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Medical school admissions is one of the most complicated admissions processes of all -- it is extremely nuanced.  That said, here are the most important factors in admissions decisions, in order.

By David Thomas

So, you want to go to medical school?  Why not?  Doctors are highly compensated and respected professionals, and most, if not all of them, have bright futures and great careers in store.  Of course, becoming a doctor isn't as simple as just waving a magic stethoscope -- first, you have to attend a little thing called medical school, which means that you have to get into medical school (and thrive there).

Aspiring doctors (and their parents) often ask us what the most important factors are in determining who makes it into top medical schools like Johns Hopkins, Harvard, U. Penn Perelman and Yale.  Unfortunately, the answers are far from simple -- medical school admissions is arguably the most complex of all admissions processes.  That said, this checklist will give you a solid grasp of the basics.

1.  A high GPA in your prerequisites

 

Median GPA for a top 10 school should be in the 3.7+ range, with exceptionally high grades in  prerequisite courses such as
biology behavioral science
organic chemistry demonstration of writing skills
inorganic (general) chemistry calculus
physics social sciences
biochemistry general chemistry
humanities

2.  A high MCAT score

a score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile. - See more at: https://benchprep.com/mcat/prep/what-is-a-good-mcat-score#sthash.3UGAMk8M.dpuf

You can read a bit more about it here, but the basics are as follows -- A score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile.  For a top school, you'll want to be in the 85+ percentile, ideally 90+.

a score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile. - See more at: https://benchprep.com/mcat/prep/what-is-a-good-mcat-score#sthash.3UGAMk8M.dpuf

3.  Great volunteer and clinical work

Show distinction by focusing on a particular area of practice -- show initiative by scouring local hospitals and nursing homes for good opportunities.  Most of all, show that you have a human side -- that you are not just a brain on stilts.

4.  Shadowing experience

Shadowing is a great chance to build up your bedside manner, get to know how a real doctor operates, and have some experience dealing with patients -- all of which matters a lot to top medical schools.

5.  At least one research experience (much more if you plan on applying for an MD/PhD)

Top medical schools want to take students who already know they like medicine and want to pursue it as a career, and lab experience helps show that you have thought things through.  Having trouble finding a good opportunity?  Check out this link for some tips.

6. A demonstrated interest in liberal arts and broad coursework

Fun fact -- philosophy majors have a higher acceptance rate to medical school than biology majors!  Part of this is a simple numbers game, but mostly this has to do with relatability -- after all, bedside manner counts for something, and no teacher wants to spend four years training a school full of technocrats.

So there you have it!  The six most important factors in determining whether that coveted 'admit' will be yours.  Get to cracking those books and chasing down those volunteering opportunities -- and don't forget to take a break and have a sandwich every once in a while!

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