The process of applying to medical school can be unclear, often leaving students unsure about their application and ways to maximize their success. In addition, many students receive wrong advice from school advisors or can read misleading guidance online.
Here, we address some inaccurate advice medical school applicants have received.
You will never be accepted to medical school. For some reason, I have encountered many applicants who have been told by their premed advisor that they will never receive an acceptance and become a doctor.
Although many of these applicants have lower GPAs or poor MCAT scores, this does not necessarily preclude them from achieving their dream of medical school admission. There are many ways to address these disparities in an application, including completing a postbaccalaureate or master’s program, retaking the MCAT and improving extracurricular activities.
In addition, many applicants who have been rejected from allopathic, or MD, schools are often competitive for osteopathic, or DO, schools, and should strongly consider this route to becoming a physician.
You are only allowed to take the MCAT twice. This advice often misleads applicants to think that they can never overcome a bad score, or that they are limited by their previous exams.
Although for medical school admissions, it is best to have one strong score, rather than multiple test attempts, you can take the MCAT up to seven times total. You may not take the test more than three times in one year.
Instead of worrying about the number of tests, it is best to focus on thoroughly preparing and scoring well. If you have to retake, consult a specialist who can help decide on the best preparation program for you and how to time the exam to maximize the score.
You only have to apply to a few schools. This advice must come from those extrapolating from their experience applying to undergrad. Applying to medical school is a whole different ballgame, and with admissions rates at about 40%, applicants should really apply to a large number of schools, usually within the range of 30-40 depending on the applicant.
You don’t have to prepare for medical school interviews. This advice could not be more wrong. The interview is a crucial part of the medical school admission process and it is very important to be taken seriously.
Often students are intimidated and nervous for the interview, so preparation is key. In addition, about 50% of schools now use the Multiple Mini Interview, which involves applicants addressing various ethical and moral issues. Even if you feel comfortable in a traditional interview setting, you should still practice, and if you have an MMI, you should practice various ethical scenarios to be ready to discuss different issues at length.
Taking a gap year is bad. Applicants who take one or more gap years are becoming increasingly more common. As long as the applicant is doing something that will contribute to their application, taking a gap year should not negatively impact their chances.
In fact, this time could actually improve their chances. For instance, if an applicant spends a year doing clinical research, it could really enhance their application.
With the extensive and diverse resources available to aid an applicant on their journey to medical school, it is imperative that an applicant focus on receiving credible and reliable information.
If you receive some advice that has you doubting the legitimacy of it at all, seek another source. Ask someone who has been through the process or consult a professional. Getting correct advice and putting together an exceptional application will set you on the right trajectory for acceptance.
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