Medical School Admissions – Everything You Need to Know

Medical School Admissions

Acceptance Letter... 3 Years Late

The medical school admissions process is a long and difficult process. But, it is worth it in the end! Several months after submitting your application, you’ll be smiling with your acceptance letter just like this guy!

This page will help you do two things:

1. Understand what the admissions committee is looking for.

2. Understand the admissions process.

This page provides a basic overview and will help you get started on these two essential tasks for acceptance to medical school.

Some of the information will vary from school to school, but the the principles can be applied to any school.

The 8 Things Medical Schools Want

During my time on the UCLA medical school admissions committee, I learned that there are eight main categories that medical school admissions committees use to evaluate you for medical school entry. You’ll find five of these medical school admissions categories here. The rest you can find in my eBook!

Having an activity in each of these areas is not really enough. You’ll need to follow three keys to have your activities stand out on your AMCAS application. Learn about the 3 Keys to Your Activities in my eBook! You’ll also find examples of what are strong and weak in each of these categories in my eBook.

1. Academic Achievement

This means MCAT and GPA. No question, these will be a big part of how your application looks.

Medical schools want to know that you can handle the extreme amount of material you will need to learn to be a good physician. However,they certainly do not mean everything.

Work hard and do well in your school classes, particularly your science classes, and study hard for the MCAT. You can find my tips for the MCAT here. You can also see my reviews of the many MCAT prep courses here. If your scores are lower than you had hoped, you might want to check out Caribbean medical schools. Getting into medical school in these schools is a little easier than medical school acceptance to most U.S. schools as far as academics go.

The Rule of 4’s

Although MCAT and GPA don’t mean everything, you do need to be “in the
ballpark” of the schools you are applying to. In my research and experience, I’ve found a “Rule of 4’s” that stands true for most medical schools.
This rule can help save you time, money and aggravation and can help you avoid being screened out by the computer. Simply put, you shouldn’t apply to schools where your MCAT is more than 4 points below the average or your GPA is more than 0.4 below the average.

The way around the computer

The very first part of the medical school admissions process is done by a computer. Applications are screened based on MCAT and GPA. If your scores are above the school’s cutoff, you will receive a secondary application and your application will then be reviewed by someone on the medical school admissions committee. There is a way to bypass the computer and get your application viewed by a real person even with a low MCAT and GPA. However, this technique much be approached with extreme caution as it can also lead to your being quickly
rejected. Learn more about this in my eBook!

Course load


Kaplan Test Prep (

Princeton Review MCAT

Another aspect of academic performance is your course load. For example, if you took your science classes one at a time over 10 years and got all A’s, that’s not as impressive as you taking 30 credits of science classes in one semester and getting all A’s.

We as the medical school admissions committee are trying to figure out if you’ve prepared yourself for the difficult curriculum of medical school.


The Purpose

Medical schools look at this to make sure that you can handle the medical school curriculum. Research has shown that a score of a 24 (8 on each section) on the MCAT is enough to handle the curriculum. You’ll learn how to get your application looked at by top schools even with a 24 in my eBook. However, most schools will be looking for MCAT scores in the 30s to consider you a competitive applicant. You can view the average MCAT and GPA for the Top 100 Medical Schools here.



2. Community Service


75th Anniversary Volunteers


This medical school admissions category is relatively straightforward. We want to know whether you have spent time serving others. This could be in many different capacities. You might have worked in an AIDS clinic, volunteered at a school, cleaned up a local beach, tutored, served in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc. I put my involvement in my church in this section.

Most people applying for medical school acceptance will have done community service. But, by using the Three Keys found in my eBook, yours will stand out!

Briefly, the keys are:

  • Do it for a long time
  • Be a leader in it
  • Describe exactly what you did on AMCAS

Doing your activities in this way will also help you to get great letters of recommendation!

The Purpose

You are demonstrating and developing character traits important to medicine. Those include compassion, service and humanism among others. Make sure you’re doing it for those reasons and that you make those reasons stand out on your personal statement and your application.

Remember that the purpose in all of these activities is to become the type of person that will be a great doctor. Community service should help you become more compassionate. That’s what medical school admissions committees are really looking for.

3. Clinical Experience


Disposable blood pressure cuff

This medical school admissions category lets us know that you understand what you’re getting into. There are many cons to medical school, which I address in my eBook. You should be familiar with those as a result of your clinical experience. And despite the cons, you should still want to be a doctor!

We want to know that you have worked with people who are sick, that you have seen what
doctors do, and you still want to be a doctor. The same three keys apply here as to other activities.

Things that count for clinical experience involve either:
1. Shadowing doctors
2. Working directly with patients

It doesn’t particularly matter what kind of doctor you shadowed. Maybe your parent was a doctor. That counts too. The more doctors you shadow the better. It’s a good idea to shadow doctors that do what you think you might do as a doctor. Pick a few doctors to shadow and spend a good amount of time with them. They may be able to write you a solid letter of recommendation. These letters are particularly useful because
they’ll be able to comment on how you interact with patients.

Now for working directly with patients. I stress the word directly for a reason. We want to see that you have interacted with people who are sick. So, sitting at a desk at a hospital doesn’t count as contact with patients. Neither does managing hospital volunteers. If you worked in an AIDS clinic and spoke with patients, helped with questionnaires for clinical research or spent time reading to children with cancer, those count. If you took vital signs at histories at health fairs, that’s even better. You need to be talking with patients for this to really be clinical experience. You’ll really need to emphasize your work with patients in your application. I discuss how to do this in my eBook.

Again, most premed students will have some clinical experience on their application. In my eBook you’ll get examples of what are strong and weak clinical experience activities, as well as the three keys to make your activities stand out.

The Purpose
What you are trying to become through this is a person who understands what being a doctor is really about. Hopefully you’re also gaining a love for working with patients, since that is probably what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life.

4. Research

Red substance in half filled test tube

Medical schools are very interested in research. Research in large part is how medical schools get money, either from the government or from patents produced from research.

So, if you are interested in research, you will want to stress that in your application and
interviews, particularly at schools with a stronger research focus. If you are really interested in research, you can even have your medical school and PhD paid for through the MSTP (Medical Scientist Training Program).

This program covers all your tuition costs and pays you a stipend each month. Not a bad deal! For more information about this program, click here.

However, even if you’re not that interested in research, you should still probably do some. It’s something that all medical schools will look at and part of the formula for getting into medical school. If you don’t do research, you’ll definitely have to make up for that in others of the 8 categories. Go to your premed office at your school and see what research options are available. If you don’t have a premed office at your school, check with the different science departments at your school (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, etc.) to find a research opportunity. Choose something you’re interested in.

When it comes to research, get something published. Remember that the main purpose of research is to find an answer to a question and then share that with the rest of the world. The way you do that is through publication. Getting your name on a publication makes a big difference in how schools look at you. Find a research mentor that will help you get published. Let them know right at first that you want to get your name on a publication. It will be more work for you, but will definitely help you in your medical school quest!

Again, the same principles apply as to the other sections. Explain exactly what you did in AMCAS, do it for a long time, and be a leader. And one more thing. Get published!

Poster presentations are ok too, but not as impressive.

The Purpose
Research is a big part of medicine and maybe the biggest part of “academic medicine” (what faculty at major schools like UCLA do). You should have an understanding of what research is, how it’s done, and what it takes to publish. Make that stand out in
your application. For application editing services, click here.

5. Hobbies/Skills


Taos Ski Valley

This is your chance to show some personality. The other medical school admissions categories are things that everyone will be doing. Your job there is to do them
better than the other applicants (which you’ll learn how to do in my eBook!). Hobbies and skills give us an idea of what’s unique about you.

These are things that will stick out in the minds of the medical school admissions committee and may very well give you an advantage in your interview. For example, if you enjoy skiing and your interviewer does as well, you have an instant bond with that interviewer.

The importance of this quick connection is huge. For that reason, it’s not a bad idea to put some of the things you enjoy in your application somewhere. Whether that’s in your actual AMCAS application, personal statement, or secondary essays is up to you. For help with this, you can use editing services at MedSchoolCoach!

Unique things are good here. I put “being a husband and father” in this section. It caught the attention of the dean of our school (in a good way). I remember one of the applicants played the harp. This is your chance to tell us a little bit about you and your personality and interests. It’s the human part of the application.

Be honest with these. People have asked me to interview in Spanish because I put Spanish as a skill I had. Luckily I was telling the truth! Another reason to be honest here is to avoid looking like an idiot. Let’s say, for example, that you wrote that you like to ski on your application. Your interviewer is an avid skier, sees this, and starts asking you questions about your skiing adventures. You will look really dumb when you say you went down the bunny hill twice the one time you went skiing.

The Purpose

Hobbies give the medical school admissions committee an idea of who you are as a person. We also want to know that you spent at least a little time doing things that you enjoyed. You’ll need to be able to continue that during medical school and throughout your career to keep yourself sane.


Learn about Categories 6, 7 and 8 in my

These last categories are:

  • Leadership
  • Humanism and Compassion
  • Letters of Recommendation

You need to know all the areas so you can really stand out and get your dream of medical school acceptance.

If you are competitive in these eight areas, medical schools will be fighting over you. My eBook will help you understand how to be competitive in each.

What if you’re not great in all of them?

Don’t get too discouraged. Medical schools will look at the whole application. But, if you’re low in one, you’ll want to make it up in another.

Put a former UCLA medical school admissions committee member on your side!


During my time on the UCLA medical school admissions committee, I learned exactly what it takes to get into a top medical school. I’ve compiled that information into my eBook:

10 Steps to Accepted: An Insider’s Guide to Getting Into Medical School

10 Steps to Accepted

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Here you’ll find essential and easy-to-understand information about applying to medical school. You’ll learn the exact categories medical schools look at and how to stand out in each. You’ll also learn the relative importance of those different categories. Most importantly, you’ll be able to see things from the insider perspective of a medical school admissions committee member. Click here to find out more!

If you’re looking for something that’s more than a book, but less expensive than 1 on 1 advising and editing
services, check out my new members only site, Medical School Inside Track.


medical school insider

Inside you’ll find:

  • Videos describing the entire admissions process, from choosing to apply to choosing
    between multiple acceptances
  • A custom tool to know your chances based on MCAT,
    GPA and race
  • A custom tool to know exactly where to apply based on MCAT, GPA and state of residence
  • Examples from successful applicants of AMCAS activities, personal statements, secondary essays, descriptions of hardship and descriptions of disciplinary actions
  • 4 hours of recorded interview prep to learn what it takes to ace an interview

And much more! All for less than the cost of 1 hour of one on one advising. You can check it out here.

You may even be looking for professional help to help you reach your goal of getting into your best medical school. There are many companies out there that promise to help you do this, but I recommend MedSchoolCoach.

MedSchoolCoach is run by people who have been on medical school admissions committees. They know what it takes for you to get into your top ten medical schools. Plus, they have a great track record of success.You can check out their products here.



Now that you’re understanding what it takes to get into medical school, there are a few other things you need to do and understand to guarantee your medical school acceptance.


Meet the Medical School Requirement


  • Before you even think about admission to medical school, you’d better make sure that you have met your specific school’s medical school requirements. Most schools have similar requirements, but make sure to check with your best medical schools that you are applying to to be sure. Getting into medical school starts with getting the medical school prerequisites right! Click here to learn more about the requirements.


Understand who is on the medical school admissions committee

Interview Questions

  • Faculty members, medical students, physicians who work at the school and PhD’s who work at the school
  • Understanding who is the gate to your medical school entry is extremely important. If there is any way for you to find out who will be interviewing you before your interview, do it! Knowing about your interviewer could make the difference between getting into medical school and no medical school admission!
  • If you can get your interviewer’s information previous to your interview, do a search for them on PubMed, not Google. Understand what your interviewer does for his or her research. When you show genuine interest in your interviewer, your chance of medical school acceptance and medical school entry goes up dramatically!
    Learn more about winning people over in my eBook!

Who screens the initial applications from AMCAS (or TMDSAS or

  • Designated members of the medical school admissions committee, not students. This group decides who comes to an interview.
  • The medical school application is your means of getting into medical school. Your admission to medical school depends on your ability to come across as an applicant who merits medical school entry on your application. Get help with the application here!
  • Spend time on your application. Show the medical school admissions committee why medical school admission is the right decision for you. Show them why you deserve medical school acceptance. Try to think from the perspective of the person reading your application. Why should they give you medical school acceptance? How you write your AMCAS activities has a big impact on whether you are accepted.
    Check out my eBook to discover how to describe your activities!
  • For tips on the medical school application, click here. For tips on writing your personal statement, click here. You can get editing of both, available here. Follow those tips and it will help you gain medical school admission.
  • You can understand the whole 12-step medical school admissions process by signing up for my newsletter!

The Medical School Personal Statement

  • This is your chance to stand out and
    show who you really are to the medical school admissions committee. Remember, as always, to keep in mind what they want to see. They want someone interesting who has learned important traits that will help them be a good doctor. This is very important and will be covered
    here. Apply the same principles to your descriptions of activities and other essays (secondary applications).

Who interviews the applicants?

  • This will vary by school, but generally you will have one or two interviewers. Sometimes one of the interviewers will be a student. The medical school interview could be the most important part of the decision to extend an offer to you or not.
  • Let me repeat that. Getting into medical school can depend largely on your interview! Who gets medical school entry and who doesn’t will depend largely on how your interview goes.
  • Remember to think from the interviewer’s perspective. Is this a person who I would like to work with? Someone that can add value to my school? Someone that will be a good doctor?
  • To understand why your interviewer might decide whether you get accepted, check out my eBook!
  • A full page on medical school interviews can be found here. My suggestions for books about the interview can be found here.
  • Some schools are moving from “traditional” one-on-one interviews to Multiple Mini Interviews (aka “speed dating”). To learn about these and how to excel, check out my eBook!
  • What if you don’t get an interview? Ask for one! Learn what to do, when to do it and how to do it from my eBook! You need an interview to get accepted!

What happens after the interview?


Children & Young People's Committee / Y Pwyllgor Plant a Phobl Ifanc


  • The medical school admissions committee meets back together to discuss each individual applicant. The interviewer presents the applicant to the committee along with their assessment of the applicant. The committee looks through the person’s application/file and asks the interviewer questions. This is why the interview is so important. Your interviewer will either advocate for you or not depending on the impression you make. They will even suggest whether you should get medical school admission or not!
  • Once the applicant is discussed, the applicant is ranked based on different categories. Another committee tallies the scores of the categories. The highest scores get accepted to the school, lower scores wait-listed, lowest scores rejected.
  • This process may vary by school, but the principle of the importance of your interview will be the same across schools.
  • Get my free report, A Look Inside the 12 Step Admissions Process, by signing up for my free newsletter.

Getting Professional Help

As you can see, the medical school admissions process is very involved. You may benefit from having someone with experience coach you through this long and difficult process.

Some students find it useful to employ a service to help them with getting into medical school. For more competitive schools, I would highly recommend coaching. There are many companies that will help you with this, but my recommendation is MedSchoolCoach.

MedSchoolCoach is run by doctors with experience on medical school admissions committees. This makes a big difference as many companies are run by business people or others without this essential experience. They also have an excellent track record, placing 100% of students in an MD or DO program and 85% in an MD program for those who sign up for their gold package. They also offer help with personal statements , interviews and help on choosing which schools to apply to. They are the company I recommend.

I also like them because their prices are very affordable compared to other companies you could choose. Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. Remember, about 60% of applicants are not accepted to any medical school! Don’t be one of the 60%! The cost of reapplying could easily be as much as getting help the first time around to help you get accepted. Click here to visit MedSchoolCoach

Medical school admissions can be tricky. Increase your chances of getting into medical school with medschoolcoach.

To Summarize:

The medical school admissions process is made up of two main parts: your medical school application and your medical school interviews. Your application will get you to the interview and will help you stand out to the admissions committee. This works a little differently in the MMI, but you need to do well on both to get accepted. Lear more about this in my eBook! Remember throughout the admissions process to think from the perspective of the admissions committee. They want a smart, well-rounded, interesting applicant who works hard, has experience in medicine and research, and gets along well with

Show that through your application and interview and you will see yourself as a doctor one day! Find out how to do all this in my eBook!


10 Steps to Accepted

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If you’re looking for something that’s more than a book, but less expensive than 1 on 1 advising and editing services, check out my new members only site, Medical School Inside Track.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Videos describing the entire admissions process, from choosing to apply to choosing between multiple acceptances
  • A custom tool to know your chances based on MCAT, GPA and race
  • A custom tool to know exactly where to apply based on MCAT, GPA and state of residence
  • Examples from successful applicants of AMCAS activities, personal statements, secondary essays, descriptions of hardship and descriptions of disciplinary actions
  • 4 hours of recorded interview prep to learn what it takes to ace an interview

And much more! All for less than the cost of 1 hour of one on one advising. You can check it out here.

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