By the time you reach the point of the medical school admissions process, you may feel like you have spent a good portion of your life preparing for this moment. The admissions committees look at so many different factors when selecting their candidates, and you want to make sure you capture the attention of the admissions committee. Only a very small percentage of applicants ultimately make it through the admissions process and into medical school. You want your resume to include extraordinary experiences and show that you have made a distinct effort to begin your commitment to the medical profession through your actions and activities.
The road to becoming a medical doctor is long and arduous. It is a path that needs to start early. Before you even get to the point of the medical school admissions process, you need to be well prepared in different areas. When considering whether you need to enlist medical school admissions consulting assistance, you need to make sure that you are ready to begin the admissions process.
Specific Traits Medical Schools Look For
There are 19 specific traits that medical schools look for in their candidates. As you plan your path to medical school, you will want to incorporate activities that will show these traits:
- Psychological maturity, or grace under pressure
- Strength of character: honesty and integrity
- C0mpassion, empathy and concern for others
- Respectfulness, understanding and sensitivity
- Interpersonal skills
- Cultural competence
- Social consciousness
- Strong work ethic and self-discipline
- Commitment to medicine
- Persistence, perseverance and resilience
- Good judgement
- Communication skills
- Listening skills
- Practical medical experience
- Research experience
Many of these traits are identified through the activities you participate in during both high school and college. Some may be an important part of your letters of recommendation. Other traits are demonstrated during your admissions interview. Among these, you will want to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Preparation Starts in High School
Planning for medical school needs to begin long before you begin your pre-med studies. Starting in high school, you need to focus on your grades. Good grades in high school will help you get into the right undergraduate program. You need to be well-prepared to take and nail your SATs and ACTs. It is the right combination of test scores and grade point average to get you into the best colleges. You should strive to keep your grade point average (GPA) above 3.7 at all times.
Choose your classes carefully. Medical schools require a well-rounded combination of math, sciences, humanities and social sciences. You will want to get into as many AP classes as possible. Showing advanced proficiency for learning from the earliest level will bode well as you move forward towards your ultimate goal of medical school.
High School Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities at the high school level are an essential start for your medical school resume. Opportunities to show leadership and initiative start during these critical and formative teenage years. For example, being Captain of the football team can seem like a simple teenage rite of passage; however, it is actually your first foray into a true leadership role. It also shows your work ethic, teamwork abilities, perseverance, and communication skills.
Another option is to join various after school clubs. There might be a future doctors club that would be a good fit. That would show your commitment to medicine from a young age. Similarly, volunteer work in a local hospital or nursing home shows compassion and charity.
Researching Medical Schools
It might seem like it is too early for such things, but it is important that you begin researching medical schools and identifying your target programs before deciding where to pursue your undergraduate degree. While many of the admissions requirements are shared between schools, many of the top-tier medical programs will require you to take specific classes. Medical schools are classified as top tier, mid-tier and lower tier. The GPA and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores required are shown below:
Top-Tier Medical Schools
Top-tier medical schools are the top ten schools in the United States and include Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Mayo Clinic, Columbia, UCLA and others. The average GPA to get accepted into these schools is 3.9 and the average MCAT score ranges from 519 to 522. Acceptance rates for these schools is three percent to approximately six percent.
Mid-Tier Medical Schools
Mid-tier medical schools are the top eleven to twenty schools in the United States and include UC San Diego, Yale, Cornell, Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. The average GPA is 3.8 and the average MCAT is 517 to 520. -Average acceptance rate for these schools is four to six percent.
Lower-Tier Medical Schools
Lower-tier medical schools include the top twenty-one to fifty in the United States. Notable among the lower-tier schools are Baylor, Georgetown, UN Chapel Hill, Ohio State, Emory and Dartmouth. The average GPA is 3.6 to 3.8 and the average MCAT is 510 to 516. Average acceptance for these schools is six to ten percent.
Other medical schools that are ranked in the top 100 include many other notable US institutions and various international schools. The average GPA is still 3.5 to 3.8 and the average MCAT ranges from 503 to 510. Average acceptance for these schools is 10 to 16 percent, with some schools at a low two percent and others at 20 percent.
In some ways, the undergraduate program you choose can help you get into the medical program you want. Many of the prestigious Ivy League schools have more resources to help you be successful than a state school might. At the same time, your choice of undergraduate program might not hold that much weight. It is not always your best choice to do your undergraduate studies at the same school you target for medical school. Taking the right classes and successfully completing them with the right grades and recommendations is your most important take-away from your undergrad years.
Keep in mind that you will need to take your MCAT exam at the end of your sophomore year. You might not want to take an overly heavy class load that semester as MCAT preparation will require an estimated 200 to 300 hours of your time.
There is no guarantee that completing your undergrad degree in biology will give you an edge over someone who majored in chemistry. While most of those who are accepted into medical school are science majors, there is one thing that all successful medical school candidates have in common: no matter what their major was, their courses all met the medical school’s stringent prerequisite course requirements.
According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) you should choose whichever major is most interesting to you. You will do better in school you are studying something that holds your attention.
It is best if you do not pursue a different health degree if your ultimate goal is an MD or DO. You should only pursue a health degree that you intend to dedicate your life to. There is one notable exception to this rule. An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification is a valuable medical precursor. EMTs get hands-on medical experience and are required to have substantial knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Being able to add EMT to your medical school resume also shows traits valuable for doctors, including commitment to the medical field, compassion and a number of other traits. Being an EMT is also a great way to earn money towards medical school.
With that said, most successful medical school candidates major in either biology, mathematics or physical science. There is a smaller percentage who were accepted with their degrees in humanities or some of the softer sciences.
Grade Point Average
Medical schools accept students with a 3.5 grade point average or above. The average acceptable GPA 3.5 to 3.9. Most top-tier schools will not consider a candidate with less than a 3.9. Conversely, there are also a few schools that will accept a slightly lower GPA if their MCAT scores can make up for it. If you find yourself in this classification, investing in medical school admissions consulting can be a valuable asset.
Most extracurricular activities for undergraduate programs are related to medical fraternities and sororities and honors organizations. There are greater opportunities for gaining some research and practical medical experience. Extracurricular activities chosen from this point forward can help you in not only your pursuit of admission to medical school, but throughout your medical career.
Relationships that you develop from this point forward serve as your network for the rest of your career. This is where you start developing relationships with medical professionals. Identifying your chosen specialty is something that you will want to start thinking about before you get to medical school.
One of the most exceptional and important activities you can pursue prior to beginning medical school is any type of doctor shadowing. This is always possible at local hospitals and clinics, but a life-altering experience such as that gained through an international internship such as International Medical Aid’s Pre-Medicine Internship abroad program is unparalleled. Spending time shadowing international physicians in an underprivileged country can bring the field of medicine into a new perspective.
When you focus your undergraduate extracurricular activities on your future in medicine, it is an opportunity to fully ignite the passion inside you for this most prestigious of careers. Experiences such as these will help you stand out to admission committees. Some of these programs, such as the MedicalAid program, even include medical school admission consulting as a benefit.
Preparing for the MCAT is something that you should do consistently. It is estimated that a good 200-300 hours of prep should be sufficient. Make sure that you regularly schedule you study sessions.
The first thing you should do to begin your MCAT prep is to take a practice exam. There are a number of good study books on the market that contain sample and practice exams and test questions. If you need more structure, there are programs where you will go to classes to prepare for the test.
There are numerous resources for free MCAT study questions. Many of these are subscription services that will send you a question or two per day. MCAT study questions will allow you to familiarize yourself with the test question formats and see the detail expected from the answers.
The Medical College Admission Examination (MCAT)
One of the most grueling and pivotal events of your entire undergrad and pre-med experience will come the day that you sit for your MCAT exam. The exam is usually taken at the end of your sophomore year and requires an estimated 200 to 300 hours of preparation time. The importance of this event cannot be stressed enough as your results will impact your choices of Medical school.
The MCAT exam is a 230-question standardized exam that is broken down into four separate sections. Each section is worth a maximum of 132 points for a maximum potential highest possible score of 528. These questions are broken into four sections:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Critical Analytics and Reasoning Skills
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
The breakdown by scientific discipline is as follows:
- Physics, 15 questions
- Biochemistry, 30 questions
- Biology, 45 questions
- Critical Analytics and Reasoning, 53 questions
- General Chemistry, 20 questions
- Organic Chemistry, 11 questions
- Psychology, 38 questions
- Sociology, 18 questions
Including breaks, you will have six hours and 15 minutes to complete the examination.
The Medical School Admissions Process
Applying to medical school is now done through a centralized process known as AMCAS. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has a standardized application system that most American medical schools participate in. The AMCAS application submissions program allows you to submit your application to all the schools you wish to apply to without having to duplicate the actual application effort.
Your primary application has sections that you will need to fill out as completely as possible. If you are filling out your application prior to receiving your MCAT scores, there are opportunities to update information on your application. The AMCAS system has all the information you need regarding deadlines and requirements of the individual schools. The Sections of the application include:
- Sections One through Three are where you will enter your most basic identification and contact information
- Section Four: Coursework. This is where you will document your coursework and include your undergrad transcripts. This section can be updated as needed after your initial application submission.
- Section Five: Work experience, extracurricular activities and awards.
- Section Six: Letters of Evaluation.
- Section Seven: Medical Schools. List the medical schools you wish to apply to.
- Section Eight: Personal Statement Essay.
- Section Nine: MCAT scores.
You will have the opportunity to choose one medical school to apply for early decision. These applications need to be submitted directly to the school you want the most. You will always receive a response to your early decision application by October 1, giving you plenty of time to apply to more other programs.
Secondary applications are medical school-specific. Once you have submitted your AMCAS application, you will receive secondary application requests from the individual schools. Follow the directions closely and pay attention to deadlines as each program will have slightly different deadlines.
The secondary application is your opportunity to tell the school why you want to attend their specific program. It is usually in essay format, so pay attention to detail. This is one of the areas where you may choose to get help from a medical school admissions consulting program. The secondary application tells you that the school is interested in hearing more about you.
Personal Statement Essay
Your personal statement essay is your opportunity to sell yourself as a future medical doctor. You will want to include details about how you have come to want to attend medical school. What are your passions? The personal statement essay needs to be uniquely you. Include anecdotes that demonstrate your passion for the medical profession.
The personal statement is the vehicle you use to grab the attention of the admissions committee. It is also one of those things that you may want to have medical school admissions consulting review and advise on. In many ways, this essay is the most important section of your application.
As you get closer to acceptance, you will be called in for an admission interview. This is the final step before acceptance into a medical school. Each school will ask different questions, so the interview can be difficult to prepare for. The questions can be both personal and scientific. This is the medical school’s final opportunity to meet the real you before deciding if they want you in their program.
While this interview is hard to plan and prepare for, medical school admission consulting representatives can advise you how to prepare based on their own unique experiences. Practice interviews are a great way to prepare for the real thing.
Using Medical School Admissions Consulting Services
Some medical school candidates may need a little help from time to time during the admissions process while others might need substantial help. When you enlist the services of IMA Admissions Consulting, you can receive guidance in many forms:
- Strategy sessions
- Primary application assistance
- Secondary application assistance
- Interview prep
- Pre-med program guidance
- Letters of evaluation
- Personal statement essay unlimited support
- MCAT score evaluation
Students Who Will Most Benefit from Medical School Admissions Consulting
Some students will find that they need the assistance of Medical school admissions consulting. The students who benefit the most include:
- Students who do not have medical professionals mentoring them.
- Students who believe that their application is weak.
- Students who have trouble writing their personal statement essay.
- Students who need more self confidence.
- Students who need help getting ready for their interview.
Choosing the Right Medical School Admissions Consulting
Every medical school admissions consulting service is different. Some of these services offer package deals that can be quite expensive. Other services may charge by the hour. What is most important in choosing the right medical school admissions consulting option is choosing the one that you feel will be best for you.
At IMA, we offer a personalized service. Our medical school admissions consulting specialists respond to every request within 24 hours. We make ourselves available to you on your schedule. IMA consultants do not believe in placing limitations on your personal statement essay edits. Our professionals have helped many students over the years get into top tier schools. Best of all, for every student who participates in an IMA internship abroad opportunity is automatically enrolled in our medical school admissions consulting service upon satisfactory completion of the program requirements.
Getting into medical school is the culmination of years of planning and hard work. You are excited by the prospect of spending your life as a doctor. It is finally to the point of actually getting accepted by the medical school of your choice. The professionals at IMA Admissions Consulting are ready to help you realize your dream. Contact us today to discover how we can help you with your medical school admissions process.