Low GPA - High MCAT - Choosing Medical Schools

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Mar 24, 2011
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I'm applying to schools this cycle but am a little worried about my choice of schools based on the following combination of numbers:

cGPA - 3.4
sGPA - 3.4
MCAT - 36S

In looking at some of my mid-tier schools in the MSAR I'm around the 10th percentile for GPA but in the 90th percentile for MCAT. My LizzyM score comes out to be 70-71 but I'm not convinced that I'm on the same level as an applicant with a more balanced 3.7 and 33S. For an applicant with numbers similar to mine, does the LizzyM score hold a lot less weight when choosing schools? Does anybody have experience with a similar situation?

Extracurriculars are as follows:

-Summer intern at well-known biotech company (R&D scientist)
-Returned as a summer intern for 2nd year (R&D scientist)
-Currently an employee in the same group, no publications but two good LoR

-300+ hours in an AmeriCorps program working with preschool children in an underprivileged neighborhood near my university (and LoR from supervisor)
-40+ hours in after school program working with middle school students
-60+ hours as a department tutor for Human Physiology at my university

-40+ hours shadowed a radiation oncologist
-20+ hours shadowing ER department
-200+ hours hospital volunteer
-40+ hours volunteering at an Alzheimer's assisted-living center

Would you recommend any schools that favor MCAT over GPA? There's been some discussion that MCAT scores correlate better to USMLE testing than GPA does but most schools don't reflect this in their accepted applicant statistics. I'm a CA resident applying broadly. I was thinking of applying to 25-30 schools. Thanks and good luck! :)

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Edit: MCAT score breakdown: 12P, 10V, 14B

Also, any idea how medical schools view industry research experience over academia?
I hope someone more knowledgeable than me replies to this! I've been wondering the same thing.
I've been told by a couple people who know their way around the application cycle that east coast schools tend to weight the MCAT more heavily than GPA for applicants coming from west coast schools/schools they are less familiar with. I'm hoping that's true... Of course, that tip didn't come directly from an adcom so it definitely might not be the case.
You have great, unique extracurrics and a very high MCAT. Especially if you are willing to apply to 30 schools, my two cents is shoot for the stars, don't worry too much about the GPA.
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Is there an upward trend in your GPA? 25-30 schools sounds right, but make sure you're diligent about spending time to write some great secondary essays. If there are no other issues in your application, you should be fine.

In terms of how schools weigh GPA/MCAT, it really just depends. Don't spend too much time trying to comb through which schools do what. If you are really curious, just ask the schools directly. But that's why people apply broadly - to cover these gray areas.

Good luck! :thumbup:
My stats are very similar to yours (36Q, 3.4 sGPA, 3.45 cGPA) so I figured I would share. The other posters are right, you really need to apply early and broadly. My personal advice is to also avoid out of state schools that screen. Last cycle I was rejected from such schools pre-secondary which I am assuming is because my GPA is just shy of a 3.5.
I will also tell you that at 2/3 schools I received interviews at were ones where I brought up my low GPA and high MCAT. I found a way to work in comments about how I studied really hard for the MCAT to make up for sub-par grades in the pre-reqs etc. Maybe they liked this, maybe it was just a coincidence, but it is something I am trying to work into my apps more this year.
Good Luck!
Thanks for the responses! There's a definite upward trend in my grades that I'll be stressing in my interviews.

Here's my current list of schools to apply to:
Albany Medical College
Albert Einstein of Yeshiva University
Case Western Reserve University
Dartmouth College
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Jefferson Medical College
Loyola University Chicago
Medical College of Wisconsin
New York Medical College
New York University
Ohio State University
Pennsylvania State University
Rosalind Franklin University
Stanford University
SUNY Downstate
SUNY Stony Brook
SUNY Upstate
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Francisco
University of Miami
University of Southern California
University of Rochester

Think this is a pretty broad list?
Also applying for UCLA Prime because the program sounds awesome and I think my experience speaks to working in underprivileged communities.
Also applying for UCLA Prime because the program sounds awesome and I think my experience speaks to working in underprivileged communities.

hey that sounds like a really good list. I have very similar stats as you in actually almost everything. (13 verbal 12 bio 11 physical S) a 3.62 overall and 3.36 science from Rice U in Texas.

As for the extracirrics I basically have a bit less Americorps hours but shadowed one extra doctor. Everything else looks very similar. Your comment about scraping the top and bottom 10th percentile for MCAT and GPA respectively rang very true, hah.

Everyone, including my pre-med advisor and at least one ad-com person, keeps saying I will be fine, but its hard to say, ya know? I am a Texas resident, so we are both in states with a lot of med schools. I still have to fill the secondaries for a lot of the same out of state med schools that are on that list you put up, but have applied to all the Texas public schools.

Have you gotten any interviews yet? I've got 2 Texas ones so far, but Texas schools are on a 1 month earlier schedule.

What I have heard consistently is that adcoms screen you for GPA to make sure you don't fail out of medical school and screen you for MCAT to make sure you do well on the USMLEs. Focus on the interviews and remember they will be evaluating you for maturity and motivation. A 36 is really hard for adcoms to ignore, especially because your GPA is still tolerable. For what its worth, your MCAT is also a tiny bit better than mine because med school and USMLE performance has the greatest correlation with Biology, then Verbal, the Physical Sciences.

Also, this next bit is kind of speculative and I am wondering what the rest of y'all think: At some of the med schools with GPA and MCAT averages that are a little lower (think 3.7 average GPA, 30-31 average MCAT), as you mentioned, the bottom 10th percentile for GPA is about a 3.35 or 3.4 and the top 10th percentile for MCAT is a 35 or 36. I am going to go ahead and assert that people with very high MCAT and very high GPA's are probably not going to be well represented at these med schools, so the people who are filling their top 10th percentile for MCAT may well be mostly people like us with lower GPAs.

Of course this could just be wishful thinking...tell me what you think
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If you do not mind, could you please post an update as to how this application process is treating you? I would really like to know how successful you are so far with your specific stats.

I'd like to know too! My stats for GPA are even more out of whack (3.1 GPA, 38M MCAT)