Dec 14, 2013
23
6
I realize these types of questions are asked often, so I apologize in advance. But I just received MCAT results today and was unpleasantly surprised with a low VR score and am wondering how significantly this affects my chances at applying MSTP and MD/PhD.

MCAT was an unbalanced 13/9/12, which is definitely an anomaly from my practice full-lengths, where I would typically score a balanced 12/12/12 with the occasional 11 on one of the sections.

- ORM, U.S. citizen (English is my first language)
- 2.5 years of research at home uni + 2 summer fellowships at diff. institutions by the time I apply next summer
- Couple of posters and abstracts, but no publications
- Hopefully I'll also be starting the NIH IRTA next July

I'm worried about how competitive my application is for MSTP, especially because of the low verbal score and lack of publications. Is it worth retaking the MCAT in January? Also, should I take 2 gap years, so that I have 1 full year of NIH research (and possibly a publication in the works) under my belt before I apply?

Still feeling a bit bummed, so any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

ValentinNarcisse

5+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2014
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You will be fine. I would not recommend taking additional years off before med school. This road is long enough. The people in your situation that get into hot water are those that only apply to top-20 programs without any backups. I would not retake the MCAT because you don't want to jeopardize losing your 13 and 12.
 
OP
redr0ck
Dec 14, 2013
23
6
Thanks for the advice! What would be some good non-MSTP backups to apply to? I know that MD/PhD in general is very competitive so I'm not quite sure what constitutes a "backup" program.

(I also forgot to mention in my OP that my cGPA/sGPA are both 3.9ish and I attend a decently ranked research university, if that counts for anything)
 

ValentinNarcisse

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Jan 22, 2014
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You are set then. Assuming you are not from California (which has very strong state programs), definitely apply to all your state's MD/PhD programs as safeties. They may be smaller, but should be fully funded. In addition, a lot of private universities have MD/PhD programs (UMiami for example) and even some lower-ranked MSTP programs like Tufts and Stony Brook are not as competitive to get into and will give you excellent training.
 
OP
redr0ck
Dec 14, 2013
23
6
Thanks again. What's a good # of schools to apply to (i.e. how many reaches, matches, safeties)? I was thinking around 30 total but I'm afraid of spreading myself too thin if I apply to too many (and also application fees).

Also, should I even bother applying to high reach schools like Penn, UCSF, JHU, etc? These schools are very strong in my field of interest and it would be easy to write about potential projects/PI's that I would love to work with, but obviously my stats aren't up to par. I'm just not sure I would even have a chance and whether I should instead focus my time on less competitive programs.
 

ValentinNarcisse

5+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2014
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Its impossible to predict where you will get interviews. I received multiple top 10 interviews and acceptances while being rejected from what I thought were "safety" programs in the 20-40 range. If you are interested in a place and think its a good fit, apply.

30 programs sounds like a reasonable number.
 
Sep 9, 2014
32
47
Status
MD/PhD Student, Medical Student (Accepted)
Its impossible to predict where you will get interviews. I received multiple top 10 interviews and acceptances while being rejected from what I thought were "safety" programs in the 20-40 range. If you are interested in a place and think its a good fit, apply.

30 programs sounds like a reasonable number.
While I agree that it's impossible to predict where you'll get interviews (my trail this year has been strange), I think 30 is way too many. 20-ish is probably a better bet, even with slightly lower stats.

I'm currently finishing up my second year at NIH right now, and I think it was probably one of my better decisions to extend my time here to two years. I've gotten much more involved in my research (you'll be < 6 months into your current project if you apply during your first year in the program), which has helped when I have to explain my research to faculty in interviews. 1-2 years is honestly not that much different when you're talking MSTP. Most of the applicants I've interviewed with have been 1-2 years out, with a very small portion of them applying straight through.