This page is the work of Mitch Smith who was an Instructor in the Department of Biology at Willamette University for 5 years and I continue to maintain it as ode to a good friend. In Spring 1999, Mitch enrolled in Medical School at Tulane University in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to his departure for the crawdad and gator capital of the United States, Mitch composed these recommendations for students interested in Medical School. I encourage interested students to read and take to heart the words of someone who has been successful in their quest for admission. Please forward additional helpful and dead links to Professor John L. Koprowski (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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When to Apply?
Where Should I Apply?
Interview Tips Helpful Links
should I apply to Medical School?
Most US medical schools
you to apply through the AMCAS program. This allows you to apply
as many schools as you want, with all of the schools getting the same information concerning grades,
extracurricular activities, awards, and one essay.
AMCAS will start
your applications on the first of June. I would encourage you to
AMCAS-E form for filling out your applications. What you should do is have your transcript(s) sent to
the office in Washington anytime prior to June 1st (If you are a graduating senior, you should probably
wait until your final grades are recorded). No later than June 1st, you should send in your completed
The next thing to do is
wait around until your secondary applications start coming in.
will do an initial screen prior to sending you a secondary (Don't get too excited, since this screen is
essentially are you breathing; i.e. 2.5 gpa and MCAT over 20) and some send everyone a secondary.
The secondary application is essentially a way for the schools to collect some additional information
about you as an applicant and hit you up for an additional $50-100.
about the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
The MCAT exam takes a full day and is composed of four sections:
reading comprehension section--this is the hardest section
do well at relative to all other test
takers. Most people do very well on this section and you want to distinguish yourself from all other
folks. The upshot is that you can miss very few question to get a good score. Spend a good chunk of
time practicing these types of questions as you will get better with practice.
physical sciences section (first year chemistry and physics)--This
the easiest section to do well
on, but has the hardest questions. Take solace in the fact that you can miss multiple questions and still
outperform your fellow test takers.
writing section--You will write two 30 minutes essays on an
assigned topic just after lunch. This
is the score that the schools care the least about. It is not given a number score like the other sections,
but rather a letter with T being the high score. Spend some time remembering how to write a good
essay, read the paper in the weeks leading up to the exam, remember the history you have not thought
about since freshman year.
biology section--The biology section is both biology and
chemistry; the split can be 50-50
to about 60-40 with biology (thank god) being the majority of the questions. You will need to know
more biology than they tell you (one year). I would recommend having Diversity, CBG, Micro, and
Animal Physiology before the thought of taking the exam crossed my mind. On the test that I took,
there was physiology, endocrinology, evolution, genetics, as well as other topics.
A couple of other points:
Studying:I spent 4 hours/day, 5
for 6 weeks studying. My score was a 32. I would not
recommend paying $1000 for a course on how to study. I went and bought the Kaplan book ($50) and
divided up the number of pages in the book by the number of days I had to study; that was the number
of pages I had to do a day.
Scores: What you should be
for is a combined score of over 30 with no subsection score
less than 9. I am not saying you won't get in with a 29, just that you are in a pool that has a greater
number of competitors. With every one point you drop off of 30, your chances of getting in are getting
smaller and smaller. If your score is less than 25, I would stop the application process and retake the
Helpful Links on the MCAT:
MCAT Registration Info from the AAMC --registration times, application requests, etc.
Kaplan's Online --various test
information on most of the major professional school exams
should I apply to medical school?
Be honest with yourself
your abilities and realize that most schools get in excess of 5000
applications. You will have to have a GPA around 3.5 and MCAT scores around 30 to be a serious
applicant. In addition it helps to have significant research experience as well as tons of volunteer
health care hours.
The reality is that most
schools in the US graduate folks who pass the boards (99%) and go
onto practice medicine. Unless you are going to try and do academic medicine, where you go is not so
important. Pick some places that are great, some that have a solid reputation, and some that seem
good but not great. Again I would encourage you to be honest with yourself. How many students with
a 3.47 and MCAT scores of 28 get into Harvard?
I would encourage you to
at the statistics concerning application #, % accepted, and % of
state folks accepted. This should give you an idea of your chances, based on the numbers. You can
follow this link to the JAMA issue with this data (for some of the tables, you may need to head to the
Other Helpful Links on Universities and Medical School Programs:
Peterson's Guide to Colleges
gradschools.com --information on nearly 50,000 graduate programs
U.S. News and World Report --various rankings and information
College Net --general information and search capabilities for graduate schools
* Show up early for your interview
* Try and spend the night with some students as they will give you the lowdown
Read as much as you possibly can about current events, health care
research projects, and volunteer work. You could get asked about any of these topics.
Do a mock interview and think of ways to answer the most common
2-5 minutes (Do not be a blowhard)
Bring questions to ask your interviewer. They are busy people
many things to
do, if you answer their questions in 5 minutes, your interview could be over.
Bring a current professional copy of your resume and leave it with the
or the departmental secretary.
* If you talk about an article from a journal or a magazine send that interviewer a copy.
* Send a thank you note listing all of the people that helped you on your interview.
American Association of Medical Schools:
good site with lots of student information
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