Pre-Medicine Frequently Asked Questions

What should my major be?

Most medical schools do not require a specific major. Therefore, you may major in almost anything. You should consider a major which you enjoy, in which you will perform well and which may serve as a basis for further graduate work or employment should you choose not to apply to or are not admitted to medical school. Admissions committees expect variety in educational programs, so you should take courses in a wide variety of subject areas, no matter what you decide to declare as a major.

What is so hard about being pre-med?

For many students, the most difficult task is to acquire the study skills and self-discipline necessary to attain academic excellence. The success of your transition to college level work depends not only on ability, but also upon preparation, motivation, organization and how well you learn how to learn. It is important that you really learn the material, not just memorize it, as it is crucial to develop your critical thinking skills. The rigorous curriculum of a pre-medical student demands tenacity and stamina. 

What is the difference between Allopathic (M.D.) and Osteopathic (D.O.) medicine? What does it take to be competitive for each? 

In allopathic medicine, an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) focuses on the treatment or suppression of symptoms and diseases using drugs, surgery and other forms of conventional or mainstream medicine. Read more here.

A D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) is a licensed, board certified physician, who has attended medical school and has completed a residency in a medical specialty. Osteopathic physicians are known to approach diagnosis and medical treatment in a holistic manner. Many D.O.'s specialize in primary care. Read more here

What are the admissions requirements?

Click here for a listing of core preqequistes for most health professions.

Generally, most medical schools require one year of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics designed for science majors.  All courses should have laboratory components. 

Many schools also require one year of college-level math and some schools also require or recommend upper level sciences, a year of English composition, humanities and/or social sciences. Students should speak with a PPAC advisor and consult the admissions literature for the specific requirements  at each school in which you are interested. 

 

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test is a standardized test that measures aptitude and achievement in science, critical thinking and other areas related to the study of medicine. Medical schools require that you take the MCAT prior to admission. We suggest familiarizing yourself with the MCAT early on and treating MCAT preparation as a full time job over the course of the year that you will take the test. Understanding the test can positively affect what you learn in class and how you choose to retain that 

The four sections of the MCAT exam are:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Visit the PPAC's MCAT page for more resources and information

As you can see, much of the MCAT focuses on reading and writing skills, so students should stretch themselves your general education courses and read beyond class requirements. The training will serve you well when you take the MCAT. Visit the American Association of Colleges of Medicine (AAMC) for MCAT information.

When do I take the MCAT?

Generally, you apply to medical schools before the beginning of your senior year (or a year before you plan to enter), so you should take the admissions test by the spring or summer after your junior year.

We encourage you to be as prepared as possible the first time you take the testIf offered during the application cycle, you may repeat the test if you are not happy with your scores and have intentionally improved your test preparation strategies. A Pre-Professional advisor can discuss preparation plans with you.

What do medical schools consider when evaluating applicants?

The criteria for admission varies from school to school, but usually include academic record (GPA), MCAT, letters of recommendation, demonstrated knowledge and commitment to the profession through experience and personal attributes and a personal interview.

Personal characteristcs such as integrity and maturity are considered. Early in your college career you should consider exploring the medical field through volunteering, employment, shadowing and research for credit.

What GPA do I have to have to get into medical school? 

This varies from school to school. However, the majority of students accepted to medical school have a GPA of approximately 3.5 or higher. It is particularly important that you perform well in your science courses. It is important for those considering professional school to be realistic about the extent to which performance meets admissions expectations.

Allopathic/M.D. programs

2015/2016 Statistics

Applicants

Admitted

Average Overall GPA

3.55

3.67

Average Science GPA

3.45

3.60

Average Non-science GPA

3.69

3.77

Average MCAT Score

502.1 (57% rank)

504.8 (77% rank)

# of Applicants

50,468

# of Matriculates

20,039

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (www.aamc.org)

 

Osteopathic/D.O. programs

2015 Statistics

Admitted

Average Overall GPA

3.47

Average Science GPA

3.37

Average Non-science GPA

3.57

Average MCAT Score

26.31 (55% rank)

# of Applicants

 20,447

# of Matriculates

 6,392

Source: American Associatin of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (www.aacom.org)

 

Is it all over if I have a bad semester?

Admission committees look at the "big picture" as they evaluate applicants. They realize that every student does not hit the ground running when they enter college. Admission committees expect an excellent academic record, but may make some allowances for a problem quarter, slow start or rough spot. If academic problems arise, you must bounce back and perform better than ever to show that the problem was an exception, rather than the rule. Use resources such as professor and T.A. office hours, the Learning Assistance Center and other Academic Excellence & Support Services offices.

Will I need letters of recommendation? 

Yes. Most schools require two letters from science professors that have had you in class and one letter from a non-science professor. Some D.O. programs require a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician. Some medical schools allow you to have additional letters.

Is financial aid available?

Amounts and types of aid vary from school to school, as does the cost of your education. You should investigate the costs early in your undergraduate career. Knowing that you are probably going to incur a substantial loan debt for medical school may affect the way that you borrow for your undergraduate education. Most applicants are eligible for government originated aid; apply during January of your application cycle, even if you are still waiting to find out whether or not you have been accepted. Apply for aid at fafsa.gov. For more information on financing your medical education, visit the AAMC and the AACOM.

Health Professions Scholarship Program is offered via the US Air Force; US Army; and US Navy. These programs typically cover 100% of medical school tuition and fees, along with a bonus or stipend.

If you are a low-income applicant you may be eligible for the AAMC Fee Assistance Program or an AACOM Fee Waiver. This will help offset costs of taking the MCAT and applying to medical school.

How can the Pre-Professional Advising Center (PPAC) help me? 

Preparing for admission to medical school requires careful long-range planning and accurate information. The PPAC specializes in providing you with necessary information and helping you develop good planning skills. The staff of the PPAC provides you with help through each step of the way. PPAC provides services including course selection, career exploration, time management tips, information on individual schools, admissions test preparation advice, managing letters of recommendation and links to ways to get experience in health care settings.

You probably have more questions. Please contact us to make an appointment. It is never too early to start planning.