Compilation Essential SDN Wisdom for Pre-Meds (Updated 2022)

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.
Not open for further replies.


42% Full Member
7+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
Reaction score
This directory is an update to the previous 2016 thread that improves readability, navigation and usability.

Before exploring the compilation, please read the AMCAS Applicant Guide to be familiar with the application process (and essentially a required reading when you actually begin to apply). Additionally, please read and explore the following threads.
The compilation is organized as follows:
I hope you find this useful! I will continue updating this thread with more tips and advice.

Members don't see this ad.
Last edited:
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 6 users
AAMC Surveys on Adcom Preferences

The following AAMC surveys show the list of various metrics, experiences, demographics and sources of applicant information that medical schools generally find to be important based on a priority scale. Please take the time to carefully look into these tables to have a general understanding what schools are looking for.

2015 AAMC Survey

2015 AAMC Survey.jpg

2013 AAMC Survey

2013 AAMC Survey.jpg

Also note that the priorities (measured by mean importance ratings) are organized in a descending order according to the above footnotes.

In regards to academics, both AAMC surveys illustrate the importance of doing well in classes and on the MCAT.

science GPA > MCAT total score > upward/downward GPA trends > cumulative undergrad GPA > performance in a post-bacc program

Curiously, the 2015 AAMC survey lists undergrad selectivity as of lowest importance, unlike the 2013 AAMC survey that shows differing medical school interpretations (i.e. for public schools, undergrad selectivity matters little, whereas for private schools, undergrad selectivity matters a lot). Generally, attending a competitive undergrad (i.e. HYPSM/Ivies etc.) may help for medical school admissions, but undergrad name doesn't excuse for poor GPA/poor MCAT. Likewise, attending a state school or subpar undergrad doesn't exclude you from medical schools.

For experiences, the priority ratings are

Healthcare experience > community service/volunteer experience > leadership experience >> research experience

Note crucially that healthcare and community service experiences are required. Without these experiences, you cannot get accepted into any medical school. As @Goro likes to say, "You need to show Adcoms that you know what you're getting into". The 2015 AAMC survey also lists physician shadowing as highest importance. Usually, 50+ hours of shadowing with experience in primary care settings is ideal.

@gonnif has pointed out that research experience is listed as medium importance (as noted in both AAMC surveys). So research is not a required component in a successful medical school application, although it's always good to have some experience understanding how the scientific method works.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
SDN Advisor Guides and Insights

Below are some advice and guides kindly provided by SDN adcoms, attendings and faculty (collectively termed SDN Advisors). Thanks to @LizzyM @Goro @gyngyn @mimelim @gonnif @Med Ed @HomeSkool for guiding students in their medical journey.

LizzyM's Heuristics

The hallmark metric used to assess academic quality is the LizzyM Score.

LizzyM Score = 10*GPA + MCAT
LizzyM's Guidelines for Extracurricular Hours (arranged as suboptimal, decent, exceptional)
  • Clinical hours (work or volunteer): 99, 150, 1,000+ (employment)
  • Non-clinical volunteering hours: 99, 150, 1,000+ (full-time gap year)
  • Shadowing hours: 8, 40, 80
  • Keep in mind that my estimate of exceptional clinical hours includes paid employment and non-clinical volunteering at the exceptional level would be full-time gap year service (City Year, etc.)
LizzyM's Advice on What NOT to Do if You Want to Attend Medical School

LizzyM's Clinical Rule: If you are close enough to smell patients, then it is clinical experience
  • Concrete examples of the clinical rule are outlined by the Goro Guidelines: "Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics."​
  • Nursing homes are a gray area. Safe bet is to call it nonclinical (see example)
LizzyM's Filter Rules for School Lists (these work well with WedgeDawg's WAMC Outline)
  1. Look at each school on the list. Ask yourself, "If this were the only school I was admitted to and if I were offered only loans to attend, would I go here?" If the answer is no, strike it from the list.​
  2. Imagine that you are invited to interview at all of the schools but can only attend 20 interviews. Which 20 would you want to interview at? That's your list.​
LizzyM's Holiday Rules for AMCAS Timeline: the earlier your application is complete, the better you will be (but do NOT submit haphazardly just to be early)
  1. Independence Day (4th of July): complete your AMCAS application​
  2. Labor Day (first Monday in September): have your letters in (including committee letters) and finish your secondaries; your overall application should be complete by now​
  3. Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November): if you don't have an interview invite by Thanksgiving, start thinking about what you'll do if you need to reapply (this so-called turkey rule was substantiated by Lucca's SDN Survey of 2015 and LizzyM's June 2016 Survey)​
  4. Mardi Gras (a Tuesday in February): if you don't have that waitlist turn into an offer by Mardi Gras, drink heavily and start making a contingency plan when the hangover wears off (source)
LizzyM's Description of Good Interviews

LizzyM's Staircase Analogy for Determining Interviews and Acceptances

LizzyM's Summary of Academic Medicine

Goro's Guides
gyngyn's Axioms
mimelim's Keys
gonnif's Analyses
Med Ed's Insights
HomeSkool's Guides
Additional Advisor Feedback and Information

Credit to @Catalystik @Doctor-S @aProgDirector @SouthernSurgeon @Crayola227 @Perrotfish @Law2Doc for providing substantial guidance.
Last edited:
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 1 users
Members don't see this ad :)
Application Tips from Experts

Credit to @WedgeDawg @Depakote @Alejandro @Affiche @Lucca @planeblue @medic86 @Planes2Doc @bananafish94 @RogueBanana @The Knife & Gun Club @Guero @----x---- @PugsAndHugs @bluestreaks @SymphonyNo9 @seren1051 @Lucky Day for providing valuable advice to applicants.

Application Advice
Interview and Post-Interview Advice
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Additional Resources

Additional useful resources can be found here. Credit to @efle @Lucca @mehc012 @voteknope @aldol16 @tessellations @RogueBanana @Domperidone @Alejandro @NickNaylor @VictorAlpha @PanRoasted @MikeS 78 for the hard work and effort put into them.

Tips and Guides
Reflections on the Medical Journey
Reports and Studies
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Not open for further replies.