6 Steps to Qualify for Medical School
Getting into medical school is not for the faint of heart. The qualification process can be rigorous and daunting, with most med schools accepting a fraction of applicants. However, if you focus on the following six steps, you have a better chance of gaining acceptance and advancing to the medical degree you desire.
Earn the Highest Grades
The first criterium admissions committees will typically review on your application is your grade point average to ensure your GPA meets the minimum standard for the school. To be on the safe side, you should achieve a 3.8 GPA, but a minimum of 3.6 is often the baseline. Acceptable GPA may differ between science/math courses and non-related curriculum.
On average, national GPAs for matriculating med students in 2018-2019 were:
- BPCM GPA: 3.65
- Non-science GPA: 3.8
- Overall GPA: 3.72
Crush the MCAT
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a key differentiator in the eyes of admissions officers. The highest score you can achieve is 528, and typically a 520+ MCAT score will make you a very competitive applicant. Therefore, this test should not be taken lightly.
According to The Princeton Review, the average MCAT score for admitted med school students in the 2017-2018 school year was 510-511. So, you should plan for plenty of studying, prepare by taking multiple practice tests (well before your deadline date), and take an MCAT class to familiarize yourself with the format and content of the exam.
Actively Pursue Extracurricular Activities/Volunteering
To be a standout candidate, you should involve yourself in one or two relevant extracurricular activities that you enjoy. Preferably, these will be volunteer opportunities that provide healthcare support to a population.
Volunteering demonstrates your commitment to community and shows a desire to help others. Don’t plan to just show up, rather use these hours to show the med school admissions board how you stand out among your peers. While your volunteer hours don’t need to be directly related to healthcare, the closer the work is to the medical field the better.
Gain Real-world Experience
Along with community involvement, medical schools like to see that you have practical experience within a medical organization. One way to do this is by gaining clinical experience in a local hospital or medical practice. You can shadow a physician, seek mentorship from a medical professional, or accept an internship to experience the challenges of healthcare delivery.
Find an Advisor Early
Getting guidance from a career counselor familiar with the medical school experience can be extremely valuable. A “pre-health advisor” can be one of your best resources along your path to medical school, so look for a qualified counselor early in your application process.
A pre-health advisor can be found in the academic dean’s office, a health or science professor, or a counselor in the career services office. Whether you access this resource in college or high school, they will help you map out a coursework strategy that will help you progress in a manageable manner.
Communicate Your Fit
One of the key considerations for admissions offices is how you’ll fit in the med school setting. They aren’t simply looking for a headcount of students; they want to know you’ll enhance to the school experience.
So you’ll need to express how your experiences and interests are a great match for that program. Being overly complimentary about the school won’t win you points. Instead, stress how your background, interests, and goals fit with the school’s mission and how your attendance will contribute to its community.