Getting admission into a medical school is a process that begins long before you apply to a particular school or program. As daunting as that may sound, your track to medical school and a lifetime profession isn’t necessarily challenging, but rather tedious. Given that it can take such a long time to get into medical school, here is a comprehensive guide to help you be successful in your journey.
Getting into medical school often requires students to showcase their interest in medical sciences and have a foundational understanding of science and medicine. This doesn’t mean you need a comprehensive knowledge of practicing medicine; it simply means taking up classes such as anatomy, pathology, chemistry, and others that relate to science and medicine can do the trick for you in terms of setting your professional foundation.
The first thing a review board takes notice of in applicants of a medical program is their grades in high school and undergrad. What they’re after are your science and medical-related subject grades. This means, in some cases, you could have a mediocre GPA, but all A’s in science-related courses and that alone may be enough to impress the review board. Either way, it’s a good idea to keep your grades high and shoot for an overall GPA of 3.5 or better.
MCAT Score (505 or greater)
Your next step (and a vital one) is taking the Medical College Admission Test. This is similar to the ones you take to get into colleges such as ACT or SAT, except it’s more specific to medical knowledge and is a major determining factor of your chances of getting into medical school. The most basic requirement for almost any medical program is a 505 on the MCAT or greater; anything higher than that will only help you. However, if you score less than 505, then it’s a good idea to revisit the test at a later date and submit that to your college admission review board. Some of the topics the MCAT covers are:
- Organic Chemistry
- Reasoning Skills
The MCAT is also restricted on how many times you can take it within one calendar year, so it’s important to start preparing well in advance. A student may only take the MCAT up to three times in one calendar year, and that’s why it’s important to gather study materials and practice questions to prep for the test as early on as possible. Also, it is imperative to keep in mind that most medical school review boards can see how times you took the MCAT. Most reviewers expect at least two attempts, but beyond that, the reviewers may deny your application because you took the MCAT too many times in their eyes.
Another significant aspect of getting into medical school is bringing good recommendations. It is advisable to consider the subject matter that MCAT covers and get recommendations from professors in those categories. It is important to note that your recommendations should be personal. If the professor writes a generic blurb for each of the 300 students in the class, then the review board will not be as impressed with your application. Instead, you need a highly personal recommendation from relevant professors with credentials like past research work or other notable academic certificates. Try to get these as early as possible and for every year that you’re in school to boost your application.
Another aspect of getting into medical school is the ability to stand out. When half of the applicants have good grades, relevant classes, a good MCAT score, and recommendations, then you need to go above and beyond to secure a place. Your something extra doesn’t need to be medical-related but needs to be something unique and something which shows your good character. Whether it’s starting a local non-profit, volunteering time somewhere, going on a crazy adventure, make it memorable and something that is a conversation starter. A good rule of thumb is if you mention the experience and people ask for more details, then it’s likely a good story.
Putting together a primary application can be daunting. You should first do a “rough draft” application and then have experienced people like current doctors, or other academics read it over. Have them all give an honest opinion and feedback. This will help tremendously since it’s like a practice run with a review board, except this time, the results are just for the course. Keep their advice close to heart and alter your primary application according to their recommendations. Remember that every doctor and medical professional also got accepted into medical school and likely knows what works and what may not.
Medical School Interview
Upon your application into medical school, you’ll be called in for an interview with the review board. For many, this can be intimidating and downright ruin their chances since many people freeze up and perform poorly when under pressure. In that case, ask for several peers or other medical professionals to conduct “mock” interviews to practice for the real thing. Once you feel ready, schedule your consultation, and go in prepared. Study what you put on your primary application, take your time answering questions, dress nicely, and in turn, ask great questions about the program.