What Is the Best Major for a Pre-Med?

woman with paperworks and a laptop on her desk

The question of what to major in as a pre-med is extremely common question parents and students asked! There is a lot of different articles out there speaking about which major maybe the best, but here we take an analytical approach to the question.

Acceptance Rates for the Most Popular Majors

Based on 2017-2018 AAMC data, the most popular majors for medical school matriculants were biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. The acceptance rates for these majors were really similar, ranging between 41 percent and 46 percent. The bottom line is that your major does not matter. (On average, only about 40 percent of total applicants matriculate to medical school each year).

ABOUT 50% OF HUMANITIES MAJORS GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL

But only about 40% of biology majors get in!

What’s Up with Humanities and Math/Statistics Majors?

Acceptance rates to medical schools for humanities and math/statistics majors may appear more impressive at first. Fifty percent of humanities majors and 48 percent of math/statistics majors were accepted this past year. You may be thinking to yourself, “Wow, I should be a humanities or a math/statistics major, because they have higher acceptance rates!” But, keep in mind that students with these majors represent a very small percentage of all medical school matriculants.

Top Majors for Medical School Matriculants

Based on the AAMC data, the most popular major for medical school matriculants was biological sciences (54 percent of total matriculants). Physical sciences and social sciences each only represented 10 percent of accepted students. It is important to know that all math/statistics, humanities, and specialized health sciences majors together only made up about 8 percent of total matriculants.

Why Did Specialized Health Sciences Majors Have the Lowest Acceptance Rates?

Specialized health sciences majors had the lowest average MCAT scores out of any majors. Specialized health sciences majors’ average MCAT score was about 501, compared to 510 for the average person accepted to medical school. That is close to ten points lower! I wonder if this is because top tier schools do not usually offer a specialized health sciences major, so students with this major are generally less competitive students.

Choose Your Major Wisely! GPA Matters

Remember that your GPA matters more than what you major in. It is important to choose a major that you think you can do well in. If you are really interested in biochemistry, but you do not get higher than a B in most of your biochemistry classes, you probably will not have a high enough GPA to be accepted to medical school. The average overall GPA for students admitted to medical schools is 3.71!

10 Great Pre-Med Schools

Medical team performing operation

What makes a great pre-med program?

Great pre-medical schools can be found around the country. What makes one great compared to another is often the quality of the education, their resources for premeds (think research and clinical opportunities) and also the ability for a student to perform well while maintaining a high GPA. Many schools publish their “pre-med acceptance rates”, however you should take this number with a grain of salt as it doesn’t often tell the whole story.Show 102550100 entriesSearch:

SchoolStudents applyingStudents acceptedAcceptance RateEnrollmentAvg ACT ScoreAvg SAT ScoreApplication deadlinePublished acceptance Rate for Undergraduates/Alumni Applying to Medical School
Harvard University39,0002,1105%1,663331476Jan 1st93%
Columbia University36,2922,2796%1,420331510Jan 1st91%
Yale University31,4451,9886%1,371331484Jan 1st86%
Duke University31,6713,43011%1,723331475Jan 3rd85%
Boston University57,44116,90729%3,552301316Jan. 280%
University of Pennsylvania38,9183,6749%2,491331463Jan 5th78%
Cornell University44,9656,33714%3,315321424Jan 1st76%
Johns Hopkins University27,0943,23412%1,311331475Jan 1st70%
University of California–Berkeley82,58113,50716%6,253331449Nov 30thNot published
Georgetown University19,9973,36917%1,574321406Jan 10thNot published

UNC Chapel Hill34,8899,40027%4,228291288Jan. 15Not published
Stanford University43,9972,1185%1,739331455Jan 3rdNot published
University of Washington43,51719,73345%6,415281241Nov. 15Not published

WANT TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR PRE-MED SUCCESS?

Learn why 90%+ of UniversityCoach students eventually get accepted to medical school. Contact us today.

Should you look at published acceptance rates?

There are several reasons that you shouldn’t consider just the published acceptance rate in your decision to apply or enroll at a particular school. Many schools don’t tell the whole truth with these numbers. There maybe students who they do not support through the medical school admissions process because of their grades or MCAT and so the school won’t count these students in their numbers. Bottom line, you want to make sure to know the whole story (which is often difficult to get). That said, the list above has absolutely fabulous pre-med programs that can set you up for great success!

Three Big Mistakes You’re Making On Your Application

crumpled paper missing trashcan

It’s time to fill out your college application! Amazing. What an exciting time for you and your family. This is your chance to shine, to put on paper everything that you’ve ever done. But, do it incorrectly and you could have issues. These are three common mistakes to avoid.

1. Spelling errors

Everyone makes mistakes, but the one place you don’t want to make one is your college application.

Colleges expect you to have read and reread your application dozens of times to make sure there are no silly mistakes. After all, colleges, especially the best ones, value students who have spent the time to go over their application in detail. It shows you care and that you will make a great addition to the university’s incoming class.

If you do make a mistake and catch it after the fact, don’t stress. In life, mistakes happen and you’ll just have to deal with the cards you are dealt after that. Better not to make a mistake though!

2. You don’t stand out from the rest of the pack

With the thousands of applicants being reviewed by colleges during the admissions season, it’s easy for adcoms to reject ones that don’t stand out. Don’t let this be you.

The bulk of the issue can be attributed to your inability to identify a unique value proposition for your college application clearly communicate it through your application.

A college coach at UniversityCoach can help you develop your voice and your application in order to take your application to the next level.

3. You don’t deliver what you promise (because someone else wrote your application)

Uh oh. You and your family have hired a college consultant but they’ve taken the reigns and essentially written your application for you. This is a big no-no in the eyes of any admissions committee and can be seen through. Maybe you have a great personal statement but a really terrible supplemental application. Or maybe you get to the interview and have no idea what your application even talked about. These are big issues that you should avoid by choosing a college consultant who will help you maintain your own voice.

Study: Medical Admissions’ relationship with Innovations Can Cause Unintended Disruption in Admitted Students

diverse doctors clipart

MSC Dive Brief:

  • Since 2007, when the MCAT switched from a paper-based format to a revised computer-based format, technologies have been disrupting medical school admissions, such as situational judgement tests (SJTs) like the CASPer and the standardized video interview (SVI), a new study reports conducted by Canadian researchers and published in the Journal of the Association of American Colleges. 
  • The research has various implications for students hailing from a rural or international background learning for the MCAT as applicants must be able to achieve a certain score in order to be in serious consideration for admissions. Furthermore, the lead author of the study, Dr. Mark D. Hanson, pondered whether the advance of technologies which reduce human contact, whether by eliminating the need for an evaluator or a physical interviewer, increase the effect that convenient access has on how and why we conduct the admissions process.
  • Earlier studies have noted the idea that Artificial Intelligence (AI) may impact the practice of healthcare in the US, but Hanson states that none have looked at the impact that technologies were having on medical admissions now. The global impact of the MCAT, SJTs, and SVI may actually hinder those who are trying to gain access to medical education in the US, and increase the already present divide between rural and urban medical school applicants.

MSC Dive Insight:

Creating a fair and equitable admissions process is a noble goal, but there needs to be a discussion about specifics as well when the process is driven by academic capitalism. These problems with already-present computerized tests which assess personality and “human touch” through a screen may actually accentuate local institutional and national student diversity problems.

For example, data which is collected by the MCAT during a U.S. based examination was the same as a Canadian examination until 2016, and notably left out several minority groups who took the examination (First Nations, Inuit, etc.) which have been recognized by the Canadian government. Because no data are collected about these test-takers, they are essentially invisible to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) when they look at who is applying to medical school.

Communities who are not as vocal may not be able to change implicit biases against them when it comes to the CASPer, which is a type of SJT which imposes yet another financial burden on students when trying to send scores (which applicants cannot see) to medical schools. Reducing the “human touch” aspect in favor of convenience may not be equated with utility in medical admissions.

Medical school applicants should be wary of these biases when studying for the MCAT, because there is a lot of variability when it comes to college classes. The MCAT is standardized (albeit with the drawbacks mentioned in the study) and therefore, the information that one needs to learn is clear. Adjusting the test for local demographic changes needs to be done in a socially responsible manner which aligns incentives with academic capitalism. For the applicant, this means that while doing these tests, remembering to stay true to oneself and your individual identity. The medical school admissions process, while disrupted by technology, can still be engineered to one’s benefit. If one has the right tutors and self-awareness of how the technology used during admissions, they will also know how it will affect the school’s eventual decision.

Citation

Hanson, M. D., & Eva, K. W. (2019). A Reflection Upon the Impact of Early 21st Century Technological Innovations on Medical School Admissions.Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Webinar: Navigating the Medical School Application Process

Free Webinar: Navigating the Medical School Application Process

October 23rd at 9 pm EST

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  • How to prepare yourself for the AMCAS application
  • Collecting letters of recommendation
  • Application timing and strategic submission
  • What you can be doing in this next year to make your application to medical school a success!

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Get to Know Our New Advisor, Dr. Emily Singer!

We sat down with Dr. Singer, MedSchoolCoach advisor and General Surgery resident at The Ohio State University, to learn a little bit more about her background and her experience throughout the application process.

Tell us a little bit more about your background.

I grew up in Seattle, Washington. I graduated from Stanford University with dual majors in Russian Literature and Economics. However, I knew I was interested in medicine so I completed my premedical coursework at Stanford and through UC Berkeley Extension to round out my science background. I then worked in health policy consulting and a small Bay Area based pharmaceutical startup during my three and half years between graduating Stanford and matriculating into medical school. I was actually a reapplicant as I first applied at the end of the cycle and subsequently received only one or two interviews and was then waitlisted. During the third cycle, I actually used MedSchoolCoach and was accepted into the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. I realized first hand how important the timeline is for the application process. During medical school, I served on medical school admissions for UCLA, both as a subcommittee member and as the sole student representative on the executive admissions committee. I especially advocated for non-traditional students and reapplicants as I was once in their exact place.

What was it that got you interested in advising students?

I really started advising students once I got into medical school. However, before medical school, I started a blog about my experiences throughout the application process because I thought it was important to share some of the information and misinformation that’s out there. That led me to work with some of my classmates on ProspectiveDoctor.com, a website that provides students interested in medical careers a reliable source of information and perspective. We tried to put out important information for people considering a career in medicine. I had limited exposure to advising during undergrad so I wanted make sure there were more resources out there.

What is one piece of advice that you wish you had going through the process?

I think there are several things I was I had known while going through the medical school application process. I cannot overstate the importance of getting exposure to what a career in medicine looks like through shadowing or talking to family friends who are physicians. You don’t need to spend all this time in a doctor’s office as an undergrad but it’s so important to fully understand what this career looks like and how much of a time commitment it is. It’s also important to view getting into medical school as the beginning of this process, rather than the end. Medical school is such a huge investment of your time, your emotions and finances. I see a lot of applicants who have trouble convincing me on their application that they’re fully committed. Getting prospective from people in the field can really help you understand what your future may look like and show the admissions committee your commitment. Another thing is the personal organization that you need to have in the process. It alleviates a lot of stress if you keep to-do lists and a running spreadsheet with notes about the different schools you’re applying to, which ones you’ve interviewed with and what assignments you’re ahead of or behind on. Everyone has their own organization tools, but keeping a spreadsheet with all the moving pieces of my application helped me to stay on top of everything!

Get to Know Our New Tutor, Jennifer Chyu!

We sat down with Jennifer, MedSchoolCoach tutor and fourth year student at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, to learn a little bit more about her background and her experience throughout the application process.

Tell us a little bit more about your background.

I received my undergraduate degree at University of California, Los Angeles, where I conducted research in cardiology and took on numerous leadership positions teaching everything from college-level organic chemistry to middle school violin lessons to high school choir classes. I was actually considering being music teacher during my first year in college! After graduation, I took a gap year and worked as a full-time research assistant in Seattle while applying to medical school. Throughout my time at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, I’ve taken on many leadership roles tutoring fellow medical students in the pre-clinical curriculum and Step 1 while continuing to be actively involved in clinical research.

What was it that got you interested in advising students?

I’ve been very involved in tutoring while at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Currently, I’m the lead for our tutoring program and I oversee the other tutors, organize lectures, and prepare handouts for students. I’ve also put together USMLE Step 1 guidebooks for second year students. During your first and second year of medical school, you are mostly taking basic sciences courses and I’ve loved helping students understand why they’re learning this material and how it will benefit them in the future. It’s also been helpful for me to continue reviewing first and second year material as a fourth year student!

What is one piece of advice that you wish you had going through the process?

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help! When I was studying, I definitely felt that I needed to be alone and independently focus on my own material and notes. You don’t necessarily need to be isolated; group studying can be very beneficial and make you feel that you’re not alone in this process. It’s also healthy for your overall “medical school well being”, and can help to give you perspective. Don’t hesitate to study in groups or with a tutor!

Get to Know Our New Advisor, Dr. Ann John!

We sat down with Dr. John, MedSchoolCoach advisor, former adviser for the Honors College at Rutgers University, and former faculty interviewer at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, to learn a little bit more about her background and her experience throughout the application process.

Tell us a little bit more about your background.

I was a member of the 6-year accelerated BA/MD program at Rutgers University to which I was accepted during my senior year of high school. I subsequently went to medical school at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where I served as President of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society to which I was inducted during my third year. I served as an adviser for the Honors College at Rutgers University and on the interview committee at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where I interviewed candidates for admission. I’m actively involved in mentoring and am interested in helping students pursuing accelerated programs as well as more traditional routes.

What was it that got you interested in advising students?

I was lucky because I had an older sister who went through the process of applying to medical school. She was an extremely helpful resource and was able to provide me with advice and tips that someone may not have without experiencing it first hand. Your school guidance counselor or pre medical counselor may be able to provide you with basic information on the application, but it’s a confusing process. As someone who went through the process myself, I felt I could serve as a platform for application do’s and don’ts.

What is one piece of advice that you wish you had going through the process?

The admissions committee isn’t looking for someone who can “save the world”. They are looking for someone who portrays maturity, dedication and sophistication. Touch upon these qualities, both in your personal statement and in your interview. Some applicants try to throw jokes into their personal statements, but this can derail your aim and may bring up the question of how serious and dedicated you are to this process. Also, it’s never too early to start preparing for medical school. Once I knew I wanted to be a physician, I started building up my CV. I got my EMT license in high school, which was brought up a lot during interviews and was a way for me to demonstrate my dedication to the field. 

Learn more about how our medical school advisors can support your journey to med school.