How to Pick Schools Using MSAR?

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Mt Kilimanjaro

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There was a thread about this from a few years ago but it was more about curricula.

When deciding which schools to apply to, how do you use the percentiles given in the MSAR? My original plan was to only apply to schools where my MCAT and GPA is at or above the median for accepted students. But after thinking about it and looking at the MSAR, this means that half the class is getting in with numbers at least slightly lower than mine and a lot of people are getting in with much lower numbers. But should we assume that those in the bottom quarter or 40%-tile did something super gnarly or some sort of academic work that isn't reflected in those GPAs, or is it not quite as competitive as it seems?

I don't want to waste a bunch of money for secondaries at places where I never had a realistic chance, but it would be nice to have some options too.

I talked to the premed advisor where I went to undergrad and she basically said "apply to 10-15 schools" but didn't provide much other advice about how to pick the ones that made the most sense. Thanks!
 

MedPR

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There was a thread about this from a few years ago but it was more about curricula.

When deciding which schools to apply to, how do you use the percentiles given in the MSAR? My original plan was to only apply to schools where my MCAT and GPA is at or above the median for accepted students. But after thinking about it and looking at the MSAR, this means that half the class is getting in with numbers at least slightly lower than mine and a lot of people are getting in with much lower numbers. But should we assume that those in the bottom quarter or 40%-tile did something super gnarly or some sort of academic work that isn't reflected in those GPAs, or is it not quite as competitive as it seems?

I don't want to waste a bunch of money for secondaries at places where I never had a realistic chance, but it would be nice to have some options too.

I talked to the premed advisor where I went to undergrad and she basically said "apply to 10-15 schools" but didn't provide much other advice about how to pick the ones that made the most sense. Thanks!

Strategy kind of depends on how good your stats are.

Low stats? Focus initially on schools with lower medians/10%, then look at OOS/IS rates, then look at stuff you care about (location, cost, whatever else is on your list of things you like/dislike).

Median or better stats? Focus first on IS/OOS and things that you care about since you already have good enough stats for most every school.
 

IslandStyle808

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There was a thread about this from a few years ago but it was more about curricula.

When deciding which schools to apply to, how do you use the percentiles given in the MSAR? My original plan was to only apply to schools where my MCAT and GPA is at or above the median for accepted students. But after thinking about it and looking at the MSAR, this means that half the class is getting in with numbers at least slightly lower than mine and a lot of people are getting in with much lower numbers. But should we assume that those in the bottom quarter or 40%-tile did something super gnarly or some sort of academic work that isn't reflected in those GPAs, or is it not quite as competitive as it seems?

I don't want to waste a bunch of money for secondaries at places where I never had a realistic chance, but it would be nice to have some options too.

I talked to the premed advisor where I went to undergrad and she basically said "apply to 10-15 schools" but didn't provide much other advice about how to pick the ones that made the most sense. Thanks!

These are the first factors I would consider (in this order)
1) Whether the school is OOS friendly (no matter the GPA or MCAT)
2) Look at the schools where your GPA and MCAT are near or above the median
3) Look for schools that you can afford
4) Look for schools that meet your personal preference

Only if you stats are stellar would I tell you to reverse the order from 1,2,3,4 to 2,1,3,4.
 

MedPR

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These are the first factors I would consider (in this order)
1) Whether the school is OOS friendly (no matter the GPA or MCAT)
2) Look at the schools where your GPA and MCAT are near or above the median
3) Look for schools that you can afford
4) Look for schools that meet your personal preference

Only if you stats are stellar would I tell you to reverse the order from 1,2,3,4 to 2,1,3,4.

Eh, if stats are "stellar" (imo 3.7+/37+) I would suggest 4,4,4,1 as there will likely be scholarships waiting for you (so 3 is irrelevant) and few schools have medians at those types of numbers (so 1 is irrelevant). ;)
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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Thanks for the responses.

What would be a "friendly" OOS interview rate? The ones I looked at seem to range from <5% to ~10%, all of which seem fairly low to me.
 

LizzyM

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Keep in mind that MSAR is a median and it is for all admitted students meaning those who were granted interviews and then offered admission.

The bottom 10% percentile most likely represents the small number of students that brought something special to the school whether it was "diversity" or "legacy" or "super-VIP". EVeryone above the 10th percentile up through the 55th percentile could be solidly at the median. If the floor is 3.5, 32, it wel may be that the vast majority of the students have a 3.5 and a 32 with almost no one below that floor and some above it.

Keep in mind that these numbers are not normally distributed around a mean and the MSAR displays the median (the 50th percentile) not the mean.
 

IslandStyle808

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Eh, if stats are "stellar" (imo 3.7+/37+) I would suggest 4,4,4,1 as there will likely be scholarships waiting for you (so 3 is irrelevant) and few schools have medians at those types of numbers (so 1 is irrelevant). ;)

All true also. When you reach a certain stat level OOS is not that much of an issue and especially for the elite colleges. I guess I am trying to be a bit too meticulous about this. :laugh:
 

MedPR

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All true also. When you reach a certain stat level OOS is not that much of an issue and especially for the elite colleges. I guess I am trying to be a bit too meticulous about this. :laugh:

Would be a lot easier if OP gave us stats and state of residence. Also ethnic background.
 

MedPR

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3.75c, 3.68s, 31S (p: 12, v: 9, b: 10), white, used to do foreign policy stuff for govt

Don't live there now, but will be an Indiana resident since we left state on a military PCS...wife is a doc in the military, so trying to get closer to large military installation than ~2.5 hours (Indianapolis to Ft. Knox). Hence the list...

Would like to be at least ~1.5 hrs from a base to ensure <1hr commute for everybody.

Thanks!

Stats are good. Looks like you have a pretty specific location in mind. I have no idea what schools within that radius, but you should definitely start there.
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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Keep in mind that these numbers are not normally distributed around a mean and the MSAR displays the median (the 50th percentile) not the mean.

This is a good point. I think I was assuming it was normally distributed...
 

skais595

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One thing that I found super helpful was to make a long list (~50 schools) based on location, friendliness to OOS (I calculated like "1 in 15 interview" for each that I was interested in), random factors like oh I think I like their mission, how research-y they seemed, since I'm not a research heavy person.
Then I put that info on an index card for each school. It made it a lot easier to narrow down the list and be able to compare schools side by side, since I'm a visual/tactile person! When I couldn't think of what schools to eliminate, I literally sat down with a friend and spread all the cards on the ground. It was helpful to have someone who knows me but really doesn't know about med schools kind of offer an outsider's opinion....would I really want to live there? What do I think I am doing considering xyz school? etc.
 

CsHead

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3.75c, 3.68s, 31S (p: 12, v: 9, b: 10), white, used to do foreign policy stuff for govt

Don't live there now, but will be an Indiana resident since we left state on a military PCS...wife is a doc in the military, so trying to get closer to large military installation than ~2.5 hours (Indianapolis to Ft. Knox). Hence the list...

Would like to be at least ~1.5 hrs from a base to ensure <1hr commute for everybody.

Thanks!

Didn't say what branch (assuming Army 'cause of Ft. Knox mention) but ignoring the stats for now. Someone else can definitely compare for stats.

UW, USUHS, UVA, GWU, GTown, UMD, UTSA, MCG, UK, UL are ones that come to mind off the top of my head.. easily missing some. Also potentially all of the SC schools but those are way hard as an OOS.

If you're not limited in that way (Army) then add on UCSD, the other Virginia schools, and like UCinci. Easily still missing some as I am skimming my head.
 

Cynicalbrit

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Keep in mind that MSAR is a median and it is for all admitted students meaning those who were granted interviews and then offered admission.

The bottom 10% percentile most likely represents the small number of students that brought something special to the school whether it was "diversity" or "legacy" or "super-VIP". EVeryone above the 10th percentile up through the 55th percentile could be solidly at the median. If the floor is 3.5, 32, it wel may be that the vast majority of the students have a 3.5 and a 32 with almost no one below that floor and some above it.

Keep in mind that these numbers are not normally distributed around a mean and the MSAR displays the median (the 50th percentile) not the mean.

Would you say that the acceptance stats tend to be at least approximately normal? And would someone who was slightly above the schools median have a significant advantage over someone who is slightly below?

I really wish MSAR gave us the quartiles . . .
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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Didn't say what branch (assuming Army 'cause of Ft. Knox mention) but ignoring the stats for now. Someone else can definitely compare for stats.

UW, USUHS, UVA, GWU, GTown, UMD, UTSA, MCG, UK, UL are ones that come to mind off the top of my head.. easily missing some. Also potentially all of the SC schools but those are way hard as an OOS.

If you're not limited in that way (Army) then add on UCSD, the other Virginia schools, and like UCinci. Easily still missing some as I am skimming my head.

Thanks! Some of these I had not thought of.

Yep, Army. DC is by far the best choice, but other than USUHS, those schools just get stupid numbers of applications. UK and U of L both seem potentially doable...

Meharry is close to Fort Campbell, but I'm white.
 

CsHead

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Thanks! Some of these I had not thought of.

Yep, Army. DC is by far the best choice, but other than USUHS, those schools just get stupid numbers of applications. UK and U of L both seem potentially doable...

Meharry is close to Fort Campbell, but I'm white.

I know what you are thinking... but that isn't a problem if you fit mission criteria. Also.. Vandy in that case.
 

mmmmd

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Keep in mind that these numbers are not normally distributed around a mean and the MSAR displays the median (the 50th percentile) not the mean.

What's with the lack of transparency?

One thing that I found super helpful was to make a long list (~50 schools) based on location, friendliness to OOS (I calculated like "1 in 15 interview" for each that I was interested in), random factors like oh I think I like their mission, how research-y they seemed, since I'm not a research heavy person.
Then I put that info on an index card for each school. It made it a lot easier to narrow down the list and be able to compare schools side by side, since I'm a visual/tactile person! When I couldn't think of what schools to eliminate, I literally sat down with a friend and spread all the cards on the ground. It was helpful to have someone who knows me but really doesn't know about med schools kind of offer an outsider's opinion....would I really want to live there? What do I think I am doing considering xyz school? etc.

This...and based off of talking to people about their experiences, if they know stuff.
 

MedPR

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What's with the lack of transparency?



This...and based off of talking to people about their experiences, if they know stuff.

I think it's as transparent as you can get without either putting in more work/calculations or reducing accuracy (like using the mathmatical mean).
 

darkjedi

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There used to be a LizzyM calculator floating around before all talk of it was forbidden.

The basis of the spreadsheet was that it had the LizzyM's of all the schools ([10xGPA]+MCAT). The standard deviation was calculated to be around 3.8 LizzyM points for all the schools.

If your LizzyM was

lower than the School Lizzy M by > 3.8 = Reach
higher than the School Lizzy M by > 3.8 = Safety

Everything within the +/- 3.8 LizzyM score band was considered to be hopeful/go for it

Just remember that these calculators are really only good for determining if you will get interview, and much less applicable if those interviews will become acceptances.
 

LizzyM

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Why did all talk of it become forbidden?

There was a spread sheet that used data from the MSAR and AAMC got all copyright protective of their data resulting in the spreadsheet being pulled. (I had nothing to do with the creation and merely lent my screen name to the formula gpa(10)+MCAT. ) Subsequently, SDN'ers painstakingly found public sources of each gpa and MCAT average from every school and loaded that into a spreadsheet the location of which someone might share with you.
 

amad01

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There used to be a LizzyM calculator floating around before all talk of it was forbidden.

The basis of the spreadsheet was that it had the LizzyM's of all the schools ([10xGPA]+MCAT). The standard deviation was calculated to be around 3.8 LizzyM points for all the schools.

If your LizzyM was

lower than the School Lizzy M by > 3.8 = Reach
higher than the School Lizzy M by > 3.8 = Safety

Everything within the +/- 3.8 LizzyM score band was considered to be hopeful/go for it

Just remember that these calculators are really only good for determining if you will get interview, and much less applicable if those interviews will become acceptances.


I have not purchased an MSAR, but I do have this spreadsheet. Will purchasing an MSAR tell me anything more than the spreadsheet does?... basically I don't know everything the MSAR has on it...
 

MedPR

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I have not purchased an MSAR, but I do have this spreadsheet. Will purchasing an MSAR tell me anything more than the spreadsheet does?... basically I don't know everything the MSAR has on it...

For $20 the MSAR is an excellent resource.
 
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