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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 freshmen, 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. There will be "star" students in your classes and for the first time in your academic career, you may have to work harder than some students. This can be discouraging.

Is it difficult to get into medical school? 

Yes. Here are recent (2012) national statistics for allopathic and osteopathic applications:

Allopathic/M.D. programs

2013 Statistics



Average Overall GPA



Average Science GPA



Average Non-science GPA



Average MCAT Score



# of Applications Received

# of Applicants


# of Matriculates


Average # of applications


Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (

Osteopathic/D.O. programs

2013 Statistics



Average Overall GPA



Average Science GPA



Average Non-science GPA



Average MCAT Score



# of Applications Received


# of Applicants


# of Matriculates


Average # of applications


Source: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (

What is a D.O.?

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. 

What are the minimal admissions requirements?

Generally, most medical schools require one year each of general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics designed for science majors. All courses should have laboratory components. At the University of Cincinnati, that translates to:

  • Biology I and II -   BIOL 1081/1081L  and  BIOL 1082/1082L
  • General Chemistry I and II - CHEM 1040/1040L and CHEM 1041/1041L
  • Organic Chemistry I and II - CHEM 2040/2040L  and  CHEM 2041/2041L
  • General Physics I and II - PHYS 1051/1051L  and  1052/1052L (*algebra-based, though calculus-based physics is accepted)

    It's important to note that all of the courses above must accompany a lab, which is labeled "L".

  • Biochemistry - CHEM 3040   Introduction to Biochemistry                                                                                                                                                                       or
    MEDS 3020   Introduction to Medical Biochemistr
    (via the College of Medicine)             
    MEDS 4027 & MEDS 4028 Principles of Biochemistry I & II (Both courses are required to fulfill the requirement if choosing this option.) Courses are offered via the College of Medicine.

  • Anatomy and Physiology  BIOL2001C and BIOL 2002C or BIOL 3020C Human and Comparative Anatomy

  • Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 1001)

  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC 1001)

Many schools also require one year of college-level math. Speak to a pre-professional advisor about your math options.

Some schools also require or recommend upper level sciences, a year of English composition, humanities and/or social sciences. You should consult the admissions literature for the specific requirements and recommended courses at each school in which you are interested. If you are interested in a particular school, you should learn as much about that school as you possibly can early on.

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, as do podiatry schools. We suggest familiarizing yourself with the MCAT as early as your freshman year so that you can plan for the test. Understanding the test can positively affect what you learn in class and how you choose to retain that knowledge.

There are three parts to the test: Biological Sciences (BS), Physical Sciences (PS), and Verbal Reasoning (VR).

Many students who love science courses seem to avoid courses that require extensive reading and writing. As you can see, much of the MCAT focuses on reading and writing skills. Stretch yourself in your general education courses at UC and by reading 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.


*IMPORTANT*  The MCAT 2015, a newly developed test will debut January 2015.  The new exam will measure Foundational Concepts, Content Categories, and Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills.  The new exam is designed to help prepare tomorrow’s doctors for the challenges, advancements, and reformations of our future health care system. The first applicants to sit for MCAT 2015 will be those who apply to medical school for the fall 2016.

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. If offered during the application cycle, you may repeat the test if you are not happy with your scores and you have a good reason to think your score will improve. However, we encourage you to be as prepared as possible the first time you take the test. 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 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.

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 will 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 and the Academic Excellence & Support Services office.

So 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 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.