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Getting into medical school is a very challenging process. The people who succeed are more than just intelligent - they are motivated and organized to achieve their goal.
In 2001 I compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the application process and interviewed the director of admissions at UVM. Her responses were very informative. Here is a paraphrasing of what I learned from Dr. Gleeson.
MCATs and GPA are the most important. If these are below acceptable standards, the application is rejected. If they are acceptable, the applicant may get an interview. This may not seem fair to people who don’t do well on standardized tests. But you must understand that a medical school will get as many as 10,000 applications for 100 available slots. It is impossible to judge all of them on subjective criteria. Also, the MCAT has been shown to be a very good predictor of performance in medical school.
MCATs must be taken within 3 years of applying. They should be at least 8’s in each category. 9’s and 10’s are needed for some schools. A high score in one category doesn’t help a low score in another (i.e., the total is less important than the individual scores).
GPA is also important. The average GPA of a student accepted at UVM is 3.4-3.5 (must be >3.1). But, some schools (not all) adjust that GPA by the “academic rigor” assigned to the school by Barron’s Guide. The academic rigor of Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. is 1.0. UVM’s academic rigor is 0.85, so a 4.0 is only worth 3.4. Plattsburgh State is in the same class as UVM. Graduate school (master’s degree) in a science field can strengthen a bad GPA, but only if the applicant does very well.
Re-taking the MCAT will help, but only if you do much better. Improving a score from a 6 to an 8 may not be enough. Therefore, it is better to not send bad scores to a school that you’re interested in.
To see the average MCAT and GPA's of med school applicants and those accepted into med school, check out this page.
The performance on the essay of the application and extra-curricular activities are important, but only after the applicant gets through the MCAT and GPA screen. Extra-curricular activities are especially important to show commitment to the profession and so that the applicant can show that he/she has experience with patients and has the temperament to deal with sick people.
No. The usual core science classes are standard (see Basic Information). Some schools now encourage molecular genetics and biochemistry.
This doesn’t seem to give any advantage. The applicant will get the decision earlier if he/she has a particularly strong application, but the applicant doesn’t gain any advantage over the main pool of applicants. It would be better not to apply early if the applicant were unsure of the application (i.e., MCAT grades or GPA is not stellar).
If an applicant is rejected by a school, it is better to wait 2 years to re-apply to that school, rather than re-applying the next year. It is unlikely that that the application will be much stronger one year later. If an applicant is rejected by the same school twice, it is very unlikely that the applicant will be accepted by that school in the future.
As stated above, a masters degree in a science can strengthen an application. But the applicant should choose a field that will give options in case he/she fails to gain acceptance. Finally, the most important advice is to use the time to “develop some aspect of yourself.” Don’t try to second-guess what the admissions committee wants – this will make you seem superficial. Do what feels best to you, and will help you become a more mature and well-rounded individual.
Since UVM is a state funded school, it reserves half of the 100 available slots for Vermont residents. So approximately 6000 applicants vie for the remaining 50 seats - very competitive.
For more information, see: http://www.med.uvm.edu/TB20+BL.asp?SiteAreaID=418
If you have any other questions about the application process, feel free to ask me and I'll call Dr. Gleeson if I don't have the answer.
For more information about the pre-health professions advisement, please contact
Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee Chairperson
Office: Beaumont Hall 304B
Phone: (518) 564-5160