Virgenal Owens is a 2020 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and will be starting Orthopedic Surgery residency at Carolinas Medical Center. You can follow him on instagram, twitter, and linkedin.
A pre-medical student’s process for determining how competitive they are for medical school can be challenging. There are many variables to consider, and it can be challenging to sort out all of what can be found online and in what others tell you. Ultimately, there is a lot that goes into the medical school matriculation process, but there are ways to sift through the information to paint a clearer picture of what is best for you.
You must consider that medical schools are looking beyond just your MCAT scores and GPA.
Here is the list of the most common variables for determining competitiveness:
- MCAT – by far one of the most critical factors. For example, the higher the MCAT score, the more interviews a student is likely to achieve.
- GPA – likely the second-most important factor. Overall grades, as well as Core Competency grades, are taken into account.
- Math-Science GPA – this can be more of an unknown to students, but this GPA, which encompasses all of the math and science courses a student has taken, is often considered separately from the Overall GPA.
- For example, a student can have a 3.3 Overall GPA, but their Math-Science GPA can be a 3.8. Medical schools often take both of these into consideration.
- Extracurricular activities – a more elusive and subjective factor, however still extremely important. Medical schools want to know if you can be a leader and have interests outside of medicine. Focusing well on a few activities is often better than doing too many activities.
- Community Service – this is an essential requirement that shows you care about service and helping out people that need it. Medical schools love to function, which takes a significant amount of dedication or has been consistently done for an extended period.
- Shadowing – shows that you took the time to experience the field of medicine. The average for shadowing is usually 50-100 hours, and most try to shadow 2-4 physicians.
- Letters of Recommendation – Strong letters from people you know and/or people in the medical field can have a significant impact on medical schools’ impression of a candidate’s character and dedication to the area of medicine.
Often, the best applicants for medical school have strong inclusions in all of these categories.