So you want to get to medical school one day, but you’re not worried about the competitive medical school admissions process? 

OK! Then it’s time for you to learn a little bit more about medical school requirements, and how you can do your best to prepare for med school and all that it entails. Let’s start with an answer to the question “what is pre-med like?” Is it hard?

What are pre-med students?

First thing’s first, let’s define the terms. There is no one “pre-med,” pathway. 

Being a pre-med student and taking pre-med classes can be defined in a number of ways, and be applied to a wide range of educational circumstances. Pre-med students are really any students that plan to do medical school at some point. Medical schools (and medical school admissions committees) require that you do have knowledge of biology, math, physics and chemistry, but there is no one specific pre-med major you have to take.

So if you’re not enrolled in organic chemistry or other science classes yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late. Sure, there may be some pre-med requirements you’ll have to fulfill along the way, but most medical schools understand that modern medicine is a trans-disciplinary field, and success for pre-meds involves much more than taking classes in the biological sciences.

That said, successful med school applicants all know how hard getting into medical school was – all you have to do is look at the average acceptance rates to find out. The vast majority of students (yes, even ones with all the right “pre-med majors”) are rejected in Canada or the United states due to a lack of space. 

How many years is pre-med?

It really depends on how you interpret the question! 

If you’re a highschool student that has always wanted to be a doctor, then your “pre-med” years include pretty much all of highschool. If you’re someone that decided later on in life that they wanted to transfer over to the medical field, then pre-med will be as long as it takes you to complete all the pre-med courses that medical schools require you to take!

Some of those pre med program courses will build your critical thinking skills, and help you better understand ethical issues (like philosophy), but most will be science based, since most of being a doctor involves having an expertise in physical sciences like biology, chemistry, psychology, anatomy, etc. 

Courses to take before pre-med

Med school requirements will vary by institution, and so every pre-med curriculum will be slightly different based on your strengths and your academic history. Ultimately, the best track for a pre-med student to take is one that helps you build up a detailed understanding of the world and how it works, and that inspires your curiosity – particularly since physicians all make a commitment to life-long learning. 

Still, there are some actual courses you’ll want to take if you want to be one of the few medical school applicants that makes it through the difficult admissions process. To get into medical school, you should try to have done some of the following at the minimum:

  • One year of biology (including the lab portion)
  • One year of general chemistry (again, with lab)
  • One year of organic chemistry (lab included as well)
  • One year of physics (you guessed it – with a lab!)
  • At least one semester of biochemistry
  • Math (calculus, statistics, or both)

If English isn’t your first language, then having done well in English is also a good idea. 

Other courses many recommend that you take include the following:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Calculus
  • Ethics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Genetics
  • Humanities
  • Public Health
  • Human Physiology

Prepping for the MCATs

Prepping for the MCATs

In the end, what you’re going to be preparing for is the MCAT, or Medical College Admissions Test. And while not every single school requires that you take the MCATs, most do. The MCAT includes 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

Of course, any good medical school knows that there is more to a successful applicant than test scores and prerequisites. Medical schools from all over the world, in Canada, the United States, and even great medical schools in the Caribbean want to find students who also partake in the extracurriculars in life, and are not just test-taking robots.

Working in something that makes you passionate is always good, as is volunteering and an interest in sports. Being able to demonstrate a commitment to something greater than yourself can help set yourself apart from other applicants, as will some good letters of reference. 

Can you think of anyone that would write you a letter of recommendation? Would you be impressed if you were reading it on behalf of someone else? If you don’t have one, put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes, and ask yourself: what kind of letter of reference would impress you the most? 

Who would have to author a letter for you to stand up and take notice of the student it was written on behalf of? If you can answer those questions, then put some energy into making that connection, so that one day you can ask that impressive person to write a letter of recommendation for you!

Pre-Med Can Be Tough: Getting into Medical School is Tougher

Getting into Medical School

Only the best of the best get into medical school these days in Canada and the United States. And sometimes even the best of the best don’t get in! It might sound a bit crazy, but no matter how hard you work and how well you do in your own individual pre-med journey, there are very low acceptance rates at med schools in North America, and that’s a fact. 

A limited number of spaces means a limited number of acceptance letters. Which means it might be time for you to consider being a medical student at an alternative school – one that is accredited through all the major state and provincial medical boards, and that specializes in helping students return to North America to do their residencies back home!

That school is the American University of Antigua. They have the highest academic standards, and graduates are eligible for residency and licensure in more than just North America, but in India and the United Kingdom as well. AUA’s recognitions also allow students to participate in clinical rotations in those locations too, before returning home to practice where they please.

Want to learn more?

If you think that going to medical school is in your future, then you should absolutely learn more about your chances by contacting the Director of Admissions by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. You may even qualify for financial aid!