Medical School Application Requirements

August 17

Table of Contents

If you're considering applying to medical school, you're likely aware of the highly competitive and rigorous admissions process. However, to maximize your chances of being accepted, it's essential to understand the requirements and criteria for admission. 

Conducting thorough research on the colleges you're considering and frequently communicating with your pre-med advisor are essential steps in this process. 

By taking a proactive approach and seeking out information, you can avoid potential roadblocks and setbacks that may arise if you don't meet all the necessary requirements. 

In this article, we'll focus on the critical application requirements you should focus on as you prepare for the medical school admissions process.

What are the Medical School Application Requirements?

Medical institutions generally acknowledge the fundamental components of pre-medical education. 

Typically, the minimum course requirements consist of one year of biology, one year of general (inorganic) chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, and one year of physics. In addition, roughly two-thirds must take a writing or English-intensive course, and one-quarter must take calculus. 

You must fulfill these course prerequisites as part of your pre-medical education. 

With this core curriculum, you should select additional humanities and science courses to round out your education and strengthen your medical school application.

For your reference, here is a comprehensive list of medical school application requirements:

Medical School Requirement #1: Mandatory Courses 


It is unquestionably required for medical education because biology is an almost entirely required subject for practicing medicine. 

Knowledge of genetics, cells, and the structure of life forms the basis of medical science and is crucial for success in the field.


Chemistry makes it possible to comprehend acid-base imbalances in the body and how various substances function. Therefore, chemistry is also necessary to understand biochemistry.


Physics also provides fundamental medical concepts, such as the laws of pressure and volume, essential for comprehending cardiology and the forces within the body.


Math is a prerequisite at some institutions, while statistics is a prerequisite at others. The majority of institutions require at least one semester of mathematics. It takes a remarkable amount of basic mathematics and statistics to be a doctor or other healthcare professional, from determining the correct dosage to reading lab results.

Medical School Requirement #2: Courses that are Sometimes Required 


Several medical institutions require applicants to have analytical and writing skills outside of their introductory science coursework. They accomplish this by mandating that you enroll in an English course or, at the very least, a style emphasizing writing.


Since the MCAT has placed a greater emphasis on it, biochemistry has received significantly more attention. As a result, some colleges require it, while others assume you already possess it if you have already prepared for the MCAT.

Psychology and Sociology

Since being added to the MCAT, psychology and sociology have become increasingly popular medical school prerequisites.

Medical School Requirement #3: MCAT 

You must take the Medical College Admission Test unless enrolled in specific BS/MD programs or other early assurance programs. 

Unfortunately, BS/MD and early assurance programs require a minimum MCAT score to maintain eligibility.

You must submit an MCAT score from most medical institutions within the past three years. 

If you last took the test more than three years ago, you will likely be required to retake the MCAT.

Students typically take the MCAT for the first time during the summer following their sophomore year. However, January of the junior year is also an excellent time for students who wish to apply directly to medical school.

We suggest taking the MCAT no later than April of your application year, and even that is stretching it. 

In most cases, you should allocate 3-4 months to prepare for the MCAT and develop an effective study schedule to maximize your score.

Medical School Requirement #4: GPA 

The majority of medical colleges do not publish minimum GPA requirements. In addition, once your primary application has been verified, most medical schools will automatically send you a secondary application. Again, this is regardless of your GPA and MCAT score.

Despite frequent references to "holistic admissions" and the absence of minimum GPA requirements, medical institutions have rigorous but variable grade requirements. The average GPA of successful applicants to MD programs during the most recent cycle was 3.50.

It is much more challenging to enter medical school with a low GPA, so always protect your academics. 

Some students begin their undergraduate studies by enrolling in too many courses or extracurricular activities, and their grades suffer. A few initial terms with lower rates will make the remainder of college difficult academically.

Medical School Requirement #5: CASPer 

Allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools increasingly require applicants to complete the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPER) test.

CASPer is an online, free-response test of situational judgment. In addition to asking what you would do in a challenging situation, it asks why. This facilitates the identification of candidates' behavioral preferences.

You will be given different text- and video-based situations to choose from during the exam, and you will have five minutes to respond to three questions. 

Consider increasing your typing speed to maximize your score, as the five minutes per scenario pass swiftly.

Medical School Requirement #6: Personal Statement 

Your personal statement will likely be one of the first parts of your application to a medical school

With good reason, it is also the section that most students spend the most time on. 

Never underestimate how important it is to write the best personal statement possible.

The purpose of the personal statement is to explain why you want to become a doctor, not to advertise that you are a student or aspiring physician. 

The admissions committee wants to ensure that you are enrolling for the right reasons and that you are aware of what you are getting into.

Your personal statement should discuss the circumstances that led you to consider a healthcare career. 

Even if you had previously considered choosing a profession other than medical, this is still accurate. You were originally motivated to consider a profession in healthcare by your "seed".

Medical School Requirement #7: Extracurricular Activities 

When you approach your pre-med years correctly, you will typically be highly occupied with studying and extracurricular activities.

All competitive medical school applicants have good-to-excellent grades and MCAT scores, so statistics are not a helpful differentiator. Instead, they merely inform admissions committees of an applicant's academic readiness. 

Therefore, members of the medical school admissions committee evaluate your extracurricular activities.

And while many medical institutions state that they want to see the attainment or demonstration of specific competencies and skills, they seldom specify what to pursue or what quantity.

Here are some of the different extracurricular activities you may choose from:

Shadowing involves observing physicians in various treatment settings, such as outpatient clinics, operating rooms, and community clinics. Ideally, you should observe physicians from at least two or three specialties in multiple contexts.

Clinical experience is also known as clinical volunteering or patient exposure. It differs from shadowing in that you will have direct patient contact and provide treatment. Popular clinical experiences include emergency medical technician and assistant medical duties. 

Community service, or non-clinical volunteering, is an inclusive category. For example, you might coach students from disadvantaged backgrounds, contribute to a charitable organization, or do anything else based on your hobbies.

Research experience can be obtained in either "wet lab" or "dry lab" environments. The objective is to demonstrate an interest in academic medicine, particularly if you wish to enroll in MD programs.

Numerous medical school websites do not explicitly state that research experience is required.

However, most competitive medical school applicants have completed at least one year of research, preferably in the same facility. 

In addition, although publications are not required, publications enhance your research experiences in the eyes of admissions committees.

Medical School Requirement #8: Letters of Recommendation 

As with coursework and extracurricular activities, the requirements for medical school recommendation letters can be pretty perplexing because they vary from school to school.

Nevertheless, it would help if you aspired to obtain the following:

  • Two letters from a professor of science
  • One letter from a non-science faculty member
  • Two to three letters from people who have supervised you in extracurricular activities, such as the principal investigator of your research facility.

Your school may provide you with a committee letter to accompany your other letters of recommendation, depending on your institution. 

You need not be concerned that not submitting a committee letter will hurt your medical school admissions chances. Many top institutions do not require them. 

Some professors or other letter writers may also request that you compose your own letter, which they will review, revise, and submit on your behalf. It is essential to emphasize, however, that the quality of your letters far transcends their quantity.

Medical School Requirement #9: Secondary Essays

Your medical school secondary essays are a component of your secondary application. 

Your goals, experiences, and opinions on a variety of topics, such as your decision to enter medical school, are specifically questioned.

Your secondary essays are evaluated by the admissions committee to see how they support the data in your initial application. 

Your secondary essay is another test to see if you can focus on answering the issue provided and fully comprehend instructions (this time, specific directions from the institution).

Additional Reading:

Medical School Requirement #10: Interviews 

Medical school admissions officers utilize interviews to determine whether applicants possess essential characteristics for the medical industry. These characteristics include excellent communication skills, critical thinking, mental presence, compassion, and resiliency.

In addition, med-school interviews are used to identify applicants who are committed to and mindful of the difficulties of continuing their medical education. This includes time spent earning a medical degree, completing a residency, and obtaining a license. 

During admissions interviews, difficult questions regarding pre-meds motivations are frequently posed.

Through medical examinations, universities can evaluate applicants' interpersonal skills. As a result, applicants to medical institutions are frequently brilliant, competent, and dedicated. 

In addition, physicians must possess strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work in a team, empathy, and other traits that are difficult to demonstrate in a written assignment.

10 Tips for Completing Medical School Requirements

According to experts, some medical schools have minimum requirements for GPAs and MCAT scores, and meeting these requirements is necessary for admission to these institutions.

As a result of the rigorous course requirements of medical schools, admissions officers look for evidence that prospective students can manage challenging science courses.

A high GPA and MCAT score do not, however, guarantee admission.

Once a student meets the minimum GPA and MCAT score requirements, additional factors such as letters of recommendation, research, life experiences, volunteer work, and interview performance come into play. 

To help you prepare all the necessary medical school requirements that will better your chances of getting admitted, remember to follow these tips:

1. Spend Your Time Wisely

Start investigating various medical specialties while you are still an undergraduate. Thinking about pediatrics? You may wish to pursue courses in child psychology, family dynamics, or child development.

Enroll in gender studies courses to become an obstetrician and a gynecologist. You can increase your chances of obtaining a competitive residency position by displaying a long-term interest in a medical specialty.

2. Know Which Major You Will Excel In

There is no pre-med degree program. Instead, it is a pathway in which you will meet with a pre-med advisor and your principal advisor and complete specific requirements. 

You can concentrate on just about anything as long as you fulfill your pre-med requirements. 

You will need a competitive GPA, so select a major with a rigorous curriculum. 

Numerous students major in biology or chemistry, but you are not limited to these disciplines. For example, you could concentrate on English or history if you excel in the humanities.

3. Apply Early

Most medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) for the initial step of the primary application procedure.

Beginning in late May or early June, you can submit the application. However, since applications are accepted continuously, you should raise yours as soon as possible, preferably by June. 

Therefore, you must begin working on them during the semester prior.

4. Make Use of Your Pre-med Office as a Resource

Admissions officers frequently inquire why applicants have not utilized their pre-med office's resources. If you have access to a pre-med facility, you must use it to the fullest extent possible.

Suppose your institution does not have a dedicated pre-medical office or advisor. 

In that case, you should seek the advisor who works most closely with pre-meds on your campus. These advisors are often located in the biological sciences department or career center.

5. Ace the MCAT

This is essential if you want your application to remain competitive despite a low or average GPA. 

Medical school admissions committees are looking for evidence that you can manage the rigorous academic requirements of medical school. 

Your GPA and MCAT are the two most significant indicators of this skill; if one is lacking, the other should be at least average.

It would help if you thoroughly prepared for the exam to attain a high score on the difficult MCAT

Create an effective MCAT study plan that will assist you in developing the unique critical thinking skills and scientific concepts required for this exam.

6. Invest in Research Projects 

Undergraduate research experience stands out prominently on medical school applications. 

Most medical schools are looking for students interested in research. The best way to demonstrate that interest is to have research experience already. 

In addition to college-based research programs, you can research summer offerings through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program or consult the AAMC's database of summer undergraduate research programs.

7. Develop Extraordinary Healthcare Experiences

Complete more than the minimum number of clinical or observational hours. 

Try to cultivate the essential skills that admissions committees seek: leadership, empathy, the ability to perform under pressure, quick problem-solving, etc. These skills are necessary for future medical success and should be developed. 

Ensure that your volunteer activities promote the growth of these characteristics. It can aid you in obtaining exceptional letters of recommendation for medical school, another essential element of a successful medical school application.

8. Obtain Strong Recommendations

Recommendations and interviews are the primary methods medical institutions use to evaluate qualities that are not necessarily reflected on the page. 

In addition to academic prowess, they seek compassionate individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.

Work on developing relationships with faculty and professionals as an undergraduate, such as a physician you shadowed or your supervisor. 

Identify your recommenders as soon as possible, and do not neglect to ask them for permission before listing them.

Approaching them at the beginning of the semester before you apply is a good idea so they have ample time to write a reference.

9. Practice For Your Medical School Interviews

Based on their application reviews, medical institutions will invite a variable proportion of applicants to interviews. These situations can be nerve-wracking. 

As with any discussion, you should devote significant time to practice and preparation. 

You are not required to select interviewers with extensive medical knowledge. The purpose of these sessions is to help you become more comfortable discussing your experiences and qualities. You must also be able to deal with difficult situations, such as ethical dilemmas.

10. If You Must, Take a Gap Year

Consider taking a gap year to enhance your application if you are dissatisfied with the final list. 

A gap year before medical school may be optimal for applicants with average or subpar application materials. Remember that the medical school application process is costly and time-consuming.

Suppose you are submitting an application during the current cycle. In this case, you must ensure a reasonable chance of success. 

You can examine the MSAR admission statistics to determine the likelihood of acceptance based on your current metrics and resume. 

Additional FAQs – Medical School Application Requirements 

What is the Average GPA for Applying to Medical School?

Officials in charge of admissions advise pre-med undergraduates to strive for a minimum GPA of 3.50 to be accepted into a prestigious medical school.

In particular, students should strive for A's and B's in their science courses. These grades will determine whether medical school applicants are academically prepared.

Do All Medical Schools Require the MCAT?

Most medical institutions require MCAT scores, except for Early Assurance and BS/MD programs. 

If you are applying to a conventional MD program, you will likely be required to take the MCAT.

Should I Include My Volunteer Work in My Medical School Application?

Yes! In addition to the remainder of your application, medical schools seek candidates who demonstrate concern for their community and the general public. 

Volunteer experience will distinguish you by displaying your genuine desire to assist others. 

In addition to the other types of experiences you mention in your application, your volunteer work does not need to be in a particular field or area of practice. 

Be sure to seek out activities that align with your interests. And be prepared to discuss why these experiences are significant to you and how they will assist you in your career pursuits.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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