How to Get Into Medical School: All You Need to Know


Enrolling in a medical school is the first dream come true for future physicians. However, the medical school application journey can be confusing and overwhelming. But fret not; with the right attitude, careful planning, and preparation, you can face any obstacle and enroll in your dream medical school. 

Join us in our step-by-step guide on how to get into medical school. Follow along as we explore how to choose the right school and write a compelling personal statement. So read on and discover how to begin your journey toward a fulfilling medical career. 

Confirm Your Interest in Medicine

First and foremost, you must confirm your interest in medicine. The journey to becoming a doctor is laborious and challenging, so a genuine passion for medicine is crucial for persevering through hardships along the way. Moreover, being passionate about helping others allows you to foster compassion and empathy toward patients, thus providing high-quality healthcare. 

You can confirm your interest in medicine and determine whether a career in medicine suits you by volunteering at healthcare facilities and shadowing doctors. Not only will you gain first-hand exposure to the realities of healthcare, but you’ll also be able to interact with patients and learn from other healthcare professionals to assess your compatibility in the field further. 

Academic Prerequisites

One of the most essential requirements for enrolling in a medical school is the premedical coursework in subjects such as biology, chemistry, genetics, sociology, psychology, physics, and math. These subjects help you prepare for the rigorous medical school coursework and gain foundational knowledge of the human body. 

During your undergraduate studies, you must maintain a strong GPA to increase your chances of enrolling in your dream medical school. According to AAMC data, the average overall GPA in 2023-2024 was 3.64, with a science GPA of 3.54 and a non-science GPA of 3.78. 

But how do you maintain a competitive GPA?

To maintain a competitive GPA for medical school, we recommend that you:

  • Balance your class schedule with three challenging courses alongside two easier courses;
  • Manage your time effectively;
  • Join a study group;
  • Enlist the help of a tutor for a challenging course. 

Work Experience

Although academic excellence and standardized tests are crucial in assessing your potential for success in medical school, many schools are moving toward a more holistic approach during the admissions process. This means that the admissions committee is looking for well-rounded applicants who, besides their academic rigor, also demonstrate commitment to working in the healthcare field. One of the best ways to explore if medicine is the right career for you and to get acquainted with the demands of the field is by gaining work experience. You can seek paid roles as an EMT, medical scribe, medical assistant, or CNA or volunteer in clinics, hospitals, retirement facilities, or medical centers. 

Choosing the Right Medical Schools

While you may want to enroll in the first school you’re accepted to or the most prestigious institution you can, a school’s reputation doesn’t guarantee that it fits your aspirations best. Therefore, you should thoroughly research the schools you’re interested in and measure how they fit your academic and personal goals. To determine which school is right for you, we recommend considering a few factors such as: 

  • Location: Location is a key element when choosing a school. You should consider whether you want to be closer to your support system, the cost of living, housing, out-of-state tuition, and, most importantly, whether the location is a good place to start your career;
  • Research opportunities: You should also ensure that the school you want to attend has good labs and covers various research areas. Moreover, check for student research opportunities;
  • Academic focus: You must also determine if the medical school focuses on research, specialty medicine, or primary care. If you want patient contact as soon as possible, a medical program that emphasizes research may not be a good fit. 

Standardized Tests

The MCAT and CASPer are typically the standardized tests required for medical school. The MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, is an integral part of your medical school application that proves you possess the essential knowledge and skills necessary for medical school. It assesses your comprehension of the foundational concepts of natural and social sciences and your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 

CASPer stands for Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics and is an open-response, situational judgment assessment that evaluates your collaboration, problem-solving, ethics, and empathy skills. You’ll only have to take the test if you’re applying to a medical school that requires it. 

To prepare for these tests, check out resources by Acuity Insights and AAMC.

Crafting a Compelling Personal Statement

A compelling personal statement is one of the most important components of your medical school application, as it gives the admissions committee insights into your character and personality traits. Furthermore, it also gives you the space to showcase what sets you apart from other students. Crafting a compelling personal statement involves:

  • Listing your most outstanding qualities;
  • Listing any events or experiences that have led you to medicine;
  • Discussing how you’ve demonstrated your qualities in a medicine-related setting;
  • Elaborating on what you’ve gained from your formative experiences.

Remember that your personal statement should showcase your passion for medicine and highlight your strengths and aspirations. 

Here at AUA College of Arts and Science (CAS), we require personal statements to contain the following:

  • Why are you considering a career in your chosen field of study;
  • How will you be an asset to the college;
  • Your accomplishments, activities, and any other information you feel is relevant. 
Crafting a Compelling Personal Statement

Secondary Essays and Interviews

Secondary essays are essential to your medical school application as they complement your primary application and provide a more holistic picture of who you are as a candidate. Although they vary widely, they mostly circle prompts on topics such as:

  • Diversity essay: For example, “Tell us about an experience that broadened your worldview and what you learned from it.”
  • Challenge essay: “Tell us about a challenging problem you faced and how you resolved it. Include how it contributed to your development as a person.”
  • Gap year essay: “If you won’t be attending college in the upcoming academic year, what are your plans?”
  • Leadership essay: “Describe your most meaningful leadership positions.”
  • “Why us?”: “Why have you chosen to apply to our program, and how do you think your education at our school will prepare you to become a physician?”
  • “Anything else you’d like us to know?” essay: “Share something not addressed elsewhere that would help the admissions committee as they review your file.”

Lastly, the final hurdle between your medical school application and your admission is the interviews. It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed during this stage. However, by preparing well, you’ll be able to demonstrate to the medical school admissions committee what makes you the ideal candidate for their school. To prepare for medical school interviews, research the school and its values, practice with mock interviews, and memorize the answers to some of the most common interview questions. These include:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “What are your best and worst qualities?”
  • “What makes a good doctor?”
  • “Why do you want to become a doctor?”


The road to medical school involves several steps requiring utmost focus and determination, such as completing prerequisite coursework, passing standardized tests, crafting a compelling personal statement, and more. Therefore, you should be thoroughly prepared and committed as you embark on this adventure. 

But the adventure begins only after taking that first step, so explore our AS in Health Sciences and Prior Prep Program and move closer to your goal of becoming a medical student.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical timeline for applying to medical school?

Typically, the timeline for applying to medical school can look something like this:

  • Taking and passing the MCAT during the summer after your sophomore year;
  • Submitting your primary application at the end of May or the beginning of June in the year before the year you want to attend medical school;
  • Submitting your second application two to four weeks after your primary application;
  • Going to interviews as early as September and as late as April;
  • Receiving acceptance letters mid-October. 

Is it necessary to have healthcare experience to get into medical school?

Yes, healthcare experience is necessary to get into medical school. Even if not directly stated, medical schools seek well-rounded applicants who have engaged in activities that provide meaningful clinical experience. 

Can I get into medical school with a low GPA?

GPA is relative, so what one school may deem average, another may see as strong. Therefore, you can enroll in medical school even with a lower GPA than the average 3.64. 

How many medical schools should I apply to?

According to AAMC, medical school applicants apply to an average of 16 different schools. We recommend applying to at least 15 schools to diversify your enrollment options. 

What are some common mistakes to avoid in medical school applications?

Some common mistakes you want to avoid in medical school applications are applying to the wrong schools, writing a bland personal statement, not acquiring enough clinical experience, and not preparing for medical school interviews. Most importantly, don’t try to be someone you’re not; write about your defining traits and experiences in your voice. 

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