Warning to Pre-med Students: Standardized Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) Coming to a Medical School Near You and Here’s What You Need to Know.

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The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is currently conducting research for the development of a new standardized Situational Judgment Test (SJT) for medical school entrants. Right now, they’re carrying out trials in a handful of schools and hoping to come up with a major new part of med school admissions that we could see rolled out across North America within the next few years. In this article, we’re going to explore why the AAMC are working on their new test and, more importantly, what it means for you, the candidate.

What exactly is a Situational Judgment Test (SJT), anyway? 

Put simply, SJTs are aptitude tests designed to test non-cognitive abilities like problem solving, decision-making and interpersonal skills. Usually, candidates are shown a video or a written prompt and asked how they would respond to the scenario shown. SJTs have been around since the 1940s (yes, pretty old technology), but in recent years, medical schools have seized on them as a way to test candidates: they hope to find out how you might act as a real doctor; they want to see if you’ll respond to their “people skills” training; and they believe that SJTs are popular with candidates. Since medical training puts such a heavy emphasis on developing your ability to work with others and treat your patients with empathy and care in tough situations, the SJT seems like the perfect way to separate hundreds of applicants with great GPAs and MCAT scores! Indeed, if you’ve already been getting ready for the admissions process, you might be familiar with SJTs like CASPer and multiple mini interview (MMI), which are already used by dozens of schools across America. Read more…

An All-inclusive List of Post baccalaureate "Postbac" Premedical Programs

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Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs, or “Postbac”, as they are informally called, are growing in popularity and in number in the United States. With these programs, students who either had a low science GPA or who were not pre-med in college can improve their science GPA and/or take the courses required for medical school admission in one to two years.

Unfortunately, official rankings lag behind the creation of postbac programs, and there is no pecking order to help us decide which programs (out of the 200+) are the best.

So how to choose a postbac for you?

Some programs are offered by undergrad institutions, and others are offered by medical schools. Some give you a master’s diploma upon completion, others let you tag on your grades to your undergrad GPA. Some are structured, others are not. Some offer pre-med advising, others don’t. Some have direct connections to medical schools, boasting a preference for admissions, and others don’t. Some have published rates for medical school admittance, and others don’t publish this kind of data…. All these are important factors to consider!

Moreover, a nice compass to guide you is the prestige of the undergrad or medical school, as it tends to strongly align with the prestige of the postbac program. You may also look at location: it’s not a bad idea to consider a program that’s geographically close to where you hope to attend medical school. Chances are the postbac program will be better known there.

Here we provide a list of all available programs by state in the U.S. Read more…

How to Find a Pre-Med Research Position

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9 Proven Strategies to Secure a Research Position as a Pre-med Student

There is no denying: research is practically required of med school applicants nowadays. It may not be an explicit requirement, but at least 80%, and sometimes upwards of 97% of students accepted to competitive M.D. programs, have some research under their belt.

I remember my days as a pre-med college student. I desperately wanted to be a doctor, and I didn’t understand why research had to be involved. "I want to see patients, not work with lab mice!"

Well, part of the reason medical education in the U.S. and in Canada is so strong is precisely because they train physicians to be not only clinicians, but researchers as well. They hope that tomorrow’s physicians not only prescribe treatments, but also help find better ones. After all,  medicine is an ever-changing field, and a good medical doctor is also a scientist and a researcher. In fact, by the time medical students graduate, some of what they have learned during their training may already be outdated. Therefore, as a future medical doctor, you must learn how to keep up with new information so that you can provide the most scientifically sound diagnoses and treatments for your patients. Engaging in research at this stage demonstrates one of AAMC’s core competencies for entering medical students, defined as “scientific inquiry”. You are essentially telling the admissions committees that you know how to search for and decipher scientific literature, as well as conduct scientific experiments to improve patient care. In AAMC’s words, a good doctor with an excellent sense of scientific inquiry “applies knowledge of the scientific process to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is facile in the language of the sciences and uses it to participate in the discourse of science and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.” 

So let’s get to the meat of it: how can you secure a research position as an undergrad?  Read more…

How To Make Your Medical School Resume Stand Out

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Recently, our CEO, Dr. Behrouz Moemeni was interviewed by U.S. News & World Report about his expert opinion on what it takes to make a medical school resume or list of activities stand out.

One of the main topics of discussion that came up was the ability of the applicant to show “commitment and progression” rather than including a list of random activities just to fill up all possible spots available.

This is important because the path to becoming an excellent medical doctor is challenging, long, and expensive. Therefore, the admissions committees would want to select applicants that have specific set of qualities, such as resilience, self-improvement (progression), and long-term commitment.

But how do you show commitment and progression over time? Read more…

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