Grad School

Things to Know When Applying to Medical School

An important step in the journey to becoming a medical doctor is the application to medical school. As you wrap up your pre-med education, the med school application is the next challenge you’ll face.

This challenge comes with inherent questions. What school do I want to attend? How do I apply? What factors will make my application stand out? What does the application process entail?

If you find yourself asking those questions or others, here are a few things to consider when applying to medical school . . .

Course Load

Wise students will be thinking about their medical school application long before they actually apply. The courses you take during your undergrad studies carry substantial weight as medical schools consider your application.

The major you choose and the classes you take before medical school should be strategically planned with medical school and future clinical practice in mind. Students can major in the sciences (eg, human biology, chemistry, physics etc)  or in a different field. Medical schools will expect students to have successfully completed prerequisite coursework in certain subjects, regardless of their chosen major. .

This isn’t to say that science majors are the only pathway to be accepted into medical school. Schools are looking for well-rounded students, so a broad, comprehensive course of study is encouraged. That being said . . .

Medical schools always take a close look at your BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, math) average—excellent grades in these spaces are imperative.

Some students also choose to enroll in a post-bacc program. These programs are beneficial for students who have decided they want to pursue a career in medicine after they completed their bachelor’s degree. They can also help strengthen your transcript when applying to medical school.

The decision in choosing your pre-med major and minor should be informed by what medical schools are on your radar. Different schools have different entrance requirements, so do your research in advance and plan your course load accordingly. 

Importance of the MCAT®

Your MCAT score carries significant weight and must be listed on your medical school application. Therefore, diligent preparation for your exam is crucial in order to get into your medical school of choice.

Med students are extremely competitive, and medical schools are notoriously selective, so a superior MCAT score is an advantageous differentiator for you in the selection process. A few things to consider when preparing for your MCAT:

  • Establish a study schedule well in advance of the exam and stick to it
  • Focus the majority of your study on your weaker disciplines
  • Use an online learning tool, like UWorld, that mimics the AAMC question format and test blueprint

Apply to More Than One School

You may have a particular medical school in mind, but don’t let that be the only school to which you apply. If you cast a wide net, applying to multiple medical schools, you improve your chances of acceptance.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average student applies to 16 medical schools .

Do your due diligence in researching schools that would be a good fit for you and your career goals before you apply. Once you have formulated a list of schools, you’ll know how much time and resources to allocate for your application process. 

Remember, the more schools you apply to, the more work required but the greater your chances of acceptance. The AAMC provides a robust list of medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. Included in this list are requirements for admissions along with applicant and acceptance metrics.

Begin the Application Process

When applying to the majority of medical schools, you will utilize the AAMC’s centralized application service known as the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®).

Note: There are two notable exceptions when it comes to application services. If you are interested in pursuing an education in osteopathic medicine, you will use the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service® (AACOMAS®). If you are applying to a medical school in the state of Texas, you will use the Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service® (TMDSAS®).

The American Medical College Application Service is a useful (and required) processing service that verifies your application information and delivers your application and MCAT exam scores to each school you choose.

There is an application fee when using the AMCAS. This fee is for processing your application and includes one medical school designation. There is an additional fee for every other medical school to which you wish to apply. Both the initial fee and the subsequent fees vary from year to year.

If a medical school is interested in your application, they will send you a secondary application to request more information. The next (and final) step after the secondary application is a personal interview.

Looking to ace your MCAT exam? We’re here to help! Check out UWorld and see why over 2 million students have trusted us for their high-stakes exam preparation. You’re answering the call to practice medicine; we’re here to help.