How to Prepare for Medical School
Medical schools are some of the most selective in the world—and they attract some of the country’s best and brightest students. It’s not easy to get in, but your chances are increased with some targeted preparation. Here are a few tips for preparing for medical school—the earlier the better.
Study math and science—but be well-rounded
It’s true that you need a solid background in math and science to get into medical school. Most schools require a certain amount of coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. But you’ll also need credits in the humanities—including English and the social sciences. Most medical schools look favorably on well-rounded candidates because they believe such candidates will be able to interact with patients and understand people well—not just diagnose and treat.
You don’t necessarily need to major in sciences
Most people are surprised to learn that you don’t need a biology or pre-medical degree to get into med school. As stated above, medical schools generally prefer well-rounded candidates. You do, however, need to demonstrate a solid understanding of and ability to achieve in the math
and science fields, so you’ll need plenty of credits in that
area if you choose to major outside of it.
Getting into medical school isn’t easy. But with strong study skills, good grades, a well-rounded transcript, and the right volunteer experience, your chances are greatly improved.
Medical schools aren’t just looking for good grades. Many are looking for a sense of civic responsibility as well—and a little hands-on experience in the field. Volunteering in a hospital or clinic environment can demonstrate your commitment to the field—and also help you make connections with doctors who can write you valuable recommendation letters.
Demonstrate leadership and excellence
Bear in mind that medicine attracts the best and brightest. To really stand out on the crowd, you’ll need to do something special. Look for an opportunity to excel—some ideas include getting involved in pre-medical organizations in a leadership role; helping with faculty research; becoming a volunteer leader in your community; or studying abroad in a way that broadens your medical and cultural understanding.
Establish good study habits
Once you get into medical school, the struggle is just beginning. You can prepare by developing strong, organized study habits early. Stay out of the habit of skipping classes; keep organized notes; and avoid procrastinating. Many medical professionals suggest distributing more demanding pre-med coursework throughout your college time, so that you’re not dealing with several difficult classes at once.
Get at least a 30 on the MCAT
A 30 (out of 50) is generally considered to be the lowest competitive score you can achieve on the MCAT; scores in the 40’s are extremely good. In addition to basic scientific knowledge in chemistry, biology, and physics, the MCAT tests your writing and reasoning skills. You don’t have to major in science to score high on the MCAT, but you do need strong science knowledge as well as broad reasoning and deduction skills.
Get to know a physician
If you have a physician as a mentor, it will help you immensely in getting into school. A physician can write you a recommendation letter for medical school—something that schools value highly. In addition, having a physician as a mentor can bring you opportunities to work and volunteer in a medical capacity—which will help you develop a strategy for your admissions essay and look good on your resume.
Getting into medical school isn’t easy. But with strong study skills, good grades, a well-rounded transcript, and the right volunteer experience, your chances are greatly improved. Take these steps to ensure a strong candidacy as an undergraduate, and you’re much more likely to be a strong candidate for medical school when you graduate.
AspiringDocs.org: Preparing for Medical School
Drexel University: Medical Coding Courses
AAMC: Getting Into Medical School
StudentDoctor.net: Getting Into Medical School: Help for Parents
More About Going to Graduate School
- Five Tips for Getting Your Master's Faster
- Six Ways to Pay for Grad School Without Taking Out a Loan
- How to Prepare for Medical School
- Five Tips for Getting Into Medical School-Even With a Low MCAT Score
- Going to Grad School? How Your Financial Aid Will Change
- Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying to Grad School
- Not Your Usual MBA: Six Degrees That Can Help Your Business Career
- Money for Grad Students: Loans for That Advanced Degree