When should I start thinking about my medical school admissions?November 17, 2016
The medical school admissions process in the US is long and arduous, so it’s only natural that you would think about it throughout your educational journey. Whilst the application itself doesn’t need completing until the summer before your final pre-med year, there are plenty of things you can be doing as early as high school to increase your chances of success.
During high school
You may have always known you wanted to become a medical professional, or you may be undecided throughout high school. Thankfully, this doesn’t matter – if you believe a medical career might be in your future, there are some simple ways to give yourself the option. The main way is to keep an above average GPA, with particularly good grades in core subject such as science and math. You may also find it beneficial to become part of your high school’s HOSA chapter, or any other student group that gives you a good background in leadership and teamwork skills.
During your pre-med years
Your pre-med years are the perfect time to really strengthen your application both academically and vocationally. As well as keeping a high GPA (most med school students achieve above a 3.5, with many a lot closer to 4.0), many aspiring health professionals use this time to take on some medical work experience. This could be in the form of an internship in a local hospital or clinic, or a more intensive placement through a scheme such as Gap Medics.
The MCAT is the standardized admissions test for anyone wishing to study medicine, and it should be taken approximately one year before you hope to begin medical school. For example, if you want to start med school in 2018, you might aim to take your test in early 2017 and apply in the fall that same year. Although you can book a test all year round, popular times to sit the exam are in January and August – that way, you have some holiday time to prepare.
To find out more about the MCAT length, sections and how to revise, you can read our dedicated blog post here.
By the time you need to start your physical application, you should feel confident in your desire and ability to become a health professional. Most universities accept applications through the AMCAS system, and there are several sections which allow you to detail your work experience, qualifications, MCAT scores as well as writing a personal statement detailing your motivations for working in this sector.
Medical school admissions panels take all of your many scores, skills and comments into account, so don’t worry if you have a less-than-perfect performance in one area. They read thousands of applications every year and are well-trained at spotting dedication and talent.
Applying to medical school should not cause you stress from the moment you begin high school, but a thorough knowledge of what is expected from an early stage in your career will only minimise nasty surprises in the long term.