Medical school requirements are essential to getting into any medical school. Even the easiest medical schools to get into have specific requirements that must be met by all applicants. From prerequisite courses and experiences to grades and MCAT scores, we've got you covered in this blog. With essential information and expert tips, we'll help you every step of the way so you can tick off all the requirements. 


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Article Contents
11 min read

Medical School Requirements You Need to Know Medical School Requirements: Undergraduate Degree and Major Medical School Requirements: GPA Medical School Requirements: MCAT Medical School Requirements: Prerequisites Medical School Requirements: Personal Statement Medical School Requirements: Extracurriculars Medical School Requirements: Letters of Recommendation Medical School Requirements: Secondary Applications Medical School Requirements: Acuity Insights and CASPer Medical School Requirements: Interview FAQs

List of Medical School Requirements for Admission

Here’s a list of the medical school admission requirements (MSAR) you need to know! Applying to DO and MD schools? Check out the DO school requirements.

  1. Undergraduate degree
  2. Medical school GPA requirements
  3. Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  4. Medical school prerequisites
  5. Medical school admissions essays
  6. Medical school extracurriculars and experiences
  7. Medical school recommendation letters
  8. Medical school secondary essays
  9. Acuity Insights assessment
  10. Medical school interviews

We’ll look at each of these 10 medical school requirements in more detail, including tips on how to meet them for your medical school applications.

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To calculate your chances of acceptance to medical school, try our Medical School Chance Predictor! 

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Medical School Requirement #1: Undergraduate Degree and Major

Nearly all medical schools require a bachelor's degree but show no strong preference for specific undergraduate majors or institutions, emphasizing instead the importance of pursuing a field you are genuinely interested in.

While science majors are common among matriculants, students from diverse academic backgrounds, including humanities and physical sciences, can also successfully gain admission. Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, one of our admissions experts and a graduate of the University of Ottawa medical school, says:

“[Take] courses you genuinely enjoy as opposed to doing them because they are ‘easy’ or to have a ‘relaxed’ schedule. Personally, my hardest courses were the ones I had little to no interest in, but I ended up enrolling because my friends said they would be ‘easy’. When you are doing something that you enjoy, you automatically end up going the extra mile, which shows in both the quality of your work as well as the results.”  Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa medical school

Medical School Requirement #2: GPA

There is no denying that your GPA is one of the more important aspects used to determine whether you'll be invited to an interview, and in turn, offered acceptance to any medical school. Trends in medical school acceptance rates continue to reflect that your GPA is an important factor in med school admissions, and it’s one of the first things any admissions officer will see when perusing your application.

In short, no matter how excellent the rest of your application is, if you don't meet medical school GPA requirements, your application won't receive further consideration.

Dr. Jamie Cazes, one of our admissions experts and a graduate of the University of Toronto medical school, applied to both Canadian medical schools and US medical schools. He found that individual schools treat your academic scores—your GPA and MCAT—differently across the board, although a competitive score is always best.

“… it seems that competitive GPAs are only getting higher and higher each year. The thought here is that a GPA is a good assessment of your accomplishment over time ... That being said, it really does vary school to school and each school has their own rules when it comes to MCAT and GPA calculation.” – Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine

While some medical schools have relatively low accepted GPAs—for instance, the Meharry Medical College has an accepted GPA of 3.48—a lower GPA can limit the number of med schools that will review your application, decreasing your chances of acceptance.

Also be wary of basing your required GPA on the minimum GPA requirements for individual medical schools. Just because a medical school has an acceptable GPA threshold of 2.5, this does not mean you will be a successful applicant with a GPA below 3.0. 

Here are our tips for how to get into medical school with a low GPA!

Medical School Requirement #3: MCAT

After your GPA, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is the biggest indicator of your academic ability and readiness for med school in the eyes of admissions committees. It is also one of the biggest and most common med school requirements; and a test of mental resilience as well.

One of our BeMo students, Moriah, was a medical school reapplicant, and she knew the importance of scoring well on her MCAT if she wanted to increase her chances of success.

“Everyone has a great GPA and a good MCAT and has been getting experience … everyone obviously has been doing everything they can to bolster their resume and making sure that they're a competitive applicant so everyone's really competitive and knowing on some level it is a numbers game." – Moriah, BeMo student, current student at UMass Chan Medical School

As our successful medical school applicants have found, having a low MCAT score does not always mean you can’t get into medical school, but a strong score is also never a guarantee of acceptance, either.

To score well, you'll have to put in some serious review and preparation time. Do not underestimate the difficulty of this test!

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Try our MCAT Score Calculator to convert your raw MCAT score!

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Are there medical schools that don’t require the MCAT? Yes! Here’s what you need to know:

Medical School Requirement #4: Prerequisites

Common Medical School Prerequisites

Medical school prerequisites vary significantly; while some schools mandate specific courses like Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, others, like UCLA Medical School, list no required courses but recommend certain subjects to strengthen your application. It's crucial to distinguish between required courses, which are essential for your application to be considered, and recommended courses, which, while not mandatory, enhance your candidacy.

Dr. Jamie Cazes, one of our admissions experts and a graduate from the University of Toronto medical school, advises choosing your undergrad courses carefully and always checking the prerequisites for every program you apply to:

“My number one piece of advice is to do your research. Check EACH school’s requirements and see if you have courses or prereqs that fill those. You should regularly touch base with admissions at each school to verify that a course you are completing actually fills a prereq.” – Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Make sure you learn how to use MSAR and check the official admissions websites to find the exact prerequisite courses for the schools you’re applying to so you can complete them on time. And, keep in mind your GPA and which courses will help you maintain high grades.

Check out why it’s important to complete medical school prerequisites:

Medical School Requirement #5: Personal Statement and Essays

Medical schools require a variety of admissions essays, including the medical school personal statement. Your personal statement and med school essays are not only used to gauge your writing and communication skills, two very important abilities for premeds, but to find out more about who you are as an applicant and why you want to go to medical school.

Your personal statement is the cornerstone of your medical school application, so it needs to be well-written and carefully crafted if you want your med school application to stand out.

Think carefully about the intent of your personal statement or additional essays, and start brainstorming, outlining and drafting early on in your application timeline. Follow application and school-specific instructions carefully and ask someone you trust to review your essays before you submit them.

Dr. Neel Mistry, one of our MD admissions experts, explains the intent behind the personal statement:

“In order to stand out, it is important to answer the main questions well: a bit about yourself and what led you to medicine, why you would make an ideal medical student and future physician, what attracts you to this particular institution, and what sets you apart from the other candidates. The key here is answering the last two questions well … In addition to this, remember to use specific personal examples throughout your statement to make it more impactful and memorable for the readers.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine 

Medical School Requirement #6: Extracurriculars and Experiences

Extracurriculars for medical school are one of the best ways to set yourself apart from other candidates. It shows the admissions committee who you are a person, what steps you've taken to become knowledgeable about the profession, what motivates you to do what you do, and of course, why you want to be a doctor. Your extracurriculars will include both activities directly related to medical school and those that are not related to medicine but can speak to your diversity as an applicant.

Your extracurriculars and experiences will be captured on your medical school application in the AMCAS work and activities section (for allopathic med school applicants), the AACOMAS activities section (for osteopathic med school applicants) and the TMDSAS activities section (for applicants to Texas medical schools). Depending on where you are applying, get to know how to craft these parts of your application and how to choose the experiences you want to highlight.

“Make sure you include if you have any personal or quirky hobbies, even if it's not health-related or medical-related, include those in your application and make sure you explain why those are important to you because they still contribute to you as a person and as a well-balanced individual. And I think that's something that helped me because I was able to [include] some of my sport activities … While those aren't typical research or volunteering activities, that is really important to me and makes me who I am.” – Sherry, BeMo student.

Many medical schools are seeking premeds with the right type of experiences, too, that have prepared them for becoming a doctor and demonstrate passion for the field of medicine. The most common experiences found in medical school requirements are:

Be sure that your experiences are true to what you're trying to accomplish. Think about what you stand for and where you want to make a difference and go from there. How many volunteer hours for medical school you will need will differ from program to program. However, remember to make a long-term commitment and show genuine interest in whatever activity you choose to participate in.

Medical School Requirement #7: Letters of Recommendation

Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, one of our admissions experts and a graduate from the University of Maryland medical school, says:

“Most professors are aware that students need LORs. I would be more willing to provide a letter for a student I had a few [one-on-one] interactions with, so it is always good to try and go to office hours for classes you may want a letter from. I’d also ask professors if they can write the letter soon after your taking the class ideally at the end of the semester or within the next semester.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine

If you’re asked to write your own letter of recommendation, don’t shy away from the task. Take the time to craft a stellar recommendation and submit it to your referee for approval.

Types of medical school letters of recommendation:

Medical School Requirement #8: Secondary Applications

Medical schools use secondary applications to gather additional information not included in the primary application, featuring specific essay prompts. Most schools send these secondaries to either all applicants or those who pass an initial screening, and students typically have 2-4 weeks to complete them, which can be challenging given the number of schools applied to.

The number of prompts and requirements vary by school. The prompts are freely available on each school’s website. Some common prompts include “why this medical school?”, the diversity secondary essay or the gap year secondary essay. Check out medical school secondary essay examples to see the most common type of prompts so you can work on answering them confidently and effectively.

Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, one of our admissions consultants, says pre-writing is an effective way to cut down on the workload of secondaries:

“Secondaries were a lot of work especially after completing all of the primary application materials. I tried to pre-write secondaries starting in mid-June as there aren’t many changes year to year in prompts which are easily found online. For each school I read their mission statement and tailored my answers to their priorities. Since many essays also overlap between schools I was able to morph different essays based on length to reduce overall writing.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine


Medical School Requirement #9: Acuity Insights Assessment and CASPer

Acuity Insights is a multi-component assessment that is a part of the application selection process for many professional programs, including medical schools. It includes both the CASPer test and the Duet assessment. Some medical schools require CASPer only, and there are some medical schools that don’t require CASPer or Duet at all. 

Many schools use Acuity Insights to screen applicants and decide who gets an in-person interview invitation, which is why it's important for you to know how to prepare for CASPer and other components effectively and perform well at each stage.

“I had no idea what CASPer was … they have like a practice test that you can take and that's pretty much the only preparation I did for it, but in retrospect if I could go back some [I would do more prep] … having a little bit of not necessarily studying but preparation you can not only know what you're doing but also make yourself kind of stand out as an applicant.” – Allison, BeMo student, current student at Dell Medical School

While CASPer may be a completely new concept for most premeds, it can be prepared for! Before completing CASPer, be sure to try out some practice CASPer questions, learn the strategies and how the CASPer test is scored!

Medical School Requirement #10: Medical School Interviews

Lastly, medical school interviews are a common part of the medical school application process, although they are not always required, and not every applicant will be invited to interview.

“You're going to be thrown with these different scenarios that try to just intertwine if you have any personal experience or if you can add any personal touch to the different interview questions that adds a lot because they're the interviewers are going to be hearing a lot of those cookie cutter responses especially just some of those ethical scenarios there's a general way of answering them but they're going to hear over and over but what you can do is just add a personal experience or a story or anything that you can really think of because that really helps you not only stand out but relate to the interviewer.” – Sherry, BeMo student.


Preparing for medical school interviews? Here’s how a mock med school interview can help:

If you are invited to an interview at a medical school, think of it as mandatory, even if this is not expressly stated. Your medical school interview is your chance to speak to the admissions officers directly, make a strong impression and secure your acceptance letter.

Medical school interviews are usually conducted in a traditional panel format or the multiple mini interview (MMI) format. Be sure to check which one to expect and start preparing with mock medical school interviews! Review the different types of MMI questions you’ll encounter, and how to answer common medical school interview questions.

FAQs

1. What are the requirements for medical school?

In general, to get into any medical school you will need to meet the minimum GPA requirements, the minimum MCAT score requirement, complete all prerequisite courses and lab work, submit recommendation letters and have strong extracurriculars. Some medical schools may also require you to complete the CASPer test, secondary application essays and attend an admissions interview. 

2. Do MD and DO schools have the same medical school requirements?

Yes, most osteopathic and allopathic medical schools have the same requirements in general, although requirements can still vary from school to school. However, DO school rankings show that GPA and MCAT score requirements of DO matriculants are slightly lower than those of MDs.

3. If I meet all these requirements, will I get an interview invite?

Meeting all the medical school requirements does not guarantee an interview invite. If you do get invited to interview, you must know how to prepare for your med school interview. You should find out which interview format your school uses. Today, many medical schools in Canada and the US use the MMI format. Review how to prepare for your MMI and go over MMI questions. Make sure to go over common medical school interview questions that can be incorporated into any interview format.

4. Are there any extracurriculars that will give me a competitive edge?

My number one advice regarding extracurriculars would be to research your schools of choice to find out what kind of experiences previous year’s matriculants had. For example, some schools greatly value research. Matriculants of most Ivy League medical schools have in-depth research and lab experiences.

On the other hand, there are schools that really value experiences in the rural or northern communities, like UBC medical school or Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Make sure to read the schools’ descriptions and mission to find out more about what kind of applicants they are looking for.

5. Does prestige of my undergraduate school matter when it comes to medical school acceptance rates?

No, it does not. Whether you go to an Ivy League college, one of the top non-Ivy League schools, a public or private university, it has little influence on your med school admissions chances. Admissions committees pay much more attention to the quality of your application components, scores, experiences, letters of recommendation, and essays.

6. Who should I ask to be my referees for medical school?

Make sure to ask someone who will give you outstanding recommendations. If you see that a person is hesitant to write you a strong letter, it’s better to ask someone else. Most medical schools will ask for a letter from one science referee, one from a non-science referee, and one referee of your choice. If you are applying to medical schools in Ontario, you should know that most schools participating in OMSAS will ask for a character reference, too.

7. How many medical schools should I apply to?

You should apply to 15 to 20 medical schools. Do not apply to over 20 schools. Why? Because once you submit your primary application, you will most likely receive secondary essays – it will be difficult to complete a large number of secondaries on time. Additionally, apply to schools where you know your GPA and MCAT scores meet the expected averages.

8. Should I still apply to schools that have higher GPA and MCAT cut-offs than my averages?

You can apply to a couple of schools that have higher averages but try not to have too many “reach schools”. There are schools that weed out applicants in the initial stages of the application review process based on grades and scores. This means that they won’t even look at other application components if your GPA and MCAT do not meet their standards. 

9. What are the most common medical school course requirements?

Most medical schools ask for 2 semesters each of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, with lab, along with 1 semester of Math and 2 semesters of English. In addition to these mandatory requirements, they may ask for additional recommended courses such as a relevant humanities or social sciences course, Statistics, Calculus, etc.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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3 Comments

Matteo Coscia

What extracirriculars can I do during Covid?

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Matteo! Thank you very much for your question. It has been a challenge for many students to find extracurriculars during COVID, but they do exist! For example, you can find volunteer opportunities online. These can be as simple as interacting with a resident of a care home via Zoom or Skype, or tutoring a younger student online. There are dozens of online colloquia where you can give a presentation on your research. And you can of course shadow physicians virtually!

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Med Applications

I just wanted to say that this REALLY helped me get into the habit of thinking ahead for my educational future!

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Med Applications! Thanks for your comment. Glad this helped you plan ahead!

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Brianna Lewelling

Hello, I'm about to begin my 2nd semester of college. I was curious when would be an appropriate time to begin shadowing Physicians in a clinical setting? Would now be considered too soon? Also, my Aunt is a Pharmacist and I have the opportunity to shadow her at her Pharmacy; would this be considered applicable to someone reviewing my med-school application? Thank you for this website, it is full of useful information.

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BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Brianna! Thank you for this wonderful question. You can and should start shadowing in your second year of undergrad. This way, you will determine for yourself whether this career path is right for you and demonstrate to the admissions committee in a couple of years that you took initiative early! While shadowing a pharmacist will be very interesting, it is not going to be enough to only shadow a pharmacist. You should have a variety of physician shadowing under your belt too.

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