Please note that this page reflects the opinions of the writers, and that what they "recommend" might not be the best decision for your particular situation. It is highly recommended that you also seek out other testimonies, etc. and make the most informed decision for yourself.

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

Any major can get into medical school, but taking prerequisite classes early will help with MCAT.

Nope! Do what you like to do (as long as you do something). Some form of clinical experience is necessary to show your understanding of the career you are aspiring to go into. Also, there are many types of medical schools with different emphasis. For example, Weill Cornell is strong in global health, UCR is committed to address primary care physician shortage, and Stanford is focused on promoting technology and innovation via research. You’ll want to tie your activities together to illustrate what makes a good doctor to you/ the type of doctor you want to be.

If you wish to attend medical school immediately after you graduate, then you should take the MCAT by the end of April of your junior year. However, if you are planning to take a gap year, then you should take the MCAT by the end of April of your senior year in order to get your score by the end of May before submitting your application in June.

No. Transfer students often offer different insights and perspectives that may even give us an edge!

Most medical schools require the following courses:

  • One year of Biology with lab.
  • One year of General Chemistry with lab.
  • One year of Organic Chemistry with lab.
  • One semester of Biochemistry.
  • One year of Physics with a lab.
  • One year of English.

The AAMC Fee Assistance Program provides financial assistance to individuals who, without this aid, would find it very difficult — if not impossible — to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), apply to medical schools that use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), and fulfill other application obligations. FAP waives or significantly reduces the costs of studying for and taking the MCAT and of the application process (MSAR, primary application fees, and secondary application fees). You should apply for it as early as possible, definitely before you start studying for the MCAT to take full advantage of the program.

Gap years are becoming increasingly common among pre-medical students. People who take gap year(s) can travel, get work experience, take a class they’ve always been interested in, learn a foreign language, do volunteer work, before committing to a medical program. Gap year(s) can also allow students to boost their application to be competitive medical school applicants. Most interviewees we met during our medical school interviews were in their first or second gap year!

As early as possible! Start thinking about getting letters of evaluations and asking your professors or managers about them as soon as you finish the courses or volunteer or work, at least 2 months before your application deadlines. You may be wondering why teachers need a month to write a letter. For one thing, they’re not just writing you a letter - some teachers have dozens of letters to write, and most counselors have hundreds! Besides that, recommendation letters take time and thought to do well. You don’t want a rushed, subpar letter because you waited too long to ask for it.

Most schools require one letter of rec from a non-science professor, and two letters of rec from science professors. It’s also good to get letters from you research, work, or volunteer supervisor who knows you well and can speak to your character and mention anecdotes about you! The website interfolio is a good place to store your letters, it’s free to use and store you letters and you only need to pay a subscription fee once you’re ready to apply for medical schools and submit your letters!

No! It entirely depends on your goals and what field of medicine you want to be involved in! If the reason you’re pursuing a medical education is to be involved in primary care or helping underserved communities, spending dozens of hours behind a lab bench is not very relevant. On the other hand, if your goal is to be involved in academic medicine 10 years down the line, getting research experience is important because that is the only way you confirm to yourself, and to the admissions committee, that that path is the right fit for you.

Having gone through the process of applying to medical schools, I (Charbel) think it is crucial to take time to reflect and understand your personal narrative, and what truly motivates you to pursue medicine. Once you understand your personal narrative, being a pre-medical student stops being a journey of checking boxes you think you need, and instead it becomes one of intentionally pursuing opportunities relevant to your personal goals and the path within medicine that is the right fit for you. Do not compare yourself to others, and do not buy into the pre-med mentality that you need to do everything and have every box checked in order to get accepted to medical school. Instead, figure out your personal narrative and get involved in activities, organizations, and opportunities that will get you one step closer to achieving it.

In your Work and Activities section, you could include your gap year plans, given that you have started those before June of the year you are applying. For example, if you are continuing to volunteer for an organization you’ve been volunteering in, then you could project the involvement date to the future and include the hours you plan to commit to. I (Holly) reflected many of my gap year plans in my Work and Activities section like so.

Some schools asked specifically about gap year plans in their secondary applications: while I (Charbel) had no concrete plans set in place yet, I talked generally about what kind of jobs and activities I intend to be involved in during my gap, and more importantly I discussed why I am considering them and what I hope to learn from those experiences. Generally, schools just want to know that you’re growing on a personal level during the time you take off, and that you are taking initiative to develop professionally and explore your interests.

The duration of involvement is not as important as the quality of your involvement. Sufficiency, in my (Holly) opinion, depends on how engaged you are and how much effort you put into. For most of us, the more time we spend, the more impact we are able to make. But as long as you can extensively talk about your involvement in and contribution to your extracurriculars, 2 years is more than enough. Most of my pre-med related activities were under 2 years as I only became pre-med when I arrived at UCLA.

I (Charbel) agree with Holly. I did not do anything pre-med related during community college and only started getting involved in EC’s during my time at UCLA. The duration of involvement is not the most important thing, as long as you can reflect on those experiences and show the personal growth you’ve achieved through your involvement. (i.e: in describing my volunteering at a free clinic that serves homeless individuals, I only used one or two sentences to describe what I did, and I used the rest of the space provided to talk about what the patients taught me about medicine).

I (Holly) did use all 15 of the slots. It was not difficult to fill up the space for me, as you could include things like your hobbies, random paid employment/ gigs you had, your awards/ scholarships, etc. I lumped all my awards and scholarships into one, my posters and publications into one, and my miscellaneous employment into one.

I (Charbel) used 13 slots only. Mainly because I was burned out and had writer’s block, but also because I prefer to be brief and concise and I felt like the other things I could have talked about did not anything meaningful that I had not already expressed prior. One of the activities that I was on the fence of including was Unicamp, because I had attended meetings during the year but had not yet been up to camp. I ended up not including it in my primary, which gave them something to discuss in my secondaries. While it can be tempting to talk about everything in the primary, secondaries will give you a lot of opportunities to discuss your interests, passions and activities!

We both proudly mentioned that we were transfer students in our Work and Activities Section. We did not in our personal statement as it was irrelevant to our motivation to become a doctor. I (Holly) wrote about my experience as a Transfer Mentor in my secondaries, and definitely talked about it in my interviews. Community college was a transformative experience for me, so I felt like talking about it whenever I could!

A quarter of my (Charbel) work and activities section was directly about my involvement with the transfer community. I could not have gone through UCLA and being pre-med without the support and resources that the transfer community provided me. At interviews, being a transfer was one of the ways I stood out! Interviewers loved it, it’s definitely not a hindrance and I personally believe it’s a plus!

There are some important differences to consider if you are applying as an international student. Some public schools do not accept international students (i.e., UCSF), and some public funding may not be available as well (however private medical schools usually offer equitable financial aid and loans for international students). For more detailed information about acceptance rates to each medical school, check out the US news medical school ranking: if you get access to their subscription, you can see detailed information about number of applications, interview invites, and acceptances offered for international students specifically, which will help create a list of international student-friendly schools when you are ready to apply!