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Getting into Medical School

Created 04.25.12 by David Steinhardt
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Now that my medical school application process has come to an end, I feel a personal responsibility to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained during the process. Throughout this difficult and humbling year, perhaps the most inspiring aspect of applying to medical school was that I began to feel a connection with everyone else who’s completed or is currently completing the same process. I sent countless emails and had numerous conversations about how to gain an acceptance into a school, and am indebted to the doctors and medical students who took the time to help me. Medicine is not the easiest field to be accepted into, it’s also not the highest paying or the best lifestyle – these characteristics bring doctors together, as is the natural human tendency to come together, mentally and emotionally, when marching through trenches.

My experience and advice spans farther than my own personal experience through the process. If you must know my own stats to feel that my opinions are valid, I applied to 25 schools, got 6 interviews, was accepted at 4 schools and wait-listed at 2. More importantly, because I was in a post-bac program, I applied alongside lots of other people with differing backgrounds and successes. Furthermore, it is impossible to go through this process with friends and not talk about it pretty much constantly, and from those conversations I heard countless stories about other applicants/students/doctors, both triumphant and tragic. Here are the main things I have learned, in order of importance.

1. There is no substitute for high grades. If you’re reading this during your senior year of college right before opening your AMCAS application and you haven’t done well in school, well, I’m sorry. Consider entering a post-bac program, because as much as people talk about the trend that medical schools care more and more about your background, personality, extracurriculars, etc., their number one concern is – will this person be able to make it through med school? The main way to answer that is by looking at a student’s science classes. This is why, in my opinion, if you’re not ready to commit to being a doctor at age 18, it might be in your best interest to get a liberal arts education, grow up, and do a post-bac after getting a year or two of work experience post-college. I know tons of people who had mediocre to poor grades in college, but then rocked the post-bac classes due to newfound motivation and maturation. This definitely works. Of course, it’s best if you’ve gotten good grades all along. The other option is, starting at age 18, work hard and do really well in college. If you’re a genius, this isn’t that hard. If you’re not, get ready to sacrifice some fun. I’m biased because I had tons of fun in college and delayed the whole medicine thing – but that’s because I was in no position to decide what I wanted to do with my life when I was 18 or 19 years old. I’m rambling now, but suffice it to say, get good grades, the higher the better.

2. Get a good MCAT score. At this point you may be thinking that this is an obvious list. Well, in a way it is, but I’m being honest here. The people who have the most trouble getting into school (besides people with bad grades, who pretty much don’t get into schools), is people who bomb the MCAT. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the MCAT, I don’t support the MCAT, in fact I hate the MCAT, but you need to post a decent score. In my non-expert opinion, the 31-33 range is a passing grade on the MCAT. Anything lower will hurt you, anything higher will help you. Don’t stress too much about it, just study a lot, take TONS of practice tests IN exact testing conditions (no breaks, same time as real test, sitting at a desk quietly, etc.), and then do as well as you can. I’d also recommend taking the test as early as you can be ready for it. If you take it in April and do badly, you can retake in June, but if you take it in June and do badly, you have to retake in August and it delays your entire application. Even better, if you take it in February and do badly, you can retake it in April and still apply in June. The best thing to do though, is to just do well the first time. I personally did not take an MCAT class, and instead used Sn2’s famed study schedule, which is on the student doctor website. The class works for some, but this schedule works for all. Check it out.

3. Apply early. AMCAS opens in May of each year and the first day you can turn it in is June 1. You don’t HAVE to turn it in on June 1, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I recommend anytime in June, preferably in the first half of the month. There are a few reasons for this, some of which everyone will tell you and some of which they won’t. First the obvious one – it’s a rolling admissions process, so the earlier you apply, the fewer spots have been taken, and the more spots schools have to fill. This is not foolproof, obviously, as the admissions’ offices note, they’ve been through this process before, so know how to spread out their acceptances throughout the year, but at the same time, who really believes that they give march interviewees the same chance as the people who interview in october? No one. This brings me to my next and in my opinion, more important point. Apply early for your own peace of mind. This is the big one for me. In short, prioritize your application year and make it a happy one. The happiest person I know for the past year was accepted at UC Davis in October. He has been set since then, so could relax and work the jobs he wanted, take the vacations he wanted, etc. The most unhappy people are still, in early March, unsure where they will get in. If you’re in the latter boat, all is not lost, you still might get in, but your year has doubtlessly been more stressful. Save the stress for residency.

4. Gather your recommendations early and get writers who can be personal, if possible. Most schools like a committee letter, so if your premedical department or post-bac does them, get it. I also recommend a research recommendation and a letter from someone who’s seen you do clinical work. If you’ve had a legitimate job, get one from there too. Professors are great, but the committee letter takes care of that aspect for you, at least it’s supposed to. Since you want to apply in June, you should really contact your recommenders by January of your application year. That way, they have plenty of time to write it, you can send them reminders each month, and everyone is happy in the end. Most people will agree to write you a letter if they know you at all, but try to get people who really and truly know you and who you can level with. The best recommender is someone you can sit down with and say, “this is what I think should be in my letter, blah blah blah.” I’m not saying you should be able to write your own letters, but you want your recommenders to have a personal stake in getting you into school, and the only way that will happen is if you have a personal relationship with them. If you don’t have a personal relationship with any of your recommenders, don’t freak out, just get someone to write your letters, it’s just preferable if you do.

5. Do something unique! This is the one people forget, or don’t know about, that is really important. The best applicants are those that jump off the page. Start something, get some unique experience, and make it legitimate. Don’t just do it because you want to get into med school. Do it because it’s something you want to do and this is your life to live. Getting into med school is not everything, but it turns out that if you do something unique and awesome (doesn’t have to be medically related), it catches people’s attention. And when you’re trying to get into a class of 100 out of 7,000 applicants, you absolutely have to stand out in some way. The application has 3 spots for “most meaningful experiences.” I think ideally, two of these are medical/research oriented, and the third is something outside of medicine that you’ve done that application readers want to tell their friends about.

6. Get medical experience to prove you know what it’s like to be a doctor. The second half of this is the important part. If you’ve had particularly cool hands-on clinical experience or responsibilities, that’s a plus, but the important thing is that you’ve spent lots of time with physicians while they’re on the job, and you know what you’re getting in to. Schools want to make sure you don’t just like the idea of being of doctor, but that you like the reality of the job. This is important for your own clarity too. This is not Grey’s Anatomy or House, this is actual life. Be sure you know what you’re getting into, and prove that on your application.

7. Do research of some kind. It’s nice to have research on your application. Obviously, if you’re applying for an MD/PhD program, this should be moved up to number 1, but if not, you don’t necessarily need tons of research. Of course, if research is what you’re into, that should be reflected in your experience. Also, it’s not necessary to do bench research if that’s not your cup of tea. There’s tons of clinical research going on in every major hospital – so if you want to do stuff more directly patient-related, get involved in that.

8. Have experienced people read your application essays. After all of the hard work you’ve put in at school, in your extracurriculars, getting your recommendations, etc. the essays on your application are actually very important too. Afterall, how else will the admissions’ office people know what you’ve done if you don’t know how to write about it properly? I recommend having a few doctors read your essays and give comments, and then someone who really knows the current application process, like a premed advisor at your college, read it as well. This will give you a variety of opinions and then you can take it from there. One important thing to note, though, is that everyone has their own opinions about what schools are looking for. This is, of course, because each school and admissions officer is different. So, in the end, you have to make the call of how you want your essays to read. Make sure that it’s your essay, and that you don’t take every person’s opinion on every little thing. More importantly though, just make sure you get multiple readers for those essays and make sure everything is grammatically perfect (unlike this blog post).

9. Get prepared and do some practice interviews. My practice interviews helped me a lot. Some people are very natural interviewers and don’t really need the practice. Decide which one you are and go with that. Again, current doctors and premed advisors are the best people to do practice interviews with. It’s easy to explain to your friends who know nothing about the field why you want to be a doctor – it’s much harder to explain it to an actual doctor. Before your interviews, make sure you can talk about ALL activities on your application, and why medicine suits you. Beyond that, and this is a cliche of course, but be yourself. Bottom line, if the person interviewing you likes you as a person by the end, you have a good chance of getting in. These days some schools do the mmi’s (multiple mini interviews), which are their own story altogether. To prepare for these, you need to understand the ethical dilemmas doctors face and know how to take a stance on them. I recommend googling mmi’s and you’ll find tons of practice scenarios. Discuss them with your girlfriend/boyfriend/parents and you’ll be fine. The most important part of the interviews is to be relaxed and appear to be a normal, sociable person. Your numbers speak for themselves, now you have to show you are fit for a career where you will work with patients everyday.

10. Apply to lots of schools, expect lots of rejections, and make your own final decisions on where you apply and where you go. Although this is my last piece of advice, I think it’s really important. Getting into medical schools is an absolute rat race. Most schools have a 1-2% acceptance rate. Apply to lots of schools. If there’s a particular school you’re on the fence on, apply there. I will likely be going to the school I added last to my list, not because I didn’t like it, but because I didn’t think I could get in because I was out of state. Apply to as many schools that interest you, but don’t apply to schools you don’t want to go to. If you wouldn’t go there, don’t apply. I applied to 25 schools. That’s a little on the high end, but I’d do it again. You have you assume, even if you are an absolute genius, that you’ll be getting rejected from 75% of the schools you apply to, most of them pre-interviews. That’s just the way the process is. If you’re going to get upset after each one, you’re in for a long year. Keep your head up and move on. You can only go to one school anyway. The last piece of advice I have is to make your own final decisions. This applies to every aspect of the process, from the classes you take, the strategy you use to study for the MCAT, your recommenders, your essays, etc. There’s a lot written about getting into med school and a lot of people who have expert and non-expert opinions. The simple fact is, there is no one way to get in, and there’s no one strategy. In the end, you have to be you, take the classes you want, write the essays you are proud of, and hope for the best. That’s all you can do. If you get in, great. If you don’t, just remember, some people have far bigger problems than that.

Good luck.

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Comments

  1. Alex says:

    Hi, so I’m a freshman right now in my second semester still wondering whether or not I should even hope to get into medical school. My first semester GPA was a dismal 2.31 and I’m still waiting to find out what my GPA this semester will be.

    I got a C in Chemistry last semester, and there’s a possibility that I’ll get a C this semester, or maybe a B if I’m lucky.

    Should I just give up right now or just keep on trying?

    1. MAnne says:

      I stopped reading this at MCAT score under 30 will hurt you. Many people get in below a 31 with other strengths on their app. You need to reassess passing score. This is ridiculous.

      1. Robert says:

        Well, just because you don’t agree with a sentence doesn’t mean you discredit the rest of it! Lol, everything isn’t black and white… ALL TRUE or ALL FALSE!!

      2. Brian says:

        Having a MCAT under 30 will hurt you in med school apps. Will it keep you out? Not necessarily, but the article doesn’t say it will. Sure people with MCATs under 30 get in, but you can be sure they had some other positive aspects on their apps to make up for it.

        Btw great article, haven’t read one of these since I got in last year and this one says everything you need in a practical, straightforward type of way.

        -med student

      3. Jake says:

        Yeah I agree, the MCAT isn’t everything. Getting in the 30+ range will definitely help you but you still stand an excellent change with anything above a 27 as long as the rest of your application looks great. Likewise, if you have absolutely no clinical experience, no ECs, poor letters of rec, a 40 on the MCAT isn’t going to get you in. Schools look at your entire application and many schools have a weighted scoring system that doesn’t give any more points to MCAT/GPA than it does to volunteer experience, interviewing skills, etc. I believe too much emphasis is put on grades/MCAT by premeds and not enough emphasis on ECs/letters/interviewing. I’m not saying forget about your grades/MCAT but just don’t over-emphasize it.

        -Dr. Jake MD in T – 15 days

      4. Jim says:

        Yeah, they are called minorities

      5. Dana says:

        Ok.. So you MAY be able to get in with an MCAT score lower than a 31… but WHY NOT go for the highest possible? Study as if you’ll ACE it. I never understand why people will go into an exam expecting to get bare minimum or just above average. That’s Retarded. If you want it bad enough, then freaking get it! I expect no less than a 33 on my MCAT when it comes to that time. You know why? I’m preparing for it NOW… Not last minute. Understanding Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy, Biological Processes… etc… All of these things should be relatively stuck in your mind due to your major track to get INTO med school… Maybe those late night cram sessions right before the exam AREN’T so good for you. Just thinking out loud here. :-/

    2. bcblacker says:

      I got put on Academic probation my first term, then rocked my first semester with a 2.75 (also got a C in chem). Granted, I did turn my habits around and never got below a 3.7 after that, but you can still do it. And even if you don’t go to Med School, good grades will not only earn you money but it will open so many doors for whatever you do after college.

    3. Jake says:

      It’s hard to answer your question without a little more information. Why are your grades slipping? Is it your study habits? Are you not taking school seriously? I’d consider taking a break from school until you can figure out why you’re not making the grades you want to.

    4. Jane k. says:

      I think that you should probably get your heads out the clouds, because alex you have a long way to even think about applying to med. school… this is sad, I think you should at least try a little harder than that. I applied to med. school 1 yr ago and only got accepted to 3… I’m really smart, and they don’t care how smart you are in science. Good luck, because if i were you I’d give up, unless there was some type of miracle. Nice blog btw :)

    5. marc Lemieux says:

      You should give up, that is a horrendous GPA. What were you thinking??? Apparently your not working hard enough. Don’t go to college if your not mature enough to put all of your effort fourth and try.

      1. Tony says:

        You + are = you’re, Mr. MCAT.

      2. henrietta says:

        forth not fourth

    6. Johnny J. Orta says:

      YouSshould Not Say That Just Keep On Trying.

  2. Ortho says:

    If you get a low mcat, hope isn’t over. Go DO, or if you score even lower, forget medical school and go for podiatry.

    1. Jim says:

      or Caribbean, but good luck getting into a decent residency program….

  3. The dude says:

    What an idiotic article.

    “Most schools have a 1-2% acceptance rate.”

    This isn’t even close to being true. Here are the 10 LOWEST ACCEPTANCE rates:
    http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2011/04/05/10-medical-schools-with-lowest-acceptance-rates

    Only 1 (mayo) has a 2% acceptance rate. All of the other 9 are at least 3%. And these are the 10 lowest. Obviously “Most schools” are not only accepting 1-2%. A simple google search could have told you this before you put up a completely wrong statistic in a published article.

    I’m sure you’ll be a great doctor though. Such attention to detail!

    1. Anonymous says:

      I don’t think you can criticize the whole article based on one thing written. There is some pretty solid advice in it.

      Btw, I’m sure you’ll make a great doctor though (the dude). Such a bad attitude problem!!!

      1. The dude says:

        He just apparently pulled a stat out of his a$$. What kind of response do you expect?

    2. Jake says:

      Yeah, that 1-2% figure is pretty misleading. If you divide the number of graduating medical school seniors (roughly 16K) by the total number of medical school applicants (roughly 40K), the acceptance rate to medical school is closer to 40%.

      1. Devin says:

        What the man is doing is using a hyperbolic statement to show his point. He knows as well as I know that the acceptance rate is much higher. Obviously if it was that low there would be approx. 3 docters out of an entire population around the size of new york. This was I well written article and was very helpful to me as I am just a jr. In high school. I have hopes of one day becoming an oncologist and working with my hypotheises that I have for a possible cure for cancer. I am not the smartest on the intellictual scale, infact I cant even spell correctly. But I belive with 100%certainty that I can and will get into med school

  4. Emil Chuck says:

    I had mentioned previously that I’ve been running a blog with a medical school interview question daily (mmiqd wordpress). I would not just say “give up” if you had a rocky first semester or first year. It is going to take time for some people to adjust to the rigorous demands of college, which will seem like a tea party compared to adjusting to professional school. But I will say what you should give up on is the thought that you must get into professional school immediately after you graduate from college. That is definitely no longer the norm in admissions. However, (to Alex) you need to probably think about the social science coursework and experiences you need for the MCAT in 2015 since that’s more likely when you’ll be taking the exam.

  5. Jake says:

    Medicine actually is the highest paying field. Maybe not the best lifestyle, but according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physicians and surgeons have the highest annual salary of any other career in the U.S.

    1. Maddie says:

      You obviously dont know a wide variety of ” highly successful’ people. It really depends on what you practice and where. Dont forget how many actual hours you have to work to get the money your talking about. There are a lot of business people that do makemore and have a higher earning potential.

  6. Suspicious says:

    Most schools have a 1-2% acceptance rate? What kind of a joke article is this?

    1. Robert says:

      You have to understand how the #’s work, it’s not talking about % chance of getting into medical school, but instead there are many schools that receive lots of applicaitons and they end up accepting only 1-2% of those. For example, I believe Georgetown gets 10,000 applications or so, as you can imagine, the acceptance rate will be low.

    2. med student says:

      Actually, 1-2% sounds about right for some schools.

      Consider:
      10,000 applicants to BU
      ~1000 interview, 300-400 accepted.

      Sure it’s not a perfect 1-2% but pretty darn close.

      Great article which sums up the reality well.

      -M3

      1. Suspicious says:

        3-4% is a lot different than 1-2%, IMO.

        The lowest acceptance rates are at Mayo and Stanford, and those are around 2.3%. Clearly saying MOST schools are around 1-3% is misleading.

        Trust me, I’m quite familiar with all the numbers in this process, I just think it’s a mistake to report a number that’s about half as small as it should be in most cases.

      2. Jake says:

        Actually, the acceptance rate to medical school in the US is a lot closer to 40%. If we want to talk about the acceptance rate to Mayo, then that’s different. In general though, a premed has a much better shot at getting into med school somewhere in the US than 1-2%.

  7. B says:

    Beautifully crafted! I definitely fall in the category of those with below average mcat score and I am paying for that. But, I also did my best in preparing for the test so I don’t have any regrets.
    Thanks for sharing and all the best in medical school!

  8. Johnny says:

    So if you are a minority (Some where from Africa) and have a 29 on the MCAT and GPA OF 3.5 you will have a better chance of getting into medical school then most people that score just slightly above you? And if so why is that.

  9. Rich Morris says:

    I would like to ask what is the average cost now to get into medical school in the USA. Thanks.

  10. David says:

    I want to clarify a couple of things, since this is my article. If you read carefully, the article states that medical schools have a 1-2% acceptance rate. Stanford, for example, has about 90 spots and about 5,000 applicants.That’s about a 1% acceptance rate. Some of you are confusing overall percentage of getting into a medical school (40%) with acceptance rate at a specific school (1-2%). 40% of applicants get in somewhere, but your chance at each school is fairly low. Of course, some schools have a slightly higher acceptance rate and some lower, my point was that it is by far the most difficult type of professional school to get into.

    Those of you who had an issue with my MCAT comments. If you score below a 30, it will of course hurt your application. You still might get into med school because the application process takes your entire file into account, but as far as the MCAT portion is concerned, you’re going to want to get above a 30 in order for the test to be a positive attribute on your application.

    1. Jen says:

      Thank you for clarifying this David. I had been looking at applicants to first year ratios and came up with the same low percentage rates. I was quite discouraged until, as you pointed out, 40% get in somewhere, meaning there is significant overlap in applications … tres cool. Excellent article btw, great advice. Much appreciated. One question, by “post-bac” do you mean a second degree, or a Masters. I ask because years ago I had low grades in the first year of my first degree (too young and foolish) I worry this will effect my overall GPA if added to my second degree for which my GPA was 3.967.

  11. subham dwivedi says:

    hi,
    I am from india.I wan to study mbbs abroad and i am confused whcich college to choose and in which country but at an affordable price.i will be thankful if u help me.

  12. P says:

    My score in mcat is only 27, gpa good, what should i do now, too much worried

  13. Harold Rust says:

    I think this is a great summary of what needs to be done to get into medical school. BTW, I am a physician and have been out of residency now for 6 years. I am now in the process of helping my son go through the whole process and I want him to avoid the mistakes that I made. My grades were only so so and I had a couple of Cs and C minuses in my tougher undergraduate classes and even though I retook those classes and got As, those grades definitely hurt my ability at first to get into medical school. I initially had a 34 on the MCAT and had some medical research as well as a lot of clinical experience. After not being accepted for a couple of tries, I ended up retaking the MCAT and posted a 38. That was what proved to them that I would succeed.

    I would emphasize that there is no one way to get into medical school, but the better your grades are and the better your MCAT score is, the more likely you will be accepted. Like the author says, there are exceptions, but the majority of people who get in have very good grades and very good MCAT scores. Each school lists their average grades and MCAT scores, so you know where you stand. This is a bell curve, so there maybe a few outliers, but the majority fit nicely into that bell curve. If you don’t have the grades or MCAT, then be extraordinary at some other aspect – I mean do overseas humanitarian projects, etc.

  14. Ali says:

    Do schools consider the rigor of your school and “poorer” grades because of that at all?

    1. jordan says:

      Yes, any med school would take a student who got a 3.2 gpa at Yale or Georgetown, vs someone who got a 3.5 at a community college or lesser accredited school.

  15. Gary says:

    I’m in the military and all I’ve had time for is mostly online courses due to deployments etc. My degree is in health sciences and I’ll be taking the next MCAT if I’m not deployed. Say I get a decent score. My question is how bad will it hurt my chances being that my degree is mostly online? GPA was 3.7.

  16. Cori says:

    Hey I’ve held a 3.0+ GPA (besides one mishap of 2.81 in the previous semester) in college and I’m graduating with my associates of science in May. I didn’t really mature and “get with the program” so to speak until just after starting college. Not great grades in HS but not bad, does that even matter? Anyways I’ll be moving on to a bigger University 2 get my Bachelor’s in Science. Do I stand a chance 2 get into med school with around a 3.0 GPA? Also I’m not very good at math i have to work pretty hard to get a B…do you use math often after bachelor’s degree? So anxiously awaiting an answer, Cori R

  17. Blaise says:

    I think the 1-2% acceptance rate is really the author using #matriculants/# verified applications a school received (probably per MSAR data). I think this number is a bit deflated because 1) schools accept a greater number of applicants than the # of students who actually matriculate, and 2) there are a lot of people who end up withdrawing their applications from particular schools at various points in the process (be it because they didn’t feel like filling out or paying for secondaries for schools they weren’t completely sure they wanted to go to or had a chance at, got into the school of their choice and didn’t feel like spending the $ to travel to interview at other schools, didn’t get LORs or other requirements in time–you get the point). However, the actual acceptance rates are obviously mostly in the single digits–still pretty low.

  18. Sadia Mebin says:

    Hiii, I’m currently a senior in a NYC public school. Actually, I’m applying to different colleges right now to be majored in the medicine track since I am really interested in pursuing a medical career in the near future. While I’m applying to these colleges, I recently researched some colleges that have 6-year pharmD programs and 4-year P.A. programs. They also have general biological sciences majors. Now, I actually don’t want to just major in a general sciences in any of these colleges (because if I want to major in these general science, there are other good colleges and I would love to go to those and have a medicine major there).Instead, I was thinking of applying to these 6 year pharmD or the 4 year P.A. program (may be) (because these programs are very good in these colleges). My question to you is that would that be a good decision to major in pharmacy or p.a.and are there ways that I can go to the medical schools even after I become a pharmacist or a physician assistant? Which field would make it easier for me to get into the medical schools? Or should I not actually apply to any of these majors and straight go to any science major? Please answer all these questions, I’ve been researching for a lot of days for these q’s answers, but didn’t find any and at last I got this website. Since you guys are experienced individuals, please help me with these qs’..

  19. Christy says:

    Hey. I’m actually from Europe and currently at my second year in med school. I was just researching American medical schools and found your article. All I can say is that it seems to be a lot harder for you to get in (we only have 6 people for 1 spot on average. We also go to med school right after high school, so you have to know what you want to do when you are 18 or 19).
    I wish everyone of you good luck in applying to med school! If you get there it will be the time of your life, just don’t forget that you have a life besides studying all the time ;)
    Good luck everyone!

    Stud Med II
    Northen Europe

  20. myinnervoice says:

    This letter exudes a false sense of superiority, as if being accepted to medical school makes one belong to a superior human species. After t you preach
    (1) There is no substitute for high grades.,
    (2) the 31-33 range is a passing grade on the MCAT. Anything lower will hurt you,,
    (etc)

    You confess with false modesty ” I applied to 25 schools, got 6 interviews, was accepted at 4 schools and wait-listed at 2.” You say this with a false modesty to an audience who will be happy to get just one admission. This my friend does not guarantee that will not become a mediocrity. I don’t say you will, I say you might. If you are my doctor and you preach with this sense of superiority I would avoid being your patient

  21. Mindy says:

    Hey, so I’m a seventeen year old girl in her Junior year of high school with this huge desire and dream to be a surgeon. I’m extremely good with anatomy and physiology, I memorize facts easy, but I tend to have a hard time with chemistry and physics. Is this going to affect me seriously? Does it get any better? I understand it, I want to understand it, but I’m not good at it, let alone taking the science portion on the ACT. I tend to procrastinate a lot and I’m working to change that, but I’m mostly worried about the money side of all this. How on earth am I to hold down a job and study vigorously for something like this? Why do they make it so difficult? Could you ever possibly write an article about that?

    Thanks so much!

    And for the record, I LOVE Grey’s Anatomy, even if it is a little romantically gushy and over-exaggerated.

  22. Vivian says:

    I was wondering how I can get started on a research, the college am currently going to does not have a research facility, but I am however transfering to one that does next semester.

  23. medques says:

    Hey,
    Some background:
    I am a sophomore at a university that is ranked in the top 60 in the U.S. (in the 50’s)
    I have decent extra curriculars, am an office assistant at my university’s med center on campus (make lab kits for nation-wide studies), and am aiming to get a clinical research assistant job in the summer (while I take physics and retake my genetics course). I am pursuing a B.S. in cell and developmental biology with a minor in clinical psychology
    I have a ton of shadowing and volunteering experiences, and will continue to get more of these whenever I can. I am focusing on my grades this semester mainly because *drumroll* I got a D in my genetics class. I did pretty well otherwise. I have never gotten anything lower than a B in any other classes thus far (I got a B- in a lab class, but the my lab teaching assistant was pretty harsh with his grading).
    I received the D during the semester where I just started working, had my first break up, and had a very ill family member that I actually went back home to see a day before one of the genetics exams.

    How badly will this affect my chances of getting into med school? my overall gpa right now is 3.39 and my science gpa is around a 3.1

    Also, I plan on studying for my MCATs starting next fall semester and wish to take them in the spring of my junior year in May probably. Is this enough time to prep?

    Any adivce/comments are appreciated!

  24. Jessica says:

    I thought this article was great for helping me find incite on the medical school process. I am only a junior in high school and i have a lot of time to prepare. I am currently taking biology, math, and anatomy college classes. I was wondering if getting a bachelors degree in nursing will help me a lot, or just slow me down. Do you even have to have a bachelors degree in order to be accepted into medical school?

    1. Ms. Daley says:

      You do need a bachelors degree or documentation of a plan on how you plan on getting one before you start medical school or before you graduate. It depends on the school. But the simple answer is yes, you do need at least a bachelors before going to medical school.

  25. Yesenia says:

    Okay so i’ve read through evrey single comment and saw some didn’t get answered. I beg for an answer! I’m 17 junior in high school I do online high school and college at the same time through concurrent enrollment. My high school GPA is not the best, but i’m working on it. My college classes are so far all A’s. I volunteer at my local hospital and i’m sure I want to become a doctor or an anesthesiologist. I’m getting my degree in nursing, is that a good idea? I don’t quite want to be a nurse although I wouldn’t mind it, but my goal has always been medical school. Should I change my major, or am I on the right track?

    1. Miranda says:

      First off, don’t worry so much! You’ve got to enjoy your life; being a “pre-med robot” will not help you to get into medical school. You’ll want to show that you have your own passions and interests outside of medicine as well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you’re volunteering and already considering how you will do in the future! Just make sure you don’t let it consume you.

      As far as your major (working on the same track here), go for whatever you’re interested in. Know, however, that those who major in biology or chemistry (or whatever other generic pre-med major you can think of) generally have an advantage in that others in their community of classmates are on the same track as them, most prerequisites are built into your schedule already, and they have more people to talk to about preparing & about the application process.

      However, I majored in exercise science at the University of Pittsburgh, and I had no issues finishing the pre-med requirements, gaining volunteer work, research, shadowing, etc. And, I truly enjoyed my undergraduate experience. I was still able to make friends in those general science classes I did take, and found people to share the application process with. Also, our class size was smaller (about 45 as compared to the 200-some of other science majors) so I had a more personal experience with our professors. It helped me to get better letters of recommendation.

      I am not by ANY means bashing science majors. If you love general sciences, go for it! It’s a great way to prepare and to have the advanced courses built right into your schedule to study for the MCAT, and it will be easier to find a good group of people to work with through the application process. But, keep in mind, medical schools certainly will not look down on you if you choose to major in dance, spanish, or whatever else you choose so long as you are able to meet the prerequisites they desire. In fact, some admissions officers (not all, obviously) may even prefer that you do, because it shows you as versatile and hard working because the classes are not built into your schedule.

      Just weigh your own options and preferences, and enjoy it! I hope this is helpful for you!

  26. Ms. Daley says:

    Hello, I am in my senior year of college. I graduate in December 2013. My GPA is currently a 2.8. I have enough classes left so that I can bring my GPA above a 3.0. Also I just had a little boy this past December. I have not and will not be taking a semester off. I have no real medical or volunteer experience since starting college. I spend a lot of time working and going to school and now taking care of an infant. My time is very limited. This is something that I still want and have wanted ever since I was three. I have been debating if I should continue going after being a physician or should I take the shorter/ slightly easier route and try for physician assistant. Or if I should just pursue something completely different. What do you think? Should I toss out all hope of ever being a doctor or of even working in the health field?

  27. Eddie says:

    I understand that medical schools tend not to accept too many international students because they need to “protect” those jobs for that country’s residents. So lets say I am a Canadian who took my undergraduate degree in the US but am applying to a Canadian medical school after receiving my bachelor’s degree. Does anybody know if the chances of getting in as an applicant from a US university are the same as if I received my bachelor’s degree in Canada?

  28. Eileen says:

    I am so very discouraged, depressed and disappointed. I’ve applied to 34 med schools….all in July 2012……and have NOT had one interview yet. Received secondaries from all the schools. I still am waiting to hear from the last 6 schools (or will they be a silent rejection?). I have a 34 on my MCAT, getting my masters in clinical research, and have a lower division gpa of 3.9 (graduated with honors) and a graduate gpa of a 4.2. I have great letters of rec and loads of hospital volunteering. All my essays were read by several people. WHY NO INTERVIEWS? Help me understand this torture!

    1. Joe says:

      If you applied with those stats and didn’t get a single interview, then there has to be something that was wrong with your application. I would contact all the schools that rejected to you to get feedback on why you weren’t accepted and then take another look at your application from there. Good luck. I know this process is a crapshoot, but it’ll be worth it in the end if this is really what you want to do.

  29. Keep it Real says:

    Family connections serve as great tools to get people into medical schools as well.

  30. kaitlyn larson says:

    Thank you very much. I am 15 years old and I really want to be a general surgeon, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for it.

  31. Jacky says:

    hello,

    So I’m in my second year ready to transfer to a four-year university. I’ve gotten A’s in all of my classes (including biology and chemistry) except in calculus II. I will most likely end up with a C at the end of the semester. Even though this grade will not be calculated into my GPA at the school that I’m transferring into, should I be worried about the C that will be showing on my transcript? I signed up to take Calc II again in the summer but I am still contemplating whether or not it’s really that necessary.

    advice needed!

  32. Gymus says:

    A big question for me is, Does a 52-year-old stand a chance? It has been 11 years since I last graduated, but before that I earned a B.S. in Psychology, two M.A.’s in Psychology (animal behavior, neuroscience), and one Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience. I have also spent about 16 years as an adjunct college professor. Maybe I’ll be able to cruise through the courses?

    1. person says:

      There is no cut-limit age to go into med school…. you can go at ANY age. In fact, the more experience you have, the better. The questions is do you really want to spend 5-6 years more of your life in school at this age? [ approximately 2 year post-bac (since the curiculum of required science courses you took back as an undergrad needs to be RE-taken), 3 years in med school, and 1 year residency, then speciality, etc] so the answer is that is up to you and how badly you want to do it. If you do decide to go into med school…I am not an expert nor can I predict the future, but your life, maturity and enormous experience and qualifications at this point deff make you stand out of the rest with a high likelihood to get in (if of course you do well in those science courses + mcat… but since you Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience+ adjunct college professor, the science courses prob won’t be too hard for you I am assuming) ;)

      1. person says:

        and yes one should never give up his dreams :)

      2. person says:

        Oh I forgot to add mcat yes but also need to volunteer and do lots shadowing work ;) good luck!

  33. Tagan says:

    Don’t give up

  34. Dani says:

    ‘I don’t like the MCAT, I don’t support the MCAT, in fact I hate the MCAT, but you need to post a decent score. In my non-expert opinion, the 31-33 range is a passing grade on the MCAT.’ Getting into Med School

    Scoring a 31-33 range as a passing MCAT score is a bit to high for some med students today. My sister got a 30 and is going to the U of M medical school, which I’m very proud
    at!

    1. OT says:

      Hi, may I ask is your sister a URM? I got a 30 and plan to retake. I am a MI resident and UM is my first choice becasue of research, but thought it was impossible with this MCAT..

      1. Applying this cycle says:

        It is. The applicant must have done something very unique or is a URM.

      2. Applying this cycle says:

        Or she could mean University of Minnesota…still would be hard with a 30. Definitely retake and aim for like 36+ if you want to get into MI.

  35. Andrew Cataldi says:

    Hey guys, im not sure if people even still look at this. But if you are, im only 16 and its my dream to become a neurosurgeon. Im obviously very young, but i havent been doing that great in school. Im just an average B or C student. I admit that i dont study often,and i have small issues with not doing homework. Since my grades werent that great my freshman and sophmore year i thought i would have to start out at a community college for 2 years, to really crack down and then transfer to a 4 year college.(of course my junior year im also going to try a lot harder) Will i still have a good chance of getting into a med school if i do this and my grades are good?

    I dont have a issue with doing the actual studying. I just get distracted by video games and stupid stuff. Hopefully ill get out of all that before this year ends.

  36. Austin says:

    You know what bugs me; not only are you you wasting your time posting on a blog about your shitty grades, you are justifying the possibility of improvement with no signs of indicating a change in your academic ambition. The fact that you not only made a C in a basic chemistry class, but then subsequently made an additional C or quote, “A B if I’m lucky..”after making the mistake of fucking up tells me 2 things: 1. You do not understand what you are getting into and 2. You are not even close to even having the right attitude, much less the skill, work ethic, ambition or intelligence it takes to even be considered for medical school. Its sick how everyone wants to be a doctor but for all the wrong reasons. You are not only wasting your time and money, but your adviser’s and your professors’ time as well. If you attend college you must work. Clearly you are an ignoramus that is not only pathetically lazy, but incompetent for college work even at the undergraduate level. Its people like you that undermine the scope of what being a doctor really is about and I am glad that admission standards are competitive to weed out the lazy shits that idolize House and think being a doctor is one big fucking game. Piss off and reevaluate your life.

    1. Andrew says:

      Your not talking to me right cause i haven’t even taken chemistry yet? lol

  37. Leticia says:

    Hello, I am a senior in high school and almost freshmen in college, I am so sad because I miss the early acceptance program application and I don’t know if that is going to affect me. I took some classes in high school 20 credits but i got two A- so I have a GPA of 3.90. Do you think I am going to make it to medical school, or what should I do? I really have the desire to become a Doctor

    1. smitchell says:

      @Leticia, 3.90 GPA is great. Realize that you don’t need to be bulletproof to be accepted into medical school. Sure the early acceptance program is a great thing, but so is completing a bachelor’s degree and being accepted via the traditional method. Take some deep breaths and enjoy your life and realize that all is not lost.

  38. leticia says:

    Sorry but I have another question for you what is better for me a biomedicine major or a biology major, what major do you think is the best for me if i want to go to medicine school?

  39. Leah says:

    I’m an LPN going to start at an online university here in Canada to do a bridging program to become an RN. This is my best option as I am a single mother, and need to work full time to provide for us. I may not be able to do this online degree at a full-time basis, but will be pretty close to it. I’m trying to figure out if having an online degree will look bad on an application to medical school? I’ve emailed a few here and they say as long as it’s an accredited university, which it is, it doesn’t matter. But some people tell me they don’t really consider online studies. Any words of wisdom?

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