By: Evan Jason, MS-2.
Evan Jason is a second-year medical student at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. He is currently a mentor for PrePodiatryLife/Hallux Magazine.
First and foremost, in order to prepare for applying to medical schools whether you are in high school or college, it is very critical to develop great study habits, explore broads amount of course content and personal experiences, identify key mentors to guide you in the process and finally, to expand your scope of reading. As a general rule, most schools expect applicants to have 1 year of Biology (8 semester hours), 1 year of Physics (8 semester hours), 1 year of English (6-8 semester hours), 2 years of Chemistry (Inorganic & Organic Chemistry 8 semester hours), Biochemistry, and Calculus. It is also important to note that the science courses that are taken should be geared towards health professional students and must include laboratory experience for the core science classes. Although, it is not required to earn a bachelor’s degree as you must have a minimum of 90 semester credit hours to apply, nearly 97% of applicants have earned a Bachelor’s degree upon entering, so it should be highly encouraged. It would also be wise to take a psychology, sociology, and statistics course in order to better prepare you for when taking the Medical Comprehensive Assessment Test (MCAT).
The MCAT is an exam that not only tests what you know but how well you use what you know. It serves as an equalizer upon all applicants that apply. Applicants take all the same requirements/classes, but they do so at different schools, therefore this exam serves as a way for medical school admissions to see if applicants have a true understanding of the material. Almost all U.S. medical schools require the MCAT as part of the application process and many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than 3 years old. The total administration time for the exam is seven and a half hours, including time for breaks. There are four sections of the exam, in the order they appear: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, and Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. The best preparation is a rigorous undergraduate program in sciences, social studies, and humanities. The best tips in order to conquer this exam is to review test information from AAMC and/or other trusted sources, identify material that is unfamiliar, take practice tests till your scores plateau, assess strengths and weaknesses, review and avoid cramming and finally rest.
The MCAT is an exam that not only tests what you know but how well you use what you know.
All in all, admissions officers are looking for applicants with the right combination of academic competencies, attributes, and experiences. They want application data and an application process that gives them a comprehensive view of their applicant’s characteristics. Your personal characteristics and experiences are considered by using application tools like application essays, letters of recommendation, interviews and other tools. They want to know about their applicants to select students who have the potential to be great physicians and are a good fit with their institution’s unique mission and goals. The MCAT and your grades are only a piece of information in this equation. As applicants, a lot must be done in order to be considered for medical schools, however it is important to understand that there is no secret formula to getting in. At the end of the day, be authentic and demonstrate and follow your personal interests and your PASSIONS!
By Evan Jason, MS-2
School: William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine
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