Do you want to become a doctor? You can get into the medical school of your dreams by being fully prepared. Starting in undergrad, you need to make sure you have a plan in place and follow through to get into the school you want.
What are the Prerequisites to Get into Medical School?
The first few years of your college education at the undergraduate level will require some basic classes. The basic elements for pre-medical education include:
- College Biology with laboratory, one year: need to know about genetics, cells, and the framework of life. These are the building blocks of medical science and are crucial to succeed in the field.
- General (inorganic) chemistry with laboratory, one year: provides a strong basis for understanding acid-base imbalances with the body and how different medications work. Also, the foundation for understanding biochemistry.
- Biology, Chemistry-minimum of 24 semester hours in areas of humanities
- Mathematics (Calculus and/or Statistics), one year (6-8 semester hours): important for daily life as a physician or any health professional-from determining proper medicine dosage to reading lab results
- General college Physics with laboratory, one year (8 semester hours): introduces key medical concepts, such as laws of pressure and volume, which are important for cardiology and understanding how forces operate in the body.
In addition to the basic classes for pre-medical education, there are also less commonly required courses that will help you prepare for medical school.
- English: most medical schools want you to have critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
- Biochemistry: increased emphasis on the MCAT
- Psychology and sociology: important since the revision of the MCAT in 2015 that has a section on these subjects
Also, there are non-required courses you should take to be prepared for medical school as well as your future as a doctor:
- Medical anthropology/history: know-how medicine has changed over the years and appreciate the evolution of medical knowledge
- Foreign language: broader career opportunities and connect with a more diverse population and be a better medical provider
When taking your undergraduate courses in anticipation of applying to medical school, you will want to make sure you have a competitive and a strong GPA. Medical schools will look to make sure you have a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA. You will need your Baccalaureate Diploma degree to apply and get into medical school. However, your degree does not have to be in the sciences. However, having a strong background in science will help you ace the MCAT and get into medical school.
What You Need to Know About Registration for the MCAT?
In order to apply for medical school, you’re going to need to think about registration for the MCAT. The Medical College Admission Test is a standardized test that is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The 8-hour examination is given about 14 times each year at various testing centers and tests you on physical and biological sciences as well as verbal reasoning.
There are a few different parts of the test, including a new section that focuses on assessing the ability of students to deliver medical services to a wide range of cultures and demographics. Psychological, social, critical analysis and biological questions are also on the test.
The MCAT has recently undergone some changes. The test now takes eight hours to complete (the old one took around five hours). The essay, or Writing Sample, is no longer part of the test. This section was eliminated because medical education experts said it was no longer useful in predicting success in medical school. Instead, a new section was added to the MCAT. This section was added due to the rapid demographic changes in the United States. This part of the test is used to find out if test takers have the aptitude and understating that is needed to deliver medical services across many cultures and sociological groups.
In 2015, the AAMC, added a new section called Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. This section tests your ability to understand sociological, biological, and psychological influences on behavior and social interests as well as how people process stress and emotion. In addition to the new section on the MCAT the other sections include:
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: similar to reading comprehension sections on other standardized tests. Passages come from a variety of humanities and social sciences disciplines.
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: tests basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: tests basic biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
How to Study and Prepare for the MCAT?
Once you have registered for the MCAT during your junior or senior year of undergrad, you’ll want to plan on allowing at least 12 weeks to study. You should invest in good study materials and set up a study schedule. Taking an online or in-person prep class will help you know how to study for the MCAT and what you should expect on test day.
You should take as many practice exams as you can before test day. Practice exams will give you an idea of what material you need to review. You’ll be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and find out what areas you need to focus on.
What is the Application Process for Medical Graduate School?
Medical schools will offer spots to qualified students on a rolling admissions basis. This means the program will continue to admit qualified students until all spots have been filled. You will first submit your primary application through one of the three centralized application services; AMCAS (for MD admissions), TMDSAS (for Texas Medical Schools), AACOMAS (for DO admissions). The primary application includes:
- MCAT scores
- Information about your most meaningful experiences: this is where you would include extracurricular activities, research, volunteer work, clinical work, etc.
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
You will want to make sure to submit the application as early as possible. Those submitted early in the cycle will be reviewed first and give you a better chance of acceptance.
Once your primary application has been submitted, there are two possible outcomes. Your application will either be rejected or the school will send you its secondary application. The secondary applications usually include a variety of essays on assigned topics.
Once your secondary medical school application is reviewed, there are a few possible outcomes. You will either be rejected, invited to the campus for an interview, or your application will be put on hold until after the first round of interviews. This list will be reviewed as other candidates accept or decline offers.
By having a solid plan in place and following the necessary steps, you can get into the medical school of your dreams and become a doctor.