Medical School Pre-Requisites

August 17

Table of Contents

Careful planning based on accurate information is essential for medical school admissions success. Do you research on the colleges you are considering? Get in touch with your pre-med advisor. Do you enroll in suitable classes?

You can use the wealth of knowledge at your disposal by conducting in-depth research and asking intelligent questions. 

By actively obtaining information, you can avoid the frustration, dismay, and delays that result from learning that you fall short of all requirements.

To help you prepare for medical school, this article focuses on medical school prerequisites that you should work on.

What are the Education Prerequisites for Medical School?

Medical schools broadly accept the fundamental components of pre-medical education. 

A year of biology, one year of general (inorganic) chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, and one year of physics is often the minimal course requirements. 

Moreover, roughly two-thirds need to take a writing- or English-intensive course, and approximately one-quarter need calculus. 

You will be expected to complete these coursework requirements as part of your pre-medical study. In addition, with this core curriculum, you should choose other courses in the humanities and sciences to round out your education and strengthen your application to medical school.

Remember that whether or not these courses are necessary for medical school, you will still need to include them in your program of study. This is because the MCAT contains material from the generally required courses. 

For your reference, here is a comprehensive list of medical school prerequisites. 

Always Required:


It is unquestionably necessary for medical school because biology is a subject that is almost entirely necessary for practicing medicine. Moreover, the foundation of medical science and essential for success in the area is knowledge of genetics, cells, and the structure of life.


Understanding acid-base imbalances in the body and how various drugs function is made possible by chemistry. Understanding biochemistry is also based on chemistry.


Additionally, physics offers fundamental medical ideas like the laws of pressure and volume, which are crucial for understanding cardiology and the forces inside the body.


Calculus is a requirement at some schools, whereas statistics is a requirement at others. No matter what, most schools demand at least one semester of arithmetic. Being a doctor or other healthcare professional requires a surprising amount of fundamental arithmetic and statistics, from figuring out the correct dosage to reading lab findings.

Sometimes Required:


Several medical schools demand that applicants possess analytical and writing abilities outside their fundamental science courses. They do this by mandating that you take an English class or, at the absolute least, a style that places a heavy emphasis on writing.


Since the MCAT has focused more on it, biochemistry has received much more attention. As a result, some colleges require it, while others only assume you already know it if you are prepared for the MCAT.

Psychology and Sociology

Since they were added to the MCAT, psychology and sociology have grown in popularity as requirements for medical school.

Valuable But Not Required:

Medical Anthropology/History

The way medicine has changed and developed over the years is one of the most fascinating aspects of treatment. Knowing medical history will help you understand how medical knowledge has changed over time and how it may evolve.

Foreign Language

Any medical student or doctor will find it highly beneficial to learn a second language. 

It not only gives you the ability to engage with a broader range of demographics and improve as a provider, but it can also lead to broader employment options.

What are the Grades and Test/Exam Requirements for Medical School?

Aside from the courses mentioned above, your GPA and MCAT are crucial in your medical school application

If you have a low GPA, you might have to compensate for that with a strong MCAT score

Grade Point Average (GPA)

How well you performed in your degree program is measured by your Grade Point Average. This number reflects how frequently you performed well in your classes over a semester, term, or year.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a multiple-choice, computer-based standardized test. It has been used in the admissions process for medical schools for over 90 years.

Many health profession institutions and graduate programs now accept MCAT scores instead of other standardized examinations. In addition, almost all medical schools in the United States and many in Canada also need MCAT scores.


CASPer is an online, open-response situational judgment test (SJT). In addition to asking what you would do in a difficult circumstance, it also questions why. This aids in identifying the behavioral preferences of candidates. 

Several medical schools do not require an applicant's CASPer scores. 

However, some prestigious colleges, such as Boston University, Tulane, Penn State, and Virginia Tech, do demand the CASPer exam. You can avoid these tests if you already know where you want to apply and the schools you like do not require CASPer.

What are Other Requirements for Medical School?

Your medical school application does not end with your prerequisite courses and MCAT scores

Apart from those, the secondary application process takes place. You also have to submit your extracurriculars and letters of recommendation.

Secondary Application

Each medical school will ask you to produce a set of essays called the secondary application

Other elements, such as the situational judgment tests, could also be included in the secondary application depending on the institution. However, the essay writing portion of the secondary application will be the main emphasis of this guide.

Most institutions will provide you with 2–5 prompts and a character limit for your response. With the help of these questions, the school can determine whether you would be a good fit for their class. In addition, secondary essays may help them choose which candidates to interview because they only want to talk to kids who fit their mission.

The most crucial thing to remember is responding to the question. Even though the query appears to be quite general, this is accurate. Please provide the best response to the prompt, and then use your research on the institution to demonstrate how you align with its goals.

Letters of Recommendation 

Typically, letters of recommendation for medical school are included with your  AMCAS application. A strong recommendation letter emphasizes your accomplishments in the workplace or in school.

Recommendation letters are handled by pre-med advising offices at several undergraduate universities. In addition, they occasionally send letters to medical colleges.

It is critical to remember that the letters of recommendation you select assist you in fulfilling the requirements for medical school. Therefore, they should have the same weight as what they say about you.


The admissions committees for medical schools choose candidates who have proven to be intelligent, responsible, honest, and committed to serving society. How you lived your life before submitting your medical school application is one way they evaluate your non-academic traits.

To that aim, AMCAS allows you to list up to fifteen extracurricular pursuits, club memberships, leadership positions, honors, awards, and occupations. 

In addition, many committees will request that you give a more thorough list of your extracurricular involvement.

The type and extent of your extracurricular activities are valued by many admissions committees as essential considerations in determining whether you will be admitted to medical school. 

However, not all of them take them into account during the application process.


Admissions officers for medical schools utilize interviews to determine whether applicants have traits crucial in the medical industry. Excellent communication skills, critical thinking, presence of mind,  compassion, and resilience are some of these traits.

Interviews are also utilized to find applicants committed to and aware of the challenges of furthering their medical education. This covers the time spent working toward a medical degree, doing a residency, and receiving a license. 

During admissions interviews, challenging inquiries about pre-meds motivations are regularly asked.

Universities have the opportunity to assess candidates' interpersonal abilities through medical interviews. Many times, candidates for medical schools are often brilliant, competent, and committed. 

In addition, doctors must possess strong interpersonal skills, the capacity for teamwork, empathy, and other challenges to demonstrate traits in a written assignment.

Clinical Experience

The one activity you could engage in that a medical school admissions committee is most likely to view as crucial is direct patient care clinical work. 

According to a recent study of medical schools, knowledge of healthcare concerns and commitment to healthcare were two of the top five factors deemed to be extremely significant for student selection. 

Make the first call to local hospitals or health facilities. 

Next, request to talk with an employee of the volunteer services department. These persons will be able to point you in the direction of the specific offices, departments, or other people who collaborate with people in treating chronic illnesses, disease prevention, or advocacy for abuse and domestic violence victims.

Choose a company whose mission interests you, then apply. You might be required to commit for up to a year, but you will be treated like a real team member in exchange.

As a pre-med student, you should consider participating in as many healthcare-related activities as possible. 

Getting clinical experience will help you confirm your interest in medicine and give you a taste of what it is like to be a doctor. Even if nothing else, these experiences will make it easier to explain why you want to pursue a medical career in your personal statement and interviews.


Research experience is typically only required if you intend to attend M.D./Ph.D. programs or are considering a career in academia or research. 

If so, you must have experience validating your interest in and potential for the research field.

Yet, that does not mean that candidates focusing on the clinical side of medicine would not gain from having a research background. 

The research will be a part of your job as a doctor. Therefore, it is essential to learn more about your patient's medical conditions and further your education by reading and analyzing the results of other researchers' published work results.

8 Tips for Completing Medical School Prerequisites and Requirements

Now that you know the medical school prerequisites and requirements, the next step is ensuring you fulfill and meet those requirements successfully. By successful, we mean high standards. 

Strive to surpass expectations since you will compete with many candidates. 

To help you prepare, here are the best tips for completing your prerequisites and requirements for medical school. 

1. Make Your Study Regimen as Effective as Possible

Use a variety of study aids to help you learn more quickly and retain information longer, such as flashcards, books, question banks, videos, and webinars. Think about your learning style and the best learning environment for you. 

Do you learn best visually? To help you with your study plans, look for videos and webinars about the material you are studying. 

Do you favor studying independently? For your most challenging subjects, you might choose to hire a tutor.

2. Do Not Concentrate on the Sciences Only 

Even colleges that do require science coursework will not necessarily think highly of you just because you excelled in difficult classes. 

The GPA and the degree of course difficulty are both taken into consideration by the admissions committee.

It is unlikely that anyone will be impressed if you enroll in too many challenging courses and do average to poorly in each one. Moreover, your poor GPA can even prevent you from submitting secondary applications to several medical schools.

3. Perform Well on the MCAT

This is crucial if you want to maintain the strength of your application despite a low or average GPA. 

The admissions committees for medical schools are searching for evidence that you can handle the demanding academic requirements of medical school. The two most significant indicators of this skill are your GPA and MCAT; if one is weak, the other should, at the very least, be above average.

Ensure you thoroughly study for the difficult MCAT to achieve a high score. 

Make an efficient MCAT study plan that will assist you in developing the unique critical thinking abilities needed for this test and knowledge of the necessary scientific ideas.

4. Have Your Research Completed in Advance

High-level research experience is another way to demonstrate your academic prowess and capacity for handling complex scientific tasks. This could take the shape of extracurricular work toward a research paper or presentation on top of your course obligations, work experience on research projects in clinical or academic settings, or both.

Create a personal research agenda and concentrate on improving your research techniques. 

The experience will be better the more severe and challenging it is. Following pre-med research opportunities will increase your likelihood of being accepted.

5. Build Up Remarkable Healthcare Experiences

Do not only complete the required number of clinical or shadowing hours. 

Try to develop the crucial abilities that admissions committees are looking for: leadership, empathy, performing under pressure, quick problem-solving, etc. 

These abilities are related to future success in medicine and should be developed. Assume more responsibilities and work more hours than the average pre-med student.

Be sure that your volunteer activities support the development of these traits. Beyond figures and data, a solid medical school CV will help demonstrate your aptitude for and interest in medicine. 

Also, it can assist you in obtaining stellar letters of recommendation for medical school, which is another crucial component of a successful application to medical school.

6. During the Interview, Act politely and Be Honest

Look up the mission statements of the colleges you are interested in and research them so you can discuss them in the interview. 

Test out your interview responses. Then, when you arrive, be kind to the receptionist and everyone else you encounter during the interview.

The career services office at your school may offer mock interviews and other methods to help you portray your best self. In addition, you can consult them if you need assistance with good body language, professional dress, or other advice. 

7. Utilize Your Written Application to Highlight Your Advantages

Use the accommodations essay or diversity essay (as appropriate) to discuss the mitigating circumstances if your GPA dropped due to certain unique personal circumstances. 

Your activity descriptions and personal statement/essays should emphasize the abilities, accomplishments, and attributes associated with those experiences if you have some particularly exceptional extracurriculars.

Remember that your secondary writings are a platform to showcase your noble qualities. Although your personal statement should not be simply about your GPA, secondaries may allow you to acknowledge and address any challenges.

8. Take a Gap Year…If You Need to

A gap year before medical school can be ideal if your overall application components are ordinary or poor. Remember that the medical school application procedure is expensive and time-consuming.

Suppose you are applying during the current cycle. In that case, you want to be sure that you have a decent probability of success. 

For a competitive possibility of acceptance based on your current stats and resume, you can examine the MSAR admission statistics. If you are dissatisfied with the final list, consider taking a gap year to improve your application.

Additional FAQs – Medical School Prerequisites

Why are Medical Schools Pre-Requisites Important?

The prerequisites determine a prospective student's eligibility for enrollment in a program. 

Prerequisites for medical schools are created to ensure that incoming medical students are ready for the demanding coursework they encounter.

How Long are Prerequisites Good for Medical School?

There is typically no set deadline for your prerequisites at medical schools. However, some medical schools have recently declared that they like to see coursework over the past five years.

However, this may vary from one medical school to another. To be sure, visit the medical school website you are applying to or call/email them.

Can You Get Into Medical School Without Taking Prerequisites?

You can apply to medical school without having taken the required courses. This is because many medical schools do not have them.

Prerequisites, however, will get you ready for your subsequent courses. Therefore, you must enroll in a pre-med program to acquire the necessary foundational knowledge.


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

Success message!
Warning message!
Error message!