Jul 7, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
I'm sorry if this is a repetitive theme across this forum, but I'm new to this website and hoping to learn how to better prepare myself for medical school.

That being said, what are some key tips to successfully create a competitive application. I'm aware that there's no clear cut method, but anything that can make an application stand out. EC hours, GPA, and MCAT scores to be competitive are also fully welcome. How are applicants with a not-so-perfect childhood (grew up in poverty, abusive parent, etc.) viewed given they were to overcome these obstacles?


2+ Year Member
Jan 20, 2018
diversity essays and overcoming obstacle essays are very popular topics that schools will have you write about. additionally, there are things on AMCAS that have you mark disadvantaged status.

before you get flamed by someone, the best way to go about answering this things in the future if they're popular questions would likely be to use the search bar and find each individual thing ("what is a good gpa?" "what is a good mcat" "how many hours")

the most stand out thing is probably having incredible academics but being well rounded is important. here are things i've referenced in the past for EC's:

When you ask what is the average research, that can mean alot of things:
-I would assume 90+% at top schools have research
-majority if that is likely bench/wet research in biomedical areas
-How much research they have is subjective as in how many hours, how many labs, what is the depth of the work. Just in hours it probably 300-500 range
-My ROT for all UG research: less than 25% have ANY sort of publication, abstract, poster or presentation, this includes campus level conference (eg USC UG Research Symposium). Certainly less than 5% have their name on any “major” publication (ie peered reviewed journal).
-so if you will have multiple abstracts at the time of application submission at a “major” conference, you will be in the 15% to 5% range of applicants.

(suboptimal, decent, exceptional)
1. clinical hours (work or volunteer): 99, 150, 1,000+ (employment)
2. non-clinical volunteering hours: 99, 150, 1,000+ (full-time gap year)
3. shadowing hours: 8, 40, 80
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7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
- GPA and MCAT scores that are above the mean for accepted students (3.78 and 511) for starters.
- Having strong LORs from faculty members you have developed a relationship with over years of classes and or research and or TAing
- ECs that you are interested in that demonstrate your characteristics and values, both clinical and non clinical
- History of engagement with vulnerable / diverse populations that get you out of your comfort zone
- Physician shadowing at minimum in primary care fields with some specialties if possible
- Engagement in non academic activities that show you are a person: clubs, sports, arts groups, etc
- Finally, knowing why you want to be a doctor with an answer that doesn’t stop at wanting to help people. Make sure you know what your mission is that drives you to do this. The more specific the better.

Edit: as far as standing out, this one is hard. 60,000 people apply to medical schools each year. Some things, like unique distinctions and experiences, may stand out in someone mind but with so many applicants this isn’t something one should aim for.
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7+ Year Member
Oct 1, 2013
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
High GPA, high MCAT, a good reason for wanting to become a doctor with a few related experiences to back that up.
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