Medical School Admissions: Busting Pre-Med Myths

Posted by Abdul El-Sayed on 12/5/12 10:41 AM

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The medical school application process is so competitive nowadays that it is easy to get caught up in myths and preconceptions about being premed and applying to medical school. Let’s bust some of those below:

1. You need to start preparing for medical school during your freshman year, or you won’t be able to take all your premedical courses. And you need to be a science major.

First of all, medicine is not something you want to rush into. And second, there is no premedical program you must follow. Take some time to explore different courses, and choose your field of study based on personal interest. You will likely have a more fulfilling undergraduate experience if you are truly interested in your studies. Medical schools do not require applicants to major in a science. In fact, non-science majors who have similar grades/MCAT scores are just as successful as science majors in the application process.

2. You need to do basic science research to be a competitive applicant.

Many, many students each year enter medical school without any basic science research under their belts. Basic science research is simply one way to demonstrate your ability to dedicate yourself to one subject and pursue it in depth, and there are countless other ways to show this--a senior thesis in sociology or a stint doing clinical research, for example. If you are interested in studying science and gaining experience with lab research, then by all means go for it, but don’t do it just because you think you should.

3. Only GPA and MCAT scores matter in the admissions process.

Your GPA and MCAT scores will be very important in the application process, but they are not the end-all, be-all. It is true that you want to present a strong GPA and especially a strong MCAT, since performance on the MCAT has been correlated with future performance in medical school. But no GPA and MCAT will guarantee you admission into a medical school.

Increasingly, medical schools are looking at your experiences, personal qualities, and how you’ve tested your commitment to a medical career. Every medical school has developed its own criteria for applicants, and they will refer to your extracurricular activities, your personal statement and secondary essays, your letters of recommendation, and your personal interviews to see if you are a good fit for the school.

Tags: medical school admissions, MD/PhD admissions