How Hard Is It to Get Into Medical School in 2024?

How Hard Is It To Get Into Med School + Tips To Get Accepted

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Posted in: Applying to Medical School

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It’s hard to get into medical school — and for good reason! The challenges you face during the application process are there to ensure applicants are ready for the rigors (and rewards) of a future medical career.

We review the statistics about the competitiveness of med school and provide tips for increasing your chances at being accepted.

How Hard Is It To Get Into Medical School? 

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the acceptance rate for medical school applicants in the U.S. was only 41.2% through the 2022-2023 application cycle. Applicants with a GPA of 3.7 and an MCAT score of 510 or higher have the highest acceptance rates.

The application cycle requires academic excellence, comprehensive preparation, and the ability to demonstrate your strong commitment to medicine. As a premed student, you’ll need to be diligent to study and balance schoolwork with relevant extracurriculars to pursue a career as a physician.

The number of applicants to med school far outweighs the available class sizes, leading to highly selective med school admissions. Factors influencing this competitiveness include:

  • GPA and MCAT Score
  • Clinical Experience 
  • Research and Extracurricular Activities
  • Personal Statement and Letters of Recommendation
  • Volunteering and Community Service

Read Next: How to Stand Out as a Medical School Applicant

Is it hard to get through medical school? Yes, as much as gaining acceptance into medical school is a feat worth many congratulations, getting through medical school can also be demanding. The curriculum involves intensive science courses, long study hours, clinical rotations, and continuous assessment as you are training to be able to improve the quality of life, and perhaps even save the lives of your patients.

Can I get into medical school with a 2.5 GPA? Most medical programs have a GPA requirement of 3.0, meaning your application won’t be considered if you have a low GPA under that cutoff. Even if you meet the minimum GPA requirement, it’s best to have a 3.6 GPA to be competitive.

Students accepted to MD programs typically have slightly higher overall GPAs than those accepted to DO (osteopathic) programs. However, the gap between the two is closing, and some DO programs have highly competitive GPA and MCAT requirements.

To increase your chances of getting accepted to medical school with a lower-than-average GPA, you may want to consider a post-bacc program.

Expert Tips to Help You Get into Medical School

Medical school admissions committees look for stellar grades, meaningful experiences in healthcare, and a commitment to the community. With strategic preparation, authentic passion, and these tips, your dream of becoming a doctor can be a reality.

Getting into medical school requires steadfast dedication, meaning you’ll need to both excel academically, get meaningful healthcare experience, and make an impact on your community. 

The process can be made a little easier to manage with strategic planning, genuine passion, and commitment to growth.

Talk to our Physician Advisors about medical school admissions consulting today. Students who hire MedSchoolCoach DOUBLE their chances at getting accepted compared to the average applicant!

1. Choose the Right Pre-Med Major

Contrary to popular belief, there is no specific “pre-med” major that applicants must have to get into medical school. A strong foundation in the sciences is necessary for a future in healthcare, but a well-rounded education that includes humanities and social sciences is beneficial, too.

Selecting an undergrad major that aligns with medical school prerequisites helps you build the knowledge base you’ll need moving forward. A bachelor’s in science like biology is common, but humanities or other fields like psychiatry are also popular choices as long as the necessary science courses are completed.

Choosing the right pre-med major isn’t about picking the most common path, but finding the one that aligns with your interests and will keep you motivated. Your GPA is a major factor in your medical school application, and you’ll want to be able to balance your passion with the practical requirements of medical school admissions.

Consult with academic advisors, premed students, or med school admissions counselors to help make the best decision for your unique situation.

2. Study

The best thing a high school student considering a medical career can do is plan to study frequently and effectively. Your first year in college can set the tone for your GPA, and preparing for the MCAT around halfway through your undergrad requires significant preparation.

Is a 3.7 GPA good enough for medical school? Yes, a 3.7 GPA is generally considered competitive for medical school, especially if coupled with a strong MCAT score. The average GPA for med school applicants is around 3.6, and many schools expect a high GPA just to send secondaries to medical school applicants. 

If you choose an undergrad major including science coursework, you’ll get a head start on studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). You want to start studying for the MCAT well in advance. We recommend a 6 month study schedule leading up to the test date. 

Consider using practice tests, study guides, and possibly enrolling in a prep course. Focus on areas such as biological sciences, chemistry, physics, and critical reasoning. 

Your MCAT score is one of the primary factors considered in the admissions process. The average MCAT score for matriculants in 2022-2023 was 511.9, so you’ll want to allocate ample time and resources to prepare. 

Learn more about how we can help you boost your MCAT score.   

3. Get Clinical Experience

Shadowing physicians or otherwise gaining clinical experience gives you a firsthand look into the medical field and is often a prerequisite for admission. Nothing will prepare you better for a future in healthcare than hands-on patient care.

Clinical experience allows you to explore specialties and primary care, develop vital human interaction skills, and have an in-depth understanding of the healthcare system. 

In general, 100-150 hours of clinical experience is recommended for your med school application. Look for meaningful opportunities early on in your undergraduate education. 

4. Volunteer

Volunteering reflects your dedication to service, empathy, and community engagement, all of which are attributes that can help you get into medical school. 

Medical schools want to see quality volunteering experience over quantity. This means a long-term commitment to a non-profit or volunteering role is better than multiple short-lived experiences.

Your volunteer experience can be with an organization that supports a cause that you care about, or it can be in the medical field. Or both! Whichever you choose, starting early to build your hours and relationships will show your commitment and dedication.

If possible, seek out leadership roles when you volunteer. Leadership is a valuable skill and an excellent way to network. Consider being a chapter president of a Global Medical Brigade on your campus for a leadership role and clinical volunteering experience abroad!

5. Choose the Right Extracurriculars

Participation in extracurricular activities showcases a well-rounded personality and diverse interests. You can participate in extracurriculars in sports, arts, or research experience. Having experiences outside of being engaged in academics is a good sign to admissions committees, as it shows you’re a well-rounded individual.

Extracurriculars can provide a compelling narrative for your personal statement and demonstrate your teamwork skills. During your interviews, be prepared to discuss how your extracurricular activities have contributed to your growth and allowed you to gain skills that align with your medical interests. 

6. Start your Application Early

The earlier you submit your primary and secondary applications to medical school, the better your chances are at being considered and, hopefully, accepted to one or more programs.

The application process starts with the primary application, and a secondary application is then sent by individual schools you have applied to if you pass their minimum requirements. 

Medical school applications have many components and steps that can require a significant amount of time. It’s best to start your application early — we recommend starting your application when it opens in early May and submitting the final version no later than early June. 

When you’re getting ready to begin your application, review the timelines of both the AMCAS and AACOMAS (or TMDSAS, if you’re applying to a Texas medical school). Each application cycle is similar but not identical.

Read Next: AACOMAS Application Guide

A medical school primary application consists of:

After your primary application is submitted, the medical programs you applied to will evaluate your application and send secondary essays for you to complete if you seem to be a good fit.

Craft a personal statement that will stand out — our advisors can help.

7. Apply to the Right Schools

Research and apply to schools that match your GPA, MCAT score, and medical career interests. Compare your GPA, MCAT scores, and other relevant statistics with the average acceptance rate of the schools you’re considering. Apply to a mix of reach, target, and undershoot schools (aka, safety schools) to maximize your chances.

You can use MSAR or our proprietary MedSchool Explorer to check the admission requirements, curriculums, and tuition to each medical school. Also note that osteopathic (DO) schools may offer different opportunities than MD programs.

8. Prepare for Interviews

Medical school interviews assess how suitable you are for both specific medical programs and a medical career in general. 

Practice, prepare, and demonstrate your commitment to the medical field. When you receive an invitation, treat interview preparation with the same seriousness as the rest of the application. Research common questions and practice your answers.

Some tips for your interview prep include:

  • Check what type of interview they conduct and make sure you understand the format. It might be a traditional one-on-one interview, Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs), or group interviews.
  • Familiarize yourself with the school’s mission, values, curriculum, faculty, research opportunities, and anything else that may be relevant. Your knowledge of the school will demonstrate your genuine interest, particularly if your values and goals truly align with theirs.
  • Consider common questions such as “Why do you want to be a doctor?” or “Why this school?” Practice your answers, but don’t memorize them. You don’t want them to sound rehearsed.
  • Ask insightful questions to your interviewer. This will show your interest and understanding of the school. However, you should avoid questions that can easily be found on the school’s website.
  • Practice soft skills leading into your interview like communication, body language, and eye contact. Practice speaking clearly and confidently.
  • Be prepared for ethical questions and dilemmas that you will need to think through to answer. You’ll need to be able to explain your reasoning.
  • Dress appropriately — first impressions matter.
  • Stay up to date with current events in healthcare.
  • Remember to send a thank you note after the interview. 

We can help you prep for your medical school interview, no matter which format. 

Calculate Your Chances of Getting Into Medical School With Your MSC Score

Being concerned about your likelihood of medical school acceptance is fairly normal. The process is very competitive and many students are asking themselves:

What are my chances of getting into medical school? 

This is where the MSC Score comes into play. It’s a valuable tool to assess how competitive an applicant might be for entry into U.S. MD and DO programs, offering insights into what actions can enhance one’s chances.

While tools like the LizzyM score calculate solely based on AMCAS information, your MSC Score considers GPA, science GPA, and MCAT scores.

MedSchoolCoach created this calculator with extensive research. Over 50,000 data points and 15,000 real applicants were examined to be able to provide a reliable framework for gauging acceptance odds. Our calculator is based on various factors such as statistics, extracurricular activities, and more.

Get a clear perspective on how you compare with other applicants and where you stand with your MSC Score. 

What if I Didn’t Get in the First Time?

Less than half of applicants are accepted to med school each year, which means reapplying to med school is fairly common. If you didn’t get accepted the first time, consider a post-bacc program or an intentional gap year to pursue research or strengthen weaker parts of your application.

Increase Your Chances of Getting Into Medical School

Approach each requirement for getting into medical school as an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities. Let your purpose guide you through long study hours, clinical volunteering, and community projects. The road to becoming a physician takes resilience, but each step brings you closer to that white coat. 

Stay focused on your objectives, converting obstacles into triumphs. Through determination, achieving your goals is within reach.

MedSchoolCoach has a team of expert advisors that can help increase your chances of getting into medical school.

Speak with a member of our enrollment team who can help you prepare your application for med school.

FAQs

What are the prerequisites for medical school? Most medical school prerequisites include biology, chemistry, physics, English, and possibly other humanities courses.

How much does medical school cost? On average, medical school costs between $150,000 to $250,000 for a four-year program, depending on the school of medicine and residency.

How many hours are in a day of medical school? Medical students can expect to spend 10-12 hours in classes, studying, and doing related activities each day.

Should I go to a community college for 2 years before applying? Community college can be a viable option, but ensure that the coursework aligns with the prerequisites for your chosen medical schools. You may want to follow-up your community college coursework with more specialized and in-depth classes at your 4-year university.

Picture of Renee Marinelli, MD

Renee Marinelli, MD

Dr. Marinelli has practiced family medicine, served on the University of California Admissions Committee, and has helped hundreds of students get into medical school. She spearheads a team of physician advisors who guide MedSchoolCoach students.

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