Medical School Admissions: Special Circumstances

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Welcome to the new Medical School Admissions: Special Circumstances Thread.

What is the purpose of this thread?

The sole purpose of this thread is to help students answer the following question: How can I explain "X" that happened in my life on my application? In this thread our mentors can help you figure out how to address in your application events that may have caused adversity in your life or challenges that you may have overcome.

From this point forward (6/9/07), this will be the only topic addressed in this thread.

Please do not post "what are my chances" threads or your entire life story. We are NOT kidding about this.
Brevity is your friend. Your post is much more likely to be answered if your question is brief and to the point.

Inappropriate posts WILL be deleted or moved.
Thank you for your cooperation.


Getting ready to apply:

Where can I get advice about the MCAT?
Try the SDN MCAT Forum.

About your application:

Do I need to list every college course I have ever taken on my application?
Yes. Every college-level course you have taken needs to be listed on your AMCAS or AACOMAS.

I need help with my personal statement.
There is a great thread with personal statement advice in the pre-allo forum.

Will the mentors read my personal statement?
No. We have writing mentors who will provide technical advice and critique short passages. We aren't able to offer full-service editing for personal statements, so please don't post them on the Mentor Forum. Any personal statements posted will be deleted.

How do adcoms look at premeds volunteering in a developing country as part of a medical mission?
Tildy has written an excellent synopsis of this issue. Medical volunteering

Does a history of institutional or legal action on my record virtually assure me of not being accepted? How should I handle this? Ignore it or write about it in my essays? Ask Tildy the Dog

How can I get help entering my work/activities into AMCAS? Check out this fantastic thread in Pre-Allo first: AMCAS Work/Activities

About the Mentor Forum:

Is this a good place for a "what are my chances" post?
It really isn't. This is the place for brief, specific questions. Our mentors are not able to evaluate your application or assess your chances for admission to any given school. Posts misplaced in this thread asking "what are my chances?" will be moved to existing threads:

Pre-allopathic: What are my Chances/Where to Apply?
Pre-osteopathic: What are my chances?

Why can't the Adcom members answer my WAMC post?
Tildy has posted an excellent answer to this question. Click to visit Tildy the Dog.

Who will be answering my question?
Questions in this thread will be answered by members of medical school admissions committees (students, faculty and staff) and by medical students, residents or physicians who may share their experiences with the admissions process. You may review the credentials of any mentor by viewing their "Welcome" post.

Wow, this thread is long! I don't want to read it all but what if my question has already been answered?
We'd love it if you checked the table of contents in post #3 before posting. You might just find the answer to your question and save yourself the trouble.

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Current through post #131

Concerns about GPA/MCAT
#10, #11, #18, #22, #29, #30, #32, #34, #42, #43, #45, #48, #49, #51, #53, #64, #66, #74, #77, #78, #83, #92, #97, #103, #105, #106, #115, #129

General Application Questions (major, undergrad university, transcripts, LORs, personal statement, interview etc.)
#14, #15, #16, #19, #24, #31, #33, #37, #38, #40, #41, #47, #50, #52, #58, #59, #61, #69, #70, #71, #72, #74, #81, #85, #87, #88, #91, #99, #104, #110, #112, #113, #128, #131

Volunteering/Clinical Experience/Working/Research
#20, #22, #28, #39, #43, #44, #80, #90, #93, #107, #121, #130

Switching From Another Profession/Major to Medicine
#9, #19, #26, #28, #56, #57, #58, #59, #68, #89, #125, #130

Non-Trad Questions
#15, #23, #29, #40, #54, #64, #72, #76, #118

Felony, Misdemeanor, Institutional Action
#8, #63, #65, #98, #101, #122, #124

Choosing a School
#12, #17, #31, #45, #76

Waitlist Questions
#17, #35, #36

Foreign Students/Transcripts
#46, #54, #60

Personal Health Issues When Applying
#62, #66, #67, #78, #94, #95, #100, #108, #116, #119

Other Special Circumstances
#21 (illegal immigrant), #27 (study abroad), #49 (young applicant), #75 (young applicant), #55 (schools with different start date), #102 (previous matriculation at DO school)

PM oxeye if any of these links do not work! Thank you!
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Hi there,

Welcome to the medical school admissions thread! This is the place for you to ask questions about the application/interview process and find out what med schools might be looking for in an applicant.

A little about me --- I'm a second-year med student and a member of my school's admissions committee. I routinely evaluate, interview, and present applicants at admissions committee meetings.

So, start asking questions and I'll do my best to give you a prompt and accurate answer! There will also be other mentors providing advice in this thread. :thumbup:
Hello. I am an Emergency Physician. I served on the Admissions Comm. for 4 years at my medical school. I was also a non-traditional, having worked in a completely unrelated field prior to going to medical school.

Greetings. I am a practicing physician and medical school faculty at a private, research-oriented medical school in the US. I have 10 years of service on the medical school admissions committee and considerable experience at evaluating applications for a range of academic positions at all levels.

Update: May 9, 2007: As I have two other threads I am actively "leading", and there are other mentors for this thread, I will not continue to actively follow and respond here although I may do so on occasion. You can find me on the academic medicine thread.
Hello to all of you. Like Tildy, I am an adcom member at a private, research-oriented medical school. I am not a physician but I am a faculty member in the basic sciences. I look forward to fielding questions from medical school applicants on issues involving the application and interview process.
Hi Adcomms,

I have a question, but I think I already know what the answer will be. To give you some background, I'm a senior who is applying for the 2008 cycle. During my year off I will be doing biomed research at the NIH. I have a decent GPA 3.7 Chem, so-so MCAT 28, but a lot of EC's + leaderships, and I am URM if that matters (I've done URM related volunteer work). Anyway, to get to the point, during my first 8 weeks of school freshman year I got into trouble at the dorms, once for a marijuana related incidence. The marijuana incidence resulted in a misdemeanor being put on my record (first crime ever). To say the least this was a traumatizing event for me because everyone told me my chances at med school were just destroyed, and to some degree I gave up on my medical aspirations for the next semester. I toyed around with possibly majoring in other health professions, but I still felt drawn toward medicine, and I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with any other profession. So I figured I have to try, and over the next three years I was academically solid, extremely involved in campus organizations, volunteer, and stayed far away from drinking/smoking ect. So now I'm at the point where I'm ready to apply, I have already prepared a statement for my "Disciplinary Action" essay on AMCAS, and I know when I fill out secondaries and I have to answer YES to (ever been charged with misdemeanor/felony) and I’m not afraid at all to talk about the incident during interviews (if I get any).

But I just want to know will I be immediately "blacklisted" by ADCOMMS? Will schools even give me a chance?

I understand the harsh realities of the process, 5000+ applicants for 100 spots, and probably 4950 of the applicants have clean records(or are lying), so why should they take someone who is "flawed"?

Anyway, I am already applying with the expectation of not getting in anywhere, but is there anything I can do to improve my application, and take focus away from this incident?

BTW: I'm not applying to ultra-competitive schools, just my state schools and a few URM friendly Out of state schools.

thanks in advance,


Speaking for just one school, I would not expect you to be blacklisted for a single marijuana incident in your freshman year. If you explain what you learned from this incident and how it contributed to your growth and maturity, you may find that you will be offered interviews/admission despite your flaw.
I am a junior nursing student to plans to finish my junior year and then switch my major to liberal arts. I am doing this becuase I really want to be a doctor not a nurse i realized this a month ago. Do you think that that a admissions commitee will look at this with shame?

No. The admissions committee will see the nursing courses you've taken but will note that you graduated as a liberal arts major. Of course, you will explain your path to medicine in your personal statement.
I am looking to apply to both MD and DO schools this coming application cycle. I have a unique problem with my GPA. I have a low undergrad GPA and science gpa (that part is not unique!). Both are 3.0. The logical response to a undergrad gpa problem is to take postbacc courses. Retake all of the low grades. However...I have a master's degree in biology. (I have a 3.9 there, but I know that doesn't count the same as the undergrad GPA)

During my master's I was a TA and there had to RE-LEARN all of the classes I did poorly in since I was teaching the lab portions. My three C's on my science gpa come from BIO I, BIO II and Anatomy. Since I was a TA in those labs, I actually sat in on all of the lectures on my own time. Essentially learned everything I didn't learn the first time around...and more. For the past three years I have been working as an instructor at the community college level. Here's my three lowest undergrad science grades (the one's most people would just go back and retake...) I TEACH! So I know the material backwards and forwards...NOW.

So, is my gpa a complete non-starter? Does the fact that I now teach these classes that I once did so poorly in help me at all? My MCATs reflect my knowledge of biology, when I take the practice tests I usually don't miss a single biology question (but the orgo is another I won't have a 15 on my BS section).

What do I do?

Here's hoping that the undergrad 3.0 combined with the M.S. 3.9 and a MCAT bio score of 13 or more is going to pique someone's interest and that your application will be read in full, and you will seem like someone who is worthy of an interview. You may have a good shot at mid-range schools that are open to non-trad students.
I need some advice. When I was in college (top 5 college), I had a series of unforunate events that affected my gpa. I was raped and sexually assualted my freshman year and my grandfather died. These events severely shakened my self esteem and I had trouble performing at the level I was capable of. Basically, I had a series of dropped science classes and non sci classes. The highest grade I recieved in a science course was 2 B's and the lowest 1 D. I was very depressed for much of my college experience. It worsened with the death of both of my grandmother's from alzheimer's my junior and senior year. I hit a low point and I ended up graduating from my college(2006) with a 2.5-2.6 gpa in a non science major. Now, I am working at one of the top UCs and taking classes to bring my gpa up. So far, I have As. In addition, I am volunteering in a alzheimer's clinic. I know I have several red flags for admissions commitees and an uphill battle. What would be the best way to overcome a history like this? I have always wanted to be a doctor but the last few years have been rough for me.


It's impossible to pick one path that will get you to medical school. However, my recommendation is to consider working for a couple of years while continuing to build up volunteer, community service and taking the MCAT. Others here are more expert at various programs such as master's programs, etc and could comment on these, although I generally would be less convinced of their value for you except to retake classes in which you had a very low grade. The folks on the non-trad forum often have good advice on these type of things. From my perspective, when looking at applications from students with bad college grades related to life events, what matters is that they have gone forward in life and are ready to tackle medical school. This can take a few years. Success at a job (does not have to be medical, but continue medical activities such as shadowing, volunteering) and a well-written personal statement can give you the best chance. A great MCAT will help too. Good luck!
Hi there!

I have recently been accepted to two medical schools, Georgetown and University of Miami, Boca Raton campus. I'm trying to decide which to attend, and I'd love some objective advice.

UM at Boca Raton is only a three hour drive from my immediate family and boyfriend and offers Problem Based Learning (I believe 100% PBL) for the first two years. It has a small class size of 32, which I like, and is pretty new so it's technologically very advanced with an entire building for computer simulated dummies for practicing procedures on. The downside, I think, is that it is in suburban Boca Raton which is:
1.) Not a very exciting place to live
2.) Has a limited demographic of elderly, wealthy people, which I translate to reduced exposure to pathology and diversity.

Georgetown didn't impress me immediately when I went there (partly because I was set on going to Boca until I received admission to Georgetown) but I've been thinking about it more and I'm leaning towards going there. I like that it's in an urban setting so I have more exposure to pathology, more diversity, and a more enjoyable social life. I don't like that it has so many students compared to Boca, is less technologically advanced, and doesn't center on PBL.

I've never lived outside of Florida before so I'm excited to make a big change in my life and live in a new, different place. But I'm worried that my reasons for leaning towards Georgetown aren't as strong as the reasons why Boca would be better.

Can anyone help me with this?


These are personal decisions based on personal preferences regarding curriculum, location, cost, proximity to a support system, class size (do you like a very small town where you know everyone?) and all the rest.

I will just make one comment about your assumptions regarding pathology. If anything, an older population is going to present with more pathology because the incidence and prevalence of just about every disease increases with age. Take the top 20 causes of death in America. Aside from a dearth of homicides in Palm Beach County, you are going to see a little (or a lot) of everything in Boca. Georgetown might have a little more "exotic" and tropical disease because of the diplomatic community and international travelers but Boca has its own influx of travelers as well.
Hello :) I was wondering if anyone on admissions committees above would be willing to read through my personal statement because I have never really gotten an feedback from advisors or anyone who knows about admissions, only friends and family. If not that's okay too, I just figured it wouldn't hurt to ask :oops:

Would any of the esteemed members of the panel be willing to review my PS? I am at an impasse, and would appreciate some input. Thanks.

We are not able to have mentors read personal statements.
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hello there,

last summer..i decided to take summer school to knock out some credits to lighten up my course load for the following semester at university. however, i had a rough summer and was not able to successfully complete the courses which ended up showing F's on the community colleges transcript. however, i decided not to send the transcript to my university because i didnt want to use the credits. when i was working out my class schedule for next semester, i was talking to a professor of mine and she said that medical schools see all the transcripts you have ever had..including the community college one that i choose not to send to the university. is that true? i dont see how that is possible when i choose who can and who cant view it. also, if medical schools ask on the application for all transcripts or whatever they i ever have to mention about the transcript from my community college even if i didnt transfer the credits to my university?

AMCAS requires that you show all college level work and provide transcripts. Failure to do so can result in revocation of offers of admission.
I guess this is where I post a question.

Throughout the forum posters are always debating whether no trads shoudl take a full load, or if two science classes at a time are okay. The latter seems to be the majority because of family/work/commitments and taking a full load just isn't feasable. Right now I am taking 8 credits (two classes), I am taking BIO I and BIO II over the summer, which is everyday so it is close to full time. Next fall I am signed up for ORGO and Physics, but I wanted to take another science with a lab to have 12 credits, which would make me full time, at least in my schools eyes. I would still have to work but I could cut it down a little bit to focus more on school.

I guess my question is, do admissions boards really consider how many courses you take during a semester? Do they understand that non trad students have to work a lot as well and gain that important health care experience? I am sure it varies from school to school, but what have been your experiences with courseloads in applicants? (BTW, I need to show improvement from my poor undergrad GPA. <3.0 Been looking into SMP's as well.)

The adcom asks the question: is there evidence that this applicant can handle the workload of medical school? Doing poorly as an undergrad but better when taking only 2 courses per quarter doesn't fully answer the question. Yes, it is clear that you are working and going to school but you will be expected to attend school full-time as a medical student. Again, the question comes back to, will you be able to handle that workload?
I currently work as a pharm tech on the weekends. How good would a letter of rec. from a Pharm.D look to adcoms? Should I even bother submitting it when the time comes?


It would look the same as just about any other letter. If the Pharm.D knows you well and wrote a strong letter, I would go ahead and submit it! It can't hurt and would probably help. Note that this would count as an extra letter and shouldn't replace the letters from professors of courses you took. :thumbup:
My situation might be confusing but please bear with me.

I've been accepted to UCLA by a special program with UC Riverside. At the same time, UCLA proper waitlisted me. What differentiates these two programs is that in the former I would spend my pre-clinical years in Riverside, in the latter at Los Angeles. The main UCLA program is my top choice and has been my dream school for a long time, and I'd love to attend. I will be attending UCLA's second-look where I will have the opportunity to hear presentations by several of the admission committee members as they try to convince us to come to their school.

Will it reflect poorly on me if I go out of my way to talk to them briefly and explain my situation and strong desire to go to their med school? I doubt many people are in a similar situation and given your perspective, I figure you can offer the best advice to me. Thank you for your help!

I wouldn't do it! It would be inappropriate at the school's second-look weekend. You've already been accepted to the UCR/UCLA program, so it would come across as ungrateful.
I have a question concerning whether or not I should do a postbacc program.

My gpa is a 3.35 largely due to two years in which I had major mitigating family circumstances. During my sophomore and Junior years, my gpa was 2.5 which was a large drop from the 3.9 I had freshman year. I decided to stay an extra year in college so I could increase my gpa and have since earned a 4.0 that last two years. I am also a president's scholar at my university which is a fullride scholarship awarded to CA high school valedictorians. Anyways, some advisors strongly discourage me from doing a postbacc and believe that my academic excellence my final two years will suffice, while a med school admissions advisor suggested I do a postbacc to increase my gpa.

How do you believe I should handle the situation? Thanks a lot for the advice.

I agree with the med school admissions officer. A 3.35 GPA doesn't necessarily mean that you'll automatically be rejected from every school, but it will definitely limit you when applying. The upward trend is good, but it doesn't compensate for the low GPA. Good luck!
Recently, I made an important decision to pursue a career in medicine after being accepted into dental school. It is a decision that I have personally struggled with for several years, both fields in my opinion are very rewarding. However, with my graduate studies in public health I have come to appreciate the holistic approach to health found in medicine. In addition, I feel that medicine would allow me to fulfill my desire to reach a larger proportion of the underserved community with varying healthcare needs.

Do you feel that my choice to pursue a career in medicine after being accepted into dental school would be looked upon negatively by the admissions committee? Do you feel I should explain this decision in my personal statement?

I wouldn't use the PS to explain a negative, but instead would focus on the positive - why you decided to do medicine. However, I am assuming here that before you apply to medical school, you will have shadowed a physician and otherwise had experiences that will make it clear that you have a committment to medicine.

"Career changing" at all steps of the process is extremely common. It is potentially a negative in that it can indicate uncertainly and lack of committment to any one field. On the other hand, it can be "turned" positive by a clear set of experiences that are described in the PS explaining the change. This explanation will help get the interview. In the interview is when you will be on the spot and need to be clear about what you had originally decided and how and why you changed your mind. If you can tell a solid story, you will win over the committee.

Good luck!
Hi, all. I'm not sure if this thread is the right place to ask these questions, but it seemed the most appropriate.

I am going to be attending medical school starting this August (regular M.D. program). I would really love the opportunity to serve on my medical school's admissions committee starting second year (I'll assume they don't take MSI students). When should I start looking into this? Is there an application and interview process? What do admissions committees look for in potential student members? I know the details will vary per school, but even general answers would be great.

As you might have guessed, I am very interested in a career in academic medicine. But, I don't think laboratory research is for me. I tried research in two different labs as an undergrad (in two different disciplines) and didn't truly enjoy either experience. From what I know, though, lab. research is pretty much a pre-requisite for going into academic medicine. Is this true? If so, is there any other way to make myself academic-medicine worthy?

Thank you very much in advance,


I think there is so much variability in how student adcoms are selected that it is impossible to give a general answer. I suspect that at most schools, volunteering to give tours, a positive attitude towards the school, etc is helpful, but you should wait until you start and find out specific info for your school.

The part that I wanted to answer was aobut lab research and academic medicine. If only lab researchers (what you probably mean is "basic science" researchers) were academic faculty, there wouldn't be many faculty members at most medical schools! There is plenty of room for those who do research more clinically oriented, those who are education, not research oriented, etc. It tremendously depends on what medical school and whether one is on a research or clinical/educator "track." All of this is beyond the scope of this anwer, but you can talk to folks about it when you start. Finally, don't entirely give up on "lab" research - you might find something you like that is more clinically oriented at a later stage of your training.

I note for the other mentors that the OP wished more than one mentor opinions if possible. Feel free to add!

Im posting here because i need some advice on a problem i have. Im currently and under grad student at a University in Texas majoring in chemistry (biochem really but still under chemistry), i have a 3.92 gpa, and im about to finish my softmore year. I'm usually the top student in every class. I have the utmost burning desire to get into a med school in Texas such as Baylor but the thing is, Iam an illegal immigrant. My parents and i moved here when i was 5 years old and have lived here ever since and because of strict immigration laws i still have been unable to become a resident or citizen. And becoming one in the future is still unlikely, unless i get married (very unlikely, not that im ugly kid :laugh:) or an immigration reform is passed. Because of this, my life has been full of such disadvantages and struggles, not including the emotional stress, that the pursuit of my education has always been an uphill battle. Just the mere fact that im in college is an achievement for me in itself. I get absolutely no help, no financial aid, no scholarships...nothing. I cant even apply to med internships for the summer. All these things that the rest of the kids take for granted i get absolutely nothing of. My parents and i alone provide for my education. And yes...we pay taxes too. I'm extremely dedicated to school and i know ill have a strong gpa and MCAT score in th end to show for it. Would a medical school in Texas or anywhere in in the U.S. ever consider accepting a person like myself?

There are 2 questions here. First, can a medical school legally accept you - especially with regard to Texas schools and the requirements they may have to take state residents and the second is, assuming this is possible, would they be interested in you given your background.

The first of course requires answer by an immigration lawyer and the schools themselves. I am sure you realize this, but ultimately you must address your status with an immigration attorney and get opinions as to how to change your status if this is possible and what you should do about your status.

The second is likely yes. I do not believe a medical school would hold your status as an illegal immigrant as a child against you as an adult. The schools would ask how you resolved this situation, but would not likely hold it as a negative per se. You still would need to meet all other criteria for acceptance beyond your good GPA. You should be up-front about the situation throughout the process.
I'm a third-year student who started off as a double major in psychology and philosophy, with a focus on neuroscience and cognitive psych. I didn't work as hard as I probably should have in my basic sciences, and ended up getting a lot more Bs in those than I probably should. My cumulative GPA will end up being around 3.7, but I have Bs in things like organic chemistry, physics, etc... with As in the more biological classes like bio, genetics, and physiology.

My question is this: I'm heavily interested in international health and working in underserved parts of the world and the United States. I've been able to do work with several organizations around the world, and have learned a lot about myself and about the realities of trying to create health infrastructure where none exists, and about providing care to people in places like that. I'm concerned that this work will come across as "voluntourism", or something that I did purely for the sake of impressing admissions committees rather than something I'm passionate about. Should I just hope that my focus shines through in my PS and interviews?

Also, if I don't think I'll get in (e.g. if my BPCM GPA isn't above 3.6 when I graduate), would doing a MPH after undergrad be a reasonable two years-off project, or would I be better served by an MS? My alternative idea would be doing work with a group like Americorps. My strengths lie in things like designing systems and figuring out flaws in existant ones... but I feel like I need to demonstrate incredible aptitude in hard sciences to shine out. Is there a place for people who might be exceptional clinicians without being able to get straight As in physics? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

I will principally address the second paragraph. Other mentors may wish to weigh in more on the last paragraph. International volunteering is a very common characteristic of applicants. It is common wisdom that this volunteerism 1) Will automatically lead to admission due to the humanity demonstrated AND 2) Will automatically lead to rejection due to adcom cynicism about the reasons for it.

In my experience, veteran adcom members are pretty good at exploring the experience DURING the interview and understanding what you did, why you did it and what you gained from it. It neither guarantees admission or rejection and like many other experiences, it is how you have applied and wish to apply the knowledge that matters. In an interview, a detailed exploration of the experience can help sort these out and convince the adcom of your sincerity. Can adcoms be fooled either way? Sure, but not as often as many would suspect.:)

On the other hand, in the PS, it is more difficult to explore these issues and it is easier to make an adcom reader suspect "voluntourism" (a great new word, just added to my vocabulary). In this case, it is best to discuss what you did, why you did it and what you learned, but not make it the entire focus of your PS or imply that you are a better applicant than others who did not have the abililty (or $$) to do this. Save the details for the interview. The international experiences should be explained in the context of your education and overall volunteer/shadowing background.
[moderator - feel free to edit, trim, whatever you feel appropriate...putting all out there to minimize ambiguity and maximize clarity for response. thanks]

First, thanks for taking the time and to SDN for the medium...

Regarding: mcat timing, application timing, etc with recent development of wife's high-risk pregnancy.

30yo married (with supportive spouse regarding educational endeavors) white M. Long, drawn out undergrad with early poor performance, dispersed enrollment and many transfers of schools (5 actually). No specific reasons other than lack of both direction and interest in education, as well as taking a while to "grow up" - all of which are now resolved.:thumbup:

After taking a small break (from about 00 - 02) I enrolled in a state univ and I now have one more semester until completion of BA in Business Finance. I have taken all science prereq's. My BA and prereq's have all been taken at the same institution and all within the last 5 years. The reasoning for this time period is due to work requirements and one semester off. Average semester for last 4 years have been 12-15 hours and working full time (around 60 - 70 hours week). Major GPA: 3.2, Science GPA: ~3.3 (I have not had AAMC calculate it), Cumul GPA: 2.8 (due to early poor performance). Last 2 years GPA: 3.1

As for work - critical care paramedic for 10 years. I work both as a ground paramedic as well as a flight paramedic for a level one trauma center so I have a moderate amount of exposure to medicine (at least the emergency other discipline really). I am involved with our Trauma Services Research Committee and have recently started, and am heading, a research group for our Emergency Medical Services Division for prehospital research.

I have one clinical research paper regarding cervical spine injuries in the process of being published, another laboratory research paper that I will be submitting for oral/poster with ultimate publication on EMS pharmaceutical degredation and have been published a couple of times on articles for medical CEU's. I also guest lecture for paramedic classes (typically advanced cardiology and pharmacology, 12/15-lead interpretation, and EMS research methods) at three local colleges.

Issue at hand: As of last week my wife and I face a high-risk pregancy (20 weeks in now) requiring some near-term invasive procedures which require some traveling. If all goes well it will be only one more week with relatively normal progression until delivery (end aug - beg sep due). In order for the procedure to be performed, we have to hit some magic chemistries....otherwise it will be an unfortunate result. (BTW, luckily we are well-insured and the medical expenses should not significantly impact my eligibility for educational financing).

I was planning on taking the May 11th MCAT in order to have results back by early June for application. I have now rescheduled for the June 15th in order to be more available for my wife as well as finish preparing for the test.

From the panel I am requesting any observations and/or suggestions in regard to the application process that you may have to my situation. My major concern is this: Because of my earlier poor and disorganized academic performance (and resulting lower overall GPA) and marginal current GPA, my "attack" for admissions was going to be placing more emphasis on clinical experience and research, letters of recommendation, competitive MCAT scores, and early application. Unfortunately, I will not be able to get the early application "early bird worm" that everyone speaks of.

What is the best way to minimize the effects of not being able to apply right off the bat...or applying without MCAT scores immediately available? Obviously, I will apply as soon as I possibly can. What I don't want to happen is for my application to be automatically discarded b/c of delayed MCAT scores and evidence of poor academics.




The striking part of your story is the high-risk pregnancy you face. My best advice is to not take the MCAT now and wait another year around. Any attempt to explain a bad score based on this personal situation would lead to questions about your priorities. Get through the pregnancy, hopefully with a good outcome, support your wife in every way possible during and after this time period, and then return to preparing to make yourself the best candidate for medical school.

Good luck and our thoughts are with you and your wife during this difficult time period.
Hi. I just want to start by thanking all the moderators for their help and time. I am a hispanic american who is contemplating getting a degree in Spanish. I wanted to know how an admissions commitee would look at this.
There are 2 main reason that I would like to do this.

1. I want to become a physician and practice internationally. My family is from Honduras and my wifes is from Guatemala. My parents and I have been doing medical mission work in Central America and the Carribean for over 15 years with physicians from our church. My desire would be to work 4 months of the year in honduras, Guatemala, and the US(I would like to go into EM). I have never had issues speaking the language( I speak it at home all the time) but I have had issues writing it and to a degree reading it. If I want to work in a country were Spanish is the primary language, I want to not only speak it well, but also read and write it well. I know that studying it will help me tremendously, especially since I would be working in the medical field(which is hard enough to understand the terminology in English never mind in Spanish).

2. I want to get the best grades possible and I know I will do very well in this major.

Please let me know what you think and again your help is greatly appreciated!! God bless.

It is impossible for any one adcom member or several members to give general answers to how all adcom members will see an application.

However, consider your plan from the perspective of the person reading your application or interviewing you. If your primary college work is in a language in which you are already fluent, is this demonstrating your being challenged (as medicine will do) even if your grades are good? An adcom is likely to look to your science grades as better indicators of your skills and your preparation for a medical curriculum. Although a fluent Spanish speaker can certainly improve their Spanish via classwork, whether that is the optimal college major is questionable.

Also, although your committment to international health care is admirable, you should carefully consider the type of plans you have for this before applying. How would you arrange to do 4 months of each year in each of three countries? Even as an EM physician this is not simple to arrange in terms of licenses, coverage, malpractice and of course, salary and promotion. Do you know any doctors who do this? No one expects medical school applicants to have their future planned out, but a sense of the practical nature of ones plans is often evaluated.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to concentrate on a course of studies that you enjoy and will further your career goals via the knowledge gained.
I sent a question in a couple days ago, was it received? Or should I resend it?Thanks

Dear Daydreamer2008:

Unfortunately, as with any Q and A format, not all posed questions can be answered. In my initial post, I explained which type of questions I felt best suited to answer. Time is a constraint as well. Lack of an answer doesn't mean it was a bad or unreasonable question, just that (speaking for myself), I didn't feel it was a question I could answer.
Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and answer. I would like feedback on how adcoms may perceive the fact that I decided to leave my Ph.D. program with a master's degree in order to apply to medical school. My background: 25 y.o. Caucasian female, BA in biochemistry, 3.76 overall, 3.85 BCMP, taking the MCAT in May. Was a traditional pre-med for first two years of undergrad. Between 2nd and 3rd year of UG, I worked as a research assistant in neurology clinical trials, spending 60% of my time shadowing and 40% doing trial-related work. Through this experience and my clinical volunteer work, I found that I absolutely loved working in a clinical setting. However, I had many physicians tell me "you better make sure this is what you really want and there isn't anything else you'd rather do because a clinical medicine career is an enormous commitment." I was fairly certain there wasn't anything else I'd rather do than be a physician, but I hadn't pursued any other possibilities, so I found myself wondering how I could be so sure that the MD route was really what I wanted. Through the clinical trials position, I also witnessed first-hand the power of what research can do for patients, so I decided to do an undergrad research project and see if basic science might be a viable option for me. I liked my UG research project and ended up applying to Ph.D. programs. In hindsight, this was a hasty decision, as I'd had only about 5 months of research under my belt at the time of application, but you know what they say about hindsight. Anyway, I found in graduate school that a year of part-time undergrad research is very different from a career in basic science, and none of the career options for someone with a Ph.D appealed to me. In my graduate program, we had the unique opportunity in our coursework to interact with patients, and I realized I greatly missed the patient interaction aspect of my clinical work. It was a very tough decision for me to not finish my Ph.D., and it was not a decision I took lightly. I am well aware of the resources my program and my PI have put into training me, and I felt enormously guilty that they wasted their resources on someone who would not be finishing her degree. But in the end, I decided that finishing my Ph.D. would not get me to my goal of being a physician any faster. My program and my PI have been incredibly supportive of my decision, but I am still concerned what adcoms may think about someone leaving a Ph.D. program without a Ph.D.

Every situation is different and this is the type of situation that adcoms can have vastly different responses to so it is difficult to generalize. There will be a tendency to wonder if you can commit to something after dropping out. BUT, the fact you competed the masters will mitigate this. In your PS and your interviews, do not try to avoid this issue but don't focus on it either. Focus on how you like research, believe in it, may wish to ultimately pursue it, but felt that a masters was all you needed at this point to meet your career goals.

Tell a positive story about where you've been and are going and this won't be a deal-breaker. There is always a chance that somewhere, one or more interviewers won't like it and will not rate you highly, so apply broadly. Personally, when I hear this type of story, as long as the student seems sincere in where they are going, I do not have a strong negative response.
Hello to all. I have a quick question about discussing one's study abroad experiences:

I do not plan to use my primary essay (for AMCAS) to incorporate my study abroad experiences and I don't think it would fit in the EC section of the application. I am curious to know if secondaries typically give one an opportunity to discuss studying abroad in the secondary. I am also curious to know how adcomms typically view study abroad experiences.

Thanks...I definitely have more questions that I will ask at a later

Study abroad programs have become ubiquitous and are neither a strong positive or negative in my evaluation. They pose a basis to start a conversation and explore the reasons that the applicant made the choice to travel for their education. It can be a good chance to find out something about the applicant and their understanding of the global community, but is not a major aspect of how I evaluate an application in most cases.
Hi, and thanks for taking the time to read this:)

I'm a PhD candidate in chemistry (doing biology) at a research university in the US. In theory, my finishing date will be next spring (2008) and I'm planning on applying this cycle (starting med school in fall 2008). My UG GPA is a 3.7, BCMP is about the same. I had wanted to be a doctor and changed directions during my undergrad- now my research and my volunteering are bringing me back to medicine.

My question is this: I've been volunteering long term (3 years) at a nursing home in the area and teaching science lessons at a nearby school, and have been shadowing a physician for about a year. Do I need to have more "clinical" experience (which is a suggestion I see around here a lot), or does the duration of the activity count for something?



The important thing is that your clinical experiences are meaningful and that you are able to express this in your applications and interviews. Quality is better than quantity! Looks pretty good to me. :)
Hello. I'm looking for some advice on the timeline of my situation and strength of the path I'll take to get ready for the application process. I'm 24 and a career changer. I entered college with the idea of medical school in the back of my head (tons of science class prep and volunteering in high school) and therefore registered for biology, but I ended up pursuing a film/tv major instead, as it's a serious hobby of mine. Now that I've been working as a sports tv freelancer for 3 years, however, I know medical school would've been the right choice from the beginning. My situation right now is this:

Overall GPA: 3.14. Started out low but went uphill after freshman year.
Science GPA: zero. I kick myself now for withdrawing from bio and taking a W.
My EC's aren't bad but are all arts/athletic related, and the only medical volunteer experience I have is from high school.

I started this semester taking two UG science courses and will have a 4.0 when it's over, will take more this summer, and I'm starting a post bacc in the fall to finish my prereqs and take some upper level bio courses. I've started volunteering again at the children's hospital here and am currently looking for both allopathic and osteopathic physicians to shadow to help me decide which I'd like to pursue.

First of all, I wonder: How damaging is my undergrad background? Is the W a red flag? What does having no science GPA after college say, and it is a good thing that I'm starting with a virtual clean slate now (minus that W...)? I'm doing the work and getting the grades now what I would've done 6 years ago if only I'd had my head on straight!

Secondly: I want to complete my prerequisites in the 2007-2008 year, apply for fall 2009, and spend the gap year taking more classes. I'll continue to volunteer during this time and would like to be involved in research in some way since it's what I know least about at this point and have some areas I'd like to explore. Is this too short a timeline? I'll have been back in school 3 semesters plus a summer session before applying.

Of course I'll be doing everything I can to score well on the MCAT, and I plan to apply to my state school and a range of others. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

You have a typical road for a non-traditional. The timeline seems OK. The W is nothing to worry about. Good luck.

Verbal reasoning has been very problematic during my preparation for the MCAT. The highest reccurent score I've had is 7. Well on 1 of the 14 full lengths I've practiced with, I scored a 10 for this section. But sadly more recent scores have been closer to 5. Due to this problem, my highest composite was 27 which was in late March. Later scores have been 23-25.

Hoping to exceed my upper range I sat for the April 16 adminsitration of the MCAT today. With only 7 minutes left I had 3 passages remaining. In fear of receiving a composite of 25 or lower, I painfully voided the expensive exam.

My question is whether this was the right decision? Would a composite score of about 25 be an acceptable applicant to an allopathic medical school in the United States? I would be honored to go to any school here. My other stats are an overall GPA of 3.53 and a science GPA higher than this. I am also a nontrad, 26YO, graduated with a Bachelor's degree in nursing. I've spent about 3 years on a cardiac care unit and in the ICU. Been a couple medical missions. After my time spent in the clinical setting, I really really really want to become a doc.

Any feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

A low verbal is a red flag that can derail an otherwise good application. It is obvious that you need to learn some strategies for doing well on the verbal section and lots of practice. An individual tutor, perhaps a professional teacher who moonlights, might be a good choice for you. Folks on the MCAT forum might have other ideas about ways in which you can work on this problem area before you take the exam.

I have heard that many medical schools tend to prefer applicants that graduate from certain universities, if so, which universities are generally preferred?

And what is the truth about how community colleges and community college pre-med students are viewed by med schools?

Thank you.

Some adcom members and some interviewers may have preferences. These preferences tend to be moderated by the group dynamic of a med school adcom so that in the end "medical schools" don't have preferences.

However, you may notice that some schools seem to take many students from a particular school. What you can't know if the denominator; that is: how many applicants apply from that school. Students at some UG schools tend to prefer specific medical schools because of their location, prestige, familiarity, etc and will tend to apply to those schools over others. Some UG schools have very high admission standards and do a good job of weeding out weak students. The students at these schools are almost always academically strong and well prepared. Applicants at those schools tend to have a good chance of admission -- it isn't that the school is preferred but that the applicants at those schools are usually very talented and well prepared.

I have seen very impressive applications from students who started at community college and transferred after 2 years. This is fine, particularly for students with situations that precluded admission to a good undergrad school right out of H.S. What raises an eyebrow is the applicant from a strong undergrad instititution who takes a well known "weed-out" course over the summer at a community college rather than at his undergrad institution. An adcom can differentiate someone who is trying to protect a gpa from someone who has economic or family issues that preclude matriculation at a four year institution.
Hi, I'm a junior majoring in Biology and I am worried about my gpa. I currently have a 3.52 which, due to overshooting this semester will most likely drop to the 3.45 range. I have shadowed and done some volunteering. I will be applying over the summer. I have not taken the MCAT yet (May 25th) and was wondering what score would give me a reasonable chance of getting into allopathic schools. Is my gpa just too low? Thanks for your help!

Your best bet is to buy a copy (or borrow) a copy of the MSAR and start looking at school stats. For every 0.10 your gpa is below a school's avg gpa for matriculants, you need to score an additional point on the MCAT above that school's average MCAT for matriculants.

In other words: let's say a med school has an average gpa of 3.65 and an average MCAT of 30.

You have a gpa of 3.45 (-0.2 less than the avg at the med school). An MCAT of 32 or better would moderate your slightly below avg gpa.
This has me concerned. I attended a 4 year university but took summer school classes (med school pre-reqs) at the community college near my home. This was because I changed to pre-med just before my spring semester junior year and that Spring I was studying abroad. When I returned I took the second half of chem and second half of physics at my CC in the summer (both at the same time, requiring 8+ hr of classes a day because due to being out of the country and the start of my senior yr, it could only be done during one summer semester). It was not easy at all and it was the only way I could get it done and graduate on time. After graduating this May I will retake orgo 1 (due to a poor grade; yes I know that will hurt) and take orgo 2 for the first time at the same CC during the summer. How much will taking these 4 courses in summer school hurt me? It is really the only thing that worked and even though my parents are not poor by national economic standards, why should I have to pay to go to a more expensive school or pay to live away from home? Med school will cost a fortune and I will need to take out loans, so I am trying to be as economical as possible now. Don't med school adcomms understand that? I am not trying to find an easy way out. Besides, other than my orgo class, one of my summer school classes was the most difficult course I have ever taken and required the most amount of work ever.

Sad fact: Compared with classmates who took their pre-reqs at your school, your application will look weaker. The more highly ranked your UG institution, the worse the CC classes will look. You can attempt to explain in your PS.

Most people equate community college with low quality (perhaps because admission standards are generally low). As with many other things, you get what you pay for and if you want a transcript that shows that you got a high quality education, it is going to cost some money. :(
Adcom members,

I've take the MCAT twice with the highest score of 29 (11v, 10ps, 8 bio). I have a 3.2 science GPA from university of chicago and attending the georgetown SMP program in the fall. While my stats aren't impressive they are just ok, thus i was unsuccessfull this application year. Do you think i need to retake the MCAT or is the chance of doing worst too great to take it again? I'm completly in the middle ground here, since my scores could go up or down. But if it is not a strong enough score then my choice is obvious.

I have two years of consulting experience post college, collegiate football, clinical research, and volunteer actively in the community. My goal is to attend UIC medical (IL resident). Their averages are 10s across the board and 3.5 GPA. Any advice on if I need to take the MCAT again would be appreciated. Thanks

Yes, you need to retake. Shoot for bringing the Bio section to not less than 10 and maybe pull an extra point on the Physical Science or Verbal section. That should bring you high up enough on the MCAT to make up for the poor gpa (although being from U Chicago may get you a little traction).
I was recently waitlisted at my top school. In your opinions, what are the best actions to ensure you are doing everything possible to get accepted off of the waitlist? How often should you contact the school? Do schools really care about letters of interest, or are letters of update more important? I plan on sending everything possible, update letters, additional letters of recommendation as well as a letter describing why the school is my top choice. What else would you recommend?

This varies by school; contact the school where you are waitlisted and ask a about that school's preferences.

I am fortunate to have one acceptance, however I am also teased with a handful of waitlists. I interviewed very early in process mostly between september and october, with one in December. I have no post interview rejections. I was just wondering what I could expect as waitlist movement occurs. People that get waitlisted later in the cycle usually have a better justification since the schools may be filled up at that point. I was wondering if I can really keep my hopes up in that I can beat out all the later applicants, or that Im not a good enough interviewer to overcome this.

Schools may vary but as far as I know, the interview date does not factor into decisions to take applicants from the waitlist.

Waitlist means qualified for admission but "second string". The "first string" tends to have multiple offers and must decline all but one of them. Schools that can't fill the class with "first string" applicants goes to its bench (waitlist). When you made the team and got benched doesn't matter. Let the schools know that you are in shape and ready to play and you may get the call.
Is the subjects Anatomy and Physiology required for med school admissions? I was looking over UC Davis' requirments, and it says 1 year Biology, and people here say that its not really covered on the MCAT. So should it be taken?

Schools vary in what is required. Most (all) schools require one year of biology. You may take anatomy and physiology in addition to a year of biology but not as a substitute for the general biology course which generally covers cells, genes and so forth.
Then does that mean that CC courses will be counted negativley if I was a transfer student??? :scared:

If you started at a CC and transferred to a 4 year institution the fact CC courses will not be counted against you. If you had about the same gpa at both schools that's great. If you had a lower gpa at the 4 year institution the adcom may count that lower gpa as if it were your total gpa; you won't get a bump for having taken cc courses. (If your cc gpa was 3.95 and your later gpa was 3.60 the adcom may consider the 3.60 a better indication of your achievement).

<snip> How unfair to think I had an easy time and my grade was padded. It is so far from the truth and I'm sure I would have done better in my own UG university. How do I resolve this? How do I say something in my PS without sounding bitter or like I'm blaming anyone. (I got a B+ btw.)

A B+ will hardly raise an eyebrow or get noticed, positively or negatively by an adcom. You can certainly mention that you came to a decision to do medicine late in the game and had to scramble to take the pre-reqs without sounding bitter.
Hi Mentors!

I'm an international student at a top-ten school who will be applying to med school this coming cycle. I have three questions:

1) How do adcoms view extensive leadership experience at college? I've heard that clinical/research experience are very important, but I haven't heard anything about student leadership. I lead a couple global health and peer mentoring student groups, and I've worked really, really hard on them the past three years doing things such as developing curricula for awareness of health issues and mentoring incoming students to cope with college life.

2) I am applying this coming cycle, and will obtain most of my clinical experience over the coming summer through a medical trip to Africa and assisting nurses in the HIV/AIDS ward of a hospital. Is it acceptable to note these activities in my primary application (which I will submit before either of these activities start)? I ask because I have no other clinical experience (besides shadowing, if that counts) to speak of. I will be able to reflect upon these experiences in my secondary apps, and don't want to hurt my chances of getting an interview due to lack of clinical experience as inferred through the primary app.

3) Does your adcom take international applicants' international status into consideration while reviewing the application? All other things equal, will it count against me that I'm not a US citizen?

Thanks so much!

I have no particular comments on #1 and #3 as the answers are too variable, but #2 is of interest related to the common issue of mentioning what you "will do" in your application. In general, this will be looked on questionably if it isn't something that is ongoing. So, if you've worked every summer in a research lab and have an agreement to work the upcoming summer after your submission, it is reasonable to mention it. But, planned foreign trips and potential volunteer activities are questionable as you can't say that these activities brought you to the point you are at now in understanding medicine as a career. Also, if something falls through and it doesn't happen, it will make for a challenging few moments during the interview when you explain it.

Bottom line, probably okay to mention them, but only very briefly and be very honest that they are future activities. Some reviewers won't mind, some might.
I had a question about my current path in school. Due to some family issues in which I had to take care of my father for a period of time, I am just not starting college at the ripe old age of 23. I am currently enrolled at a community college due to cost and due to the fact that I finished high school with a 2.9. I lacked motivation in high school, but I know that what I was lacking then has all came back to me now. I am completely immersed in my studies and am really enjoying it! I have also taken up volunteer opportunities around the city. My question is as follows:

I am currently attending Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio, and am planning to transfer to Ohio State to major in either Biology or Chemistry. I am fully confident in my ability to achieve at least a 3.5-4.0 in my undergrad. I wanted to know how or if the fact that I attended a community college is going to hurt me when I apply to medical school in the future? Will my age be detrimental to my admission? If I maintain strong coursework and maintain extracurricular activities and a good MCAT score, will I still stand a chance at a middle-ranked school? Thanks in advance! I wish you all the best, and thanks for creating this wonderful resource for aspiring medical students!


I think you will be fine as long as you do well at OSU. Perhaps you could incorporate the family issues into your personal statment --- a meaningful, heartfelt personal statement can go a long way. Also, aim high at OSU! Don't settle for a 3.5 if you're capable of doing better.
I am currently a freshman in college and am premed. I have done well so far in all my classes including science classes. My question is about the Linear Algebra course I am taking. After the drop deadline had passed I received some pretty bad grades and was able to elect the course Pass/Fail. I have AP credit from BC Calculus, and I was wondering if I need to take more math. I know youre supposed to take some math in college, but will it look bad if my only math course is a Pass? Also, would the statistics course in the Psychology department count as a math course? Thanks so much.

You'll have to look at the individual school requirements for math. Some schools require a full year of college-level calculus and don't accept AP credit. The statistics course you mentioned would most likely count as a math course.
hi..thank you for taking the time for answering all of our questions mentors!

My story is that my gpa is quite low..3.1. My mcat is pretty low as well but i am retaking it this june. My gpa is low because of being ill alot...(stroke) As for research, i have been working in a genetics lab for the past three years, also in a psychiatry lab, worked as a PCA for a quadriplegic man performing tracheal suctioning and so on, certified EMT-volunteering as an EMT on campus, volunteered at hospitals...leadership roles in 2-3 organizations, shadowing docs..

I was wondering, if i get a 30 or above on my mcat, will i still have a chance at allopathic schools? Will a 3.0-3.1 automatically pre-screen me in some schools? If so, what else can i do to improve my application? Thank you!

A gpa of 3.1 is very low for medical school; if you had a very high (>35) MCAT you could demonstrate aptitude for medicine despite a poor classroom showing. However if your MCAT is in the "mere mortal" range rather than closer to Superman, then you are going to need some other way of showing that you will be able to stay afloat in medical school. Many applicants with so-so undergraduate performance chose to do a masters degree; either a SMP (special masters program, coursework similar to that done in medical school) or a master's degree in biology or one of the other sciences. This an be an opportunity to show that you can do well in the hard sciences but you must do exceptionally well (gpa >3.67).

You should also plan working your illness into your personal statement (to explain why the gpa is so low). Be sure that you have something beyond your own illness that is motivating you to a career in medicine.
I graduated last May with a BS in biochem and a BA in English. During junior and senior year I had a hard time choosing between medical school and law school. I took the august 2005 mcat with no preparation and scored poorly (7 PS, 8 VR, 9BS, Q). I did well on the LSAT though, and was accepted to several top law schools. I began law school in the fall (at a top ranked school), but quickly regretted the decision to attend from the beginning. Once the reality of my law career options became clear (most everyone from my school goes to work at big law firms for several years post graduation) I knew I would be miserable following that path. I left law school because I know now that I really, truly want to go to medical school. I am currently studying for the mcat (scheduled for june) and plan apply to medical school beginning in may.

grades: my gpa for the first 7 semesters of college is decent (8.83 (3.7ish BCPM) from Rice), but after i was admitted to law schools, I had a bad case of senioritis and made a 2.8 my last semester, causing my total gpa to drop to 3.73 (3.6 BCPM). Will my dismal last semester have a major impact and ruin my chances for higher ranked schools (top 20/30), or will screeners/ADCOMs understand a poor last semester in light of the circumstances?

If your overall gpa is still >3.55, you should be OK. Grades are shown by year so the 2.8 semester will be moderated by the better semester that preceeded it.

grad school grades: I did about average my one semester in law school, but the school has a very strict curve (very few As are given). Will these grades hurt my application, or will ADCOMs understand that law school wasn't right for me?
This is going to be shown as AO (all other, that is to say "not science") and most adcom members wouldn't get too excited about it.

MCAT: is my 24 from two years ago (a time when I was really just sitting for the exam to appease my parents, because they had paid for it) going to hurt me? I anticipate doing substantially better on the test in june (at least 30+, hopefully 35+) Will schools just take the higher score and ignore the bad one, or will it be a red flag on my app?

If you can go from an MCAT 24 to MCAT >32, you will get interviews just to ask you your "secret". Obviously, the secret is motivation and hard work.

MCAT timing: assuming I get everything into amcas by mid-May, will my MCAT scores (which will come in mid July) put me far behind in the admissions process? Are june test takers going to be severly disadvantaged this upcoming cycle?

It shouldn't be too bad; most interview offers don't start flowing until August.

Time Off: I left law school in late January, at the beginning of this current semester. Will it look bad that I needed a few months (Feb/March) to travel/soul search before diving right into research and volunteering? I would rather just concentrate on my MCAT studying until the test in June ...will it look like I had time off and did nothing, or do ADCOMs understand a chunk of time needed for MCAT prep?

Find something to do in addition to MCAT prep - even if it is 4 hours per week in a nursing home, hospice, literacy center, homeless shelter, soup kitchen. Something where you can be of service to the needy. That goes on your application and shows that you weren't just taking it easy. Consider it your study break each week (one evening or a half day per week won't kill you).

Personal statement: I know I need to talk about my departure from law school, but I don't want to frame this in a negative way (i.e. I would have hated my life had I kept going). Honestly, I left law school because I was always going to regret not-pursuing medicine; I don't think I will be fulfilled doing anything else. Can I just explain that I made a bad choice to go to law school at the age of 22 because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do? Will this make sense to an ADCOM, or will it just make me sound immature/flaky?
It might. You can frame it as a desire for service that you just weren't feeling would come from a career in corporate law. Both law and medicine involve life-long learning so both have that in common but law, particularly the corporate kind, is quite different than the practice of medicine.
Hello, i just have a quick question. During my entire undergrad carrier i had no other option but to work full time, so i was unable to amass any volunteering, shadowing, or research experince. All of my jobs had nothing to do with medicine; however, i did acquire a lot of traits that i could employ as a physician (emotional stamina, pressure management, customer service, effective communication skills, etc). The only activity related to healthcare that i was involved in during those years was interpreting for my mother in all of her medical appointments. Even though it was my mom that i was translating for, this activity gave me a lot of insight as far as the diagnostic process and the doctor-patient relation is concerned. After graduation i've been working full time in research and i've also been volunteering at a local hospital. I"ve tried to find shadowing opportunities, yet having to hold down a job and my lack of connections have made it difficult. Considering all my extracurricular activities, would you consider my clinical experience to be sufficient? Would i be considered as a welll rounded applicant?

Thank you

The purpose of clinical experience is to "test the waters," so to speak --- to make sure that you know what you're getting into. Continue to volunteer at the hospital for as long as possible. I think you'll be fine. :thumbup:

Thank you all for your willingness to mentor us. I appreciate this resource. I am writing for some general advice regarding what I can do to enhance my application to medical school.

I graduated from University of Michigan in 2006. I majored in English and minored in Medical Anthropology. My cumulative GPA was a 3.61, and my science GPA was a 3.18. I did complete the Honors Program at my University and finished off my college career with an Honors thesis. I also tried to keep myself busy outside of the academics. I volunteered at a hospital for three years. I also worked on a crisis line for assault victims, organized community development programs for two years, spent two summers in a lab, acted as a research assistant for a social science project, mentored first year students in a tutoring program, etc. etc.

I am now doing a graduate program in the Medical Sciences. I am a Teaching Assistant for General Biology courses, and I take patient histories and vitals at a free clinic for people without insurance. I am aiming to finish my program with a 3.5-3.7 GPA. I will be applying to medical school this summer and am looking for some good opportunities during my year off. Likely, I will be teaching at a community college (preferably Bio or Physio) or doing research at a teaching hospital. I got a 29O on my MCAT.

I know this picture isn't nearly as complete as it could be, but I am hoping for some advice on what the weaknesses in my application may be and what kinds of steps I should take in my year off to address them. I also want some insight on whether I should hold off my application anymore than I have. I have applied to medical school already, and I really want my next application cycle to be my last one.

Thank you very much for any thoughts that can be offered !

If you can find some schools (in your home state or that are open to OOS residents) where a 29O is the average MCAT (or where your score in each section equals or exceeds the med school's avg score), then you can go ahead and apply. Given your low science gpa as an UG, you would be foolhardy to apply to schools where both your science gpa and MCAT are below avg. The alternative is to retake the MCAT.

I did my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from India and then completed my Masters (Mechanical Engineering) in one of the top 10 US universities.

The question i have is that, as AMCAS does not accept foreign transcripts, does a AMCAS application without verified grades for undergrad courses put me at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving secondaries from the Med schools i am applying to.Thanks.

Based on very limited experience with this from the adcom end (one applicant who received an undergraduate degree in Ireland, IIRC), it seems to me that your entire application will hinge on your M.S. degree and whatever additional coursework (pre-reqs in Biology, English, etc) you've taken in the US/Canada. If the coursework you present on the AMCAS appears satisfactory to those who review your application on behalf of the adcom, then you may get secondaries/interviews. You might want to hedge your bets by calling the schools that most interest you and inquiring as to whether the MS from a US school is sufficient to qualify you for admission.
Hi, I have a question that may or may not have a broad answer. My school recently rehauled the lower-division biology courses. Usually, if you were pre-med and you needed your biology requirements fulfilled, you chose 2 out of 3 possible courses (one deals with ecology, one deals with molecular and cell biology, and one deals with cell and organ physiology). Each course was 4 credits each, because each course contained it's own lab.

Like I mentioned, though, this has changed. Now each of the aforementioned three courses are only 3 credits each and have no lab component. They have introduced two totally separate lab courses that you can take concurrently or after you've completed any of the biology lecture courses. So now there are three 3-credit lecture courses and two 2-credit labs.

My question is: would medical schools (generally speaking) accept 8 credits of biology (2 3-credit lecture courses + 1 2-credit lab course) as equivelant to "one year of biology with lab," or is it very important you have two lab courses? It's a shame my school makes things so complicated; they run the Chemistry department the same way (Orgo I/II have no lab component; there is a separate 2-credit Orgo lab).

Sorry for the long-winded question, just wanted to illustrate the situation as clearly as possible. Thanks so much for any help!

Generally speaking, this seems OK. Many schools have labs separate from lecture from what I've seen on AMCAS applications.
Hi, my GPA is 3.4 with straight As in lecture and lab for gen chem, o chem, and physics, which explains my score on the mcat(35). Unfortuanetly, I am concerned my other marks: 3 Ws, a C in calculus and a D+ in Virology. How worried should I be? Should I go for an SMP or a post-bacc? Please HELP!

The 3 Ws are a Worry. Besides Virology, how did you do in biology courses?
How did you do in the bio section of the MCAT?

The Ws make one worry if you might crump under pressure. Were these all in the same semester due to difficult personal or family circumstances or spread out? Were they science courses or non-science? The C and D+ are also difficult to understand given your talents in the other science courses you've told us about. All of these anomolies need explaining in your personal statement and/or in a pre-med committee letter.

A post-bac is for people who haven't taken the pre-reqs. You have done so. You might be helped by a SMP because what you need to prove is that you can survive the basic science years of med school.
Hi Everyone :)
Thanks for all your help and advice, its really a lifesaver.
I took the MCATs last year and made a 28. I was disappointed because I felt I could do better and I wanted to be more competitive. I planned to retake them this year, and decided that instead of rushing to submit my apps I'd take a year off and do something cool, like travel or teach english in some country or something different than I've ever done before. <snip>

Also, I'll be graduating early in Dec 08 (a semester early) and will be 20 when I graduate.

So to sum up all the whining: Will taking a year off to do something not completely medicine immersed hurt my chances next year? How late is too late if you still want to be ahead of the application rush? I know you can only make suggestions, but I'd really appreciate any thoughts on this. Thanks and sorry for the long post!

You are very young to be starting medical school. Take a year off and do something "cool". also prep & retake the MCAT. Breaking 30 will take you much farther than the 28 you haven now.
I didn't mean to imply a B+ will do much to my application. My point of even mentioning it was to say I was one of the few who remained in the class and even passed, and it brings down my gpa and yet it was taken at a CC which seems to imply I had an easier time than had I taken it at my UG university. Thank you for the explantion as to why I took anything at a CC; that is the truth and it sounds good. Will it be looked down upon that I came to the decision to pursue medicine late in the game? Also what if I didn't have any real defining moment or reason to pursue medicine; just general interest and finally realizing I actually was capable of doing it; and then as I started to explore it by volunteering, etc i really enjoyed it and wanted to be a doctor (obviously not that simple, but nothing special) do I make that sound interesting for a PS? Does this just sound like something that will make an adcom just put down my application?

The PS is one of the most difficult sections of the AMCAS and it deserves a significant chunk of time for thinking, drafting, rewriting, sharing and editing. Some adcom members look for applicants who are interesting and engaging. Sometime the comments I see from adcom member (I see applications that have been reviewed thoroughly by one member before they reach me) are along the lines of "I'd like to meet this person!" or "This applicant would be interesting to talk to." The pre-allo forum sometimes has applicants and former applicants who are willing to read and comment on personal statements. (We are unable to do this on the mentor forum.)

Some of the basic questions you might consider as you draft your PS:
What do you think that you'll be expected to do as a physician? How do you know? (how have you tested your interest in medicine?) What attracts you to the field? What has prepared you thus far for a career in medicine and for life as a medical student.
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