Five Tips for Getting Into Medical School-Even With a Low MCAT Score
The common wisdom is that to get into medical school, you need to have at least a 29 or a 30 on your MCAT. The truth is that while this is about the median range for people who enter medical school, it is possible to get in with a lower MCAT score. A lot goes into an admissions decision besides your MCAT score—and a low one is no reason to give up dreams of becoming a doctor. Here are a few things you can do to resuscitate your chances if you just got a low MCAT score.
First—is your score really that low?
You’d be surprised—but people with low MCAT scores do get into medical school. If your score is on the low side of average, it might be worth it to do some research to see which schools around the country are already accepting students with your score. MDApplicants.org lets you search average MCAT scores by school—so you can identify which medical schools are more likely to accept you and target your applications to those schools.
If your score is in the range of acceptance for some medical schools, apply anyway—the worst way to hurt your chances is not to apply. Bear in mind that schools consider many other factors besides MCAT scores in admissions decisions. These include your GPA, the undergraduate school you attended, research you conducted, the rigor of the classes you took, extracurriculars, your admissions essay, and more. If you have a low MCAT score but a good GPA, for example, your chances are probably not as bad as you think.
Getting into medical school isn't easy-even with a good MCAT score. But if you have a low MCAT score, all hope isn't necessarily lost.
Tell a compelling story
Medical school admissions officers, like anyone else, are suckers for a good story. If your MCAT score is lower than usual, your admissions essay is especially important. Try to frame your low score in the context of an interesting story about why you are uniquely qualified to go to medical school. Tell a story that draws readers in and makes them root for you—even with a low score. If you can demonstrate the personal skills that the school looks for in its applicants in your essay, you may be able to get to the interview stage.
Consider osteopathic medicine
Medical school isn’t the only option for those who want to become doctors. DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) schools offer most of the same classes, and its students take the same Boards that MD graduates take. DO’s are qualified to practice in every area of medicine MD’s practice in—the only difference is that the initials after your name will be different. And DO schools tend to have lower admissions standards for GPA’s and MCAT’s—so they’re easier to get into. If your MCAT score is low, you may have a better chance of admission to a DO school—and you’ll still be able to pursue the same career afterward.
Getting into medical school isn’t easy—even with a good MCAT score. But if you have a low MCAT score, all hope isn’t necessarily lost. Do some research to pinpoint which medical schools might accept students with scores similar to yours—and don’t rule out DO schools. If your score is lower than any medical school accepts, take the test again—but this time, get some help. Take a prep class or hire a tutor, and take as many practice tests as you can fit in. Many people take the MCAT’s several times before being accepted to medical school. With these steps, you may be among those with low MCAT scores who are still able to make their career dreams come true.
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