Medical School FAQs
1. When does the application process for medical school begin?
2. Do I have to major in science?
3. How should I prepare for the MCAT?
4. When should I take the MCAT?
5. What is a competitive score for the MCAT?
6. What makes a competitive medical school application?
7. How important are grades?
8. How important are MCAT scores?
9. How long is medical school?
10. How do I pay for medical school?
11. What are my options if I do not get accepted the first time?
Apply early. Complete and submit your AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) and/or AACOMAS application the summer before your senior year AFTER receiving your MCAT score. AMCAS will allow you to create an account and begin entering information in the first week of May; however, your application cannot be submitted until around June 3-5. Submit your application by mid-June at the latest.
A major in science is not required for medical school. However, having a strong background in the sciences will certainly help you as your pursue medicine, as it gives you a good foundation to build upon. Most medical schools look for transcripts that indicate students have taken courses to prepare them for the demands of medical school.
The WKU Pre-Med Advisory Board suggests that you begin preparation for the MCAT during the fall of your junior year. Formal MCAT preparatory courses exist and can be very helpful. Ask your advisor for recommendations. Courses in cell/molecular biology, physiology, genetics, biochemistry, and quantitative analysis will also be very helpful.
The WKU Pre-Med Advisory Board suggests that students take the MCAT between March and June of their junior year.
Visit the Association of American Medical Colleges website (http://www.aamc.org). There, you can find the median score of accepted applicants at the universities you wish to attend. For example, at University of Kentucky, the median accepted applicant MCAT score is 31P. At University of Louisville, the median accepted applicant MCAT score is 30P.
When reviewing applications, medical schools are looking for the following: successful completion of required courses, a strong GPA and MCAT score, participation in extracurricular activities, good letters of recommendation, and a strong interview with the medical school admissions committee.
Academically, pre-med students are striving to find the balance of a liberal arts education, learning both the science of medicine and also gaining an understanding of the "people" aspect. It is important to have a strong foundation in mathematics and the sciences, specifically biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Additionally, courses in humanities and social sciences will help you gain insight on communication and how society works.
Extracurricular involvement also plays a role in a competitive medical school application. Summer internships in health related fields, involvement with the campus chapter of AED, volunteering at a local hospital or clinic, and actively participating in collegiate research are great opportunities to make your application stand out.
The more competitive the medical school you apply to, the more important GPA becomes. There is no set standard GPA for medical school; however, GPA will certainly be a factor that schools consider. Medical school will be very demanding academically and schools will look to your GPA to determine if you would be able to handle the academic rigor of the program. GPA can also be used to help schools chose between two similar candidates.
The MCAT or Medical College Admission Test is a designed to help medical schools find students who are well suited for their programs. Often times, grades alone are not enough to determine if a student would be successful in medical school. Generally speaking, a high score will not guarantee your spot into medical school, but a low score could certainly keep you out.
The shortest amount of time to complete medical school is an average of 7 years. This time frame is for general medicine practice such as family practice or internal medicine. Specialties such as surgery or cardiology will take longer.
Generally, most pay for medical school with student loans. However, a few scholarships do exist. Students interested in a medical research career should consider applying for a fellowship through the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, many national honor societies, like Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi, offer scholarships that can be applied to professional school.
You can always try again. Apply to the same schools. Apply to different schools. Take more courses. Improve your grades. Gain more relevant experience. Mature.
Planning for alternatives in advance, however, can give you more options and flexibility. For example, you can apply for competitive internships, study abroad opportunities, and non-profit experience along with medical school. If you receive multiple acceptances, you have choices. If you do not get accepted into medical school, you have an alternative in place that will make you more competitive should you decide to apply again.
You can do many other things with an interest in science and medicine. There are many alternatives you can explore.