The most reliable source of information about allopathic medical schools is provided on the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) website, offered by the AAMC. It is worth purchasing access to this database because the statistics it contains are very valuable in helping you to decide where to apply.
Before you begin exploring the school data, it’s important for you to know the schools only provide an average of the scores that they accept – they do not provide the full range of scores. If you had access to see the full range of scores for accepted applicants, rather than the averages, you would be pleasantly surprised to see how low the scores for accepted students actually go. If you have a lower GPA, but a higher MCAT score and years of exceptional service and activities, you may be just the student a school is looking for, but you’ll never know if you don’t apply to the right schools.
Don’t be discouraged by your low scores – you need to know how to maximize your other strengths, and most importantly, to apply to programs where you will have a higher chance of getting in.
Follow these steps:
1. Calculate your stats and be kind to yourself.
Without judgment or berating yourself, calculate your cumulative and science GPAs.
2. Address a decreasing trend in your GPA.
Look at the trends in your GPA, term by term. If you graduated with a significant decreasing trend, do not apply this cycle. If you have a strong decreasing trend and your GPA is below a 3.0, consider completing postbac coursework or a postbac program. In this case, check out The Definitive Guide to Premedical Postbaccalaureate Programs for guidance in this direction.
3. Understand your MCAT score and its affect on your candidacy.
If you have maintained a competitive GPA or have a strong increasing trend, review your MCAT scores. If you have earned a 7 or higher in each section of the exam, with a total score above a 25, you can consider applying. If you have scores below a 7 on any section, your application may go through an additional hurdle, known as the “academic committee” on some campuses, where a few applications with low GPAs or lower MCAT scores make it out. In these committees, they duke it out based on whether the student has any other significant redeeming qualities in other areas that could possibly justify keeping your application under consideration.
4. Decide if you’re ready to move forward.
If you have made it this far, congratulate yourself! If you have a lower GPA, you should have a higher MCAT score to compensate and vice versa. If your numbers are too low in any of these areas, consider retaking the MCAT or completing additional coursework.
5. Begin research schools.
Once you have objectively collected and reviewed your numbers in detail, you are ready to begin researching medical schools.
Again, it is important that you not be discouraged by the numbers, but review them objectively. The more honest and accurately you can review your numbers in relation to theirs, the more realistic and successful your decisions will be. Our focus in this process is on outcomes. By using a strategic approach, we can bring about a positive outcome for your application.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted to medical school? Click here to get in touch!