Most Important Prerequisites for Medical School

By Susan Landis-Steward , last updated October 28, 2011

If you want to be a doctor, you are one among many, but you should be aware of the many important prerequisites for medical school. Thousands of young people apply for medical school admission every year and the process is highly competitive, especially at the best schools. If you plan to become a doctor, you should start thinking about that medical school admission process in advance.

The most important requirements for medical school admission are a high GPA and a top score on the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). As a general rule, anyone with a GPA lower than 3.0 should forget about applying for medical school. Work toward a 3.5 or higher to better postion yourself for the competitive process. Your GPA shows prospective medical schools how seriously you took your undergraduate studies and how well you will apply yourself to achieve both in and outside the classroom. It is a good predictor of success in medical school so try to make sure your transcript has an abundance of As and no Cs.
A high GPA can also compensate for a lower MCAT score. The MCAT is graded in three sections, each worth 15 points for a total of 45 points. A good competitive score is considered to be anything above 30 although the average is around 24. For top schools, you'll need an MCAT in the 34 to 36 range.
Besides top GPA and MCAT scores, medical schools are also looking for other prerequisites, not all of them academic. Most people who want to attend medical school take pre-med courses that are heavy in the biological and other sciences. You should at least have taken biology and organic chemistry, but other important classes are physiology, kinesiology, and anatomy. The more rigorous your undergraduate program, the more likely medical schools will look favorably on your application. Because much of medicine is research related, you should also be involved in some form of research in your undergraduate years.
Another thing medical schools look for is clinical exposure, job shadowing, and volunteerism. This can often be accomplished in by volunteering in a hospital or clinical setting where you get clinical exposure and a chance to meet doctors you can shadow all at the same time. But don't limit yourself to volunteering in just medical areas. Work at a summer camp, soup kitchen, food bank, or tutor a child as well. The more volunteering you can fit in, and over the longer period of time, the better.
Another important prerequisite is some sort of leadership position. This can be student government, or if you have to work your way through school, leading a work team or being a supervisor or manager. Military service can also show leadership.
Getting into medical school is a multi-faceted process and you need to prove you can succeed under pressure, multitask, and aren't afraid to work. Carrying a full load, working 20 to 40 hours a week, and volunteering during your undergraduate years, all while getting great grades, will increase your chances of getting into medical school.
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