The process of applying to medical school is stressful. And since selection committees are looking for evidence that you are ready for medical school, applying with a low science GPA can make the process even more nerve-wracking.
If you have a low science (or BCPM [biology, chemistry, physics, and math]) GPA, you have two options. You can postpone applying to med school, or you can move forward with your application, taking certain precautionary steps.
When to postpone your application
You should consider waiting to apply to medical school if you fall into one of these three categories.
You have a decreasing trend in your GPA.
This is one of the main reasons that applicants are rejected from medical schools. If you haven’t graduated yet, dedicate yourself to taking extra classes until you can demonstrate that you’ve turned your grades around. If you have already graduated, consider taking postbaccalaureate coursework to create an increasing trend. In both cases, try to take upper-division biological science courses that are similar to the level of classes taught at medical school.
You have not retaken classes that you failed.
Retake any courses in which you received a C-, D, or F as soon as possible to demonstrate your improvement as a student. It is best to retake the same classes, if you can. If not, take equivalent courses.
You have not successfully maintained a full course load of upper-division science courses.
To be a competitive medical school applicant, you should be regularly earning A and B grades in upper-division science courses. If you have a C every quarter or semester without consistent improvement, this can be a red flag. It’s best to take a full course load of all science classes and maintain a strong GPA before you apply.
When to proceed with your application, despite a low science GPA
If you’ve retaken classes and improved any poor grades, successfully maintained a full load of upper-level science courses, and demonstrated an upward trend in your science GPA, you can move forward with your application. To increase your chances of success, consider the following strategies:
- Confirm the strong increasing trend in your science knowledge by earning a competitive MCAT score.
- Directly address the reasons for the low numbers early in your education in your essays. State the facts – don’t provide excuses. (See Five A’s for Your Low GPA for more advice on addressing a low GPA.)
- Carefully select and apply only to schools that have a history of accepting students with lower numbers.
- Consider applying to osteopathic (DO) medical schools. Although these programs are as competitive as allopathic (MD) programs, they tend to view candidates more holistically, with less emphasis on GPAs and MCAT scores. For the 2021 entering class, the mean science GPA for osteopathic matriculants was 3.51, compared to a median 3.77 for allopathic matriculants.
- Show enormous commitment to medicine and community service. Although the most recent class of MD students had an average science GPA of 3.64, approximately half the entering class had a GPA lower than that. It’s better to have an impressive record of service and to demonstrate the ability to overcome any obstacle than to have perfect scores.
The challenges you have encountered have helped you build character. Often, the candidates with lower numbers have the most heart and the most commitment.
Accepted can help! Explore our Medical School Admissions Consulting Services for individualized guidance. We can assist you in creating an admissions strategy that works for your unique situation.
Since 2001, Cydney Foote has advised hundreds of successful applicants for medical and dental education, residency and fellowship training, and other health-related degrees. Admissions consulting combines her many years of creating marketing content with five years on fellowship and research selection committees at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She’s also shared her strategy for impressing interviewers in a popular webinar and written three books and numerous articles on the admissions process. Want Cydney to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!