Please note that this page reflects the opinion of the writer. It is highly recommended that you also seek out other testimonies, etc. and make the most informed decision for yourself.

For the most part, we will try to stick to data to support our statements. This page is in NO WAY meant to discourage those with lower stats from applying to medical schools. In fact, we always encourage those who want to go into medicine to consider applying anyway because you never know. All it takes is for one school to let you in. However, we have to rely on aggregated data in an attempt to eliminate as much survivorship bias as we possible can.

To those who are unfamiliar with the concept of survivorship bias, let's say that in a hypothetical situation, we have a pool of 100 students with 2.0 GPA and 472 MCAT applying to medical school. Only one of them gets in, and that one "survivor" goes on to claim that "stats don't matter." Many people will cling on to that example, believing that if they happen to be in that situation, they will also be that one person who got in. However, the reality is that there are other 99 people who did not make it. This is what we called a "survivorship bias" - we ignore examples of those who were unsuccessful at their attempts and focus on the few who prevail.

As humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about the probability that something good will happen to us (e.g., winning the lottery), when in reality, subjective perception does not change the statistics. This applies to both spectrum. A 2.9 GPA and 480 MCAT might believe that they will be among 0.7% group of applicants of similar stats that will be admitted. There is NOTHING wrong with applying anyway, but chances are, they will be in the 99.3% group instead. Similarly, a 4.0 GPA and 528 MCAT student might believe that they will have 87% chance of making it to medical school, but there is a possibility that they will end up in the 13% group. There are things that are outside of our control, and what we can do is to control what we can control and find ways to maximize our chances that are within the realm of our capabilities.

All hyperlinks are colored in blue.

This page is written by Nguyen Le. Last Updated on December 26, 2021.

Legal Disclaimer/Financial Disclosure:
1. I have no financial relationship or support to disclose. All organizations and products mentioned on this page are discussed based on my experiences and my discussion with other Pre-Med students. The organizations and the owners of the products did not contact or sponsor me to be promoted on this page.
2. Unless stated specifically, I do NOT have any endorsement or recommendation for any groups, companies, organizations, or products mentioned below.

Tldr: to have a ~50% chance of getting admitted to ONE medical school, you are looking at a 3.5 GPA and a 511 MCAT score, based on national statistics. As a UCLA student, you are probably looking at an even higher threshold (perhaps, a 3.67 GPA and a 514 MCAT).

To this day, I am still convinced that the biggest determining factors of a person's success in applying to medical school is their MCAT and their GPA. It is obviously important to acknowledge that perhaps, there are other confounding factors contributing to how the statistics work out the way that they do. For example, those with higher GPA can afford to be more involved in extracurriculars and show their passion and abilities, while those who struggle with GPA really have to focus on school. We can speculate all that we want, but all that we can really do now is to rely on the statistics that are shown in front of us.

Obviously, you do NOT want to be the one who only focuses on classes without paying attention to other areas of professional development. However, you also do NOT want to be the one who is caught up with all of the extra stuff and let your academics suffer. There needs to be a balance between the two.

Based on AAMC Statistics, an applicant has an 86.6% chance of getting accepted to at least one medical school if they have a GPA of 3.80+ and an MCAT score of 518+. Partly, this shows that the rest of the application does matter. Even if a person has top-tier GPA and MCAT score, they still have ~13% chance of not getting admitted at all. However, it is important to keep in mind that this situation is still better than a coin toss.

Then, when we look at UCLA Statistics, we saw that in the past 6 years, our students tend to have more success in getting into medical schools, than the national average. In 2020, about 53% of all applicants from UCLA got admitted to at least one medical school (vs. 43% national average). However, MCAT Scores of admitted applicants from UCLA tended to be higher (514 vs 511 national, 2020), and for the first time in 6 years (or at least we only saw data for the past 6 years), their GPA also surpassed the national average (we are talking maybe 3.675 UCLA vs 3.665 national).

Based on this statistics, we make an educated assumption that to have a 53% chance of being admitted to at least one medical school, you will perhaps need a 3.67 GPA and a 514 MCAT score. If you score below this and still really want to go to medical school, consider applying anyway because all it takes is one school to take you. However, please understand that this is how the math will work out for you.

  • It is generally recommended that you should at least have a 3.60 cumulative GPA.
  • If you want to be competitive, you should get at least above a 3.70.
  • If you want to be competitive enough for a spot at a top-tier U.S. medical school, you should aim for a GPA of above a 3.85.
  • If your sGPA (science GPA) is less than your cGPA (cumulative GPA), it should be within 0.1 of your cGPA.

The MCAT is scored between 472 to 528, with each section being scored between 118 to 132. The average of the MCAT is at 500. Why such weird numbers? I have no idea.

Obviously, you want to do as best as you can. However, there are some benchmarks:

  • If you want to have a chance at a U.S. medical school, you MUST have above a 500.
  • If you want to be considered competitive for a spot at a U.S. medical school, the minimum target number is 512.
  • If you want to be considered competitive enough for a spot at a top-tier U.S. medical school, you should aim for at least a 517.
  • Any score above a 520 is considered “you better not complain.”

sGPA (or science GPA) is the GPA that is calculated based on purely grades obtained from classes that are classified as BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics).

For the completed list of courses that are classified as BCPM, please check out the AAMC Course Classification Guide.

Generally speaking, they are the lower- and upper-division biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics courses. Obviously, there are classes that will fall into grey-area, especially Engineering classes that may or may not be classified as "science" courses. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if the class "qualifies" as a science course. You can categorize the class as such (science vs non-science) when you submit your transcript to the AAMC Application portal. AAMC has the ability to confirm or deny such designation, but you - as a class attendee - has the right to dispute (which there is a whole process for it).

GPA and MCAT are important, but they are NOT everything. I have seen people who got into top-tier schools with a GPA below 3.50 and an MCAT score below 510.

What I am trying to say is: if your stats are low, do NOT lose hope. If this is your dream job and this is the best stats that you think that you can get given your ability and/or circumstances, APPLY because you never know. We will be cheering for you, especially if you have tried your hardest and have demonstrated a lot of dedication to becoming the best physician that you can be – despite what your scores might say. Of course, you might have a hard time securing interviews and acceptances with lower stats, but ALL IT TAKES IS ONE SCHOOL TO LET YOU IN.