Medical School FAQs

August 17

Table of Contents

Attending medical school can be challenging regarding the time and effort you must put in, finances, expectations, and sometimes, rejections. It is a long process, and you need to be well-prepared.

Part of your preparation includes researching the journey that awaits you. Reading and asking the right people will help you prepare financially, emotionally, and mentally. 

In this post, we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about medical school. 

Whether you're just starting your research or in the midst of the application process, we hope you'll find this guide valuable. Let's dive in!

What Are Medical Schools Looking For?

Medical schools are looking for applicants with top academic credentials, evidenced by their GPAs and MCAT scores.

Medical schools also look for applicants with strong moral character and interpersonal abilities. These are often shown in volunteer, leadership, and employment settings, undeniable interest in medicine (as indicated by significant involvement in medical settings), and compassionate nature.

What Kind of Grades Do I Need to Be Accepted to Medical School?

If you are a candidate with a strong MCAT score of 513+ and a GPA of 3.6+, you can be pretty confident that you will get admitted to medical school. 

The best colleges often seek applicants with averages of A- or higher. Any medical school in the United States (and Canada) can provide top-notch medical education.

How Much GPA Do I Need for Medical School?

According to admissions data, medical schools in the United States tend to have strong academic standards. 

According to all 121 institutions that received rankings in the U.S. News 2023 Best Medical Schools rankings, the median GPA of incoming students in autumn 2021 was 3.46 or above on a 4.0 scale.

When Should I Apply to Medical School?

You should apply to med school when your chances of being accepted to medical school are excellent. It entails good test results, grades, and non-academic experiences. 

If your application has a flaw, it would be wiser to spend the time to fix it rather than applying anyhow and wasting your time and money.

Specifically, suppose you intend to enroll in medical school after high school. In that case, you should submit an application in June of your junior year.

The primary application procedure can begin as early as April. However, you should ideally finish it by June or July. 

Standard deadlines range from October until December, and the deadline for applications to the Early Decision Program (EDP) is August 1.

What is the AMCAS?

The AAMC's unified medical school application processing program is the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).

You only submit one online application to AMCAS, regardless of how many medical schools you apply to. 

AMCAS is the primary application process most American medical schools use for their incoming students.

AMCAS is accessible to the incoming first-year classes of participating American medical schools. 

Anyone seeking advanced standing or a transfer should contact the medical schools directly. AMCAS neither makes admission decisions nor suggests locations for applicants to submit their applications.

What is AACOMAS?

The unified online application process for the American colleges of osteopathic medicine is called the AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service).

The application procedure for osteopathic medical schools is made more accessible by AACOMAS. 

Just fill out one form and send it to our centralized service with the necessary data. Your application is processed, checked for accuracy, and sent together with your materials to the osteopathic medical schools you specify.

What Is the Health Sciences Committee Letter?

The pre-health committee or advisor writes your health sciences committee letter. 

It gives a general overview of you as a candidate. It details your academic readiness, scholarly pursuits, volunteer work, leadership qualities, and clinical exposures.

How Does the Application Process Work?

You must use the AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service), the AAMC's centralized application processing facility, to apply to most med schools in the US.

Each school you select receives application data and MCAT exam results from AMCAS after they have been collected, verified, and delivered. 

Each member institution makes its own unique admissions judgments; AMCAS does not make admissions decisions.

On the other hand, you must use the Texas Medical and Dental Colleges Application Service (TMDSAS) to apply to an M.D. program at a public medical school in Texas.

When Should I Submit My Application?

When applications open in the first two weeks of June, it is the best time to submit your application. This will offer you an edge over other applicants and give you the best chance of getting into your preferred medical school.

Medical school is competitive. When it is possible to avoid it by planning beforehand, do not start the race behind other contenders.

How Should I Choose Schools to Apply To?

There are more or less 200 medical schools in the U.S. You should consider various aspects when deciding which medical schools to apply to, including geography, financial aid, your competitive status, interests, and preferred learning methods.

Other factors to be considered are the grading system, medical school matching, your special interests, and the school's vision and mission.

How Much Is Medical School?

Whether you attend an in-state or out-of-state school and whether the university is private or public will affect the expense of your medical education. 

Your tuition, books, food, housing, and supplies, your budget also needs to account for the cost of living in the city of your choice.

You should budget anywhere from USD 157,080 for an in-state public school to USD 254,768 for an out-of-state private school over four years. These are significant amounts, especially if you go straight from college to medical school. 

Make sure to look into all your financing alternatives for medical school, including exchange opportunities, specialized loans, grants, and scholarships.

When Will I Find Out Whether I Got In?

After your interview, some medical schools will let you know if you have been accepted. Others will not wait until the application deadline in March.

However, the timeline of medical schools may vary from one timeline to another. Therefore, you must check with the school's website or call/email them occasionally if you have not heard back.

What Transcripts Are Required?

Suppose you have attempted coursework at any U.S., U.S. Territories, or Canadian post-secondary institutions, regardless of whether you received credit. In that case, AMCAS requires one official transcript from each institution.

Consult the AMCAS Application Handbook to learn if an official transcript is needed for one of your undergraduate colleges.

Paper and digital transcripts are both accepted by AMCAS. However, electronic transcripts must be delivered via one of our authorized suppliers, such as National Student Clearinghouse or Parchment, or over secure email from an authorized school registrar. Transcripts sent to AMCAS via fax are not accepted.

To Whom Should I Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

It is crucial to remember that the letters of recommendation you choose help you meet your med school criteria. Therefore, they should be as significant as what they have to say about you. 

Similarly, you should avoid the dreaded form letter of reference because it does not express anything special about your qualities compared to any other applicant.

We advise you to gather the following six letters of recommendation:

  • Professor 1 and 2 in science, whose course you took for a letter grade
  • Professor of non-science you enrolled in for a letter grade
  • A professional who has seen you provide patient care, preferably a doctor
  • Additional Observers 1 and 2

Anyone who can speak favorably to your specific activities could write one of your two "extracurricular observer" letters.

Furthermore, you have a strong fundraising record. 

Ask a senior official from the company you worked for or a prominent representative of the charity you donated to for a letter of recommendation.

Can I See the Letters of Recommendation?

Though you could, you should not read and see your recommendation letters. In other words, you should never exercise your right to read these letters. Medical schools will not take your notes seriously if you do not.

Should I Apply to Osteopathic Schools?

If you are worried about your MCAT scores and GPAs, you might consider a D.O. instead of an M.D. 

This is because applicants generally have a better chance of getting into osteopathic programs, as D.O. schools are a bit easier.

When Should I Take The MCAT?

Try to take the MCAT as early as possible in the year, ideally by mid-May before the AMCAS application submission period opens in early June. 

You can complete your AMCAS application earlier if you finish the exam earlier. Therefore, the earlier you submit your application, the better.

Should I Take an MCAT Prep Course?

The advantages of taking an MCAT prep course for some students may ultimately prove to be well worth the cost. 

If, for instance, you are a very busy pre-med student, taking an MCAT prep course might be an excellent choice.

Additionally, suppose you require structure and support and do not feel confident self-studying for the MCAT. In that case, MCAT prep classes are worthwhile for you.

In contrast, you may not take MCAT prep courses if you are an A+ and an independent student who requires less supervision and structure.

Can I Apply for a Scholarship for Medical School?

Yes. Look into scholarship opportunities with the medical schools you are applying to or are already attending, particularly the office of minority affairs.

Ask for a financial aid packet from the office of financial assistance of the medical school and inquire about any specific scholarships offered by that institution.

Should I Expect to Move Off a Waitlist?

The number of candidates admitted from the waitlist varies greatly depending on the school. 

However, some colleges recognize as much as 50% of their class from the waitlist. Therefore, there may be an extreme probability of getting accepted if you are on the waitlist at one or more medical schools.

What Should I Write in my Personal Essay?

Write about your personal traits that are not reflected in your GPA or MCAT score. 

You may mention your tenacity, optimism, or leadership skills here. However, the best way to emotionally engage your reader is by revealing your personal traits, assets, and limitations.

If you have trouble developing ideas for your medical school personal statement, start by considering the traits you want to convey to the admissions committee. 

Then, determine which of your experiences best supports them by working backward.

How Many Schools Should I Apply to?

There is no magic number regarding the number of schools you should be applying to. 

However, we advise you to use 15–25 carefully chosen institutions and focus all your efforts on those applications.

Afterward, you can reuse your writings and submit applications to an additional 5–15 medical schools, depending on your availability, energy level, and financial situation.

More importantly, apply only to universities that you can picture yourself attending.

Do I Need to Resubmit My Transcripts Even If I Have Applied Before?

You must resubmit official transcripts even though you previously applied to AMCAS. You must provide new transcripts every time you apply. 

The admissions committee needs to know that you did not enroll in any additional courses there.

How Long is the Waiting Period After Applying?

Mid-October is when medical schools start mailing acceptance letters. Early candidates may hear back in late October if they were accepted at any point after that. 

Up to the end of April, applicants can hold several acceptances. After that, the admission deadlines for each program will be determined according to school-specific policies.

What Should I Not Say in the Interview?

In general, you should answer every question of the interviewer. 

Do not lie, especially regarding your qualifications, as the admissions committee will find out the truth sooner than later. 

However, remember that when it is your turn to ask the admissions committee your questions, avoid asking political, religious, controversial, and superficial questions.

Can I Finish Medical School Before the 30?

Most medical students start their first year at roughly 24 years old. And since medical school runs four years, the typical age of graduates is 28. 

However, depending on other factors and if you choose to have a gap year, you may not be able to finish medical school before 30.

What is the Best Specialty to Take?

The best specialty depends on your preference and what you value the most as a medical student. 

However, it is worth noting that three of the highest-paid specialties are orthopedics, plastic surgery, and cardiology. 

Contrarily, when it comes to the most in-demand specialties, the top three are family medicine, women's health, and cardiology.

Should I Be an M.D. or a D.O.?

Both the allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) schools of medicine are incredibly beneficial for treating patients. As a result, neither an M.D. nor a D.O. is inherently superior to one other.

When choosing where to go to medical school, you should carefully examine your preferences, desire to work as a specialist, and ability to get into M.D. programs.

What is the Most Expensive Specialty in Medical School?

In the past, orthopedics and plastic surgery was the highest-paid medical specialties in terms of both physician salaries and average operating costs.

Do I Get Paid as a Resident?

Yes. Institutions set resident pay, which is correlated with training year rather than a specialty. 

So, in a particular training facility, all residents in their third and sixth years of training typically receive the same compensation.

According to Medscape's 2021 Residents Salary and Debt Survey, the average medical resident income in the U.S. is USD 64,000 per year. 

Salary for medical residency positions typically starts between USD 50,000 and USD 70,000 per year, with an extra USD 3,000 to USD 5,000 raise for each year of residency.

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

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