6 Essential Steps on How to Prepare for Medical School


With the medical school national acceptance rate at 41.9%, you must have a strong application to be considered a competitive applicant. Therefore, if you’ve decided to pursue medical school, it’s important to start preparing for it while getting your undergraduate degree. 

As early preparation is crucial since it can make or break your application, it’s only natural to wonder how to prepare for medical school.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deeper into the essential steps of preparing for medical school and what you need to consider at each stage leading to your medical school application. 

Research and Planning

Before preparing for medical school, you must thoroughly research the major you want to pursue in your undergraduate studies. While biology, chemistry, and biological sciences are popular majors, you can choose any subject as long as you meet the prerequisite courses. Exploring different majors can help you find the one that aligns with your interests and can serve as the foundation for your career as a physician.

After deciding your academic trajectory, you must strive to develop effective study habits and organization skills. This way, you’ll be able to excel in undergraduate courses and prepare thoroughly for the challenging demands of medical school. To build a solid academic foundation and improve organizational skills, you should establish a routine, set realistic goals, and plan ahead to meet important deadlines. 

Another critical component you need to research is medical schools. Doing this enables you to identify which schools align with your goals or are reputable for your area of interest, allowing you to make an informed decision about your future in medicine. When researching medical schools, it is important to consider factors such as admissions requirements, curriculum, and campus culture.

Engaging in Healthcare and Leadership Activities

Engaging in healthcare and leadership activities during your undergraduate studies is crucial, as it helps you cultivate valuable skills that can enhance your medical school application. Taking on leadership roles within or outside the healthcare setting is an extracurricular activity highly valued by admissions committees. You can hold positions in student government, increase responsibilities in a research lab, coordinate events at a local clinic, or lead a club to improve your ability to handle responsibilities. This will help you develop your communication and organizational skills, which are highly sought after in the medical field.

As you increase your involvement in extracurricular activities during undergraduate studies, consider activities that reflect your passion for medicine. To gain clinical experience, you can volunteer at hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes. This will give you the opportunity to observe healthcare professionals as they go about their daily routines, interact with patients, and gain a firsthand understanding of healthcare delivery.

Participating in such activities demonstrates your ability to manage your time efficiently and balance academics with other commitments. While the time you can allocate to extracurricular activities depends on your circumstances and commitments, we recommend starting as early as possible. Beginning in your first year at university can help you make a significant impact and demonstrate your long-term dedication to service.


The journey toward medical school is filled with questions, so it’s crucial to partner with mentors or advisors to navigate the complexities of medical school preparation. These experienced individuals can offer valuable guidance and insights into course selection, extracurricular activities, and the overall medical school application process. This way, you can significantly enhance your preparation and chances of success. 

Furthermore, when preparing for medical school, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with your medical degree. Attending career and health profession fairs can help you learn about different medical specialties and career paths. Networking with professionals can also expand your horizons and build connections that will benefit your academic and professional journey.

On-campus resources, such as pre-health clubs or academic support services, are another critical avenue for medical school preparation. These resources will help you remain informed and connected with peers pursuing similar goals, ensuring you stay on the pre-med track and make the most out of the undergraduate experience.

Building Experience


As you work on your medical school application, it’s important to build up your experience through summer programs such as research internships and healthcare-related volunteer programs. Participating in such programs will provide valuable hands-on experience and help you develop practical skills that will greatly enhance your application.

For example, research experience is vital for academic growth and developing analytical abilities. Collaborating with faculty or participating in research projects are great ways to get involved. By doing so, you’ll also nurture critical thinking skills, which are essential for medical professionals.

Another way to build experience and better understand the daily duties of a physician is by shadowing healthcare professionals. This activity also provides an opportunity to learn about different medical specialties. As a result, you can make an informed decision about your career based on your interests and goals.

MCAT and Application

The MCAT is crucial to medical school applications, so you should begin preparing for the exam as early as possible. The earliest you can take the exam is the summer of your sophomore year, and you should take at least three to six months to prepare for it. By dedicating ample time to study and prepare for the MCAT, you will get a competitive score and showcase your academic readiness to admissions committees. To prepare for the MCAT, you should utilize resources like practice tests to familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types. 

Your medical school application should also include letters of recommendation from professors, advisors, and healthcare professionals. These letters should be obtained from people in the academic and healthcare community who can attest to your academic abilities, character, and suitability for a medical career. 

As a part of your application process, you need to become familiar with the AMCAS application process. You want to ensure your medical school application is competitive; therefore, you should be up-to-date with important deadlines and requirements. Moreover, you must ensure that your documents are thorough, well-organized, and submitted on time. In addition to your necessary documents, you must also craft a compelling personal statement highlighting meaningful experiences. 

While the process of applying to medical school can be overwhelming, you can present yourself as a strong and qualified candidate by investing time and effort into preparing your application. 

Personal Development

Although academic and clinical preparation for medical school are critical components for a future as a physician, personal development is equally important. It also demonstrates your readiness for the emotional demands of medical school.

Learning a new language before entering medical school can benefit personal growth and significantly aid in preparing for a medical career. It can enhance your medical school application, particularly if you are applying in states like California, Florida, and Texas, which have large Spanish-speaking populations. Learning a new language can improve your cultural competency, enabling you to communicate more effectively with patients from different countries. However, the question is, what language should you learn as a pre-med? The most popular languages spoken in the U.S. besides English are Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and French. 

Volunteering in community outreach programs at local shelters or participating in community service initiatives is another effective approach to cultivating the essential attributes necessary for a thriving medical career. Doing so while pursuing your undergraduate degree will help you confirm your commitment to medicine and foster empathy and compassion. You can also display your dedication to personal and professional growth by participating in rehabilitation centers, crisis text lines, home health programs, and suicide hotlines.

Lastly, medical school interviews are a crucial opportunity to showcase your motivations for pursuing medicine and what makes you a strong candidate. During these interviews, you can reflect on your personal experiences, values, and aspirations and convey your genuine passion for medicine and commitment to serving others.

The Bottom Line

Now that you have learned how to prepare for medical school, it’s time to start planning for your next steps. Whether researching schools, mapping out your path, gaining experience, or working on personal growth, how you spend your time during your undergraduate years can significantly increase your chances of getting accepted.

Start early and stay committed to your goals while taking the time to relax and have fun. Your passion and resilience will undoubtedly pave the way for a rewarding medical career!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the prerequisites for applying to medical school?

The prerequisites for applying to medical school include courses in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English. Other requirements include taking the MCAT, gaining clinical experience, and submitting documentation such as letters of recommendation and a personal statement. 

How important is GPA for getting into medical school?

Your GPA plays a significant role in your medical school application. It showcases your academic excellence and rigor, which are essential for medical school success. However, some medical schools take a more comprehensive approach when evaluating candidates, so you may still have a chance to get admission even if your GPA is lower.

Is it advisable to take a gap year before starting medical school?

Whether or not it is advisable to take a gap year before medical school can depend on personal circumstances. For example, you may need to take one due to personal challenges or to strengthen your medical school application. That said, taking a gap year can offer several benefits, such as improving your GPA, enhancing your MCAT score, obtaining valuable clinical experience, and participating in research opportunities.

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