You Want To Go To Medical School, Do You?

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: November 3, 2021

Medical schools aren’t concerned about your undergraduate major. They do care about your GPA (especially grades in certain pre-med courses which you can take no matter your major), and your MCAT score.

  • Rigor of your undergrad curriculum is not considered in medical school admissions.
  • Take the easiest version of coursework and get perfect grades.

If not rigor, then what? Activities like clinical volunteering, bench research, and community service/leadership.

Example of NOT pursuing rigor: a student receives credit for AP Spanish. Instead of higher-level Spanish classes (language mastery is not the student’s goal – only fulfilling requirements), the student takes beginner Spanish, an easy A. Same for AP credit in chemistry or biology: take the "101" version of the class. Better an A in general chemistry than a B in a higher level of general chemistry despite your AP credit. NOTE: premeds should always enroll in courses they could skip because of AP credit – some medical schools don't accept AP credits to qualify for admission. GPA and MCAT score are what makes your balloon rise.

To successfully apply to medical school, you must have nine undergraduate courses:

  • 2 semesters of biology
  • 2 semesters of chemistry
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry
  • 2 semesters of physics
  • 1 or 2 semesters of calculus

Other helpful courses: Psychology, Ethics, Genetics, Microbiology. Yes, you’ll need a year of English Composition, but that’s part of virtually every college’s core curriculum. Regardless of major, a student must fulfill those necessary classes (check out AMCAS.org for more resources and common courses required). Also, successful applicants should have several extracurricular activities (e.g., bench research, hands-on and shadowing experience related to medicine, and community outreach, leadership, teaching) with a goal of roughly 500 hours in two of them.students doing community outreach

Medical school admissions is nothing like college admissions; sometimes the guidance seems 180 degrees opposite! For what it's worth, I think the best majors for medical school admission (depending on your academic interests) are:

  • Art History (helps with rote memorization skills, and art historians study the human condition and context around specific works of art – great for understanding your patients)
  • Classics (a few years each of Greek and Latin – perfect for mastering medical terminology)
  • Computer Science (we just can’t escape computers in any professional role)
  • Creative Writing (think how articulate you’ll be – both in oral presentations and research papers)
  • Instrumental Music (finger dexterity!)
  • Philosophy (critical inquiry is excellent for researchers)
  • Theatre/Drama (having assumed a wide variety of roles, you’ll gain strong insight into your patients’ innermost feelings)

As a side note, attending an elite university as an undergraduate is not ideal because a very high GPA will be harder to achieve. With the extraordinary expense of a medical school education, it makes sense to attend a less prestigious college, receive a robust merit scholarship, and save your money for med school. If you need any guidance applying to medical school, our educational consultants specialize in helping students with their grad school admissions process.

 

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