Medical How to Use the MSAR to Choose the Best Medical Schools for You

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If you are applying to allopathic medical schools, you will need to purchase access to the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) website. It costs $28 for one year of access. It is published each spring, usually in April, by the AAMC and includes the admission statistics for all participating members – 152 U.S. and 17 Canadian allopathic medical schools.

What Data Does the MSAR Provide?
  • Degrees offered
  • Median MCAT and GPA
  • Cost of attendance
  • Deadlines
  • Demographics of applications, like ratio of males to females, in-state vs. out-of-state applicants, and matriculants
  • Social media links
  • Mission statements
  • Primary application information
  • Information about letters of recommendation
  • Secondary application descriptions
  • Timelines
  • Interview descriptions
  • Premed requirements
The MSAR is a source of valuable information that you will need in order to decide which medical schools to apply to.

After you have purchased access and created a username and password, you can begin exploring the website. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Start by looking at schools by STATE.
    Statistically speaking, you have the greatest chance at receiving an acceptance from a medical school in the state where you are a legal resident. Using the filters on the left-hand side of the page, select your state under the “Location” tab.

    Answer the following:

    • How many medical schools are in your state?

    • Have you visited any of them? If you haven’t, plan a visit, especially if it’s nearby.

  2. Next, filter by a range close to your MCAT score and cumulative GPA. Enter that data into the filters on the left. Change the location to “United States.”
    Answer the following:

    • How many medical schools pop up?

    • Are you interested in any of these schools?

    • What happens if you increase your MCAT score or GPA by a point or two? How many more options come up?

    Since this data is self-reported by medical schools, these numbers tend to be higher than the scores of students actually accepted into their programs. Between my work at the UC Davis School of Medicine Postbaccalaureate Program and at Accepted, I have over a decade of experience in helping students with low scores get accepted. I know for a fact that many, if not most, of these schools accept students with much lower scores they will admit to accepting on the MSAR website.

  3. After reviewing the list of schools, click on one of the school names. Clicking on the link to the school will give you access to all of the information about that particular program.
    What is most important for you to review is the “Admissions Data” tab on the left. By clicking on this highlighted text, you will have access to the 10-90th and 25-75th percentile ranges of the scores of students accepted into their program, as well as the median score for all accepted applicants.

    I recommend that students focus on applying mostly to schools in which they fit in the mid-range as well as some “reach schools” in which they may only be above the 10th percentile. By using the median and lowest scores “they say” they accept, you are more likely to be choosing a school where you will be a competitive applicant. The MSAR website even provides section score averages, with the same percentile ranges. These can be helpful for you to review. Again, for the GPA data, cumulative and science, see where you fit into the mid-range.

  4. To make the best use of your time, create a spreadsheet in which you compile all of this data to help you choose schools.
    You can include the school name, location, MCAT 10th percentile and median ranges, as well as GPA (cumulative and science) 10th percentile and median ranges. Also, create columns in your spreadsheet to capture any other data that is important to you to compare the schools, like cost of attendance.

  5. Use the data compiled about in-state and out-of-state applicants accepted into each program to be even more strategic about your school selection.
    This data is available at Accepted’s Medical School Acceptance Rates: In-State vs. Out-of-State. You can see the percentage of students who apply and who are accepted as in-state or out-of-state applicants. I do not recommend that students apply to a school out-of-state if the school accepts a significantly lower percentage of students from other states.
How to Move Forward After Compiling MSAR Data

The best advice I can give you is not to be discouraged by the MSAR data. Be skeptical. These numbers are self-reported, so don’t let them deter you from finding the best schools for you! Use the median and lowest scores accepted to help determine your school selection. Every year, my students get acceptances using those scores as a guide.

Do you want more personalized assistance with school selection or any other element of your medical school application? Check out our Medical School Admissions Consulting Services or contact me directly at Accepted. Learn more about how we can help you get accepted here.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources:

This article was originally posted on blog.accepted.com.
Applying to medical school? The talented folks at Accepted have helped hundreds of applicants like you get accepted to their dream programs. Whether you are figuring out where apply, working on your AMCAS application, working on secondary essays, or prepping for your interviews, we are just a call (or click) away. Contact us, and get matched up with the consultant who will help you get accepted!