Medical School GPA Requirements in 2020

Updated: June 11, 2020

Medical school admissions committees consider applicant GPA as one of many important factors when selecting students for admission so it's important to learn about common medical school GPA requirements. So, just how important is your GPA? What should you be aiming for? How does your score compare with the score of others? Fear not, this blog will answer these questions and will go over common medical school GPA requirements to help you determine how your GPA holds up against other applicants and matriculants.

Here's what we're going to cover:

Why is my GPA important?

How much weight is placed on GPA?

What are the most common medical school GPA requirements?

Is my GPA competitive?

Would you like us to help you get into medical school?

Why is my GPA important?

Your GPA is important in order to be competitive in the medical school admissions process, but why is it important in the first place? Admissions committees highly value an applicant's transcript because to them, how you perform academically in your undergrad studies is an indication of how you may perform in medical school. If your science and cumulative GPA are on the lower side, it will be difficult to convince the admissions committee that you are a strong candidate. The pressure, stress, and difficulty of medical school isn't for everyone, so in the admissions committee's eyes, if you struggled with your undergraduate coursework, you're likely not capable of handling the medical school workload. The good news is that many medical schools realize that assessing candidates based solely on GPA isn't effective for selecting the best applicants.

Many students have a hard time adjusting when they first attend university so a few lower grades here and there at the onset of your studies isn't as serious as low-average grades throughout your entire studies. Similarly, some students choose to enroll in notoriously difficult courses because they think it will look better to the admissions committee when really, these courses weren't required and only served to pull down their overall GPA. While medical school GPA requirements are still an important part of the admissions process, many schools realize that there is so much more to candidate selection than grades and test scores.

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How much weight is placed on GPA?

Even though there is no magic number corresponding to how much weight is placed on GPA in the selection process, it is undoubtedly important. The AAMC conducted a study that surveyed admissions officers at 113 medical schools across the US to find out which areas of application data are important when determining which applicants should be invited to interview and which should be offered acceptances. Admissions officers ranked personal statements, community service, letters of recommendation, MCAT score and both the cumulative and Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math (BCPM) GPA as the top 5 most important factors for interview invitation. Of these 5 aspects, cumulative and BCPM GPA top the list. When it comes to offers of acceptances, both cumulative and BCPM GPA remain in the top 5 most important considerations, as does community service and letters of recommendation. However, GPA is less important and interview recommendation takes the number 1 spot when committees begin sending acceptance letters. From this study alone, it's obvious to see that both your cumulative and science GPA are essential in the admissions committee's decision, both for interview invitation and offers of acceptance.

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What are the most common medical school GPA requirements?

Each university will have its own set of medical school prerequisites and many set minimum medical school GPA requirements in order for applicants to be considered. Admissions committees have thousands upon thousands of applications to review each year, so setting minimum requirements helps to weed out those they do not feel are best suited to handle the rigors of medical school. While there are some medical schools that don't require the MCAT, many schools do and also set minimum MCAT scores required for consideration. Some medical schools, however, don't believe in assigning a minimum acceptable GPA because these schools place importance on reviewing applicants holistically and consider every application they receive regardless of GPA and MCAT scores. In line with these views, some schools send out medical school secondary essays to every single applicant, whereas others may screen using GPA and MCAT scores before sending out secondaries. It's important to note that just because a school doesn't set minimum GPA or MCAT requirements, it's not necessarily easier to get into and most accepted students still have very competitive scores.

In general, setting the minimum GPA requirement at 3.0 seems to be a common practice between medical schools that assign these standards. It's also common to see different GPA standards in place for in-state vs out of state applicants. For example, the University of Calgary sets different GPA requirements for in province vs out of province applicants, requiring a higher GPA for the non-resident group. There are also medical schools that set much higher minimum GPAs, like Virginia Commonwealth University, which sets their medical school GPA requirements at 3.3.

According to the AAMC, the mean science and cumulative GPA of last year's applicants to US medical schools was 3.45 and 3.56 respectively. However, matriculant GPAs were much higher at 3.64 in science and 3.71 cumulatively. Of course, these numbers represent mean statistics, meaning that there were accepted students with both lower and higher scores than these.

So what does this all mean for you? That if you have a low GPA you won't be accepted and that if you have a high GPA you will be accepted? The truth is, yes, your GPA score is a very important factor when considering whether or not you will receive an interview and acceptance letter. However, just because you have a certain GPA, whether it's a 3.5 GPA, 3.9 GPA or 3.0 GPA, it's impossible to determine your exact chances of getting into medical school. That's because numbers are just numbers, and most admissions committees are interested in a variety of factors outside of your academics. There are students with low GPAs that are accepted and students with near-perfect GPAs that are rejected. Each applicant is unique, both in their academic record and extracurriculars for medical school. There is no exact formula that says x and y will equal admission. Instead, admissions committees focus on admitting applicants with good grades and test scores, strong dedication for helping others and those that can demonstrate suitability for the profession.

Check out our video to find out how you can get into medical school with a low GPA:


Is my GPA competitive?

You may have heard that a 3.5 GPA for med school is competitive, but that's not entirely accurate. What may be competitive at one school is not necessarily competitive at the other. Indeed, applicants with GPAs above 3.5 who score well on the MCAT have better chances of acceptance than those with lower GPAs, even if they did exceptionally well on the MCAT. For example, students with GPAs between 3.40-3.59 who scored greater than 517 on the MCAT have a 70% acceptance rate compared with the 49.8% acceptance rate of those who scored the same on the MCAT but had GPAs between 3.00-3.19. While you can still get into medical school with a low GPA, it's a lot more difficult, and all other areas of your application need to really stand out.

If your GPA falls between 3.4-3.6, you can still get accepted, but in these cases, a strong MCAT score can improve your chances of acceptance. Some of the easiest medical schools to get into report mean matriculant GPAs between 3.5-3.65 which means that even with a lower GPA, you can still be competitive at these schools. What's important is that you determine what the mean GPA and MCAT scores are at the schools you're considering so you can target your applications appropriately. Review our medical school acceptance rates blog to find this information at all medical schools in the US.

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