There’s good news and there’s bad news on medical school admission.
There are only 155 primary and research-focused medical schools in the U.S. In 2021-22, a record number of 62,443 applicants vied for medical school slots, with 23,711 applicants being accepted. Sound impossible? Difficult, perhaps. Impossible, no.
Applications to medical schools are increasing every year and with that increase is coming a new emphasis on diversity and inclusion. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, for the first time since the association tracked theses things, the majority of medical school applicants were not white. Applicant diversity showed an increase in Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish students with the last two groups increasing significantly. There’s good news for women, too. In 2021-22, women accounted for 56.8 of all applicants.
But, what does that mean for admission?
There’s no one size fits all acceptance rates for medical schools, it all depends on the school. Let’s look at some of the typical application “asks” of admission committees.
Let’s begin with the basics in grades and MCAT scores. Medical schools set their own criteria, but this should give you a general idea.
Applicant reviewers will look to see how well you did in your upper-division, undergraduate science studies as an indication of your potential to handle the rigors of medical studies. Typically, they look for a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
Your scores from the Medical College Admission Test (MCATs) are also an indication of your potential success. This standardized test comes in four segments in: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. These sections are equally weighted.
MCATs take approximately 7 hours to complete (which includes breaks). Scores range from 472 or up to 528. The average MCAT score is 500 with accepted applicants in 2021-22 having a score of 511.9.
Again, let’s turn to the American Association of Medical Colleges and U.S. News and World Report for a general portrait of requirements.
The AAMC suggests, more than likely, your academic transcripts will be reviewed for particular courses showing one year of Biology and English, with two years of Chemistry. U.S. News and World Report also includes courses in Physics, Calculus, Biochemistry, Genetics, as well as others.
Medical school reviewers are also interested in identifying students who have more than academics in their lives.
If you work, or worked, in a medical-related field while completing your undergraduate degree or after, that’s a plus. Or, perhaps, you worked throughout your bachelor’s program, which could be considered positively as an indication of your commitment. Volunteer activities also are a good reflection of your interests, dedication, and abilities.
Choose your references wisely. It’s a good idea to ask people who are familiar with your academic work and interests who can address your habits, abilities, and experiences. Letters from your science professors and non-science professors may be appropriate. You may also want to consider references from your employer or leader for whom you did volunteer work who can describe your performance and interpersonal communication skills.
You may be asked to answer essay questions (particularly if you’re applying to medical school with The American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®). These are used to determine your command of the English language and ability to concisely express opinions, facts, etc. Be certain, whatever you do, be concise and have no grammatical errors or misspellings.
Finally, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to complete a secondary application. Secondary applications typically are essay-driven and the advice above holds true here.
Being invited to interview with medical school interviewers is a good thing. It means the committee has reviewed your application and are interested in learning more about you. Interviews may be traditional or multiple mini-interviews or a hybrid of both. Following your interviews, you’ll wait, which is the hardest part. You may want to write a letter of appreciation for the interview opportunity and periodically reach out to the school to let them know of any additional experience you may have gained.
Best of luck!