Common medical school application questions

July 28, 2015

You may have had a lot of things to consider when you applied to college, such as where to apply, when to start the process and how much it would cost. If you are considering medical school as your next step, you may also have a lot of questions.

Asking a lot of questions before applying to medical school is a good idea. The amount of work involved in becoming a doctor, along with cost, should not be taken lightly. Learning as much as you can about applying to med school can help you make the right career decision for your future. Continue reading to find out the answers to some typical med school application questions.

How can I be sure medical school is the right choice?

Deciding to become a doctor is a big undertaking that only you can make. It is important to consider what type of work you enjoy and what your goals are. In addition to being interested in medicine, consider whether you are willing to invest a minimum of eight years in school. It is a good idea to do volunteer work in the medical field to see firsthand what is involved. Becoming a doctor because you want to make a lot of money, have a prestigious position or due to family expectations are not good reasons to enter the field.

Do I have to shadow a doctor before applying?

Although shadowing a doctor before you apply to medical school is not mandatory to get accepted, it is a great idea. Consider what you know about being a doctor. Where did you get your information? Sometimes your impression of a career may be formed from television or what you think working in a certain job involves.  Shadowing a doctor allows you to see what a doctor does on a day to day basis.

What type of volunteer experience looks best on an application?

There is not one type of volunteer work that looks best on a medical school application. Do what interests you. Volunteer work in the medical field is great, but it is not your only option. Volunteer work may show you are committed to a certain cause. It can also indicate you have leadership abilities or good people skills all of which med schools like in their applicants.

What is the MCAT?

To get accepted into medical school, you are required to take the medical school admissions test. The test is divided into four sections including biochemical and biological foundations of living systems and psychological, social and biological foundations of living systems. It also includes a section on chemical and physical foundations of living systems and critical analysis skills. The test was revised in 2015. The test dates and location can be found on the Association of Medical College’s website.

When do I apply for medical school?

Most undergrads who want to attend medical school right after they graduate from college apply to medical school in the summer between their junior and senior year. You will apply through the American Medical College Application Service. The service allows students to start completing applications in June. Deadlines vary, so check the website. By the fall semester of your senior year, you may hear from schools, which are interested in you. Schools may request you complete a secondary application. Interviews may also be held. Acceptances start to go out in the winter and spring semester of your senior year.

What is the difference between a primary and secondary application?

Your primary application is the first part of you medical school application. It consists of basic information including your grades, classes you completed, extracurricular activities and volunteer experience. One primary application is sent to all the schools you apply to using the American Medical College Application Service. If a school you applied to is interested in you, they will likely ask you to complete a secondary application, which involves answering essay questions.

How high do my grades have to be?

An acceptable grade point average to get into med school is not set in stone. Most people who apply and get accepted into medical school usually have a GPA of a 3.5 or higher. Keep in mind, your grades are only part of your application. Schools also consider MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, interviews and work experience. If you are strong in other areas, you may still be accepted into the school of your choice.

Can I apply to medical school with a misdemeanor on my record?

Having a misdemeanor on your record does not necessarily mean you have to forget about going to medical school. When it comes to getting into med school, the type of offense as well as what you have done since plays a big part in whether it is a deal breaker. Schools look at the big picture. Does the misdemeanor indicate a trend in your behavior or was in a one-time thing? Will it prevent you from obtaining a medical license in the state you wish to practice in? If you have a misdemeanor, your best bet is to disclose it, explain the situation and what you learned from it, and hope for the best.

How will I pay for medical school?

Medical school is expensive, so it is a good idea to have a plan for how you are going to pay before classes start. Options include grants, student loans, saving and family assistance. Loan forgiveness programs are also an option for those who want to practice in areas where there is a shortage of medical professionals.

How many medical schools should you apply to?

Although you are only completing one primary application, you designate which schools you want it sent to. The American Medical College Application Service charges a fee for your first application and every school you designate after that. Although there is not an exact right number of schools to apply to, applying to only one or two schools may not put the odds in your favor.