9 Prerequisites for Medical School

by winnell

What are the medical school requirements?

This is the most commonly asked question I get from aspiring medical students online. Before sharing the prerequisites for medical school, I would like to demystify the 3 most common myths about getting into medical school.

Myth #1  – You Need to Major in Biology As a Pre-Med

This is NOT true. You can major in ANY major just as long as you complete all of the prerequisite courses. I have friends in medical school who majored in psychology, neuroscience, Art History, and even Finance. Most medical schools require a bachelor’s degree, while some just require all prerequisite courses. It’s best to complete a bachelor’s degree prior to applying.  I think this fact is so important as it allows you to take classes based on your own interests so that you can get the most of out of your college experience. It also gives you the advantage of balancing taking classes that will boost your GPA. I’m a non-traditional student who switched careers so my undergraduate major was Dental Hygiene.  The choice is yours. Majoring in biology is a great option as well that it can boost your science GPA if you do well in those courses.

Myth# 2 You Have to get Straight A’s to get into Medical School 

While getting straight A’s will definitely help your application tremendously, that is not the end all be all. The medical school application process is a holistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and of course passion. The application will look at your grades based on cumulative GPA as well as a separate science GPA which only accounts for the science courses you take. A strong science GPA preferably 3.6 is ideal. Having a GPA lower than 3.6 doesn’t mean you won’t get in. It simply represents the average  GPA of accepted students. But, having a 3.6 GPA could mean there’s a mixture of A’s, B’s and even some C’s. Yes, C’s! It happens. I’m proof of that.   Your goal should be getting the highest grades in your classes, pushing yourself to the limit and putting 110% into every course to the best of your ability and circumstances. Your application will be evaluated for your grades, MCAT score, extracurricular activity and letters of recommendation.

Myth #3 There is an MCAT cutoff score 

Every US medical school requires that you take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT is undeniably a major determining factor of whether or not you’ll get into medical school, it is not the only factor.  The average MCAT score of accepted medical students is 511. Scoring a 511 or above lands you in a sweet spot to get interviews, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a foot in the door. As stated before, the medical school application process is holistic (at many schools), so other parts of your application will be taken into consideration. The other parts include your extracurriculars, personal statement, and grades. The best advice is to aim high. Take practice exams and see where you stand. Don’t give admissions committees a reason to doubt you based on your score. Take a look at some MCAT tips here. The truth is, everyone is not going to get a 511 and that is okay. I managed to get into medical school, despite having a lower MCAT score, so there’s hope.

Prerequisites for Medical School: Courses

For the most part, every medical school has the same core requirements. I consulted the official American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to ensure that I’m giving the most updated and accurate information here.

Minimum Requirements.  1 semester = 4 credits One year = 2 semesters of at least 8 credits in total

1. Biology
  • One year with lab experience
  • Should include cellular and molecular aspects
  • AP credits cannot be used
2. General Chemistry 

3. Organic Chemistry 

4. Biochemistry

  • One year General Chemistry
  • One year Organic chemistry
  • One Semester Biochemistry
  • Lab experience required
5. Physics
  • One year
  • Lab experience
6. Math
  • One year, including one semester each of calculus and statistics
  • (Some schools will accept calculus OR statistics)
7. Writing 

8. Psychology 

9. Sociology 

  •  One year English
  • One semester Psychology
  • One Semester Sociology

Other things to note:

  • These are the minimum medical school requirements. Some schools may require additional courses but this represents the majority of medical school requirements so be sure to verify with the school’s website.
  • AP courses from High School are usually not accepted in place of these courses.
  •  AMCAS and AACOMAS is the medical school application portal system where over 200 schools medical schools use to process applications and have submission deadlines between October 15 – Dec 1 of each year. Make sure to apply early.

In the meantime, make sure to check out my other pre-med posts for more advice and motivation.

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