT scores than MD and DO medical schools.

Retaking the MCAT

If you score low on the MCAT, it may be a good idea to retake it. However, you absolutely have to show improvement. I know some students who increased their scores a good three to five points and it made all the difference. If you score the same or lower than your original MCAT score, retaking the MCAT only hurts you because you have just demonstrated that you really cannot do well, even if you have another chance.

Often, it is advisable to take a prep course, if you haven’t already done so, to prepare for retaking the MCAT, especially if you didn’t take the exam seriously enough the first time. You have to be willing to put a lot of hard work into preparation before retaking the exam again; just retaking it will buy you nothing.

Sometimes, if the MCAT score is not very high but still acceptable, it might be better to work on extracurricular activities to increase the overall strength of the application to compensate. However, a lower MCAT can limit some of your medical school choices. Certain medical schools may not consider you at all. Generally, osteopathic (DO) and Caribbean medical schools have lower MCAT requirements than allopathic (MD) schools. There is also quite a bit of variation between various MD schools.

The decision to retake the MCAT may depend on your goals overall and not necessarily on the score you received the first time. Also, keep in mind that it is very hard to increase your MCAT score, especially if you were prepared for the test the first time and there is not much else you can do to prepare. Increasing a score from a 24 to a 28 is probably much easier than raising a score from a 30 to a 34.

Important Note: A premedical advisor should be consulted to help you decide whether you should retake the MCAT and what strategies are appropriate for you to maximize the effectiveness of additional preparation. Only an experienced premed advisor who knows you personally and knows something about the MCAT can tailor advice to fit your specific circumstances. This is a big and important decision.

You may retake the MCAT up to three times, which can be all in the same year if you wish. However, retaking the MCAT for the fourth time, and every time thereafter, you have to jump through some hoops to be able to take the MCAT again. The AAMC requires a letter proving that you are really applying to medical school and not just taking the MCAT for other reasons (maybe you are teaching MCAT prep courses on the side and you can teach it better by taking the MCAT yourself every year).

// Share //

// Comments //

Comments

  1. Good rundown, thanks!

  2. Don Imus says:

    Great tips. The averages were useful.

    Thanks :)

  3. lrkoehle says:

    Wow, makes me feel like I am a great candidate. Its also nice to see a more realistic view than what is found in the forums.

    One question though, I thought people could submit their application without the MCAT? Doesn’t matter to me since I already took it, but others out there may be wondering this.

  4. Anthony H. says:

    So I’m kind of worried about my past academic mess. I went straight into college after high school for a semester and 9/11 hit so I was in the recruiters office next morning; I dropped out without actually dropping out. Some of my professors were nice enough to withdraw me while others gave me an ‘F’ for the semester.
    I am back in school now out here in CA with a 4.0 (I have retaken everything), honors course work, working on my research, a ton of medical experience from the military, letters from admirals/captains/physicians/professors…
    Is this where the personal statement comes in with explaining my lack of following the proper withdrawal processes typical of an irresponsible youth?

  5. Joseph Kim, MD, MPH says:

    This is a great overview, but the data on GPA and MCAT scores is too old to be relevant for most people. I’m sure we could find a better source out there.

  6. To answer some of the questions:
    Yes, you can submit your application without the MCAT score if you have to, but the won’t look at it until they get the score.

    Yes, explain your circumstances and any academic weaknesses in the personal statement.

    The most recent scores for MD schools are:
    2007 30.8
    2006 30.4

    The most recent scores for DO schools are:
    2006 25.31
    2007 24.99

  7. Chris says:

    Majority of Caribbean schools do require MCAT. especially the ones that allow you to practice in all 50 states like SGU, Ross and AUC.

  8. Syed says:

    Excellent article. It definitely answered a lot of questions I had on my mind. Great job, Christian.

  9. John says:

    Doesn’t This looks like an awesome place to begin your academic program! The True Blue Campus at St. Georges University.

  10. Require Advice says:

    Hi I am a business graduate and have been working for many years. I have an MBA and an undergraduate in social sciences. I am contemplating trying the MCATS as I have always considered a career in medicine, however the last time I have taken sciences was in high school (many many years ago) and did not take any basic sciences (i.e. pre reqs) in undergrad. I know this maybe a long shot, but before I commit to anything, is it even feasible for someone with my background to do remotely well on the MCAT, by just self study? Someone suggested that rather than go back to school and spend two years getting the required courses to take a study guide prep course and try it (to save time and provide some comfort). Can anyone provide some insight with a similiar experience/background to mine? Any suggestions are appreciated.

  11. Perspective Doc says:

    Require Advice,

    Though I am not in your position, I really don’t see any reason at all to take the MCATs at this point, for several reasons. The first being that the knowledge of Inorganic and Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Biology are absolutely crucial to doing well on them. Even if you were to self-study and do exceptionally well, you would still not have the required science courses that medical schools consider as pre-requisites for applying. Most medical schools only allow MCAT scores of up to two years old when applying. It would likely take you two years to complete those courses with labs, making your MCAT out of date at the time you apply. I would say go back to school and take at least a year of courses before registering for the MCAT. If you take exclusively science courses you can probably finish them in two years. Anyway, hope that was helpful. I wish you the best of luck!

  12. Jack says:

    I mostly agree with Prespective Doc’s comment. However, I know of at least one person who did not have all of his pre-req courses done (namely, organic chemistry) but had already taken the MCAT. He got accepted to a good medical school with the condition that he should have all the pre-reqs finished before entering. He was a physics undergrad who had studied for the MCAT on his own while he was in Peace Corps.

    If it has been a long time since you have seen this material, I would recommend taking courses part time (you could start with general chemistry). If you do well then you can take it from there. If not, you have not sacrificed everything…

  13. Marissa says:

    General question: How much does first semester of freshman year count if one does poorly? I hear it doesn’t hold as much weight as a bad semester later on, say sophomore year, would.

    Specifically;
    I am a sophomore finishing up my second semester. I finished the first semester of freshman year with a 2.19 GPA, but have since then improved dramatically. Without that semester, I have about a 3.4 GPA, but with it I have a 3.0. I have retaken the courses that brought the first semester down (D in chemistry and lab) and received A’s in both. If I continue to do well, are my shots of getting into medical school seriously hampered?

  14. Chris says:

    u definetely have a chance at DO schools if u keep improving.
    If you want to get into MD then it will depend on you getting around a 4.0 (or as close as possible) for the rest of the time you’re in undergrad. Your MCAT will impact how much weight admissns gives to your Fresh year. If you do well on the MCAT (above 10 on each section) then you stand a much higher chance of interviewing. Of course it will depend on recs, extra currics and in what state you reside.

  15. 911MT says:

    Hello One Who Requires Advice:

    I agree with Jack and Prospective Doc about the futility of taking the MCAT now. However, if you want to see what you’re up against, I would recommend attempting the free MCAT online exam available at e-mcat.com This is the AAMCAS site that also sells other practice MCAT exams. First one is free and worth the eye-opening, tear-generating experience. It is not recorded or counted, so it’s a good way to get a sense without getting penalized.

    BTW, mastering the material in this test will help you very little on subsequent tests…as I have come to find out.

    Best of luck!

  16. Marie says:

    And currently, I am working as a lab technician studying the causes and cures of lupus.In addition, in the past, I’ve worked in a lab that investigated HIV. I have nearly 5 years of research experience. How would medical schools consider my work experiences?

  17. Jenni says:

    Great article. This makes me feel better. I have struggled with a medical problem my first three years of school. I ended up taking medical leave to get better and returned the following spring. Upon returning, I decided to go back to my original major, microbiology. Although I didn’t start out too well my first semester back, I have been doing very well ever since. I take a between 14-17 hours of coursework a semester (4-5 classes either all science or 4 science and one non science). My GPA has gone from a 2.6 to 3.6 and still improving. (I take classes, fall, spring and summer.) Lately, I have been getting mostly A’s in my science classes, especially classes like immunology, anatomy and neuroscience. I have been taking a load of advanced science classes; there are so many I want to take cause they are all so interesting! I am retaking all the classes I got below a B in and its been helping me a lot.

    I have over 100 hours of volunteer work at the hospital, I am also a mock patient for the medical residents interning at Orlando Regional Medical Center, I am a volunteer intern at a medical lab, part of International Medical Outreach, I shadow doctors every semester and I will be a TA for human anatomy next spring. I am also looking into undergrad summer research. I find it to be very appealing. I have done my own little research projects on my own to explore the medical world and would love to take part in one with a professor. I don’t do these things to boost my resume, I truly love science and medicine and hope that my dream will come true one day!

    My only concern is the history. I still have two more years and if I end say with a 3.7 or 3.8 GPA, will my poor grades matter in the end, or will my significant academic improvement make me a competitive applicant despite the history. I haven’t taken the MCAT yet.

  18. Jamie says:

    Hi. What do you think about applying to a Carib school w/ licensing in 50 states and no MCAT requirement before applying to US schools? I am 39 years old w/ 15 years experience in the health field and a lot of leadership positions. My post-bac GPA is 3.45 and my overall undergrad is 3.42. I have never taken a standardized test even though I have my master’s degree. I work full time. I have applied to some SMP programs too but like the idea of starting med school (rolling admissions) sooner than later and studying on a small island without distractions. Thanks!

  19. M2_Student says:

    @Jamie: If I’m not mistaken, the Big 4 Caribbean schools (Ross, AUC, SGU, and SABA) all require MCAT scores and are the only ones where you can practice in all 50 states granted you pass the licensing exams. If you want to try without taking the MCAT, expect not being able to practice in states like CA, NY. I think even states like Mississippi are giving the other schools a hard time as well. Do your research before you start applying.

    My opinion: Take some practice MCATs. There are some for free from Kaplan and the AAMC themselves. See how you do and go from there. The Big 4 schools average at around 24+ MCATs and 3.2+ GPAs.

  20. Funnyface says:

    PerspectiveDoc–Just an FYI, I’m pretty sure you mean “ProspectiveDoc”. PerspectiveDoc doesn’t make sense.

  21. Perspective Doc says:

    play on words man… play on words

  22. Marie says:

    Hi I have my master’s in biology GPA: (3.9)But my undergrad GPA was low (3.2). I’m 28 now, and I have lab experiences, all in clinical fields (cancer, HIV, and Autoimmune diseases). I’ve worked as lab tech in these labs. Do I have a good chance at MD? How about DO schools? I will take the MCAT in the spring for the first time. What score do I have to get min. in order to get into a MD school?

    Tx

  23. M2_Student says:

    @Marie: I think you have an good chance. Just hold on to that passion of becoming a doctor and it will happen soon. Now, I’m just guessing that the 3.2 undergrad GPA is because you either took school lightly or had some issues (i.e., family or what ever). Whether you took school lightly or had problems, you can tell your story in your personal statement and show them how you matured as the years went by. Show that 3.9 graduate GPA off and hope they understand where you are coming from. My pre-health advisors and a med school admission director told me that most masters graduates get accepted into med school if they show major improvement. A 3.2 to a 3.9 is major so you have that requirement covered. You have lab experience, which is a must these days. All you need is a good MCAT score. Something in the low to mid 30s should be acceptable to a good chunk of M.D. schools. If you want a really good M.D. school, you will need something in the mid to upper 30s. For D.O. schools, MCATs need to be good, but they have been known to have lower averages than those from M.D. schools.

    Just be realistic when it comes to getting accepted. Out of state schools are hard to get in unless you have exceptional scores. Shoot for getting interviews at first and make such an impression that they just have to be out of their mind not to accept you.

  24. Marie says:

    Dear M-2, thanks for the advice. Yes, I have drastically increased my GPA in my Master’s Degree program, but most of my classes were non-science oriented. How would Medical School look at that?

    Also, I have this book that lists all the average GPA of applicants who apply to Med schools and dental schools and there are some schools (out of state) where the GPA is 3.4, 3,3. Would you say that I have a good chance at those schools, or because I’m out of state, would it be a challenge for me?

  25. Marie says:

    Dear M-2, thanks for the adivce. Yes, I did drastically incrase my GPA during my Master’s Degree program, but most of my classes were non-science oriented. How would medical school take into account?

    Also, I have this book that lists all the average GPA and mean MCAT score for all the medical schools in the US and some (out of state) average GPA is 3.4, 3.3. How are my chances at those places, as an out of state applicant?

    Also, previous to getting a M.S., I was actually enrolled in a Ph.D program, but I decided that it was not the right course for me. How would medical schools take it?

  26. Blairrrr says:

    wow, the canadian stats are so much higher. you’d NEVER get into a canadian medical school with a 3.0 unless you have a 45T mcat. . . . . .
    and our mcat cutoff is 32-33, not 30. :(

  27. LearnedMyLesson says:

    Hi,
    I started taking graduate courses while working full-time. I had a really good academic and extracurricular record in undergrad. However, on my 5th graduate course, Introduction to Java, (in the other four courses I got 2 A’s and 2 A-‘s) I helped a friend (who was mourning the loss of a family member) with one of his homework assignments and we both got disciplined for inappropriate collaboration and were required to withdraw from the course. Obviously, I understand where the school is coming from – that was against the rules, regardless of my good intentions. I have definitely learned my lesson. I was also put on probation for a year so I haven’t been able to take other courses yet. But I plan on it.

    I have 4 questions:
    1) Do I have to report this under institutional action even though I was just taking random courses (not towards a degree)?
    2) If so, in my explanation should I explain the circumstances under which I was disciplined or should I just say that I am sorry and that I have learned my lesson. I feel like an explanation is necessary to show that I was, albeit misguidedly, just trying to help someone – I had no personal gain in it.
    3) What are the chances of medical schools still considering a good candidate for medical school?
    4) Is there anything I can do, besides taking more courses, to show that I am not a dishonest person?

    Thanks

  28. Sahil says:

    Hi, it’s unbelievably useful for me.
    (Even thou,I am still a high school student.)
    It will help me to prepare myself.

    Thanks……….

  29. Jamie says:

    MCAT not required for Saba unless you took cc science courses or received C’s. I was accepted w/ no MCAT.

  30. engineer says:

    Hi, i have always been interested in medicine. In fact, i briefly majored in molecular biology in college about 10 years ago before switching to electrical engineering. I took 2 inorganic chemistry and one molecular biology courses and did really well. Unfornately I had a low undergraduate GPA of 2.85 (electrical engineering) and graduate GPA of 3.26 (master degree in electrical engineering). I was also a research assistant at for a professor in biology department for 2 semesters and at FDA for about 2 years at the time. Since graduation in 2003, i’ve been working for the US patent and trademark office examining patent applications in the fields of signal processing, audio coding, speech recognition, etc. (obviously not related to biomedical science). I am getting tired of my job. And now i am thinking of applying to postbac program before applying to medschool. I am wondering what are my chances of getting admitted to medical school after completing the postbac program with good (assumed) GPA and a 27-30 (assumed) on MCAT scores. Thanks for your input in advance.

  31. Pro Doc says:

    To engineer: since your undergrad and grad GPAs are pretty low I don’t think doing well in a postbac program would really help that much. If you did really well on the MCAT, then you would stand a better shot at getting into a US allopathic school. But, with the stats and assumed stats you have listed, you would stand a fairly good chance at getting into a DO school or Carribean. Getting into an allopathic program with numbers like that will be difficult as the stats in the article indicate.

  32. engineer says:

    Thank you, Pro Doc, for your input. I believe I can get between 3.8-4.0/4.0 on the 32-credit postbac program. This will bring my undergraduate GPA up to around 3.1. I also believe that i could get between 31-33 on the MCAT. Would that give me a good chance at med school? Also, consider the fact that i am making $150k/year now. I can show that to the adcoms to prove that i am not going to med school for the money. But rather a person who is seriously interested in medicine and wants to take care of the sick. Would this help my chances at all? Thanks.

  33. GPAdilemma says:

    I have always planned on pursing a career in medicine, so I have a history of clinical/volunteer and strong research experiences. Unfortunate events occured in undergrad and now after this year (my 5th) I will be able to graduate with a 3.0 after getting good grades, hopefully. I am taking my MCAT in a semester as I’m spending good time to prepare for it. I have a couple of questions:

    I know that I have to take a master’s program or post-bac program that will prove academic achievement, considering my GPA is just too low to be considered now. I am strongly considering Special Master’s Programs. What is your opinion about this?

    What MCAT score should I am for? Of course, the higher the better, but would getting a 30-31 suffice in my case or I should really be aiming for perhaps a 33 to have a decent chance at allopathic, assuming I am applying after improving my GPA with a master’s program?

    Thank you very much.

  34. Marc says:

    After reading this, I am assured I am well on my way. The premed track is a long and narrow one, however I think I am on track. I heard a fellow person in here talk of his times in the military after joining, not taking school as serious when he was younger. This sounds a lot like myself. I found this information very straight-forward and to be expected. I am doing my premed studies at a smaller college at the moment to get that attention that I will need, (my theory is that with smaller class environments, your retention will be dramatically increased in the long run, especially useful for upper-level undergrad research, and those MCATs). Currently, I started a mental health research advocacy nonprofit here in Florida, in honor of my father who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, I volunteer at Shands HealthCare Neuro ICU level 8 trauma 1 facility in Jacksonville, Florida as well as side projects with a local plastic surgeon, and an AMSA member for region 5. I am hoping to graduate from UF in the next year and a half in Neurobiology, and apply to both Universities of Florida Medical School and Weill Medical School of Cornell. I am hoping to share my drive to motivate and inspire others, especially former veterans that there is definitely a new path after military service, and for those who were in most cases underprivileged as myself, thinking medical school is totally out of the question. Keep striving, striving, and striving! Meeting goals comes easily, exceeding them takes hard work, personal conviction, and dedication. If YOU want to be a doctor, then start thinking like one, and be proactive with all of your goals.

    Thanks for the advice,

    Marc Hessel,
    President, United Against Mental Illness Foundation, Inc.
    Pre-med AMSA Member, Region 5

  35. Sana says:

    Hi, I am a third year undergrad and I did not do very well my fist semester of my second year, however, I have practically straight As since then. By the time I apply to med school, I anticipate having a GPA of 3.56. Is this GPA not good enough to even apply to med school?
    Thank You!

  36. Seattle19 says:

    Hey everyone. I took part of the “Running Start” program during my last 2 years of high school so I am getting my AA just 1 year after high school graduation because I was able to attend community college early on. Before I decided what I wanted to do and just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible (at around 16 yrs old), I got some C’s that brought down my GPA.
    Basically, I graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA but after finishing my first pre-med prerequisite of 1 year of biology (anatomy 1, anatomy 2, and microbiology), I have raised it to a 3.43 with a 4.0 science GPA for the classes I mentioned. As long as I keep my grades up, do I have a likely chance of being a competitive applicant? Keep in mind, I still have 3 years to finish up. Thanks a lot for any advice!

  37. Ebby says:

    Hi guys! I am interested in pursuing med school as well. However, I have not completed all my undergrad pre-reqs and I did not do so well in some of the ones I did take(namely O chem and genetics). I faired averagely well in Bio and Chem and their labs. However, I was an international studies major. I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health and I hope to finish this year, and I am doing well in my program. I have a strong intrest in global health issues. What would be the best course of action for someone in my situation to get into a med school in the U.S or even one of the more established ones in the carribean? How do I find out which of the carribean schools are accredited? Thanks!

  38. Val says:

    I am tyring to evaluate my chances of getting into a medical school in the United States. I am currently working as a certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist in two different hospitals for 7 years now. I graduated with an Associate in Nuclear Medicine Technology with a 3.94 GPA. I went back to school for a BS. During this time I add a few ‘W’s one ‘WF’ and one ‘D’ all in sciences due to family emergencies. So I was on academic probation but now I have a 3.75 GPA and earning a BS in Radiologic Science in May 2011. i still have to take organic chemistry. I am a volunteer for the GA state defense force on weekends for a year now(duties include search and rescue. I have traveled to Haiti for two medical misssion trips. My credentials include certified nuclear medicine technologist, Advanced cardiac life support and Basic life support.My job duties include medical diagnosis and therapies.(PET/CT, Nuclear Cardiology). Given this background although not the best background what are my chances of securing a post in a medical school in the United States if my MCAT score is 25? Thanks.

  39. Jim says:

    what about podiatric medical schools? MCATs~22-25.

  40. Smcfalls says:

    My son scored a 28 and has a GPA of 4.0 ….what are his chances? Should he retake?

  41. robbb says:

    I am terrified that someone with a 3.5 and up GPA, after reading the article, needs to ask whether their GPA is high enough will soon be diagnosing illnesses.

  42. AMN says:

    Hi.
    I just received emails from SABA and AUA that saying that i have been accepted . I also applied to St George’s university and Ross. Had interviews at both schools (St. georges = 2 weeks ago) (Ross = 1 week ago). I think they are waiting on my new MCAT score which comes out OCT 10th. I do think that I performed better on the mcat this time around and expect a better grade.
    Saba wants a deposit by the 14th OCT whereas AUA wants a deposit by the 7th of Oct.

    What should I do ? which school is better you think, SABA or AUA ?

    should i disregard AUA or ask to differ to the following semester ? and you think I should also email St.Georges and Ross about my acceptance so they can help me out by accelerating the decision process?
    Thank you

  43. eikichi says:

    I scored a 33 on the MCAT, have two graduate degrees in business and finance but do not want to waste time sitting through 2 more years of science classes as I have not completed any prereqs; obviously I know my science with a 33 MCAT. Do any of you think any of the Caribbean schools would waive the science prereqs?

  44. Logan says:

    Hello, I am a pre-med student in my junior year of college I currently have a 3.4 cumulative GPA after it dropped from a 3.52 after getting a C in organic chemistry. I am debating retaking the class before taking inorganic chemistry, but if I elected not to do you think graduatring with a 3.4-3.5, assuming I do better in inorganic chem and do well on the MCATS, that I would be likely to be a successful applicant for allopathic medical schools? I have some relevent volunteer and research experience as well.

  45. jake says:

    Hello, I’m a senior premed, about to apply for the next cycle. I’m a double major right now in Economics Honors and Biochemistry with a 3.83 GPA and a 33R MCAT. I’m a TX resident. Throughout college, I’ve done volunteering every week for almost 2 years now. I researched at a medical school at the same lab for 2 summers and a winter break, and I’m doing economics research right now. I shadowed a surgeon and a ER physician for about 60 hours overall. I’m narrowing my list of schools right now, and I need some inputs. It would be really great if someone can recommend some schools for me based on my stats. Also, I would love to go to Southwestern. Do you think I have a decent shot at Southwestern?

    Thanks

  46. Don says:

    Getting worried. End of November with already 3 rejections and 3 interview offers from other schools. gpa 3.4 from Harvard with 34mcat. Have published research, worked in an ER for a summer, worked as an EMT during college and community ambulance and have had leadership positions in my school magazine and religious group. What are my chances?

  47. Brittany says:

    I am definitely going to be a pediatrician but hate the University that I am at because of the atmosphere and the people. I love the classes and am doing great as a Freshman taking 17 hours of honors credit so far. My problem is that I am thinking about switching to a smaller university closer to home and my normal environment. Will going to a smaller university hurt my chances of getting into medical school? University of Arkansas to Missouri Southern State University.

  48. yeshe lama says:

    Hi,
    I have been trying to research but can’t find the answers, maybe you can help. I was born in States but have lived in Nepal ever since and did my schooling here. I am studying in grade 10 form Indian cirriculum called “Central Board of Secondary Education”. I plan to study here till grade 12, under the same board. Here you can go to a medical college after grade 12. Now i want to study medicine in States and so need to sit for MCAT exam. I wanted to know if i can take the exam after grade 12 and does the medical college accept students after grade 12. Also do i need to give SAT /GMAT or any other kind of exam as i will be completing my grade 12 from here.
    Would appreciate your feedback on this. Thank you.

  49. Maddie says:

    Hi,
    I am an undergraduate in psychology and minoring in education. I want to finish my minor (i only have one more quarter at my Univ) and then presue my pre medical courses. I want to become a MD, but I have a 3.2 Gpa as an undergrad. I have only done one bio course so far and gotten an A in it and prep chem. If i do well in my sciences and mcats do you think i can get into a good allopathic med school?

    I also wanted to know if i should take the pre med courses at a JC or at a 4 year university under a post baccelors program. I wanted to take it at a Jc because it is much cheaper and I can pay out of pocket, but at the 4 year university post bacc program I’ll have to take out loans. What is a better choice for me?

// Recent Articles //

20141022_MelinekHeadshot
  • 20 Questions: Judy Melinek, MD

  • Posted 10.22.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • Dr. Judy Melinek is a board-certified forensic pathologist in San Francisco, CEO of PathologyExpert Inc., an associate professor of pathology at University of California San Francisco, and co-author (with her husband, T.J. Mitchell) of the New York Times Bestseller Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner (Scribner, 2014). Melinek received her bachelor’s degree...VIEW >
20141020_ACAButton_SS_165673976
  • What ACA Means For Your Future

  • Posted 10.20.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • There has never been a better time to be a doctor, or to be studying to become a doctor in the United States. That statement might come as a bit of a surprise to some, who have probably heard at least a few horror stories about the new health care law in America, and it...VIEW >
Figure1IOW
  • Figure 1 Image of the Week, 10/19/14

  • Posted 10.18.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • This x-ray demonstrates a dramatic case of pneumoperitoneum, sometimes called free air under the diaphragm. This finding can be subtle but should always be treated as a surgical emergency. In this case, pneumoperitoneum was caused by a perforated sigmoid colon, but free air can also be caused by any pathology resulting in a perforation in...VIEW >
20141017_SmallBook
  • Book Review: small – Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery

  • Posted 10.17.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • SMALL is a special sneak peek into the beautiful, scary, and often daring world of pediatric surgery. Dr. Catherine Musemeche describes her work with a surgical precision, crafting an experience not often found in literature. From the first pages of the book she invites the reader to scrub in with her and experience the joys,...VIEW >
20141015_Highlighter_SS_174199481
  • Top 24 Things A Medical Student Must Know

  • Posted 10.15.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • The Top Twenty – no, wait – Top Twenty-Two – Are You Sure It’s Twenty-Two? No. The Top Twenty-Four Things an Obsessive Medical Student Must Know (but which won’t show up in an exam so you can relax and put the highlighter down and get yourself a Diet Coke) You don’t need to know the...VIEW >
Figure1IOW
  • Figure 1 Image of the Week, 10/12/14

  • Posted 10.14.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  •       This collection of stem cells was harvested for future autologous transplantation using apheresis. In order to collect stem cells from the blood stream, a patient must undergo special preparation. A regimen of Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) is used to induce rapid growth of stem cells in the bone marrow, causing many cells...VIEW >
20141013_Group_SS_55184455
  • Choosing a Field in Medicine: How to Maximize Your Time in Medical School

  • Posted 10.13.14 by CaffeinatedSquirrel
  • Choosing a field of medicine is likely the most important decision a medical student will make during their career. The vast majority of residents complete their residencies and practice in the field in which they’ve trained. Switching residencies, or completing two unrelated residencies consecutively, is feasible but difficult. The bulk of your clinical years in...VIEW >

// Forums //