Note: This article uses the AAMC convention and refers to the applicants applying to start medical school in Fall 2020 as “2020-2021 applicants” and applicants who began medical school in Fall 2020 as “2020-2021 matriculants.”
Few careers can match the intellectual stimulation, autonomy, and satisfaction you can achieve as a doctor. Getting into medical school is absolutely possible if you are committed and work hard. However, it is important to approach the application process with a realistic understanding of the metrics involved. In this article we will discuss MCAT scores, GPAs, and the impact these have on your application.
The chart below summarizes the mean science GPA, non-science GPA, and MCAT scores of MD applicants versus matriculants of allopathic medical schools in the 2020-2021 application cycle based on AAMC data.
Science GPA, non-science GPA, and MCAT scores for 2020-2021 allopathic applicants and matriculants
|Science GPA||Non-Science GPA||MCAT|
It is also interesting to note that in the last few years, the metrics we are discussing have slowly crept up. This is likely driven by the fact that in the last three years, there has been under a 2% annual increase in medical school applicants. In 2017, there were a total of 51,680 applicants while in 2020, there were 53,030. A greater pool of applicants means that medical schools have the option to be more selective. But for applicants, it means having to work harder to make their application stand out. Below you can see a comparison of data for matriculants in the 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 application cycles.
Science GPA, non-science GPA, and MCAT scores for 2017-2018 vs. 2020-2021 matriculants
|Science GPA||Non-Science GPA||MCAT|
Med school applications during COVIDPer NPR, the AAMC has observed a dramatic 18% increase in applications for the current application cycle. Paul White, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in an Admissions Straight Talk interview reported that Johns Hopkins as of October had experienced a 25% increase in applications year-over-year.
The proposed driving force behind this sudden surge has been dubbed the “Fauci effect.” It seems that young individuals all over the country are inspired by health professionals and leaders, most notably, Dr. Fauci, who are steering the battle against COVID. Dr. Kristen Goodell, associate dean of admissions at the school of medicine at Boston University, told NPR, “That, I think, may have a lot to do with the fact that people look at Anthony Fauci, look at the doctors in their community and say, ‘You know, that is amazing. This is a way for me to make a difference.’” Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director for student affairs and programs, compared this to the surge in military applicants that followed 9/11. “So far in my lifetime, at least, and for as long as I’ve been in medical education, that’s the only comparison that I could make,” he said. Another proposed theory is that virtual interviews drive down both the cost and time required for interviews, allowing applicants to apply much more broadly.
Regardless of the forces behind this surge, as mentioned above, more applicants make it harder to stand out. Therefore, finding unique COVID-related opportunities in research, community service, and volunteering would be a great way to distinguish yourself during this application cycle.
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