The medical school application process is highly competitive. The number of applicants has been increasing steadily over the years and continues to rise. Aside from your grade point average (GPA) and medical college admission test (MCAT) score, the medical school admissions committee also considers other factors. They want students who can demonstrate their commitment to medicine, as well as their academic prowess.
To have a competitive edge against other applicants, you must create a stand-out application. Doing so will ensure you leave a positive impression on the admissions committee, which will increase your chances of getting accepted.
To create a stand-out application, just follow the steps below:
1. Research The Schools In Advance
When applying to multiple schools, make sure you know what they’re looking for when it comes to their medical school applicants. You can tailor your documents and credentials to make it easier for admissions committees to understand your background and goals.
It would also help if you are already clear about your academic goals. This will allow you to choose a medical school that can handle or is equipped to deal with the kind of medical specialization you’re planning to have in the future.
For example, if you want to become a family doctor, and one school only offers residencies in internal medicine while another offers residency in general practice. In that case, choosing the latter would be more suitable for your plan.
2. Draft An Impressive Personal Statement
Aside from your academic records, a personal statement is a powerful part of your application that can have a huge impact on the admissions committee. Your personal statement will be a reflection of your plans, goals, dedication, and overall personality. The committee will need this to assess whether you have the patience and mental fortitude to withstand the rigors of medical school.
To write a powerful statement, you can take courses or find coaches who can offer more education and guidance in this aspect. At this point, it is imperative to know that effective personal statements for medical school applications follow a certain formula. Typically, successful applicants write personal statements expressing their reasons why becoming a doctor is their ultimate goal. Therefore, your personal statement must explain why you’re passionate about pursuing a medical degree.
3. Pass The MCAT
The MCAT is a standardized exam designed to assess students’ strengths in science and critical thinking skills which are highly necessary for the study of medicine. Medical schools will require you to pass the MCAT. So, you must prepare by reviewing and taking up mock tests to know which areas should you need more work on.
You can review using resources like textbooks, flashcards, and online courses that cover everything from biology to psychology. MCAT reviewers and practice test questions are also available online.
511 and above is considered to be a good MCAT score, assuming there is no section score below 127. To be safe, it’s best to aim for a higher score so you can get accepted into any medical school of your choice.
However, do remember that your MCAT score will not be the sole determining factor that can get you accepted into a medical school. Aside from that, each medical school has its own standards and the admissions committee may accept applicants with a lower MCAT score, especially when the applicant has a high GPA or was able to secure a strong letter of recommendation.
4. Secure Strong Letters Of Recommendations
As mentioned, a letter of recommendation from well-respected people in the academe and medical field will also increase your chances of getting approved for medical school. These letters of recommendation will be a sort of testament to your performance and character as a student or professional. Aside from that, the letters must also explain why you are fit to become a doctor.
It’s good practice to include at least two letters of recommendation in your application. These letters should be from people who are either your professor, mentor, or colleague. Make sure they know you well and can speak highly of your strengths as a student, professional, and future doctor.
5. Highlight Extracurricular Activities
Medical schools are known to have high standards when it comes to grades and GPAs, but extracurricular activities are equally important too. Aside from knowledge and critical thinking skills, being involved in extracurricular activities will give an impression that you’re a well-rounded student.
However, if you’re aiming to go to med school, it’s important to highlight extracurricular activities that are medical or health-related. While charity works and environmental efforts can be appreciated, your participation in cancer awareness clubs (for example) will have a larger impact on your application. Participating in medical drives, being a clinical volunteer, and having sufficient research experience will give your application more weight.
Don’t Forget To Prepare For The Interview
Preparing the documents that are needed for your medical school application can get overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in all that paperwork, but please also don’t forget that you have to equally prepare for the interview.
Interviews can be intimidating for many applicants because they require good communication skills. But if you prepare early enough, you might be able to gain the confidence you need to show the committee that you’re qualified to be a doctor. You can practice answering interview questions with a mentor or colleague who has been through medical school.
Additionally, you must go through your academic track record and professional experiences again to make sure you can fully explain your interests, medical passion, and lapses (if any) when you’re pressed about them during the interview. Doing so will help you feel more comfortable and confident when it comes time to sit down with the committee of your dream school.
Pursuing a medical degree is not going to be an easy journey. That is evident during the application process alone. If you’re planning to be a doctor in the near future, a lot of planning must be done from the very start, especially during your college years.
Aside from choosing a suitable premed course, you have to study hard to get good grades and participate in extracurricular activities that will be useful in your application. Having a mentor and nurturing relationships with medical professionals can also be beneficial. These people can guide you to prepare an application that can easily stand out from other aspirants.