If you are looking for medical school acceptance rates and want to learn how to increase your chances of getting in, you've come to the right place. Whether you are applying to DO vs MD programs or looking for easiest medical schools to get into, you need to know what you are up against before you start working on your medical school applications. This blog will give you tips on how to increase your chances of getting accepted, teach you how to improve your chances of getting in and give you a list of medical school acceptance rates with average GPA and MCAT scores.
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
1. Prepare Ahead and Apply as Early as Possible
One of the questions that is on every premed student's mind is "How hard is medical school and how hard is it to get into medical school?" The first thing you should know is that the majority of American medical schools have rolling admissions. This means that they review applications as they come in and send out medical school secondary essays applications, offer interviews and admissions as soon as they see worthy applications and candidates. The longer you wait to apply, the less likely you are to be accepted.
Additionally, the admissions committees will be able to tell if you put little time into preparing your application. Rushed applications will be evident based on the quality of reflection and writing on the part of the student. To have the greatest chance of acceptance you should prepare your application early and apply to medical schools of your choice as soon as you can. It would be wise to aim to apply as early as May when the application process opens. This means a lot of planning on your part.
First of all, you will need to prepare all of your application components, including your personal statement, extracurriculars, transcripts, and recommendation letters. You do not need your MCAT scores or letters of reference to submit your application, but by the time you apply, you should at least be planning to write the MCAT and to have potential recommenders in mind. If you have only one school of choice and you are certain that your credentials meet their expectations, you may want to consider applying to their Early Assurance medical program. Keep in mind that not all med schools have early assurance programs, so be sure to check with the school of your choice.
Another tip: if you do have a Top Choice medical school, you might want to learn how to write a medical school letter of intent. This essay will ensure your top choice school that you are a serious and dedicated candidate. Typically, you should send a letter of intent about a month after your interview.
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2. Research the Schools to Which You are Applying
Do not apply to medical schools blindly. Be selective in choosing which schools you want to attend. Make sure that you meet all the medical school requirements that are listed by the school. Medical school rejection is often the result of not taking the time to find out what kind of applicants different medical schools tend to admit. To be a competitive applicant, you will need to meet some of the criteria set not only by the school but by its former matriculants.
Even though most schools have no official GPA or MCAT cut-offs, you will learn their GPA and MCAT score expectations from this blog and from our DO school rankings – make sure to meet these averages. For example, if the program’s matriculants had an average GPA of 3.7, then you should aim to at least meet this GPA expectation. If the school’s matriculants had a median MCAT score of 515, then you must prepare for the test and receive a score no lesser than 515.
Premed experiences also play a big role in the selection process, so research the schools to which you’re applying and note what kind of skills and experiences their matriculants possess. For example, a medical program you choose may be very research-oriented and expect its students to have quality research experiences. If you have little to no research experience, your chances of getting admitted to that school decrease significantly. The key is to know what kind of criteria and requirements the school has before you apply.
If you apply to schools that have a higher GPA and MCAT score expectations than what you have achieved, you are wasting your time and money to apply there. Find out if you meet the requirements of the school before you apply.
Is it possible to get into medical school with low GPA and MCAT? Find out in our video:
3. Emphasize the Right Extracurriculars
To increase your chances of acceptance, you must choose the right extracurriculars for medical school to include in your application. This also involves a lot of research into the schools to which you're applying. Some students do not pay attention to what kind of experiences they include in their AMCAS Work and Activities section. Rather, they simply list their experiences without considering what their chosen schools value in their applicants.
Whether you are applying through AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS, or OMSAS, you need to strategically choose what employment, volunteering, and other extracurriculars you include in your application. For example, your school's mission statement or program description may indicate that they value applicants with a clinical background in rural and underserved communities - this is something you will not know unless you do research. Your application must demonstrate that you have had clinical experience in these areas and are willing to talk about it not only in the application, but hopefully in your interview.
Another tactic could be researching what kind of premed experiences previous years' matriculants had. According to AAMC statistics, over 90% of Ivy League medical schools matriculants have research and lab experience. So, if you are considering applying to one of the Ivy Leagues, make sure you have quality research experience and demonstrate what valuable skills and lessons you learned from the research process. According to Stanford medical school stats, over 80% of its matriculants had clinical observation and shadowing experience; so if you’re applying there, you will know to emphasize your clinical and shadowing experiences in the application.
To know what kind of experiences your chosen schools value, find out what kind of experiences their matriculants have, and include them in the list of your personal experiences accordingly. You can find the necessary information using the AAMC directory or by searching the programs' websites.
The AAMC directory allows you to access medical school profiles:
4. Ensure High Quality of Your Application Components
Medical school acceptance rates is not just a numbers game. The quality of your application components will have a huge effect on your chances of acceptance. Each component of your application must be of the highest quality. Admission committees get the first glimpse of your communication skills and levels of responsibility by simply reading your application. They will be able to evaluate your levels of commitment, your attention to detail, your ability to communicate concisely and clearly, and your ability to present a holistic, informed image of your candidacy for medical school.
This is why preparing your application early is important. Take your time to brainstorm and carefully compose each section of your medical school application. It is crucial to eliminate any grammatical and punctual mistakes. Research the schools to which you're applying to look for ideas and inspiration for your own personal statement, employment and activities section, and even for your recommendation letters.
5. Follow Instructions
A very simple rule of following instructions can help you increase your chances of acceptance. Studies show that the students who receive medical school rejection tend to forgo the details of application instructions.
It is absolutely vital to follow sections’ instructions very carefully and do exactly what is indicated in the guidelines. Not only does this show your maturity and determination, but it also demonstrates your attention to detail and comprehension skills. Throughout the application process, you must always understand what is being asked of you.
Pay close attention to essay prompts – if you do not answer the exact prompt in your personal statement or a secondary essay, your chances of admission decrease significantly. Make sure you answer the question you're being asked and do not ignore the prompt!
Work to Increase your GPA and MCAT
It is not a secret that GPA and MCAT score determine medical school acceptance rates. If you would like to learn how to get into medical school with a low GPA, make sure to read our blog. But if your heart is set on schools that have higher medical school GPA requirements than your own GPA, you can certainly try to increase your grades and improve your GPA.
Firstly, create a study plan and stick to it, join a study group, or get a tutor to help you ace your courses. You can also ask your instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) if you can do anything for extra credit. Your genuine interest and hard work will not go unnoticed. To get higher grades, you can also try taking classes in disciplines you enjoy. Pursuing coursework that you are passionate about tends to result in better grades.
If you want to avoid writing the MCAT, you can always choose to apply to medical schools that do not require the MCAT. When to start studying for the MCAT will depend on when you have taken all the necessary courses and how fresh your knowledge is. Preparing for the MCAT is a laborious process that requires time and dedication, so make sure to give yourself enough time to prepare.
To start your preparation, take an MCAT diagnostic test to get an idea of your baseline and what you need to focus on. Your results will indicate what content you need to study. Create a thorough MCAT study schedule and change it accordingly to correspond to your improvements and challenges.
Many students struggle with the CARS section of the MCAT. Use our foolproof MCAT CARS strategy to tackle MCAT CARS practice passages and do a lot of challenging reading to get ready for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section of the exam. Continue to take practice tests to see if you are showing improvement. Take the real test only when you are ready. If you take the test prematurely, you will waste your time and money. You need to be scoring consistently well (in the 90th percentile) before you retake the actual test. If you are still wondering “When should I take the MCAT?”, make sure to read our blog.
If you are not happy with your current MCAT score you can retake the exam. A word of caution: if you decide to retake the exam you must show improvement. The admissions committees will be able to see all the scores you have - if your results show decline, it's not going to work in your favor.
Typically, your GPA and MCAT are juxtaposed by the medical schools to which you apply. Many medical schools will forgive a lower GPA if the MCAT score is high. Likewise, if an MCAT score is lower than the school’s typical average, the GPA may compensate for it. The AAMC provides a chart that shows the correlation between GPA and MCAT scores in medical school acceptance rates. For example, if your GPA is between 3.2 to 3.39, you must score between 514 to 517 on your MCAT to have a 50% admissions chance. You can check out the chart to see how you measure up.
Remember, your GPA and MCAT are not the only components of your medical school application, but they are the yardstick with which you will be measured as soon as your applications are under review. GPA and MCAT scores are used to weed out students from the initial applicant pool, so research the schools you’re applying to and see if your GPA and MCAT scores at least match their average before you apply.
Are you wondering how the MCAT is structured? Check out this inforgraphic to find out:
Prepare for CASPer
If your school is one of the medical schools that require CASPer, you will need to prepare. This situational judgment test is meant to assess students’ professional suitability for medical and other professional schools, but it does not evaluate your scientific or clinical knowledge.
The test is comprised of 12 scenarios dealing with real-life situations. You are asked 3 follow up questions based on each scenario you observed. Essentially, the questions will prod you to answer how you would deal with the situations you witness. You are given 5 minutes to type your answers for those three questions. Your answer for each scenario will be given a score between 1 (lowest) and 9 (highest). Remember, you do not need to answer all three questions to get a high score. The quality of your answer will determine how well you do on a question. It is possible to leave 1 or even 2 of the three questions blank and still receive a good score! Your score is solely based on how appropriate, mature, and professional your answer is whether you answered just one of the follow-up questions or all three.
It is vital to know how to prepare for CASPer. Frist of all, make sure you have a solid approach for each type of question included in the test. Second, use realistic simulations and receive professional feedback when you are preparing – you will not know how well you are doing and what you can improve on without good feedback. Check out our CASPer questions and expert answers to figure out how to approach these challenging scenarios and questions. When you feel ready, schedule your test on one of the available CASPer test dates.
Check out the 3 CASPer question types you need to know before you write the test:
Write a Stellar Personal Statement
Applying to medical school is a laborious and time-consuming process. You need to think ahead and plan each component carefully. Your personal statement alone can take weeks or months to prepare. A personal statement must answer this one important question: "Why do you want to be a doctor?"
You must create a unique and coherent narrative that would make you stand out among hundreds of applicants and you will have a limited amount of space to do this. If you're applying through AMCAS and AACOMAS, you have 5,300 characters including spaces; if you're applying through TMDSAS, you have 5,000 characters including spaces. This means that you will need to reflect on your past experiences, brainstorm ideas, and choose only the most meaningful experiences for your essay.
Your personal statement should be structured around 2 or 3 experiences; limiting the number of experiences you include in your personal statement allows for space to talk about each experience in depth. Your statement should be structured like an academic essay that includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction of your essay must be strong to captivate the readers and keep them interested in your story. It might be easier to write your introduction last after you write the body and conclusion of your statement. This way you will already know what your essay talks about and you will be able to formulate an introduction that indicates what the reader should expect from your personal statement.
The body paragraphs need to demonstrate your experiences and qualities that make you a perfect candidate for the schools to which you’re applying. Be very selective about the experiences you include – they must show, rather than simply tell, your readiness to become a medical school student. Be sure to demonstrate what these experiences taught you and what kind of valuable skills you learned from them. Remember, you are trying to show the quality of your experiences, do not simply list them and expect the readers to know why they were important on your journey to medical school.
Your conclusion may reiterate some of the key points of your essay, but do not just write a dry summary. Leave a lasting impression by including an insightful comment about your journey to medical school or your reflections on the importance of medical professionals and their role in society. Your personal statement gives admission committees an idea of your personality, values, and history. Not only does it tell your story, but it also demonstrates your self-awareness and ability to self-evaluate, shows the quality of your communication skills, and ability to identify the most significant points of your experiences.
Writing clearly and concisely is a skill greatly valued by admissions committees. Before you write your statement, make sure to read medical school personal statement examples to understand what admission committees are looking for in their applicants. You can also check out TMDSAS personal statement examples and AMCAS personal statement examples to find inspiration for your own essay.
Check out tips that can help you create a stellar personal statement:
Learn What to Expect from Secondary Essays
Secondary essays are typically more difficult to plan since you do not have as much time to write them. If you are not given a specific deadline from the school, you should aim to submit your secondary essays within two weeks after receiving them.
Make sure you do not rush your essays. They still need to demonstrate high quality of thought and reflection. Look at some medical school secondary essays examples to get an idea of what’s expected. When you brainstorm ideas for your essays, make sure you read the prompt carefully and understand what is being asked of you.
Gain Clinical and Shadowing Experience
US medical schools require their applicants to demonstrate clinical experience in their application components. Having clinical exposure indicates your understanding of what the medical profession is about. Start gaining clinical experience as early as you can. Apply to volunteer in hospitals and clinics, as well as long-term care and retirement homes.
Other ways to gain clinical experience may include volunteering in hospices, working as a health professional’s assistant, becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA), a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT), a medical scribe, or a personal caretaker. As a future physician, you must have experience with patient interaction. Exposure to patients and their needs will cultivate your empathy and compassion – qualities highly regarded by the admissions committees.
You do not need to spread your time among several clinical activities. Remember, quality trumps quantity, so stick with an activity you enjoy and commit to it. If you dedicate your time and energy to an activity you like, you will have better chances of having a positive impact on your colleagues and patients. Your dedication may even result in a glowing medical school reference from your supervisor. To get some ideas for gaining more clinical experience, check out our 7 Premed Gap Year Jobs blog.
Shadowing a physician is a requirement in most American medical schools. It is a passive learning activity that allows you to learn about the responsibilities and everyday routine of practicing physicians. Again, try to commit to shadowing a physician for an extended period of time to forge a relationship with the professional. They may become one of your medical school referees.
To find a physician to shadow, start by asking your personal physician, family members, and friends, as well as doctors with whom you have volunteered and worked. They may allow you you to shadow them or recommend physicians who typically take on students. Otherwise, look for physicians in your area and call their office to ask if they take on students – shadowing is a common practice in the US, so don’t be shy to ask.
But you might be wondering how to ask to shadow a doctor. When you call or email the physician, explain that you are a premed student, and express your interest in their specialty. Briefly explain your medical experience and your aspirations in the medical field. Arrange a schedule that fits both of your needs and responsibilities. Requirements for shadowing hours for medical school vary with each program, so make sure you know how many shadowing hours are required for medical school.
If you’re submitting a DO school application, make sure you shadow a DO physician. Having clinical exposure with a DO doctor will be your competitive edge. Shadowing an MD doctor only is not going to be enough to stand out as an osteopathic candidate.
Wondering how to gain clinical experience? Here are some suggestions:
Get Involved in Research
Most medical schools expect to see some research experience in students’ applications. If this is an area of your application that is lacking, you must work to gain quality research experience, especially if you are looking to apply to MD-PhD programs.
You do not need to get involved in several research projects to make a good impression. Even one in-depth, quality research project can be enough to demonstrate your research skills and experiences that can be applied to a variety of scientific fields and disciplines. If you are a student, start by asking your instructors and TAs if they are involved in any research projects and whether they need help. Be on the look-out for any research assistant postings in science departments on campus. If you're applying to research positions on and off-campus, make sure to prepare a stellar research assistant cover letter.
It’s a bit more challenging to find research positions if you’re no longer a student on campus. If you are taking a gap year before medical school, you can still look for research opportunities in nearby colleges by emailing professors in the departments you would like to join as a researcher. In your email, explain that you are a premed that needs to gain research experience and state that you would like to volunteer in their lab. Describe what important skills and qualities you would gain from working with them. As a student and a graduate, you can also contact physicians you shadowed or worked with to find out if they have any research opportunities for you. Even if they are not personally involved in research, they may be able to recommend professionals or organizations that are looking for research help.
Other ways to gain research experience may include contacting a medical school and its medical centers near you. Departments at teaching hospitals typically have their own research personnel and you can phone or email them about research opportunities. If academia is your passion, you can consider joining special master’s programs. Typically, graduate degrees have built-in research opportunities, but do not get a master’s to simply fulfill the requirement. But remember, master’s degrees are expensive and time-consuming – you must have better reasons to apply than to bolster your application.
Acquire Outstanding Recommendation Letters
You might think that medical school acceptance rates solely depend on the applicants' efforts, but think again. Another important component of your application is medical school recommendation letters. Just like with your personal statement, you will need to strategize to get the best quality letters from your referees.
Medical schools tend to ask for reference letters based on your circumstances and experiences. For example, if you are still a student when you apply, schools will request a number of letters from your science instructors and non-science instructors. If you have significant research experience, then your principal investigator (PI) will need to write you a letter of recommendation. Schools might ask you for letters from your work supervisors or colleagues if you have spent a significant amount of your time in the workforce. If you were in the military, the schools may have specific requirements for your references. So, make sure you know what kind of writers you need to approach to ask for a letter.
You should choose writers who know you well and have worked with you for extended periods of time. Most importantly, they must be ready to write you glowing reference letters. Avoid getting letters that are mediocre or lukewarm; these will only decrease your chances of acceptance. If the person you’re asking for a letter seems hesitant, it would be better to ask someone else. Your writer must be eager to celebrate your achievements, qualities, and personal virtues in the recommendation letter. There is a chance that your recommenders may ask you to draft your own reference letter. In this case, learn how to write your own letter of recommendation.
Learn to secure strong letter of recommendation in our video:
Prepare for Interviews
After the GPA and MCAT, interview performance is probably the second most influential factor in determining medical school acceptance rates. Each school has different interview formats, so make sure you know which interview style your school uses to assess its applicants. It is key to know how to prepare for you med school interview. Remember, the right practice makes perfect!
Start with the most common medical school interview questions, since they can be incorporated into most interview formats. It is important to get comfortable answering questions that are most likely to come up during your meeting with the admissions committee. Be ready to answer questions like "tell me about yourself" and "what is your greatest weakness?"
Additionally, you should prepare for video interviews because many medical schools in Canada and the United States use innovative video interview tools like AAMC VITA and CASPer Snapshot. Your interview preparation is not going to change significantly if you have a video interview; just make sure that your computer and software work properly before the interview.
Check out 5 hardest medical school interview questions you need to prepare for:
Getting ready for your interview involves more than just medical school interview questions and answers practice. Depending on your interview format, you will be able to show your genuine interest in attending the program by speaking directly with its students and faculty. It is wise to research your school and the interviewers who will conduct the meeting. The more you know about your program and its faculty, the more insightful comments you can make and questions you can ask.
You must create a good impression on the interviewers and everyone you meet on the day of your interview. When you prepare for the meeting, make sure you have the right medical school interview attire. Although your appearance is not a key signifier of your suitability for medical school, tidiness and taste can make a great first impression. Do not use perfume, cologne, or any other strong smells on the day of the interview.
When you meet your interviewers, greet them and shake their hand if appropriate. Make sure to introduce yourself and politely ask their names if they do not introduce themselves. Repeat the interviewers' names during the interview when appropriate, and especially at the end when you say your goodbyes. As you exit the interview, shake their hand and thank them for their time. Your introductions and goodbyes are of vital importance. Your performance aside, the impression you create with your behavior and tone will speak volumes to your professionalism and maturity.
Learn how to use BeMo's medical school acceptance rates chart in our video:
Scroll down and click on the name of each school below for full details including medical school acceptance rates, average accepted GPA, and MCAT scores for the accepted class during the previous admission cycle. Visit our blog for medical school acceptance rates by major.