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Preparing for Medical School

  1. Find out if this is what you want to do:
    • Shadow or interview a physician or a medical student.
    • Read all you can about the profession.
    • Volunteer in a hospital or clinic.
  2. Find out about requirements and procedures for specific medical schools:
    • The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) publishes medical school admission requirements each year. You can purchase them directly from AAMC.
    • You may also want to write for catalogs from specific medical schools or look for their websites on the Internet. This is a great way to get information quickly.
    • The pre-medical studies resource room (Life Science Building, Room 2058) has a variety of reference materials.
  3. Make yourself a competitive applicant:
    • Grade point average will be calculated both cumulatively and in math/sciences courses. Both are important! A competitive GPA is over 3.50 on a four-point scale. You will need to get on track quickly, as it becomes impossible to significantly raise a cumulative GPA as you accumulate more and more credits. Also keep in mind you will be applying after your junior year; you cannot plan to "fix" any GPA problems with senior year classes, even if it is mathematically possible.
    • MCAT scores are critical. Most medical schools expect scores of at least nine on each of the three sections. An average overall MCAT score of 30 is a good ballpark goal.
    • You should plan to take the MCAT in April of your junior year, if possible. This means you must complete the required coursework prior to this time.
    • Preparation for the MCAT should begin your freshman year! Get the student manual from AAMC to learn about the exam and obtain appropriate extra materials and practice tests. AED gives a mock MCAT each February; take it before the real thing.
    • Volunteer work, job shadowing, independent studies, team-oriented activities, involvement in community or campus organizations — all of these are activities that get you around people.
    • Consider independent research. It is valuable — both on you application and as an exposure to other options in the sciences — and many successful applicants have been active in undergraduate research.
    • Take courses that help make you a "well-rounded" person, not just a science geek. Do not shy away from "difficult" courses in an attempt to bolster your GPA. Rigor of coursework is important as well.
    • Work on your written and oral communication skills.
    • Be realistic. If your grades and/or MCAT scores are below acceptable levels, you must make a decision about what you are going to do. You can either pursue a course of action that will lead to improvement or think about alternative careers, in the health professions or in a different field. Sophomores should have at least a 3.30 GPA.
  4. Apply to medical schools early and follow the rules:
    • You will apply through centralized services - American Medical College Application Service(AMCAS) or American College of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS).
    • Apply early. Applications are accepted starting June 1, and you should have yours in as soon after that as possible, certainly no later than Aug. 1.
    • Individual medical schools then have the option of sending supplemental applications to you if they choose to do so. These must be completed and returned in a timely fashion.
    • Be sure that you have letters of recommendation from individual professors sent to the Pre-Medical Studies Office by the time supplemental applications are coming in to you. The pre-medical advisor will compose a composite letter to be sent to medical schools.
    • Provide updates about completed coursework, awards, changes of addresses, etc.
    • If you are invited for an interview, think about possible questions for the schools as well as questions they might ask you.
    • Conduct yourself professionally in all your interactions with application services and schools.