Do I really need to take all 10 of these classes to apply to med schools?

Dec 28, 2009
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Hello SDN,

I am a long time lurker on these boards and infrequent poster. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 4 years and I was a paramedic for about 7 years before that. I am finally at a point in my life where it is possible for me to do what I really wanted all along, which is work towards med school. I have to take two more classes to finish my BSN degree (two core, nursing-specific nonsense classes.)

Today I met with my school's pre med advisor. She gave me a laundry list of courses that she says I "have to" take. I didn't anticipate needing to take this many. I was expecting to have to take an organic chem and an inorganic chem both with labs, a bio with lab, and maybe a physics too. Instead, I was given this list of 10 classes:

General + Analytical chem with lab
General + Analytical chem 2 with lab
Organic chem with lab
Organic chem 2 with lab
Physics with lab
Physics 2 with lab
Bio with lab
Bio 2 with lab
A second English class ( I already took one two years ago for my BS)
Calculus

So I really need to take all of this? Ten courses? It seems like a lot more than I had been led to believe and it seems to exceed the things listed by some of the schools I have been researching. She was adamant that I "must" take all of these to apply to med schools. I realize that the information provided in these courses is needed to get reasonably good MCAT scores, but it is still a lot more than I thought I was going to have to take (and pay for, since I'll be taking most of this post-bacc.)

My school is well known for having a very high placement rate into medical schools, so I understand that this lady probably has great insight into what it takes to get accepted but... all ten of these? It's kind of taking a bit of wind out of my sails. I was expecting to spend one year doing pre-reqs, this is going to take me a lot longer since I have to work full time and only want to take 2 at a time to ensure I get A's in them.

Anybody care to comment?
 

FrkyBgStok

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calculus isn't required, but the rest is spot on. all 10.

if you are looking at actual medical school, none of them should be unexpected. every single one is required for every single medical school.
 
OP
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Dec 28, 2009
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I guess the reason I'm confused is because the things I keep finding listed as admission requirements look like this (cut and paste from one school I am considering: )

====
All applicants are required to complete a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment in the MD Program. Specific required and recommended course work is shown below. Applicants should have at least a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a combined MCAT score of no less than 25 to apply for admission.

Suggested Course Work -Applicants should take the following courses from an accredited college or university in the United States. On-line coursework will not be accepted for these courses.

General Biology with laboratory
General Inorganic Chemistry with laboratory
Organic Chemistry with laboratory
General Physics with laboratory
Cell Biology, Biochemistry or equivalent
English and English Composition
Mathematics, Calculus or Statistics

We seek well-rounded applicants with a wide-range of academic interests. All majors are welcome to apply as long as minimum academic requirements are met. Non-science majors are encouraged to take as many science courses as possible. Additional math courses (especially statistics for data analysis) is strongly recommended. Additional science courses may include but are not limited to:

Biochemistry
Biostatistics
Computer Science
Developmental Biology
Embryology
Epidemiology
Genetics
Immunology
Microbiology/Virology
Neuroscience
Physiology
====

This listing, for instance, is one that gave me the apparently erroneous belief that I wouldn't need to take this many courses.
 

FrkyBgStok

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i will give you that. that website is a little misleading. but you definitely need a full year of classes in bio, physics, chem, ochem, and english. some math but those are the big ones. unfortunately you have a couple years ahead of you.
 

Superman1978

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Hello SDN,


Today I met with my school's pre med advisor. She gave me a laundry list of courses that she says I "have to" take. I didn't anticipate needing to take this many. I was expecting to have to take an organic chem and an inorganic chem both with labs, a bio with lab, and maybe a physics too. Instead, I was given this list of 10 classes:

General + Analytical chem with lab
General + Analytical chem 2 with lab
Organic chem with lab
Organic chem 2 with lab
Physics with lab
Physics 2 with lab
Bio with lab
Bio 2 with lab
A second English class ( I already took one two years ago for my BS)
Calculus

So I really need to take all of this? Ten courses? It seems like a lot more than I had been led to believe and it seems to exceed the things listed by some of the schools I have been researching. She was adamant that I "must" take all of these to apply to med schools. I realize that the information provided in these courses is needed to get reasonably good MCAT scores, but it is still a lot more than I thought I was going to have to take (and pay for, since I'll be taking most of this post-bacc.)

My school is well known for having a very high placement rate into medical schools, so I understand that this lady probably has great insight into what it takes to get accepted but... all ten of these? It's kind of taking a bit of wind out of my sails. I was expecting to spend one year doing pre-reqs, this is going to take me a lot longer since I have to work full time and only want to take 2 at a time to ensure I get A's in them.

Anybody care to comment?
\

In a nutshell, yes you need to take these classes. Calculus is debatable depending on the school you are applying too. Many require it so check out the school you're interested in. All medical schools require a YEAR's worth of all those classes (Gen chem, organic chem, physics, Bio, & most require two semsters of english too). That means you need to take Gen chem 1 & gen chem 2, etc. It stinks but yes you need to.
 
OP
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Dec 28, 2009
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Very well. I'll do whatever it takes. I hope this thread doesn't make me seem lazy or unwilling to put in the work to earn my seat as that is far from the case. The reason I ask is that I am 27 and the woman I hope to marry in the near future is 35 and we're thinking about family planning in the future and doing certain things "before it's too late." I had anticipated a different "5 year plan" than was laid out for me today.
 

DucoNonducor

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I bought the MSAR on Amazon and it really helped me narrow down the classes I needed to take by school.

Some schools require biochem, others require calculus, others require 3 semesters of English, etc. It makes it hard when you're applying broadly to go through the web.
 

siliso

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Also you don't have to have all those courses before you apply, you just have to have them done before you enter. And you need to know enough biology, chemistry and physics to get through the MCAT.

If you are badass you can get it done in 1 year plus 1 summer. But you probably can't work full-time at the same time.
 
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You should also check school-specific websites for the latest requirements. For example, one school I applied to is adding biochemistry plus lab for next year's applicants. This was just added to their website, and I'm not sure if it's in the latest MSAR.

Depending on the type of physics class you take, calculus may be a prerequisite. I think most college-level physics courses are calculus-based. Or perhaps I should phrase this as the general physics course most physics (and chemistry) majors take since I'm sure colleges have other types of physics courses for non-majors.

Also look for non-science requirements. As an example, I had to have 9 hours of English and 24 hours of humanities to apply to the schools I wanted to. The English requirement could be waived if applicants had high enough scores on their VR and WS portions of the MCAT.

Good luck!
 

ShyRem

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Agree. You'll need at least all 10. Some schools require psych or sociology, more than one semester of English Composition, genetics, biochemistry (with or without lab), calculus, and an upper level bio course. You really need the core set however and then look where you want to apply for extra requirements.
 

chinocochino

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You could check to see if any of the science courses that you took for your BSN count.

Actually, I would recommend taking more science classes (physiology, histology, biochemistry, genetics) for med school and the MCAT. Of course, your second bio class can be one of the classes that I listed.

Some schools require a math class, if I remember correctly. (statistics or calculus)

Hello SDN,

I am a long time lurker on these boards and infrequent poster. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 4 years and I was a paramedic for about 7 years before that. I am finally at a point in my life where it is possible for me to do what I really wanted all along, which is work towards med school. I have to take two more classes to finish my BSN degree (two core, nursing-specific nonsense classes.)

Today I met with my school's pre med advisor. She gave me a laundry list of courses that she says I "have to" take. I didn't anticipate needing to take this many. I was expecting to have to take an organic chem and an inorganic chem both with labs, a bio with lab, and maybe a physics too. Instead, I was given this list of 10 classes:

General + Analytical chem with lab
General + Analytical chem 2 with lab
Organic chem with lab
Organic chem 2 with lab
Physics with lab
Physics 2 with lab
Bio with lab
Bio 2 with lab
A second English class ( I already took one two years ago for my BS)
Calculus

So I really need to take all of this? Ten courses? It seems like a lot more than I had been led to believe and it seems to exceed the things listed by some of the schools I have been researching. She was adamant that I "must" take all of these to apply to med schools. I realize that the information provided in these courses is needed to get reasonably good MCAT scores, but it is still a lot more than I thought I was going to have to take (and pay for, since I'll be taking most of this post-bacc.)

My school is well known for having a very high placement rate into medical schools, so I understand that this lady probably has great insight into what it takes to get accepted but... all ten of these? It's kind of taking a bit of wind out of my sails. I was expecting to spend one year doing pre-reqs, this is going to take me a lot longer since I have to work full time and only want to take 2 at a time to ensure I get A's in them.

Anybody care to comment?
 

mzblue

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I did get it done in 1 year plus 1 summer including taking upper level science courses and working full time + volunteering. Doable? Abosutely! Of course i would advice against it. Maybe work part time. I only say that because it's stressful doing school full time taking 3 sciences and working fulltime. Classes like ochem have 6hrs of lab or more plus times for doing lab reports, notebooks, etc. There were times i got so burned out i went for a days without studying.




Also you don't have to have all those courses before you apply, you just have to have them done before you enter. And you need to know enough biology, chemistry and physics to get through the MCAT.

If you are badass you can get it done in 1 year plus 1 summer. But you probably can't work full-time at the same time.
 

eablackwell

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I did get it done in 1 year plus 1 summer including taking upper level science courses and working full time + volunteering. Doable? Abosutely! Of course i would advice against it. Maybe work part time. I only say that because it's stressful doing school full time taking 3 sciences and working fulltime. Classes like ochem have 6hrs of lab or more plus times for doing lab reports, notebooks, etc. There were times i got so burned out i went for a days without studying.
I did this exact thing, and have the exact advice. Just backing mzblue up on this. :)
 

TriagePreMed

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1 year and one summer is completely insane if you're working full time and volunteering on top. That's what? 8 hours of classes (labs plus lectures) a day and 8 hours of work on top? Then you study and sleep?
 

murfettie

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I think a lot of people apply to med school without all their English and all their calculus. I took all the math and English in college already so all i needed were the sciences.

Personally, I took the MCAT without orgo II, and I did well enough.
I'm taking orgo II while waiting to hear back from schools.
 
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SFGuy2011

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I was 30 when I left active duty military and started back to school to do premed, so I understand your concerns. Although I already had a Liberal Arts degree when I started back, my cumulative GPA was only a 2.9. Hence, I decided to do an additional bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology to prepare myself academically for medical school - and prove myself to admissions committees.

If your GPA is already high, just take the prerequisites you need to get into the schools that you plan on applying to. I know a girl who majored in dance, took the prerequisites and did well on the MCAT, and now is an attending ER physician. That's just an example showing that it can be done by only taking the prerequisites. So look at the MSAR like the previous posters suggested, and find out exactly what you need to take for those particular schools that you'll be applying to. I knew I'd be applying broadly, so I made sure that any and all prerequisites would be covered. The only one you can probably get away with not having is calculus, but again, that is school dependent so look at the MSAR. You can definitely knock out all of those classes that you mentioned in a little over a year - assuming you can get them scheduled.

As for the MCAT, you'll find people arguing on SDN all day as to whether or not upper level science courses are worth taking. I'm of the opinion that you just need to understand the basics very well, and I think that can be achieved without taking the upper level courses. However, I'd already taken Biochem, Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Endocrinology, Genetics, etc. before I took the MCAT. Those courses definitely won't hurt, but they're certainly not essential to do well on the MCAT, and there are plenty of people on SDN who didn't take any of those upper-level courses and scored 30+.

Good luck to you, and please let me know if you have any questions.
 

n3xa

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As for the MCAT, you'll find people arguing on SDN all day as to whether or not upper level science courses are worth taking. I'm of the opinion that you just need to understand the basics very well, and I think that can be achieved without taking the upper level courses. However, I'd already taken Biochem, Molecular Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Endocrinology, Genetics, etc. before I took the MCAT. Those courses definitely won't hurt, but they're certainly not essential to do well on the MCAT, and there are plenty of people on SDN who didn't take any of those upper-level courses and scored 30+.

You certainly don't need them to do well on the MCAT and most aren't a requirement for medical school (off the top of my head USC requires mol/cell bio and JHU requires biochem lab).

However, I was talking to the dean of admissions at an allo school in Chicagoland this past weekend and one of things he pointed out was that those who don't take those upper division science classes tend to struggle a bit harder than those who were science majors or took said upper division science classes. YMMV and all that disclaimer stuff, but looking back on some of my post-bacc friends who got in with the basics, they did seem to struggle a bit. Some took an extra year. Again, YMMV.
 

murfettie

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You certainly don't need them to do well on the MCAT and most aren't a requirement for medical school (off the top of my head USC requires mol/cell bio and JHU requires biochem lab).

However, I was talking to the dean of admissions at an allo school in Chicagoland this past weekend and one of things he pointed out was that those who don't take those upper division science classes tend to struggle a bit harder than those who were science majors or took said upper division science classes. YMMV and all that disclaimer stuff, but looking back on some of my post-bacc friends who got in with the basics, they did seem to struggle a bit. Some took an extra year. Again, YMMV.
which classes do this chicagoland dean recommend exactly.
there are about a bazillion upper div classes out there.
i know biochem is one
upper div a n p seems reasonable too
what other particular classes?
 

n3xa

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which classes do this chicagoland dean recommend exactly.
there are about a bazillion upper div classes out there.
i know biochem is one
upper div a n p seems reasonable too
what other particular classes?

Biochemistry, cell/molecular bio, genetics were the ones that he recommended first.

Physiology and anatomy also helps too.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the worry about doing well (at least, in his mind) kicks in when students have been out of school-mode for the past 3+ years.

Again, ymmv.
 

cabinbuilder

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Hello SDN,

I am a long time lurker on these boards and infrequent poster. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 4 years and I was a paramedic for about 7 years before that. I am finally at a point in my life where it is possible for me to do what I really wanted all along, which is work towards med school. I have to take two more classes to finish my BSN degree (two core, nursing-specific nonsense classes.)

Today I met with my school's pre med advisor. She gave me a laundry list of courses that she says I "have to" take. I didn't anticipate needing to take this many. I was expecting to have to take an organic chem and an inorganic chem both with labs, a bio with lab, and maybe a physics too. Instead, I was given this list of 10 classes:

General + Analytical chem with lab
General + Analytical chem 2 with lab
Organic chem with lab
Organic chem 2 with lab
Physics with lab
Physics 2 with lab
Bio with lab
Bio 2 with lab
A second English class ( I already took one two years ago for my BS)
Calculus

So I really need to take all of this? Ten courses? It seems like a lot more than I had been led to believe and it seems to exceed the things listed by some of the schools I have been researching. She was adamant that I "must" take all of these to apply to med schools. I realize that the information provided in these courses is needed to get reasonably good MCAT scores, but it is still a lot more than I thought I was going to have to take (and pay for, since I'll be taking most of this post-bacc.)

My school is well known for having a very high placement rate into medical schools, so I understand that this lady probably has great insight into what it takes to get accepted but... all ten of these? It's kind of taking a bit of wind out of my sails. I was expecting to spend one year doing pre-reqs, this is going to take me a lot longer since I have to work full time and only want to take 2 at a time to ensure I get A's in them.

Anybody care to comment?
You don't need the analytical chem. Just the general chem with Lab.

Someone said you don't need calc. When I applied you needed both stats and one semester of calc.

Take organic lab as a separate course. They don't usually bunch it with the lecture.

My advise is to take biochem even if you audit it. That was the killer course at my med school.

You could do it in one year if wanted to. I took physics, organic, chem, orgo lab and biochem in one year and worked full time and did well. However, I had been exposed to the classes before so it was mostly review. DO NOT DO this if the material is all new. You will fail. Good luck.
 
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Biochemistry, cell/molecular bio, genetics were the ones that he recommended first.

Physiology and anatomy also helps too.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the worry about doing well (at least, in his mind) kicks in when students have been out of school-mode for the past 3+ years.

Again, ymmv.
I have never spoken to an admissions department at any medical school who did not recommend these same classes. My state school requires us to take one of those 5 and recommends at least 3. Mayo Clinic requires Biochemistry as does Duke (if I remember correctly).

Wouldn't it be kind of scary to go to medical school without having taken any of these classes?
 

eablackwell

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1 year and one summer is completely insane if you're working full time and volunteering on top. That's what? 8 hours of classes (labs plus lectures) a day and 8 hours of work on top? Then you study and sleep?
As blue said, not suggested, and unless you want to ignore everyone and everything you've ever loved, absolutely a no go.
 
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As blue said, not suggested, and unless you want to ignore everyone and everything you've ever loved, absolutely a no go.
OP, I am 47, so I felt the pressure of time a little more than you do. At your age, you have more time.

I took my first Biology class in Jan 2009. If accepted I will start medical school next fall - 2011. I do not see how this could have been done any faster - since I also had to finish up my bachelors by taking history/humanities/etc. The time limit is not on getting the pre-reqs done - because you can finish them during your application year - but on the MCAT.

Do NOT take the MCAT without finishing OChem I - I did this and am sorry for it.

If you are a really good student, then you could take 9-11 hours of classes at once. So here is a plan.

Spring 11 - BIO I, Chem I, Phys I
Summer 11 - Chem II
Fall 11 - Bio II, OChem I
Spring 12 - Upper level Bio, Physics II, Study MCAT
Summer 12 - Take MCAT, Apply
Fall 12 - OChem II, Biochem
Spring 13 - Calc I, Upper-level Bio

So this would allow you to start in Fall 2013

Note - this is an ambitious schedule and should only be undertaken by someone who loves to go to school and take tests.
 

Lefty Doodle

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I'm doing everything in a year and a summer.

If you're going to jump right in with physics (Ed's suggestion really just assumes you can register for all of those courses--not always a given!!) I really recommend reviewing algebra and trigonometry. Triangles, parallelograms, angles, sin, cos, tangent. Learn about vectors and how they apply to chem and physics if you can. Physics has been the most difficult for me and wouldn't have been so bad if the math were fresher for me.

I recommend against taking Calc unless you happen to be accepted to a school that requires it in which case you can probably do with taking it before matriculation. Calc might bring your GPA down. Take stats instead if you need a math class.
 
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I'm doing everything in a year and a summer.

If you're going to jump right in with physics (Ed's suggestion really just assumes you can register for all of those courses--not always a given!!) I really recommend reviewing algebra and trigonometry. Triangles, parallelograms, angles, sin, cos, tangent. Learn about vectors and how they apply to chem and physics if you can. Physics has been the most difficult for me and wouldn't have been so bad if the math were fresher for me.

I recommend against taking Calc unless you happen to be accepted to a school that requires it in which case you can probably do with taking it before matriculation. Calc might bring your GPA down. Take stats instead if you need a math class.
Yes, that is right, my post assumes that you love math - that the games you played with your friends during recess were who could do 3 digit multiplication the fastest. If you once derived a geometric theorem in your head during a boring sermon, then this can be done.

If this is not so, then my plan will get you into trouble and kill both your GPA and your marriage - and a marriage is actually easier to repair.
 

n3xa

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Dimensional analysis helps quite a bit in chemistry as does drawing pictures. I remember when I had that "ah ha... oh DUH!" moment with molarity just by drawing out two beakers.
 

TriagePreMed

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As blue said, not suggested, and unless you want to ignore everyone and everything you've ever loved, absolutely a no go.
Hats off to you for being able to do that. I think I would go insane having to run from school to work to volunteering and everything in between.
 
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OP, I am 47, so I felt the pressure of time a little more than you do. At your age, you have more time.

I took my first Biology class in Jan 2009. If accepted I will start medical school next fall - 2011. I do not see how this could have been done any faster - since I also had to finish up my bachelors by taking history/humanities/etc. The time limit is not on getting the pre-reqs done - because you can finish them during your application year - but on the MCAT.

Do NOT take the MCAT without finishing OChem I - I did this and am sorry for it.

If you are a really good student, then you could take 9-11 hours of classes at once. So here is a plan.

Spring 11 - BIO I, Chem I, Phys I
Summer 11 - Chem II
Fall 11 - Bio II, OChem I
Spring 12 - Upper level Bio, Physics II, Study MCAT
Summer 12 - Take MCAT, Apply
Fall 12 - OChem II, Biochem
Spring 13 - Calc I, Upper-level Bio

So this would allow you to start in Fall 2013

Note - this is an ambitious schedule and should only be undertaken by someone who loves to go to school and take tests.
This is exactly what I've been doing if you start it in Spring 2010, with only one difference like that I'll be taking the OChem-II in next Spring (Spring 12 in your given schedule) instead of your proposed Upper level Bio... I've been working full-time... I love math & physics (basic instincts for an engineer.) And, truly, time is of great essence for me, too.