As any pre-med knows, the road to medical school can be daunting. After four rigorous years of undergraduate studies, you’ll have to embark on the long process of applying and interviewing for medical school.
Additionally, the medical school acceptance rate continues to shrink year by year, with less than 50 percent of pre-med applicants getting into any medical school.
Despite the challenges of pre-med studies and the long process of applying, thousands of students still make it into medical school every year. With the right work ethic and preparation, you can drastically improve your chances of getting accepted at the med school of your dreams.
Here are a few tips to help you become a more competitive pre-med applicant.
1] Stay Focused Throughout Your Undergrad Years
As a pre-med, one of your most important responsibilities is to determine your interests and take all prerequisites for medical school. As long as you complete the requirements (mostly scientific in nature), you can major in anything you’d like.
Many pre-medical students major in the field of science, but most medical schools are now looking to diversify their program requirements. For example, some schools are even starting to accept more students with a less conventional background that includes degrees in fields such as humanities.
In general, though, most medical schools expect you to have taken classes in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. You’ll also need the background of one semester of introductory sociology and one semester of introductory psychology.
And remember, you’ll likely need to take more courses to meet the requirement for your pre-med major. Examples of other classes you might need to study include public health, genetics ethics, microbiology, human physiology, writing classes, and foreign language classes.
Apart from excelling in schoolwork, med schools also require you to have experience in extracurricular activities such as medical research, hospital volunteering, clinical exposure, and hobbies outside the field of medicine because medical schools look for well-rounded individuals.
Med schools also prefer quality over quantity. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to take leadership roles in any extracurricular activity you undertake. In doing so, you’ll stand out among other applicants.
2] Prioritize Studying for the MCAT
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) determines how well you’ve mastered basic concepts in biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, physics, sociology, psychology, and biochemistry, along with your ability to think critically and solve problems.
The test contains four sections.
- 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.
Studying and Preparing for the MCAT
The MCAT is the gatekeeper to medical school. Score well, and your chance of getting into medical school will be high. However, this will only happen if you start studying early and prepare thoroughly for the test.
Before registering for the test, find the MCAT test dates for 2020 to help you get your schedule on track. Choose a date that’ll give you enough time to prepare for the exam.
Here are some MCAT preparation options.
- Take a Class– Choose a professional MCAT course to provide you with an overview of the exam, tools and practice you need to ace the test.
- Hire a Tutor– You can hire a qualified instructor or a former pre-med student who aced their tests. These tutors will help you assess your abilities and correct any areas of weakness.
- Take Practice Exams– It’s one thing to know what questions will be in the test and another to answer those questions following an actual test format and guidelines. Working with MCAT practice tests is a great way to prepare for the test day.
3] Make Your Application Stand Out
Getting into medical school is about more than just beating the average MCAT and earning high GPA scores. It also requires convincing the admission committee you’ve got what it takes (personal qualities and work ethics) to become productive in the field of medicine.
To become a competitive med school applicant, your application should have.
- An MCAT score of at least 510.
- A GPA reflecting A’s or B’s (3.5+).
Since most premed applicants have strong GPAs and MCAT scores, schools now use additional ways to distinguish among candidates. Highlighting your extracurricular activities will make your application stand out from the crowd.
.You should highlight extracurricular experience in the following areas.
- Shadowing – The time you spent following a doctor throughout the day to see what it’s really like to be a physician.
- Patient Exposure – Any role in which you interacted with patients in a medical setting.
- Community Service – Your regular, unpaid work in service to the community.
- Research – This is a benchmark showing you understand how to apply the scientific method to solve problems in medicine.
- Leadership – A role in which you have a high level of responsibility for the outcome (doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to the field of medicine).
The Final Stretch
While finishing up your undergraduate studies and applying for med school is no easy task, remind yourself that you’re in the final stretch of the pre-med track.
If you work hard to maintain a high GPA, ace the MCAT, and pad your resume with experience, you’ll be donning a white coat before you know it.