Ah, medical school. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. In fact, it is quite difficult getting into med school. Not only do you need a good GPA, but you also have to pass the MCAT before you will be accepted to any program.
When it comes to accepting applicants to med school, your GPA is a major component in that decision.
Although the medical application is comprised of many sections, your GPA and MCAT scores are the thing advisors look at first during the screening process. If you want to guarantee yourself at least an interview, you need high scores on both.
The simple answer this question is the higher the GPA, the better. Unfortunately, 8% of applicants who have a GPA ranging between 3.80 and 4.00 and have a high MCAT (39 to 45 score), there is still a chance they will get rejected.
Alternatively, about 18% of students who are accepted to at least one program has a GPA between 3.20 and 3.39 with an MCAT score between 24 to 26.
How is this possible? You could have an impressive GPA, but if other areas of your application is less than good, then you aren’t going to be as successful as you would expect. According to data provided by the AAMC, US students who matriculated to med school in 2015 had an average GPA of 3.70 with an average science GPA of 3.64.
There is a “reputation bump” you will receive if you graduate from certain schools who are known for being a competitive school with an intense pre-med curriculum and doesn’t inflate grades.
When applying for medical school, your GPA is broken into three parts—your science GPA (biology, chemistry, physics, and math), non-science GPA (the rest of your classes) and your cumulative GPA.
All of these are calculated from your undergraduate career, non-degree seeking post-secondary work, and any degree seeking postsecondary programs.
If you’ve struggled with your grades, that doesn’t mean you are never going to get into medical school. If you are able to achieve an impressive MCAT score, you may be able to grab the attention of an admission officer. This could lead them to want to know more about you and they could extend an offer to interview with them.
Just because you have a low GPA now, it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. While it is going to be difficult to improve your GPA, you can boost it in about a year—if you take an advanced level science course.
When you factor in how low your GPA is and combine it with the number of classes you’ve taken, it will take longer for your GPA to reflect any improvements you’ve made to your GPA.
There are some steps you can take to help you achieve your dreams of working in the medical field:
While you may not be a good candidate for a med school in the US, that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside of the country. Many places have a lower GPA requirement, and some places doesn’t even require the MCAT.
These courses are often taught by US Academic physicians, and they will have clinical rotations in the US. However, if you do decide to attend med school outside of the country, you may face language barriers and culture shock—both of which can impact your ability to succeed.
Also, you should know that as an international medical graduate, securing a residency program is going to be another challenge for you. Less than 51% of IMGs will match to PGY1 programs. Fortunately, that number is steadily increasing, according to the Educational Commissions for Foreign Medical Graduates.
If you have a competitive application and still aren’t able to make the cut, try considering an osteopathic medical program. These are great because there are fewer applicants and you may have better odds of being accepted.
A doctor of Osteopathic medicine focuses on integrating all parts of the body into the care process. This allows you to go into a family practice, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and other specialties. As a DO, you are a fully licensed physician and you have the ability to train in the same residency programs and take the USMLE exams.
However, your chance of securing that residency may be lower, but not by much. During the 2016 residency match, about 82% of Dos match to their preferred specialty, whereas about 92% of US-trained American MDs get their preferred match.
This is often a preferred route to take, especially among those who have done well on the MCAT and need to boost their GPA. By retaking a science class and acing it shows you’ve mastered the material.
However, it looks better if you take an advanced course and do well. If you aren’t confident that you’ll get an A in said course, you may not want to go this route.
Also, keep in mind that the institution you are taking these courses at matters—a simple community college isn’t going to make the grade. Your best bet is to go to your alma mater to see if they will allow you to take an additional course at a cheaper rate.
This option is also popular among potential applicants because it gives you a chance for independent, self-directed research and exhibit your scientific abilities. It can also be very useful if you don’t already have a research background. Remember, you must excel at this program, otherwise it would be for naught.
Getting into medical school isn’t going to be easy—there’s no doubt about that. Your GPA and MCAT scores are going to be the most important components to your application. However, if you have a less than stellar GPA, you can do some things to bolster your GPA so that you can get into a medical program.