If you plan to become a doctor, your academic pathway begins well before you get to medical school. From your first year in an undergraduate program, you’ll need to pay attention to any medical school prerequisites when choosing your classes, committing to a major, or following your degree program.
As early as your junior year in undergrad, you’ll begin studying to take the MCAT and compiling your other application requirements. There are numerous requirements and prerequisites you must complete in order to be considered for a spot in reputable medical schools, so it’s important to start early.
We’ve compiled this detailed guide to medical school requirements to help you along your journey to a med school acceptance letter.
Medical schools will certainly be looking at your previous academic experience to determine your fit for medical school. For your first set of med school requirements, admissions counselors will evaluate your major, course work, and degree earned during your undergraduate studies.
The first qualification you’ll need to get your foot in the door at any medical school is a four-year undergraduate degree. This is the only medical school requirement that has no exceptions or variability – it is a true prerequisite. If you have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university, your application can progress to the next stage for consideration. If you don’t, it will be an automatic rejection. If you are on track to complete your degree, you can send in your med school applications early, but you must show proof of completion of your degree program before your acceptance to any medical school is official.
Each medical school has slightly different requirements for undergraduate course work. You’ll want to check with each school you are considering to verify their unique course requirements. This can help you avoid delays in graduating from your undergrad program or having to take post-baccalaureate classes at a more expensive rate in order to fulfill the missing requirements.
We encourage students to follow the pre-medical course outline below:
- One year of General Biology
- One year of General Chemistry
- One year of Organic Chemistry
- One semester of Physics
- One semester of English
- One semester of Mathematics in either Calculus or Statistics
Choosing a Major for Medical School
While there isn’t a single major that will guarantee your acceptance to medical school, some undergraduate programs make your pathway easier than others. You aren’t required to complete a pre-med program to get into medical school, but it can demonstrate your commitment to the medical profession early in your college career and help ensure you are taking the right course work to prepare for your more advanced medical school classes. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all major for aspiring medical students, but you’ll want to track your curriculum carefully and plan ahead.
Score Requirements for Medical School
At many medical schools, your accompanying scores have a significant impact on your chances for acceptance. Most U.S. medical schools view MCAT scores and GPA as the top two indicators of your likelihood of success in medical school. Although your scores don’t define you as a student, extremely low scores could significantly hurt your chances of acceptance.
Nearly all accredited medical schools require applicants to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Scores on the MCAT range from 472-528, and the average score across all test takers is 500. The average score for students who got into medical school is 511, so students must generally perform significantly above average to get into medical school. At some schools, such as NYU Medical School, students must earn a 99th% score on the MCAT just to be in the average for the school’s applicant pool.
Most medical schools will not list a minimum required MCAT score, but you can get an idea for what score is needed at your target schools by researching the average (50th%) scores of accepted students. Generally, scores that are several points higher than the school’s published average will make you a competitive candidate.
Since medical school curriculum is so challenging, admissions committees want to make sure you can handle the rigors of the program. Your med school classes will be even tougher than your undergraduate classes, so committees routinely use undergraduate GPA as an indicator of your ability to handle the workload. Typically, GPAs below 3.0 are considered a red flag, while GPAs above 3.75 are considered high performers.
If you have a lower GPA, however, don’t count yourself out of med school just yet. Some schools, like AUA, consider your application holistically, so higher MCAT scores or impressive aspects on other parts of your application can help to make up for a lower GPA. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to explain lower grades in your application addendums if you had a bad semester due to person circumstances or other things outside your control.
After meeting the medical school prerequisites for academics and scores, the evaluation process isn’t over yet. Medical schools receive thousands of applications from high performing students each year, so they routinely evaluate other performance indicators for each student to help make admissions decisions.
Most colleges ask for extracurricular activities on an application, but medical schools aren’t concerned with your three years in swing choir or your varsity letter in track. Instead, admissions committees are looking for activities that would demonstrate your ability to do well in a clinical program. These extracurriculars could include shadowing at a medical office, independent research projects, medically-related volunteer experience, teaching experience, or even a part-time job.
There are lots of ways to demonstrate your responsibility, interest in medicine, attention to detail, and compassion for others. Let that shine through in the extracurricular section of your application requirements, and if you haven’t considered what you will submit for this requirement, now is the time to start.
Letter of Recommendations
As with many other requirements, the exact specifics for your letters of recommendation may vary by school. Most medical schools require two or three letters of recommendation from non-family members who have worked with you in some capacity – professionally or academically – and can testify honestly to your abilities. Usually at least one of these letters must be from someone actively working in a medical or science field.
At AUA, students are required to have two letters of recommendation, and at least one must be from a science professor who can testify to your academic abilities.
Submitting your Application
One of the final medical school prerequisites is to collect all your requirements in a comprehensive application package. For U.S. medical schools, students must generally apply using the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS®). The AMCAS is an online processing service that distributes all application requirements – including test scores, school transcripts, extracurricular details, and letters of recommendation – out to its partner medical schools. Within AMCAS, students also have the opportunity to submit an application addendum.
Some schools may also have additional requirements, such as background checks, credit checks, or TOEFL scores for international students. Schools may also have separate application form requirements to be considered for financial aid or scholarships. To officially submit an application, candidates must generally include an application fee, which can range from $0-200 per school.
Paying careful attention to application deadlines is especially important when applying to medical schools. You must have all application requirements submitted by the specified deadlines for your schools. There are rarely exceptions or extensions, and failure to complete all application requirements can delay the start of your medical schooling by a semester or even a full calendar year.
Applying to the University of Antigua
As with all reputable medical schools, AUA has a number of requirements and prerequisites to be considered for admission. However, we’ve streamlined the process and clearly outlined our medical school requirements to make it as easy as possible for aspiring medical students to apply.
At AUA, we believe you are more than just some numbers on a piece of paper. We take a holistic approach to application review and look for students who are a good fit overall on the basis of your entire application package. If you’re ready to begin the process of applying to medical school, we invite you to check out our available financial aid packages, learn more about student life in Antigua, and apply for a spot on our campus.