The MCAT and beyond: getting into med school

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To study medicine in the US, you need to have already completed a college degree. However, whether you’re an undergraduate or still in high school, it’s not too early to prepare for your med school journey!

There are lots of things that pre-med students can do to ensure they have all of the qualifications and skills to get into med school. Being aware of what you need to achieve over the next few years is the best way to avoid any headaches in the future.

Enroll in the right pre-med courses

Most medicine courses will require you to take certain elective modules at undergrad level (usually a mixture of biology, chemistry, physics, math, and sometimes English). To make sure you’re taking the right ones, take a look at your prospective medical school’s website and speak with your preprofessional advisor. If you have another college in mind for medical school, make sure you research its requirements as well.

Prepare for the MCAT

The MCAT (which stands for Medical College Admissions Test) is a standardized test you take the summer before apply to medical school. Its four categories are designed to test your science knowledge as well as critical analysis and reasoning skills – and at 7.5 hours long, it’s a test of stamina as well.

Only 16% of students will achieve above 510 on the MCAT, but some of the top US medical schools regularly recruit students with scores in excess of 517. To do well requires a lot of preparation, but these top scores are not unattainable – check out websites such as Next Step Test Prep for mock exam papers, online advice, courses, and conferences to boost your skills.

Extracurriculars and work experience

You can’t get a grade in work experience, so some students can overlook this important aspect of preparing for medical school. To an admissions panel, however, it’s the best way for them to ascertain whether you understand the challenges – as well as the rewards – of becoming a medical professional.

In addition to joining student groups, such as your local HOSA and/or AMSA chapters, to enhance your leadership skills and participate in enrichment opportunities, getting some shadowing under your belt is a must. For instance, Gap Medics pre-medical shadowing programs pair you with a dedicated mentor in a busy partner hospital, giving you the chance to see first-hand what it’s like to be a physician today. What’s more, you can choose from a number of destinations, including Europe and the Caribbean, giving you a global perspective that’s simply impossible to gain at college – whatever your major.

With your pre-requisites chosen, MCAT in the bag, and your personal statement brimming with experience, we have no doubt that you’ll make your med school dreams a reality!

For even more comprehensive information, visit our downloads page to get your free getting into med school guide.

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