Is it really that hard to get into US MD school?

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I was browsing this thread (http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/getting-a-ride-to-the-interview.1048341/) where people started piling on someone for saying that it really isn't that hard to get into med school. People kept repeating that more than half of applicants get rejected and that 40% of applicants get accepted. Got me thinking about how these stats are skewed by people who really have no business applying to med school. So below are some stats for more realistic med school applicants.....

Overall acceptance rate for all applicants: 45.5%
GPA at least 3.0: 48%
GPA at least 3.4: 55.5%
MCAT at least 30: 68%
GPA at least 3.4 and MCAT at least 30: 69%

finally for applicants with a GPA of at least 3.6 and MCAT of at least 33 the acceptance rate is close to 80%!!

Note that these numbers do not account for any kind of volunteering, research, or ECs. As far as I'm concerned if you don't have a 3.4 and 30 (or even just a 30 on the MCAT!) you really shouldn't be going into this process expecting anything. So since 70% of applicants with the aforementioned stats get accepted stop pretending like you overcame insurmountable odds. Compare that to getting into an ivy league college for instance....the overall acceptance rate is approx 8-10% and if you do the same thing and look only at qualified applicants I'm guessing the acceptance rate will be somewhere around 30%.

source: https://www.aamc.org/download/321508/data/2012factstable24.pdf
 

SunsFun

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8-10% is just for one school right? Now, if you look at say top 20 schools with 10% chance for each, your odds are not that bad. The point is you can't be comparing getting into any medical school with getting into 1 specific Ivy League school.
 
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Hard to get into any medical school? Not terribly- caveat- as long as you know what you're doing from the start.
Not really sure what you mean by this. Getting decent grades (As and Bs) should be a pretty universal goal for college students. Personally I didn't do anything special "from the beginning" other than getting As and Bs in my science classes which, combined with easier As in humanities classes comes out to a 3.4+ GPA.
 

Dbate

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I also think people overestimate the difficulty of getting admitted to at least one medical school. After going through the process, it seems pretty straight forward. If you have a high mcat, high gpa, and decent ECs, then you should get in somewhere.

The people who think it is hard to be admitted are either too lazy to put in the work or are too dumb to be doctors.
 

KnuxNole

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Not really sure what you mean by this. Getting decent grades (As and Bs) should be a pretty universal goal for college students. Personally I didn't do anything special "from the beginning" other than getting As and Bs in my science classes which, combined with easier As in humanities classes comes out to a 3.4+ GPA.
Not for most college students. C's get degrees is VERY prevalent :p

After all, for the average college student, a 3.4 is considered to be "Dude, you're such a genuis" status!
 

Microglia

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Not really sure what you mean by this. Getting decent grades (As and Bs) should be a pretty universal goal for college students. Personally I didn't do anything special "from the beginning" other than getting As and Bs in my science classes which, combined with easier As in humanities classes comes out to a 3.4+ GPA.

Just giving a nod to people who struggled in college earlier in life, then had to spend many years back there raising their GPA when they realized they wanted to go to med school. Not everyone's path is linear.
 

LostinLift

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If you know what you're doing from the beginning, have good advice and/or mentors, and have no outstanding circumstances taking up your time, then sure getting into medical school shouldn't be that difficult. Problem is people mature at different times, have commitments outside of the classroom, or simply don't realize how important academics are at the time. Nothing is guaranteed, even a 95% acceptance rate will leave 5% out to dry. I don't doubt there are many candidates with good to great applications who applied to a large amount of schools and don't get in anywhere.

I belong to the 52.9% chance people so it feels pretty difficult still, although if just using my post-bacc stats I would have a 93% chance... so it's somewhere in between but leaning heavily towards the 52.9.
 

darkjedi

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Speaking as people who already had the stats to put them in a relatively good position to get into med school in the first place, it's easy to say that it's 'not that hard' to get into med school. However for many, it's quite tough to be able to break into a 3.4 GPA, especially at a grade deflationary school or in a hard major. A 30 MCAT is no easy feat for the majority of people, seeing as how it's ~75-80th percentile. So sure it's 'not that hard' to get in if you are already a top candidate, however the majority of people applying aren't, and it also doesn't mean that they are automatically disqualified from med school either. Saying it's easy to get into med school because you have good stats is like saying its easy to run a 7 minute mile if you're physically fit. Well duh, but unfortunately, not everyone is physically fit to begin with and need to work to get there.
 

solitarius

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Not really sure what you mean by this. Getting decent grades (As and Bs) should be a pretty universal goal for college students. Personally I didn't do anything special "from the beginning" other than getting As and Bs in my science classes which, combined with easier As in humanities classes comes out to a 3.4+ GPA.
Didn't you mention somewhere you went to an elite school?

I don't think 3.4 is going to cut it for a lot of people.
33 is going to exclude 90% of MCAT test takers.
A lot of people apply to the same 40 schools. A lot of them are rejected.

A lot of people endure lots of rejection, wait lists, and silence before getting into one school. A lot of people end up getting only into one or two schools. These probably make the the perception of acceptance tougher than the final numbers would dictate.

But you guys are right. If you get a 3.5, a 33 and go to an Ivy League school, getting into medical school is probably pretty damn easy.
 
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UMU1030

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I don't think getting in with a 3.4+GPA and a 30+MCAT is the difficult part. Obtaining those stats before one applies is the difficult part.
 

CyberMaxx

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I started college as a biology major premed, so as you can imagine ~75% of my peer group was planning on going into medicine. Seeing people weeded out by pre-reqs, MCAT scores, and lifestyle issues leads me to believe that the overall acceptance rate for medical school is less than 45.5%
 
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I don't think getting in with a 3.4+GPA and a 30+MCAT is the difficult part. Obtaining those stats before one applies is the difficult part.
it's not a race. using all four years of undergrad and taking a year or two between college and med school is completely acceptable and will probably boost your chances and increase your maturity

I started college as a biology major premed, so as you can imagine ~75% of my peer group was planning on going into medicine. Seeing people weeded out by pre-reqs, MCAT scores, and lifestyle issues leads me to believe that the overall acceptance rate for medical school is less than 45.5%
i wouldn't really put much stock in the aspirations of a bunch of freshmen who think the only jobs out there are doctor, lawyer and engineer
 
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pomo

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Another reason why the getting to medical school is hard is that you have maintain the high stats while immersing yourself in a variety of long-term, meaningful ECs... to avoid being that 20% who don't get in with 3.6/33.
 

CyberMaxx

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i wouldn't really put much stock in the aspirations of a bunch of freshmen who think the only jobs out there are doctor, lawyer and engineer
Sure, on the first day of introductory biology everyone wants to be a doctor. However, I contend that for every person who applies and doesn't get in there is at least one more person who was forced to give up on being a doctor at some point during their college education because they realized it was no longer realistic.
 

wades

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Not really sure what you mean by this. Getting decent grades (As and Bs) should be a pretty universal goal for college students. Personally I didn't do anything special "from the beginning" other than getting As and Bs in my science classes which, combined with easier As in humanities classes comes out to a 3.4+ GPA.

I agree with the poster who made the comment to which you were referring ("as long as you know what you're doing from the start") It can mean a number of different things but in my opinion, even someone who has obtained these stats could find themselves without a school to matriculate into if they are not well informed about the application process in the beginning i.e applying late in the cycle, applying to only top 10 schools, not applying to enough schools...the lists goes on.
 
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alpinism

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Speaking as people who already had the stats to put them in a relatively good position to get into med school in the first place, it's easy to say that it's 'not that hard' to get into med school. However for many, it's quite tough to be able to break into a 3.4 GPA, especially at a grade deflationary school or in a hard major. A 30 MCAT is no easy feat for the majority of people, seeing as how it's ~75-80th percentile. So sure it's 'not that hard' to get in if you are already a top candidate, however the majority of people applying aren't, and it also doesn't mean that they are automatically disqualified from med school either. Saying it's easy to get into med school because you have good stats is like saying its easy to run a 7 minute mile if you're physically fit. Well duh, but unfortunately, not everyone is physically fit to begin with and need to work to get there.
This.

While I agree that the difficulty of getting into at least one MD school is overstated on SDN, its still a challenge for the average applicant.

Getting a 30+ MCAT isn't easy for most people and requires months of studying. Even then, less than 25% of test takers end up with a 30 or higher. Maintaining a 3.4+ GPA may not be that difficult in isolation, but when you add on research, community service, clinical volunteering, and maybe a part time job, it takes a good amount of hard work and time management skills. In addition, at certain schools or in certain majors it can be relatively tough to get above a 3.3 GPA.

That being said, the vast majority of applicants aren't overcoming "insurmountable odds" which is what you would think after reading some of the underdog threads on here (aka people with a 3.2 undergrad then a 3.8 postbacc + 30 MCAT getting into 3 schools and posting their "inspirational" story on SDN).
 

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The thing about being a 85-99th percentile student is that it jades you to the idea of a sub-80th percentile existence. It's like an eagle who has always known they are an eagle and bred to be an eagle from birth asking an ostrich why it can't fly.
 

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I agree with the poster who made the comment to which you were referring ("as long as you know what you're doing from the start") It can mean a number of different things but in my opinion, even someone who has obtained these stats could find themselves without a school to matriculate into if they are not well informed about the application process in the beginning i.e applying late in the cycle, applying to only top 10 schools, not applying to enough schools...the lists goes on.
I see the "uninformed premed" thing quite a lot. When I ask someone with a 24 MCAT who applied EDP to and was rejected from a school with an average 30 MCAT for matriculants, whether or not he has ever heard of SDN, he invariably says no. There are lots of important things to be aware of for any variety of circumstances involving grades, ECs and even maturity.
 
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I see the "uninformed premed" thing quite a lot. When I ask someone with a 24 MCAT who applied EDP to and was rejected from a school with an average 30 MCAT for matriculants, whether or not he has ever heard of SDN, he invariably says no. There are lots of important things to be aware of for any variety of circumstances involving grades, ECs and even maturity.
How often do you really encounter that?
 

CarlosDanger

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Homestate plays a huge role too, likes someone else already said. Average MCAT score for matriculants by state:

Arkansas: 29.1
Mississippi: 28.2
Massachusetts: 32.9
California: 32.5
New York: 31.9
Puerto Rico: 22.1 (that one just for fun)
 
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The_Bird

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How often do you really encounter that?
Probably at least once a week during the semester. Not that same scenario, of course but something similar that could have been avoided if they had taken the time to look online or ask around.
 

BlueLabel

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Homestate plays a huge role too, likes someone else already said. Average MCAT score for matriculants by state:

Arkansas: 29.1
Mississippi: 28.2
Massachusetts: 32.9
California: 32.5
New York: 31.9
Puerto Rico: 22.1 (that one just for fun)
Carlos do you know the TX average? I'm guessing this is AAMC data, but I'm super lazy so you should post the link
 

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BlueLabel

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I believe it is.


As a fellow resident of the Lone Star State I was curious : 31.0 in 2012.
Not too shabby. I wonder to what extent this data is obscured due to self-selection. The home state advantage angle is key, but I wonder how big of an effect it really is - of course i don't mean to imply that it isn't as significant as we think. But it would be interesting to see the effect quantified.

Probably the roughest metric would be state by state average probability of getting at least one acceptance to any school regardless of state. Does this exist?
 
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I think 2 out of the 80 pre-meds in my college class made it into medical school

I'm not saying more can't make it in later, but we're talking serious dedication and SMP-type extra work in order to get there

This wasn't even a ****ty university, it was pretty up there
 

UMU1030

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it's not a race. using all four years of undergrad and taking a year or two between college and med school is completely acceptable and will probably boost your chances and increase your maturity
I completely agree with you. I'll have two gap years under my belt when I start next year, and I think those years off did indeed help me to get in. That being said, you know very well that many premeds get dropped somewhere along the way. Some don't get through the prerequisites, some can't overcome the MCAT, and some never recover from the comfort of taking a gap year and seek alternative careers. With persistence and a good game plan, it is not such an insurmountable task to get in, and I do think it's important for people to know that. Surely there are uninformed premeds that apply with stats that would never get them in, but there are also those who may have a chance but lack confidence and persistence and never even apply.
 
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rainbow girl

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I completely agree with you. I'll have two gap years under my belt when I start next year, and I think those years off did indeed help me to get in. That being said, you know very well that many premeds get dropped somewhere along the way. Some don't get through the prerequisites, some can't overcome the MCAT, and some never recover from the comfort of taking a gap year and seek alternative careers. With persistence and a good game plan, it is not such an insurmountable task to get in, and I do think it's important for people to know that. Surely there are uninformed premeds that apply with stats that would never get them in, but there are also those who may have a chance but lack confidence and persistence and never even apply.
I agree that OP failed to take the "drop-out" pre-med into consideration. I was not a pre med in college, but I knew lots of people quit medical school dream after organic chem. biochem further crush their dreams.
Looking at the data from another way, if an applicant has >3.4 GPA and 30+ mcat (meaning they did almost everything right, providing adequate EC), he/she still has 31% chance of getting rejection. That's scary
 

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By far the biggest weedout of premeds is everything pre-AMCAS. I know way too many premeds who gave up their dreams of being a doctor, with reasons ranging from "I hate chemistry" to "Physics will never make sense to me" to "I can't stand being in school for that long" to even reasons like "I'll make more money doing this"

There are so many people who reapply and try again (because they made it so far already) that I can't imagine the attrition rate post-AMCAS to be bigger.
 
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Jennyfishy

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People who are able to get an education always forget that most of the people in the nation/world don't even have a college education, let alone the opportunities to even consider med school a realistic possibility. For the lucky thousands per year who have that chance, there are far more who don't even make it to the point of meeting the reqs to apply.
 

Duff84

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Maybe I'm in this 5%, this is my second application cycle, >3.6, 30 MCAT. I just assumed from my perspective that those stats are not competitive as I applied broadly with no luck x2. I did DO this cycle and was accepted to nearly every one I applied to but still cannot crack MD. I'm waiting on UMASS which interviewed me both cycles but so far only 3 MD interviews with over 40 apps between the two cycles so I have no idea. I have a great advisory committee who don't see any red flags, my statements and secondaries were all reviewed by them and MD's at my current job, lots of experience as medical assistant and researcher with publications. I chalked it up to it's just much more competitive now and the adage of a 30 MCAT and your golden is over and seems it's more like 33+ is where you need to be but maybe I'm wrong. Interesting seeing those stats though that avg for Massachusetts is close to 33 so that could be part of it. Maybe I'm an outlier but I thought it worth mentioning my experience.
 

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Sure, on the first day of introductory biology everyone wants to be a doctor. However, I contend that for every person who applies and doesn't get in there is at least one more person who was forced to give up on being a doctor at some point during their college education because they realized it was no longer realistic.
At least that. I tutor people daily who are in that situation well into their sophomore years.
 
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You should also take into consideration the demographics. According to the SDN chances charts, I have a 40% chance of getting in this cycle instead of the 69% OP posted because I'm an ORM.
 

CarlosDanger

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@BlueLabel This was interesting. AAMC has a sheet for applicants by state of legal residence, giving the number matriculated in/out of state, and not matriculated at all.

At first glance, it actually looks like there are on average slightly higher numbers of applicants in the south that don't matriculate anywhere compared to the north. But, in the south very low numbers of applicants actually matriculate out of state compared with the north.

Good God, Texas has so many applicants.

https://www.aamc.org/download/321466/data/2012factstable5.pdf
 
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DokterMom

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Not too shabby. I wonder to what extent this data is obscured due to self-selection. The home state advantage angle is key, but I wonder how big of an effect it really is - of course i don't mean to imply that it isn't as significant as we think. But it would be interesting to see the effect quantified.

Probably the roughest metric would be state by state average probability of getting at least one acceptance to any school regardless of state. Does this exist?
TMDSAS does publish it -- TX has an IS acceptance rate just over 45% for the TMDSAS schools (not Baylor), so actually, not far off the national average.
 

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@BlueLabel This was interesting. AAMC has a sheet for applicants by state of legal residence, giving the number matriculated in/out of state, and not matriculated at all.

At first glance, it actually looks like there are on average slightly higher numbers of applicants in the south that don't matriculate anywhere compared to the north. But, in the south very low numbers of applicants actually matriculate out of state compared with the north.

Good God, Texas has so many applicants.

https://www.aamc.org/download/321466/data/2012factstable5.pdf
Looking at the Cali info in that table makes me sad. :(
 

rainbow girl

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@BlueLabel This was interesting. AAMC has a sheet for applicants by state of legal residence, giving the number matriculated in/out of state, and not matriculated at all.

At first glance, it actually looks like there are on average slightly higher numbers of applicants in the south that don't matriculate anywhere compared to the north. But, in the south very low numbers of applicants actually matriculate out of state compared with the north.

Good God, Texas has so many applicants.

https://www.aamc.org/download/321466/data/2012factstable5.pdf
I wonder if this is the number of Texas applicants for AMCAS only, or does it include both AMCAS and TMDSAS?
If texas joins AMCAS, I believe the number would be a lot higher
 

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I'm a nontrad so I have a different perspective on the medical admissions game. IF you know you want to go to medical school from the time you start college I think it's very doable. I would say the difficulty increases sharply though for those who don't decide to do medicine until after graduating.
 
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Lucca

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Not too shabby. I wonder to what extent this data is obscured due to self-selection. The home state advantage angle is key, but I wonder how big of an effect it really is - of course i don't mean to imply that it isn't as significant as we think. But it would be interesting to see the effect quantified.

Probably the roughest metric would be state by state average probability of getting at least one acceptance to any school regardless of state. Does this exist?
Take a look at this pdf LizzyM linked in her AMA thread. It's the closest I could find to what you're talking about but if someone were to lump all the schools from certain states into bulk categories you could get the rough estimate you are talking about.

EDIT: Closer inspection reveals the AAMC did this for us, all you have to do is look at matriculation percentage in-state vs. out of state and the advantages become clear.
 
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I'm a nontrad so I have a different perspective on the medical admissions game. IF you know you want to go to medical school from the time you start college I think it's very doable. I would say the difficulty increases sharply though for those who don't decide to do medicine until after graduating.
I think that the mechanics of preparing to apply get a lot harder as a nontrad, but I think once you actually put yourself in the position to apply you're on either equal or superior footing. The schools do like maturity and life experience. It's just the trying-to-take-classes-and-volunteer-while-paying-rent-and-otherwise-being-an-adult part that's harder than being an undergrad.
 
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I think 2 out of the 80 pre-meds in my college class made it into medical school

I'm not saying more can't make it in later, but we're talking serious dedication and SMP-type extra work in order to get there

This wasn't even a ****** university, it was pretty up there
I think a lot of the "failed pre-meds that dont even apply" self-selected out of the process. I base this on the data in the OP showing that a lot of people still apply with poor stats and the fact that if you look at the % of students accepted to med schools from post-bacc programs(career changers at the undergrad level), it is a lot higher than SDN will have you believe. Lets also not discount the DO route which is easier and just as good if one simply wants to be a doctor and doesnt have their sights set on academic medicine or a competitive/prestigious residency.
 

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I feel like the only way getting into medical school is 'easy' is if you luck out and your state school has lower standards for IS applicants
Yeah, I'm looking at all those Texas schools!! Feel bad if you only have 1 state school. California is on the opposite end though with sooo many students, but not enough seats in all the California Med Schools. New York is looking pretty good too from an outsiders point of view.
 

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A relative of mine told me how he had an above 3.6 cGpa and wasn't even offered an interview in any of the New York state medical school. However he wasn't really interested in medical school anyway. According to the same relative a friend of his had close to a 4.0 cGpa never matriculated into medical even after applying more then twice. However I never asked about their MCAT scores or extracurricular though both had solid research experience. I'm skeptical though since a >3.5 along with >30 MCAT scores should get you accepted.
 

rainbow girl

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A relative of mine told me how he had an above 3.6 cGpa and wasn't even offered an interview in any of the New York state medical school. However he wasn't really interested in medical school anyway. According to the same relative a friend of his had close to a 4.0 cGpa never matriculated into medical even after applying more then twice. However I never asked about their MCAT scores or extracurricular though both had solid research experience. I'm skeptical though since a >3.5 along with >30 MCAT scores should get you accepted.
3.80+ and 30-32mcat and you still have 20% chance of not accepted. When In school, I had a friend with ~3.6-3.7 and 30mcat with no ii. But I don't think he ever did any volunteer. He quits applying to medical schools after that first try