Deep Dive on MCAT Studying: To Study More Efficiently, Engage in Retrieval Based Learning

woman looking at paperworks in a library

Dive Brief:

  • How do you normally start to study for a test? There are so many different ways to study, and yet we don’t apply the scientific method when we take a look at the evidence that we have in front of us in terms of how cognitive psychology can improve and even supercharge our learning. Instead, we relie on biased inferences that we make based on intuition, observations, and anecdotes which may be based in at best, misperceptions and, at worst, fiction. 
  • Most people take their MCAT books and passively read when they are studying — 80% of a population surveyed by Karpicke, Butler, & Roediger in 2009 in the journal Memory use this strategy when they are trying to learn something and 50% of them used it as their top strategy when preparing for an exam or another assessment. The upshot was of the study that rereading, even in large quantities, had no significant effect when it comes to learning – it produced absolutely no effect. This is because “time does not cause learning, only mental processes cause learning” 
  • In fact, re-reading caused minimal improvements, but massive overconfidence. Subjects that re-read a passage that they were tested on thought that they did much better on a test than they did. Have you ever had this effect when you went into a test and tried to take it blind, only having re-read the chapter a few times and thought that you know what was going to be on the test? 
  • The best way to learn is a method called retrieval based learning and repeated spaced retrieval, which means that you need to take material that you are learning about, setting it aside, and actively reconstructing by remembering the things that you have learned. This is uncomfortable, but you are literally rewiring the circuitry of your brain to think about a topic in a certain way and this is how you push your brain to learn new things. 

Dive Insight:

Learning how to learn is such an underrated skill because this metacognition, or deliberately changing practices based on empiric evidence is how effective habits are discovered and reinforced. During the MCAT, which is a test largely based on the ability to learn new concepts and retain them for a long period of time, I can definitely see this advice playing a role in any student’s preparation. 

For example, let’s think about a student who is studying the amino acid structures for the MCAT. By applying this strategy and looking at the structures once and trying to reconstruct them from memory, the student will be able to find deficiencies in their thinking more readily than just rereading the concepts. SOmething that the brain does well is “trick” you into thinking that you know a topic when you really do not, and these flaws become apparent when you set the book aside and have to reconstruct certain parts or arguments from memory. Also, this is not like memorization because it will allow you to put together concepts that you don’t readily think about all the time, combining facets of your education and fostering diverse neural connections. 

This may not seem very exciting, but it will allow you to supercharge your test scores in a way that no other test strategy will. It will take something that you are not very comfortable with and throw you in the deep end, but with a fail safe (since it isn’t the real test, you’ll always be able to reference the book again). Simulating real testing conditions is something that you probably have heard, but you should do this often. Not only will it help you get in tune with your own way of thinking, it will also calm the anxiety that you may have before a test happens (I know I certainly have this type of anxiety). 

Medical Schools are looking for self-starters, people who are not afraid of being able to take something, look at how it is inefficient, and change it. If you start with your study habits, things will fall into place not only in your MCAT preparation, but also classes and outside. Learning on the fly is somethins that is underrated, and having an attitude that complements the desire to learn makes you unstoppable in terms of how far you can go in medicine. With a naturally curious personality, interviews will no longer feel like a challenge but rather another way to test your retrieval based learning and your inquisitveness. This strategy can inculcate that curiousity within you—all you have to do is believe in its efficacy. 

If your MCAT practice test scores aren’t where you want them to be, don’t settle for less. MedSchoolCoach offers tutoring for the MCAT, in addition to other medical school courses and exams. Our tutors have done exceptionally well on the MCAT and they have used the strategy mentioned in the study, among more. Ultimately, that means a significantly better score for you. Learn more here.

Medical Schools that Utilize CASPER

man interviewing applicant

Interested in knowing which medical schools in the US use CASPER? Below is the full list from the takecasper.com website. It includes US MD, DO as well as PA schools, if you are interested.

Need help with the CASPER? Just let us know!

Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
Albany Medical College
Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
California Health Sciences University
Case Western Reserve University
Central Michigan University
Christian Brothers University
College of Saint Mary
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado Mountain College
Concordia University Wisconsin
Des Moines University
Dominican College of Blauvelt
Drexel University
East Carolina University
East Tennessee State University
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Eastern New Mexico University
Florida Atlantic University
Florida State University
Gannon University
Georgia Southern University
Hardin-Simmons University
Hofstra University
Howard University
Idaho State University
Indiana University
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine
Kettering College
Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Marshall University
Augusta University
Medical College of Wisconsin
Medical University of South Carolina
Meharry Medical College
Mercer University
Michigan State University
Midwestern University
Mississippi State University
New York Medical College
NYU School of Medicine
Northeast Ohio Medical University
Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Old Dominion University
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences
Pfeiffer University
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
Rosalind Franklin University
Rutgers University
Salus University
South University
Stanford University
State University of New York
Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Temple University
Texas A&M University
Texas Tech University El Paso
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
Touro College Master of Science
Tulane University
University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
University of Colorado Denver
University of Evansville
University of Florida
Indiana University
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri-Kansas City
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
University of North Carolina
University of North Dakota
University of Oklahoma
University of Rochester
University of Texas Health Science Center
University of Texas Medical Branch
University of Utah
University of Vermont
University of Washington
Utah Valley University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Wake Forest School of Medicine
West Liberty University
West Virginia University
Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific
Yale University Physician Assistant Online Program

What are the COMLEX Exams?

Doctor and nurse discussing patients tests at tablet computer in a hospital

The COMLEX is a series of exams that students in osteopathic schools must take in order to receive their license to practice and their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. These exams are not only necessary in licensing but also play an important in assessing a student’s competitiveness in applications to residency programs. Similar to the USMLE, these exam scores are used by residency program directors to help select applicants for competitive residency interviews.

While the COMLEX is similar to the USMLE, they have several differences. The MedSchoolCoach USMLE, COMLEX, and Medical School Tutoring Division includes COMLEX-specific tutors who specialize in helping students succeed on the COMLEX. They are intimately familiar with high-quality preparatory resources and have extensive experience tutoring for the COMLEX.

MedSchoolCoach tutors are hired only after a rigorous screening process that involves not just high exam scores but teaching aptitude and commitment to education. Rather than being taught by tutors who have only taken the USMLE exams, all of our COMLEX tutors have taken and mastered the COMLEX. Many of these tutors have scored exceedingly high on both the USMLE and COMLEX and can tutor for both exams. We are therefore able to offer tutoring and advising that is tailored specifically to all the COMLEX exams and osteopathic residencies.

COMLEX Level 1 is typically taken by students who just finished their second year of osteopathic medical school. It is a problem- and symptom-based test focused on basic medical science material in the following subjects: anatomy, behavioral science, microbiology, biochemistry, osteopathic principles (OMM), physiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

COMLEX Level 2 Cognitive Evaluation (CE) is typically taken by students who have completed a year of core clinical rotations. This exam focuses more on clinical knowledge, diagnosis, and optimal management, including the “next best step”. This exam encourages the student to begin to think more like a clinician and is essential to becoming a good resident and physician.

COMLEX Level 2 Performance Evaluation (PE) is also typically taken by students who have completed a year of core clinical rotations. This exam is a hands-on exam that test’s a student’s ability to perform a history and physical exam, quickly document important history and physical exam findings, and to integrate all of the above into a concise diagnostic and management plan. This exam is a series of simulation clinic visits with standardized patients and places a high value on bedside manner, appropriate social interactions, and interpersonal skills.

COMLEX Level 3 is taken by residents and is the last exam of the COMLEX series. This exam assesses a resident’s ability to understand fundamental that are required by a generalist clinician. The exam ensures that fully licensed Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine can deliver safe and effective osteopathic medical care and promote health in unsupervised clinical settings.

While the exam is similar to the USMLE, it has many differences. MedSchoolCoach tutors include COMLEX specific tutors who specialize in helping our students through this exam.

Can an Admission Consultant Save a Family Stress?

mother and child smiling on each other

There is no doubt that getting into college, particularly the right one, can set you up for long term success. Students who enter the right college often put themselves on the path to a fruitful career, start developing a friend circle that will stay with them forever and make connections that will get them places.

Thousands of students apply to college every year in what is essentially a right of passage. From the dreaded personal statement to opening an acceptance letter, the college process is fraught with perils, trials and tribulations.  The euphoria of opening an acceptance letter is one that is not replicated much in life.

Given the large number of students who apply to college, and the ever increasing competitive nature of a few highly selective schools, the admissions process can be daunting. Families often get stressed and even torn apart during these times. Students often get pressured into applying to the wrong schools by their parents who may or may not be familiar with the application process in the United States. This in turn leads to even more stress and tension!

When it comes time to write the application, especially the common app personal statement, parents often take one of two approaches. Some are hands off, letting the student write by themselves with little oversight. Others are hyper vigilant, dictating every word and not letting the students personality or voice shine through.

A college admissions expert can make a tremendous difference in not only a students application, but also in their family’s lives. By having a structured approach and go to person, students and their families often feel relieved knowing that someone is overseeing the process (and sometimes, acting a mediator through it).

What Top Tier Medical Schools Look For in Applicants

man playing chess

In 2007, nearly 70% of high school students who graduated went onto college. But, getting into a great school is not so easy. The top schools in the country have acceptance rates of less than 10%. Approaching the application to these schools requires a different expertise level.

Think about what a top school wants in their students. Not only do they want students who are academically gifted, they want students who will become leaders in whatever field they chose and represent them well as alumni.

Great schools are looking for students who are going to make them proud. That doesn’t have anything to do with their eventual salary or title, rather how they conduct themselves in the world. If you are a Harvard, Columbia or Princeton Alumnus, when you meet someone who went to your school you have a sense of connection. You know that that person has had an exceptional education and shares many traits in common with you.

This is why Ivy League schools and the like work so hard to recruit great students. They want students who years from now will be a good representative of their brand. In order to get into a top school, you need to convince them that you will be exactly that.

So how do you convince a top tier college that you have what it takes? Let’s start with some basics.

Top tier college are looking for students who will add to their alumni network and make them proud.

You have to be academically excellent with great grades and standardized test scores. You have to be a leader, demonstrating the skills and qualities it takes to lead a group of people in an endeavor. You have to be curious, not satisfied with the status quo and looking to push the boundaries of art, medicine, science, math or whatever other field you chose. You must be a conscientious member of society, making every person you meet better.

Many students will go onto college. In order to get into a top tier school you need to demonstrate some of the above. UniversityCoach can help you bring out the best in your application to these top tier schools with our award winning admissions consulting program.

How to Choose a School List

University Ave road Sign

Selecting colleges can be a very difficult task. There are literally hundreds if not thousands to chose from. Making a college list for a high school student can be a daunting task.

Get Help From Your Parents

A few things can make this a bit easier to do. The first, is to get help from your parents! Yes, we know that parents can be overbearing and sometimes even difficult to deal with during the college admissions process, but they can really help you eliminate some schools quickly or find others you didn’t even know about.

Ignore College Rankings

The next tip is to ignore the college rankings, as much as possible. Nowadays, there is a ranking for absolutely everything. Most of these are meant to sell magazines and little else! There are many amazing schools that don’t rank highly on some list for one reason or another. To prove how arbitrary the ranking systems are, you can go back and see huge “jumps” from a particular school because they manipulated a little data here or there (ie they made a big push for alumni donations that year). Basically, these serve as just one of many guides to making a list.

Consider Location

Finally, one thing you should think about is geography. Where do you want to spend 4 years? Are you a big city person or a rural town person? Do you like a campus that is the center of everything in town, or do you like one that is in the middle of a very vibrant city? These are important questions to ask as you prepare your school list!

Ivy League School Acceptance Rates

three windows with plants

Ivy League Schools are incredibly competitive to get into. Acceptance rates range from under 5% at Harvard to just over 10% at Cornell for the Class of 2021.

To be a great applicant to Ivy League schools (and other top colleges across the country), you have to position yourself as an excellent student with a stellar personal statement, unique theme and great references.

4.6%

Harvard University

Located in Cambridge, MA, just across the Charles River from Boston, Harvard is perhaps the most well respected name in all of higher education.

5.5%

Columbia University

In the middle of New York City, Columbia University is home to numerous famous graduates, including Barack Obama. It was founded in 1754.

5.5%

Princeton University

Named for the city it’s located in, Princeton is among the most competitive schools in the country every year.

6.3%

Yale University

Founded in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and has award winning research programs.

7.2%

Brown University

Known for it’s liberal undergraduate curriculum, Brown University is located in Providence, RI.

8.4%

University of Pennsylvania

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, UPenn is a world renowned institution with exceptional medical, law, engineer, business and undergraduate programs.

8.7%

Dartmouth University

In beautiful Hanover, NH, Dartmouth College ranks among the world’s finest academic institutions.

10.3%

Cornell University

In Upstate NY, Cornell is known as the “easiest Ivy to get into and the hardest to get out of”. With an amazing undergraduate education and plethora of schools and majors to chose from, it’s an incredible institution.

Need help with your personal statement? Contact the experts.

Contact Us

5 Quick Personal Statement Tips

Busy woman working with her laptop

Don’t let the college application personal statement stress you out!

Every year, students across the country begin on the difficult journey of drafting and writing a college application personal statement. It’s not an easy feat, but one that is almost a right of passage. These quick tips should help you stay on track.

1

Ask Your Friends

There are lots of great books on the college application personal statement, but a great starting point may be as simple as your friends and family who have gone through the process. Seeing what they’ve written about can help you get ideas, good and bad. After you read a friend’s personal statement, think about what it meant to you. Did you think “WOW, I would accept this person!” or did you think “Meh, that was just okay.” These gut feelings will help you understand what will work for you.

2

Brainstorm!

It’s easy to get lost very quickly within a personal statement. That is why it’s important to think about what you are going to write ahead of time. You don’t have to come up with the entire story, or even what each paragraph is going to talk about about, however it would be nice to have some thoughts written out prior to actually commencing writing.

3

Just Write!

Okay, so this may feel like it contradicts the last tip. In some ways it does, but in other ways we find that this really helps. We see a lot of students get stuck in the brainstorming phase without moving past it. Sometimes the best way to get out of a writer’s block is to actually start putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard)! Once ideas start flowing, go with them without worrying about grammar or word choice. Those changes can come later. Just type!

4

Get other opinions, but don’t jump with them

Getting other people’s opinion on your personal statement is incredibly important. However, personal statements are PERSONAL! That means that one person’s opinion can be completely different than the next persons, and that doesn’t mean that either of them are wrong. Synthesize each person’s feedback and keep what you want, discard what you don’t.

5

Keep your voice

Keeping your voice throughout the personal statement is important. Don’t let your parents write this essay for you because you will get caught in a trap. You want to make sure the admissions committees knows who you are as a person and the personal statement is one way to do that.

2018-2019 College Supplemental Essays

woman typing ona white laptop
It’s college application time! We’ve compiled the supplemental essay questions from several colleges to help you better plan for application season.1. Brown University
  • Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? (You may share with us a skill or concept that you found challenging and rewarding to learn, or any experiences beyond course work that may have broadened your interest.) (250 word limit)
  • What do you hope to experience at Brown through the Open Curriculum, and what do you hope to contribute to the Brown community? (250 word limit)
  • Tell us about the place, or places, you call home. These can be physical places where you have lived, or a community or group that is important to you. (250 word limit)
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)
2. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field. Use the separate spaces provided below, one for each STEM experience and/or activity.
    • STEM experience/activity 1 and explanation (Your response should range between 10-120 words.):
    • STEM experience/activity 2 and explanation (Your response should range between 10-120 words.):
    • STEM experience/activity 3 and explanation (Your response should range between 10-120 words.):
  • Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a “Techer” relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
  • Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
  • The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
3. Columbia University
  • List a few words or phrases that describe your ideal college community. (150 words or less)
  • List the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)
  • List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)
  • List the titles of the print, electronic publications and websites you read regularly. (150 words or less)
  • List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)
  • Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why. (300 words or less)
  • Choice of 300-word essay:
    • If you are applying to Columbia College, tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time.
    • If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section.
4. Cornell University
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals?
  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours?
  • College of Arts and Sciences: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into their academic interests, discover new realms of intellectual inquiry, and chart their own path through the College. Tell us why the depth, breadth, and flexibility of our curriculum are ideally suited to exploring the areas of study that excite you.
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: Affiliated with both the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management is unique by design. Explain how our approach to business education is the right fit for you, and how your interests, experiences or goals will contribute to the unique composition of the entering class.
  • College of Engineering:Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in.
  • College of Human Ecology: How have your experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology. How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?
  • College of Industrial and Labor Relations:Tell us about your intellectual interests, how they sprung from your course, service, work or life experiences, and what makes them exciting to you. Describe how ILR is the right school for you to pursue these interests.
5. Dartmouth College
  • While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, Sir…a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2023, what aspects of the College’s program, community or campus environment attract your interest? (100 words or less)
  • Choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
    • “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.
    • The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.
    • “You can’t use up creativity,” Maya Angelou mused. “The more you use, the more you have.” Share a creative moment or impulse—in any form—that inspired creativity in your life.
    • In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?
    • In The Bingo Palace, author Louise Erdrich, Class of 1976, writes, “…no one gets wise enough to really understand the heart of another, though it is the task of our life to try.” Discuss.
    • Emmy and Grammy winner Donald Glover is a 21st century Renaissance man—an actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, songwriter, rapper, and DJ. And yet the versatile storyteller and performer recently told an interviewer, “The thing I imagine myself being in the future doesn’t exist yet.” Can you relate?
6. Duke University
  • Option of supplemental essays (complete one):
    • If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences as a first year applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (Please limit your response to no more than 150 words.)
    • If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as a first year applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (Please limit your response to no more than 150 words.)
  • Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background-we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 word limit)
  • (Optional) If you would like the opportunity, we invite you to share more about your sexual orientation either below or in the Duke optional essay. (250 words)
7. Emory University
  • In addition to your Personal Statement, please choose two (2) of the short answer prompts below. Be thoughtful in your responses, but don’t stress about what the right answer might be. We just want to get to know you a bit better. Each response should be no more than 150 words.
    • What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?
    • What motivates you to learn?
    • What will you miss the most about your current community when you leave for college?
    • In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?
8. Georgetown University
  • Short Essay (approximately one-half page): Briefly discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.
  • As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.
  • Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study? (If you are applying to major in the FLL or in a Science, please specifically address those interests.)
9. Harvard University
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)
  • Your intellectual life may extend beyond the academic requirements of your particular school. Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. These could include, but are not limited to, supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere. (150 words)
  • You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
    • Unusual circumstances in your life
    • Travel or living experiences in other countries
    • What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
    • An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
    • How you hope to use your college education
    • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
    • The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
    • The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
    • Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?
    • Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.
  • For International Students: What specific plan do you have, if any, for using the education you hope to receive? (0-50 words)
10. John’s Hopkins University
  • Successful students at John Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience. (300 – 400 words)
11. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
  • At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)
  • Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
  • Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
12. Northwestern University
  • In 300 words or less, help us understand what aspects of Northwestern appeal most to you, and how you’ll make use of specific resources and opportunities here.
13. Princeton University
  • Activities: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (Response required in about 150 words.)
  • Summers: Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (Response required in about 150 words.)
  • A few details:
    • Your favorite book and its author
    • Your favorite website
    • Your favorite recording
    • Your favorite source of inspiration
    • Your favorite line from a movie or book and its title
    • Your favorite movie
    • Two adjectives your friends would use to describe you
    • Your favorite keepsake or memento
    • Your favorite word
  • Essay: your voice: In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application or the Universal College Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no fewer than 250 words).
    • Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application or Universal College Application.
      • Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
      • “One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University and co-founder of Blackplanet.com. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University. “Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and director of the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, Princeton University. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.
14. Rice University
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)
  • With the understanding that the choice of academic school you indicated is not binding, explain why you are applying to that particular school of study. (150 word limit)
  • How did you first learn about Rice University, and what motivated you to apply? (250 word limit)
  • In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you. See the Help Section for more information.
15. Stanford University
  • Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)
  • What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit)
  • How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit)
  • What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit)
  • What five words best describe you? (10 word limit)
  • When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 word limit)
  • Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit)
  • Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 word limit).
  • The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning. (100 to 250 words)
  • Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate — and us — know you better. (100 to 250 words)
  • Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250 words)
16. Tufts University
  • Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (50–100 words)
  • There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words)
  • Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you. Please respond to one of the following six questions (200-250 words).
    • Students applying to the School of Arts and Sciences or the School of Engineering should select from prompts A-E. Students applying to the SMFA at Tufts’ BFA program or the Five-Year BFA + BA/BS Combined Degree program must answer prompt F:
    • A. It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.
    • B. In a time when we’re always plugged in (and sometimes tuned out), tell us about a time when you listened, truly listened, to a person or a cause. How did that moment change you
    • C. Celebrate the role of sports in your life.
    • D. Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?
    • E. What makes you happy? Why?
    • F. Artist Bruce Nauman once said: “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.
17. University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA); Berkley
  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
    • Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?
    • Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?
  • Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
    • Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?
    • How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?
  • What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
    • Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?
    • Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
    • Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few.
    • If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?
  • Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
    • Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?
    • If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?”
  • Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
    • Things to consider:Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can’t get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs — and what you have gained from your involvement.
    • Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?
  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
    • Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place —like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?
    • Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?
  • Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?
    • Things to consider: If there’s anything you want us to know about you, but didn’t find a question or place in the application to tell us, now’s your change. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?
    • From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little.
18. University of Chicago
  • Respond to the required essay and choose one of the six extended essay options and upload a one- or two-page response.
    • Question 1 (Required): How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
    • Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one). 1 or 2 page response:
      • Essay Option 1 – In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a “tree-mail” service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you’d send to your favorite.
      • Essay Option 2 – You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth?
      • Essay Option 3 – The word floccinaucinihilipilification is the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant or of having no value. It originated in the mid-18th century from the Latin words “floccus,” “naucum,” “nihilum,” and “pilus”—all words meaning “of little use.” Coin your own word using parts from any language you choose, tell us its meaning, and describe the plausible (if only to you) scenarios in which it would be most appropriately used.
      • Essay Option 4 – Lost your keys? Alohomora. Noisy roommate? Quietus. Feel the need to shatter windows for some reason? Finestra. Create your own spell, charm, jinx, or other means for magical mayhem. How is it enacted? Is there an incantation? Does it involve a potion or other magical object? If so, what’s in it or what is it? What does it do?
      • Essay Option 5 – Imagine you’ve struck a deal with the Dean of Admissions himself, Dean Nondorf. It goes as follows: you’re guaranteed admission to the University of Chicago regardless of any circumstances that arise. This bond is grounded on the condition that you’ll obtain a blank, 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and draw, write, sketch, shade, stencil, paint etc., anything and everything you want on it; your only limitations will be the boundaries of both sides on the single page. Now the catch… your submission, for the rest of your life, will always be the first thing anyone you meet for the first time will see. Whether it’s at a job interview, a blind date, arrival at your first Humanities class, before you even say, “hey,” they’ll already have seen your page, and formulated that first impression. Show us your page. What’s on it, and why? If your piece is largely or exclusively visual, please make sure to share a creator’s accompanying statement of at least 300 words, which we will happily allow to be on its own, separate page. PS: This is a creative thought experiment, and selecting this essay prompt does not guarantee your admission to UChicago.
19. University of Notre Dame
  • What excites you about the University of Notre Dame that makes it stand out from other institutions? (Around 175 words)
  • Provide a response to two of the following prompts:
    • The University of Notre Dame is a Holy Cross institution whose educational philosophy has been formed around five core principles inspired by Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. These principles, or pillars, of a Holy Cross education are Mind, Heart, Zeal, Family, and Hope, and they continue to shape our students today. Which pillar or pillars resonate most with you? Why?
    • For whom are you responsible?
    • What is one thing that you know for a fact? Why are you certain?
    • Tell us about something significant that recently occurred in your community. Why does it matter to you?
20. University of Pennsylvania
  • All Applicants: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (400-650 words)
  • Specialized program essay prompts:
    • The Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business: Discuss a current international issue, which demonstrates how international affairs and business intersect and explain how the Huntsman curriculum might assist to resolve the issue. (max 500 words)
    • The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management (LSM): LSM seeks students who are enthusiastic about combining science with management. What excites you about this combination? What kind of benefits could an individual trained in both disciplines bring to society? Be as specific and original as possible in addressing these questions. (400-650 words)
    • The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (M&T):
      • Identify a disruptive technology, one that many consider could drive truly massive economic and societal transformations in the coming years. Argue why the technology may not be as successful as observers think and suggest ways to address the concerns. (400-650 words)
      • Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words maximum)
    • Nursing and Healthcare Management (NHCM): Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn’s coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)
    • The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER): Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)
    • The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering (NETS): Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the Internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)
    • Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program
      • Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry. (250 words)
      • List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands. (250 words)
      • What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people? (250 words)
      • Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least. (250 words)
      • Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended. (250 words)
21. University of Southern California (USC)
  • Please respond to one of (the three) the prompts below. (250 word limit)
    • USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view.
    • Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
    • What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?
  • Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 word limit)
  • Describe yourself in three words (25 characters).
  • The following prompts have a 100 character limit:
    • What is your favorite snack?
    • Favorite app/website:
    • Best movie of all time:
    • Hashtag to describe yourself:
    • Dream job:
    • What is your theme song?
    • Dream trip:
    • What TV show will you binge watch next?
    • Place you are most content?
22. University of Virginia (UVA)
  • We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.
  • Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
    • What’s your favorite word and why?
    • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
    • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
    • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
    • UVA students are charged with pushing the boundaries of knowledge to serve others and contribute to the common good. Give us an example of how you’ve used what you’ve learned to make a positive impact in another person’s life.
23. Vanderbilt University
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150-400 words)
24. Washington University in St. Louis
  • Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit. (Up to 500 words)
25. Yale University
  • Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
  • What inspires you? (35 words or fewer)
  • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (35 words or fewer)
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words or fewer)
  • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours? (35 words or fewer)
  • Essays:
    • Think about an idea or topic that has been intellectually exciting for you. Why are you drawn to it? (250 words)
    • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community? (250 words)
    • Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international importance. Discuss an issue that is significant to you and how your college experience might help you address it. (250 words or fewer)

25 Great Pre-Med Schools That Are Not in the Ivy League

medical tests on the table

If you want to become a physician, choosing the right pre-med college is incredibly important. Everyone knows the Ivy League schools are great for pre-meds, but awesome pre-med colleges are found throughout the country. Here we list 25 great premed schools that are not in the Ivy League.Search:

SchoolStudents ApplyingStudents AcceptedAcceptance RateEnrollmentAvg ACT ScoreAvg SAT ScoreApplication DeadlineAcceptance Rate for Undergraduates/Alumni Applying to Medical School
Boston College28,9569,01731%2,359321355Jan 1st64%
Boston University57,44116,90729%3,552301316Jan. 280% with a Human Physiology Major
California Institute of Technology6,8555538%235351555Jan 3rdFor the matriculating year of 2011, medical school applicants from Rice had an 89% acceptance rate, with an 88.3% acceptance rate averaged over the past ten years
Carnegie Mellon21,2894,60122%1,552321448Jan 1stNot published
Case Western23,1158,19235%1,264321386Jan. 15Not published
Duke University31,6713,43011%1,723331475Jan 3rd85%
Emory19,9245,03925%1,358311390Jan. 1Not published
George Washington University25,48810,24940%2,525301300Jan. 1Not published
Georgetown University19,9973,36917%1,574321406Jan 10thNot published
Johns Hopkins University27,0943,23412%1,311331475Jan 1st70%
New York University60,72419,35132%6,139311351Jan 1stNot published
Northwestern University35,1003,74211%1,985331461Jan 1stNot published
Rice18,2362,78515%981341490Jan 1stNot published
Stanford University43,9972,1185%1,739331455Jan 3rdNot published
Tufts University20,2232,88914%1,336321448Jan 1st75-90%
UNC Chapel Hill34,8899,40027%4,228291288Jan. 15Not published
University of California – Berkeley82,58113,50716%6,253331449Nov 30thNot published
University of Chicago31,4842,4998%1,591341525Jan 1st79-88%
University of Michigan55,50415,87129%6,689311393Feb 1st54%
University of Notre Dame19,5053,65419%2,046341445Jan. 1While Notre Dame students have a much higher acceptance rate than the national average, the rate itself is not an informative number
University of Southern California54,2809,02217%3,068311371Jan 15th55% (from the ExploreUSC session stated on CollegeConfidential)
University of Washington43,51719,73345%6,415281241Nov. 15Not published
Vanderbilt University32,4223,48711%1,601341505Jan 1st70%
Wake Forest14,0064,24930%1,306301340Jan 1stNot published
Washington University in St Louis20,1974,82717%1,776331453Jan 2ndNot published

Acceptance rates to US MD schools for 2015-2017. The average applicant has about a 40% chance of being accepted. The MedSchoolCoach/UniversityCoach student has more than a 85% chance. Why? A dedicated team of pre-med professionals helping each and every student get into medical school.