Med School Hell – Medical School Requirements

This post is raw and holds nothing back. If you’re uncomfortable with vulgar language, please turn back.

May 21, 2007
By: Hoover


So you’ve taken the plunge and have decided to attend medical school. Medical school requirements will certainly vary from school to school, but there are some generalities that we can make. These will help you in deciding which classes you need to take in order to get prepared for medical school.

General Class Information
For most medical schools, you will need at least one year of:

  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry with Laboratory
  • Physics
  • Organic Chemistry with Laboratory
  • English
  • Calculus

Now keep in mind that these classes will also help you immensely on the MCAT, which you will also need to take. These classes can be completed at nearly any four year college.

Grade Point Average
There is no secret universal GPA that you should have when applying to medical schools. However, each individual medical school will probably have their own internal cut-off GPA. If you browse around, you can find rumors and oftentimes official statements of what these cutoff values are. However, you should try and maintain your GPA as high as possible since getting into medical school is highly competitive to begin with.

A GPA of above 3.5 is ideal. Anything below a 3.3 and you’ll probably need to do some post-bac work to improve it. Your GPA will be broken down into a general GPA and a science GPA. Medical schools typically place more weight on your science GPA, so try to maintain it as high as possible.

A bachelors degree is required for most medical schools, but it does not have to be from a science major. In fact, there have been rumors that medical schools like applicants who aren’t science majors, as it shows diversity in the applicant. On another note, English majors typically do well in medical school since they have spent the last 4 years reading a lot of information. Thus, they have found ways to digest information more effectively, and oftentimes do incredibly well on the verbal portion of the MCAT.

If you do decide to complete a bachelors degree in a science major, it will not hurt you. Just keep in mind that you do not have to have a science major in order to be accepted into medical school.

Medical College Admissions Test
The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a requirement for all medical schools (except for the combined B.S. / M.D. programs). Just like GPA, there is no universal cutoff value in score. The exam tests your knowledge from college in the biological sciences, physical sciences, and verbal reasoning. Anything above 36 is a great score, but I have read about numerous applicants being accepted with scores as low as 28. If you go below 28, it’s probably a good idea to take the exam again and try to improve your score.

Taking the exam more then three times has been rumored to hurt your chances for admission. Although admission committees like to see persistence, a large number of attempts will show them that you might not be cut out for the rigors of medical school.

Most examinees will take an MCAT preparation course offered through Kaplan or the Princeton Review. Not doing so doesn’t guarantee that your score will be low, but you will be putting yourself an an automatic disadvantage versus other applicants. Take the course if you can afford it.

It has also been rumored that an even scoring distribution is ideal. So, for a score of 36 having three 12s is better than two 14s and an 8.

Volunteer Work
Volunteer work, although technically optional, is something that most applicants to medical school will complete at some point during their college career. Look for anything that will give you some exposure to working in medicine, and try to do as much as you can. Typically a year or more of consistent volunteer work will be sufficient to pad your application enough for the admissions committee.

Undergraduate Research
While not required, this is a great way to pad your application. I did research as an undergraduate and talked about this research at each of my medical school interviews. It shows that you’re interested in the sciences in general and certainly doesn’t hurt your application at all.

Keep in mind that doing volunteer work as well as research presents an awesome opportunity for letters of recommendation. You will need anywhere from 3-5 depending on the schools that you are applying to.

Summary of Medical School Requirements:

  • General Class Information
    • General Biology
    • General Chemistry with Laboratory
    • Physics
    • Organic Chemistry with Laboratory
    • English
    • Calculus
  • Grade Point Average
    • Above 3.5 is ideal.
    • Try not to go below 3.3
  • Degree
    • Bachelors degree is required, but not necessarily in the sciences.
  • MCAT
    • Scores above 28 with an even scoring distribution are ideal.
  • Volunteer Work
    • Optional, but doesn’t hurt your application.
    • Gives opportunity for letter of recommendation.
  • Research
    • Optional, but improves your application a decent amount.
    • Gives opportunity for letter of recommendation.

Are you convinced to leave medicine? If so, you may feel like you are alone. You may feel clueless about what to do next. However, quitting medicine could turn out better than you have ever thought possible. And here is why you should get out …

This article is part of Hoover’s Med School Hell series. Med School Hell reveals the crazy truth about the crappiness of the US medical education and healthcare system … while making you laugh so hard, you’ll crap in your pants.

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