Support Us By Using Our Links When You Purchase

What GPA/MCAT combo will get me admission to medical school?

Home » AdComs » What GPA/MCAT combo will get me admission to medical school?

What GPA/MCAT combo will get me admission to medical school?

What’s a good GPA/MCAT combo for acceptance to medical school? 3.7/511!

That’s the burning question (GPA and MCAT scores for medical school??) that keeps most pre-meds up at night and utterly panicked at times. Here’s my response:

what's a good GPA MCAT combo?3.5/507 is competitive somewhere!

Right now I’m humming that old Jimmy Buffet song—you know the one…”It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” That is to say, “3.5/507 is competitive somewhere!” If you’ve done any digging around to get the lowdown on what MCAT scores and GPA are needed for acceptance to medical school, you know what many pre-meds have happily discovered after applying:  depending on your MCAT score, even a rather mediocre GPA is good enough to get you into some (lower-tier) schools. If you hit the 50th percentile on the new MCAT with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, it’s entirely possible you can get into some lower-tier (and maybe even a couple middle-tier) schools. Then, if you land a 518 on the MCAT, you may not have to sing that Jimmy Buffet song anymore, because your GPA and MCAT scores for medical school will be competitive just about anywhere!

What’s a “good” GPA/MCAT admissions combo?

Despite the advice below, in my opinion it’s a mistake giving two little numbers too much power over your psyche! Obviously you need good-looking numbers to seduce adcom committees into inviting you to “the dance,” but I’ve seen some pretty well-endowed students (numbers-wise) smacked down with rejection, while others with badly pocked scores somehow squeaked through. Since this game of predictions is not an exact science, I’ll throw out every bit of wisdom I can….and then recommend that you take it with a grain of salt.

My answer isn’t based on empirical data, because you can find that on a lot of MCAT vs GPA charts. For starters, you can check out the 10th and 90th percentile MCAT scores in The Official Guide to Medical School Admissions 2017: How to Prepare for and Apply to Medical School or look at the MCAT scores by school for all U.S. Medical Schools at services.aamc.org/msar/home. I’m just offering parameters and pointers for what a good GPA/MCAT combo should be, in addition to these US medical school application statistics, and from my own personal perspective and experience.

What's a good GPA MCAT combo for medical school | what's the required GPA MCAT combo | good GPA for med school | premedfaqAs with a lot of my recent posts, let me qualify my opinions with the fact that so much has been in flux with the post-2015 MCAT, that adequately scoring it is something adcoms are finally settling into.  There’s no way to say what the ideal score is, since even AAMC is saying that scores in the middle of the curve may be better than (or at least equal to) a perfect 528! Yes I just said that. And yes, it’s stunning!

MD vs. DO

Scores vary depending on whether you are targeting MD or DO schools. Data from 2015-2016 shows that for a DO program, the average GPA/MCAT medical school matriculation data is 3.44/503, while MD candidates have to ramp it up a bit: 3.55/505. So if those are averages, then they likely correspond to middle- or lower-tier schools. Your GPA/MCAT combo will need to be higher if you’re targeting top-tier programs. That would tend to bear out the number at the top of this post—3.7/511—as a pretty solid combination.

What about a 3.6 GPA?

Let’s just say in most cases, a 3.6 GPA won’t keep you out of any school. (And yes, I mean Ivy League contenders.) But that 3.6 GPA needs to be paired with a good MCAT score, great extracurriculars (EC) and a stellar personal statement, as well as letters of recommendation that are so good they’ll shine. In my opinion, great ECs will give you more props than another couple of GPA points. If you’re at 3.6 or 3.7, be happy and build on your ECs. On the other hand, if you’re at 3.5, it could be a negative factor, depending on where you apply. This assumes that your sGPA is also at 3.5—or higher!

A balanced MCAT sections

Adcom committees not only look at your medical school GPA and MCAT scores, but they want to know your score on individual test sections. It’s best if you have a balanced score that shows preparation in all areas. Even a solid GPA score might not cut it if the MCAT is out of balance. A 120/123/130/131 may compute the same as a 126/127/125/126, but the latter is more likely to get you noticed.


Extracurriculars can be extraterrestrial! If you have a 3.6/508 and really impressive ECs, it could bring you more adcom love than a 3.7/510 with mediocre ECs. Depending on the schools where you apply, there’s often a bottom line GPA that’s acceptable, and once you reach that, your time and attention is best invested in improving your ECs (or applying to other schools), rather than worrying about an extra tenth of a point in your GPA.

Mistakes to avoid

Here are a few don’ts:

(1) Don’t apply late.

(2) Don’t let your science GPA lag behind your cumulative GPA more than .2.

(3) Don’t submit a mediocre personal statement.

(4) Don’t apply to too few schools or to only top-tier programs

(5) Don’t mess around when selecting who will write your letters of recommendation.

(6) Don’t walk into an interview unprepared.

(7) Don’t send in sloppy secondary applications.

All of this advice—if followed—can be the key to unlocking the door to your chosen school, as long as you have the minimal numbers.

“Ding” factors

Here are a few things that can “ding” you….undergrad grades that trend lower during your upper level classes, taking easy classes for science electives, or taking major classes at a community college. In the last case, one or two science classes at a community college may be overlooked, but not more than that. Avoid trying to “take the easy route” at all costs!

So finally, I’m going to stick with the 3.7/511 recommendation for a solid GPA/MCAT combo, with probably a 75% chance of at least one acceptance. But there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that with a lower GPA (a 3.6, even 3.5) and decent MCAT (510-511) you could still get through the door—with great ECs, LORs, and an excellent personal interview!

There’s still a bit (sometimes quite a bit) of juice given for being a minority candidate, depending on the minority group you represent. If you’re a woman, racially diverse and/or the first in your family to graduate from college, it’ll probably help your application.

MCAT scores and GPA for medical schools are trending up…

If you want my opinion, this post has an expiration date on it. All the trends show that AMCAS GPA MCAT scores are going up. Why is that? Better students, or just more competition among them? It could be both. If the magic number in 2018 is 3.7/511, it will be a half a point or so higher next year.

Here are some related posts:

MCAT books: Review of Kaplan, Princeton Review, Examkrackers, Berkeley Review MCAT Prep book sets

What’s the best MCAT prep course—Princeton Review, Kaplan, Altius, Examkrackers, Berkeley Review…???

A comprehensive list of MCAT prep books in 2017

What exactly is in the AMCAS primary and secondary applications?

When should I take the MCAT, what’s the cost?

Can I still get into a residency program if I don’t go to a top-tier medical school?

The Best MCAT and GPA Combo for Med School | Pre Med FAQ

By | 2019-01-18T14:20:47+00:00 January 2nd, 2019|Pre Med Undergrad|155 Comments

About the Author:

Editor, writer, consultant, with special emphasis on education and nonprofit industries. I've helped many a pre-med through the treacherous waters on their way to their ultimate destination of MD. I have three awesome kids (one in med school) and a sweet hubby who supports all my efforts!


  1. Joan July 1, 2014 at 10:46 am - Reply

    3.7 and a 34 on my mcat but I applied in November last cycle so no acceptances. Same stats but I’ll be complete mid July this time, thoughts?

    • Bryce Johnson July 1, 2014 at 11:40 am - Reply

      Those numbers sound pretty promising. Taken in isolation, they sound like they’d put you through. But timing is everything. Well, not everything. There’s also your EC’s (extra curriculars) and LORS (letters of recommendation). Make sure those all-important letters of recommendation are super solid, and make sure you have plenty of shadowing and volunteering experience, collaborative research with professors, and any other outside volunteer experience you can muster. If any of those areas could be improved or added to, do it NOW. And regarding your second round of applying, don’t wait. Being in the first stack of potentials is a plus. You can check out a couple of posts on this website for information about other things you can do now: https://premedfaq.com/gpa-mcat-combo/ and https://premedfaq.com/how-can-i-build-my-med-school-resume-during-the-summer/. Good luck!

      • Joan March 31, 2015 at 5:01 pm - Reply

        Just want to check back in, I’ve been accepted to 2 US MD schools and have withdrawn from multiple other schools offering me interviews.

        • Bryce Johnson April 1, 2015 at 10:36 am - Reply

          Awesome, congrats!!!

  2. jn Raj December 1, 2014 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Hi My daughter has Mcat score of 30and sGPA of 3.67 and overall GPA of 3.77.
    Just got waitlisted from Temple med school. Does not has any other interview offers. We are kind of worried about her getting into Med school.
    Applied all the med school in Ohio, PA and some NY, DC area.
    What are the possibilites of her getting into Med school.
    Worried MOM .

    • Bryce Johnson January 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      Refer to the reply above. Your daughter could be the perfect candidate at the right school, with exactly the right EC’s. Research…shadowing…volunteering… A great personal statement and LORs. If she’s not heard back yet, she’ll have to wait to see if she’s picked up. You may want to check and see how long the list is at Temple. At this point, it’s a waiting game. It still can happen, as spots open up when students give them up. Then you can check my posts on what to do to spiff up her application if she has to wait another year. Don’t give up hope, and don’t make any careless mistakes. If she gets an interview, she’d better go in with a plan, prepared, and anticipating anything that might hit her….check my post on preparing for an interview. Good luck.

  3. Aryia December 22, 2014 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    What do you think of a 3.76+/29?

    I don’t really feel like doing the MCAT again…especially taking the new one…

    • Bryce Johnson January 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      You probably already feel in your bones what I’m going to tell you. Your situation is a little “iffy.” That said, you have the foundation for a pretty good application….depending on your extracurriculars. A 3.76 sGPA is just about where you need to be to get picked up by a lot of schools, even some in the mid- to upper-tier. But paired with a 29, it knocks you down quite a bit. What’s your research experience? Do you have plenty of shadowing and volunteering under your belt? Did you take the time to write a stellar personal statement? Don’t rush it! And your letters of recommendation had better hit it out of the park, so carefully consider your choices. Apply to schools that are more likely to accept you. Skip those with higher-scoring matriculants. And if you get the chance to send in a secondary application, put some serious thought and effort into it. Nothing from here on out can be sloppy or casual. You are making up for those 3-4 lost points. You may get a spot without taking the MCAT again, but everything will need to go right for you. And don’t rule out D.O. schools. There are some fantastic schools out there, and they may be willing to accept your slightly lower numbers. A year or so ago, the GPA/MCAT average at D.O. schools was 3.48/26.5 while MD schools averaged 3.68/31.2. I can’t tell you whether or not you should take the MCAT again. But you’ll know soon.

  4. MO February 18, 2015 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    My son has a 32 but his GPA is slightly over a 3.4 but he is in one the toughest Biomedical Engineering Programs in the country. Do they take that into account? He also added in the electrical engineering track.
    He’s also done shadowing and two internships at biotech companies, research assistant for a BME PhD candidate and was just awarded an undergraduate research fellowship….. and quite a lot of volunteering at a hospital. (plus college soccer but I’m not sure if that matters.)
    Our big worry remains the GPA being lower. What do you think with the ECs? He’s got some really positive LOREs too.

    • Bryce Johnson March 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      A 32 GPA is respectable, but that 3.4 is going to pull him down. That’s not to say he can’t get an offer, but that’s what the adcom will be looking at when they make their decision. His extracurriculars sound solid, especially the internships and research. His LOR’s, personal statement and interview, if he gets one, will either seal or kill the deal. There are plenty of candidates with his stats who do get accepted, but he may want to consider applying at schools where they clearly accept a lower GPA, or at DO schools. If he is willing to work hard in a DO program, he can still come out with a competitive residency. But he will have to step it up a notch.

      You’re right that he had a tough undergraduate load, and in some respects that likely prepared him for the rigors of med school, not to mention the MCAT. But you’ll be trying to appeal to some traditional adcom committees that are looking for a certain level of classroom biology experience. If your son has to wait a year, it may be in his best interest to take a couple of the upper level biology classes he missed with his BEP program major.

      And look around for schools that push the BEP/medicine link, like University of Connecticut and others. Good luck.

  5. Annie February 24, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Could you share your thoughts on my 3.51/32? I have a lot of research, clinical, extracurricular/volunteer experience under my belt, too, but I’m afraid that low stats will keep me from getting in anywhere (I’m not looking at top-tier schools either, but middle-range would be nice.) I hope I’m not deluding myself in thinking that I’ll get into at least ONE med school, even if it isn’t a great one.

    • Bryce Johnson March 31, 2015 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      While you’re slightly below the average of the typical matriculant to MD schools with your numbers, there are a gazillion candidates with your stats who do get accepted. Especially those with a strong application. Applying widely is key. And doing your research to know which schools accept your stats. I don’t have a crystal ball, but if you have presented yourself as a unique candidate based on your research, clinical and volunteer experience, and have GREAT letters of recommendation and some signs of leadership experience, you have a good chance someone will pick you up. Be creative in where you apply, and don’t limit yourself in options like relocating and considering both DO and MD programs. Let me know how you do!

  6. Daniel Demick March 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Hello Mr. Johnson, my name is Daniel Demick. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will have to reapply in the next cycle. I have a balanced 31 (10p/10b/11v) mcat and a 3.71 science/overall GPA. I also have volunteering experience from coaching youth wrestling and I was able to achieve all-american status in wrestling while on two national championship teams in college. Due to the fact that I went to a smaller school, my research opportunities were limited and I am lacking in that regard. I also applied late in this last cycle so I think that this negatively impacted my chances. My question to you is this: how do you think I should go about strengthening my application for the next cycle? Do you think that it would be worthwhile to retake the MCAT or do you think that it would be more worthwhile to spend my time volunteering and attempting to get research experience? Also, I would really, best case scenario, like to attend UCCOM. Should I apply for early admissions?

    • Bryce Johnson March 31, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Daniel. You have what I call the deadly trifecta of omissions….late application, lack of research, and short on shadowing. Each of those deadly sins can pull you down, and taken together, they are enough to disqualify you from getting into your chosen schools. That said, your stats are pretty solid. Spending months preparing for another MCAT may not be worth the extra 2-3 points you could earn. Instead, I’d recommend strengthening your application. That means research (4 hours a week for three months), working in a clinical setting (4 hours a week for three months), volunteering (the sky’s the limit), and shadowing (minimum 2-3 full days). Then, find a workplace or volunteer role where you can take a leadership role if you haven’t gotten leadership experience. You need to present yourself as a uniquely attractive candidate, so choose your work/volunteer engagements carefully! You need to stand out from a broad pack of applicants. This next year should be tough, yet exhilarating as you’ll be learning about yourself and what your future may hold. Finally, give a lot of thought to who you choose for your letters of recommendation. Make sure they know you well, and can tell the adcoms who you are, not just what you’ve accomplished.

      If you are committed to UCCOM, by all means apply for early admission. If you submit the application to the Early Decision Program by August 1, you must agree to hold off on applying elsewhere until the October 1 notification deadlines passes. But that still gives you plenty of time to apply elsewhere.

      Finally, apply widely. One of the hardest lessons learned by too many med school applicants is that they can’t expand their applications after the acceptances are extended. So make sure to apply to at least 10 schools that accept candidates with your stats, giving yourself more options when the time comes.

      Good luck, and have a great year!

  7. Arman April 14, 2015 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Hey Bryce. I’m a junior right now and I’m expecting to graduate with a 3.82ish GPA. I have a 3.78 right now but I finished ochem and stuff I think I can get it up a little more. I have an mcat score of 35 and I have plenty of ec’s. By the time I apply I’ll have 2 years of research, 2 1/2 years of volunteering (about 400 hours) 1 1/2 years shadowing (as a medical scribe so it’s also a job, 20-30 hours a week), and I’ve been tutoring in the math department at my university since I started (anywhere from 10-20 hours a week depending on the semester). I got my name on a publication for research once and I might get another one. Assuming I have good letters of rec and personal statements (or whatever essays they ask for) what are my chances of getting into any of the UC’s or USC in your opinion?
    I live in southern california and I go to cal state northridge. It is a state school but its one of the best for science and engineering majors from what I know.

    • Arman April 14, 2015 at 12:11 am - Reply

      My science GPA is actually a little higher than my overall because I got a B in speech at a cc over summer haha. It’s almost a 3.8 right now and will probably be 3.83ish when I graduate.

      • Bryce Johnson April 14, 2015 at 1:17 am - Reply

        That should do the trick. A science GPA of 3.8 will open some doors, as long as it’s paired with a good MCAT score, good extracurriculars, stellar research and volunteerism, shadowing, and a killer personal statement, not to mention top notch LORs!

    • Bryce Johnson April 14, 2015 at 1:23 am - Reply

      You should be in a good spot. I’d rate your chances pretty high, but you’ll want to check the stats at all of the UC schools, and USC too. Obviously, the financial advantages of going in-state will be huge! That said, I wouldn’t limit your applications to only in-state schools. Do your research and figure out some other schools you like/places you want to plant yourself for the next couple of years. Your chances could be contingent on your race and sex, which may be obvious, but I should include it anyway. You’ve done everything right, and should be able to sit back and see something really promising materialize. Let me know how it goes! Oh, and preparing for interviews, once you get them, is the one detail lots of applicants forget. Don’t make that mistake. Treat it like the most important job interview you’ll ever have.

  8. Worried Mother April 28, 2015 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    My son has a gpa of 3.96 and mcat of 38 and got rejected from all medical schools. He has an engineering background. Is it an issue of being an engineer. He has a full ride for masters which he is giving up to work and apply for medical school next year. What are your thoughts

    • Bryce Johnson May 1, 2015 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      Those are some amazing stats, so it’s a little perplexing your son didn’t get at least one acceptance. Here are some of the possible reasons why: he applied only to top shelf schools; he neglected to check all the boxes for extracurricular extras (research, volunteering, shadowing); he applied late; he didn’t have outstanding letters of reference; his science GPA was lower than his overall GPA; and most important, there was nothing that helped him stand out against the sea of other qualified applicants.
      Over the next year it’s incumbent on him to distinguish himself from the pack. He needs to find a great volunteering opportunity where he can truly make a difference! Get involved in some cutting edge research with one of his professors (even if this means moving to be close to a university). Use every possible connection to do some shadowing with a variety of specialists. Do something unexpected…go on a medical mission trip to Peru or Guatemala, or help publicize a local clinic for the indigent, or write papers about a health care issue he’s interested in. If he can parlay his interest and expertise in engineering into some kind of opportunity, even better!
      When he applies again, He must get those applications in early. Don’t leave the letters of reference to fate!!!! Use only people who know him well enough to opine generously on his strengths. (See my post on LOR’s!) And apply more broadly to schools with differing requirements. With those stats, there are plenty of schools who will welcome him with open arms. But he may need to include a few outside his “most wanted” list.
      Finally, there’s the DO route. DO schools will accept lower stats and less rigid requirements (though it’s still no cake walk getting acceptance there). So include a couple of distinguished DO schools on his list. There are now more DO schools to choose from, and DO students can practice in any specialty an MD can.
      Your son’s in a great position to get accepted in the next cycle. Look forward, not back!!

  9. Michelle May 23, 2015 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    So I’m pretty far from applying still, but I’d like to know if I’m on the right track. Im an RN working in an ICU for about a year. Before that I was in the military. My current GPA is a 3.6. I still have to finish pre reqs, but is there anything I can do to improve my chances of getting accepted? Thanks.

    • Bryce Johnson September 3, 2015 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Get your GPA up and keep it up. Your hospital experience will be a big plus. But you’ll also need to meet all the traditional requirements: getting good numbers (GPA/MCAT), plenty of shadowing and volunteering, excellent letters of recommendation (so, spend some quality time with your science profs), and last but definitely not least, research. Make this year count!

  10. Worried June 14, 2015 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    Hi there,

    I graduated pharmacy school with a Doctor of Pharmacy a few years ago with a 3.93 GPA, I recently took the MCAT and got my preliminary percentiles back and I’m extremely worried (all sections 50-65% and CARS 17-32%) — My test was administered on 5/22 and there were major computer issues/computers crashing on that day (it was national – many testing sites experienced this)… that AAMC ended up offering us a free retake on June 2nd for those who experienced this situation and I was unable to retake it then due to the short notice and my full-time job!
    My current stats:
    -MCAT 50-65% on every section except // VERBAL 17-32%
    -undergrad GPA 3.4ish
    -pharmD GPA 3.93
    -I come from an under-deserved background
    -I’m African (white) and I’m ESL
    -I have great LOR (1 from chem prof in undergrad, 1 from pharm prof that I actually did a research project with, and 2 from physicians I have shadowed)
    -I have great EC
    **2 community clinics for noninsured
    **Top 10% of my graduating class
    **2 honors societies
    **Big brother/Big sister program where I was a mentor
    **On campus societies I was involved in
    **currently work as a clinical pharmacist at a hospital
    **2 physician shadowing
    **did teaching in school

    I’m applying this year…. and I’m really worried about my MCAT (my verbal score is completely not indicative of my critical analysis — and the only issue is… I can not retake this year early enough to submit my app… I work full time and I have family commitments that I can’t just change around within a short time period!) — If I retake I would have to wait another year to apply… I’m 28 already…

    • Bryce Johnson September 3, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Sorry this email got stuck in my system, so I am hoping it’s not too late for you…
      You may have a chance, but your MCAT is going to probably have to be better. You could apply to med schools, and re-take and have the MCAT results sent to your schools. With your current numbers, your EC’s may not be enough to pull you over the top. Solid LOR’s will count for a lot too! And depending on the schools, you may get just enough advantage out of being minority. You are in a tenuous situation. Do everything you can to retake!!!!

  11. gupta June 15, 2015 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    would a C minus in science GPA will have a bad influence on qualification.Does Mcas application notes C minus at a certain place on application.

    • Bryce Johnson September 3, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      If you have just one C-, you are probably ok. If there are more surprises, that won’t go over well with the adcoms.

  12. FontsDownloadFree July 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    My GPA definitely held me back and I think I would have done far better had I taken a few classes after undergrad, but I really didn t want to. GPA is far harder to fix than an MCAT in terms of time required.

    • Bryce Johnson September 3, 2015 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      That’s the brutal truth!

  13. Nick G December 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Bryce,

    Let me give you my background:

    Biology major at Ohio State–3.50 GPA, 508 MCAT
    A lot of research/volunteering/shadowing experience

    Also I have heard Ochem grades are significant, A in Ochem 1 but a C in Ochem 2
    Would love to attend either an MD or DO program in Ohio

    Please let me know what you think!

    • Bryce Johnson January 12, 2016 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      You can join the MSAR on AAMC and find matriculating information for all the schools you are considering. Here’s a quick look: Northeast Ohio Medical University’s MCAT range 500-511 with GPA range of 3.44-3.97. For Ohio State MCAT 508-520; GPA 3.46-3.98. University of Toledo MCAT 505-516; GPA 3.42-3.98; University of Cincinnati MCAT 508-519; GPA 3.48-3.98; Wright State University MCAT 503-515; GPA 3.3-3.95, and Case Western MCAT 511-520; GPA 3.5-3.98. So from the looks of things, your best Ohio bets are Northeast Ohio, University of Toledo, Wright State.

  14. Joseph December 27, 2015 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Hi Bryce, I will be applying in the upcoming 2016-2017 cycle with a 30 mcat (10/9/11). 3.63 cumulative and 3.54 science gpa from a top 20 undergraduate program with a strong upward trend (3.8 gpa last 2.5 years). My ECs include: 500 hours of hospital volunteering, 300 hours of strong, collaborative research (manuscript pending), 225 hours of service to a free health clinic for the homeless, 400 hours of service as program coordinator for a club that puts on lessons at local underserved elementary schools to promote health education, 600 hours working as a medical scribe, and 100 hours of shadowing (neurosurgery, primary care, cardiology). Since my metrics are not highly competitive but possess strong extracurriculars how many schools do you believe I should apply to? I currently have a list of 60 schools I want to apply to but I feel that is way too much? Any thoughts would help and be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Bryce Johnson January 12, 2016 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      At this point in your career, I would get focused and figure out which schools are going to be the best fit. Sixty schools is wayyyy too many, and it’s an unnecessary exercise. Your 30 MCAT might have been good enough for a lot of schools, but if it’s from 2011 you will likely have to retake it. Your science GPA will put you below the dividing line for some, but in the running for others. Your ECs are top notch, especially the 300 research hours. Here’s a good first step. Go to AAMC’s website, register for MSAR as a member and pay $25 to receive 12-month access to all the matriculation data for each and every medical school. You’ll learn how to target the schools who are looking for someone just like you. You may want to get signed up for the MCAT and spend some serious time prepping to take it, as your score will be considered out-of-date by most (or all) schools. Best of luck!!

  15. Yves Claude January 3, 2016 at 1:17 am - Reply

    I appreciate those tips concerning about getting into med school. Now I possess some ideas about how to work hard for that. And it was for free. I just turned 19 and i may ask you some questions after 3 years.

    • Bryce Johnson January 12, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      Anytime…I’m here to help. Check out the resources here on a regular basis, as I’m always adding new material. Best to you, Yves!

  16. Natalie February 11, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Hi Bryce!

    I will be applying this upcoming cycle (June 2016). I currently have a 3.57 GPA and hope to raise it to a 3.6 by the time I apply. I am set to take the MCAT in April. I have 150 hospital volunteer hours and one semester of research (undergraduate research course). This summer, I will be volunteering at a medical clinic in Ecuador for a week as well as volunteering as a camp counselor at a Muscular Dystrophy camp. I am an undergrad at West Virginia University and that is my top choice for medical school. What are your thoughts?

    • Bryce Johnson February 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Your EC’s are pretty tight, especially your volunteer work in clinical settings. Looks like you may need some shadowing hours and could add more research hours if possible.
      The range for overall GPA for accepted applicants at WVU is 3.5-4.0. Science GPA is 3.4-4.0. MCAT range is 26-34 (on the old MCAT, which is probably a 500-514 on the new MCAT). A lot rests in how you do on the MCAT, and also whether your science GPA is inline with your overall GPA. With your numbers, I think you are clearly in the running. WVU has a strong in-state bias, and a bias towards undergrads who attended school there, so if you’re a West Virginian with good scores you’re someone who should be looked at closely!

  17. RAKESH PATEL February 14, 2016 at 10:07 am - Reply

    My son has 33 MACT (10 W+11 P +12 B) and 3.85 GAP and 3.65 SGPA. He applied and got in waiting list in NJMS and RWJS in NJ. Applies about 20 school

    What you think his chances are to get in ? He has working into Jersey City Medical Center and teaching Rutgets ( Chemistry). Good reaserch work in Stem Cell .

    IS this too late to get other college interview. He applied back in july 201

    Thnak s

    • Bryce Johnson February 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      How new is his MCAT score? It will likely only be considered valid for a couple of years. If he waits too long, he may need to re-take it.
      For Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson, the MCAT range is between 29-37 and GPA between 3.35-3.96, with a sGPA between 3.2-4.0. Rutgers New Jersey has similar numbers: 3.4-4.0 GPA, sGPA 3.3-4.0 and MCAT range is 29-37. Sounds like he’s got good numbers, so the question is, does he have the shadowing, volunteering and work in clinical settings, and does he have stellar people writing his letter of recommendation?
      He should hear back from interested schools by the end of March or early April. However, that can change…sometimes when schools have unanticipated openings, they may contact you into May or June. It doesn’t hurt to make follow up contacts with the schools he’s most interested in!

  18. Anthony February 23, 2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Bryce,

    I just received my 3rd MCAT (500 – BIOL129, CARS119, CHEM128, PSYC124), and I had a 3.9 GPA in my science undergraduate coursework. I took this test three times, and the two first attempts were under 20 (both with the approximately same verbal score). I don’t think I can retake it again and get a better score than this time around.

    As for extracurricular activities, I had experience in medicinal chemistry research, volunteer experience, and I have been working as a care coordinator for a clinic for a year. Good LORs from providers and PI.

    Can you give me some advice and guidance on where I should apply in this cycle, either to DO and/or MD schools? I currently live in Seattle.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Bryce Johnson March 2, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Anthony, You have some good things going for you: Your four MCAT subject scores are generally in the same range (around 125), rather than having areas wildly different, though the CARS section is a bit low…. Also, a 3.9 sGPA is superb. How much research, volunteering and shadowing you have are important questions. The more the better. With all the possibilities out there, it’s impossible for me to pick individual schools for you, or decide the DO/MD question. But here’s what I would say: (1) Apply broadly. Check the MSAR to see which schools are the best fit for you. If you haven’t joined the MSAR you can do so easily, and check acceptance rates at all the schools you’re interested in applying to. (2) Pump up your volunteer/research/shadowing hours if possible. (3) Apply to a minimum of 15 schools. Don’t apply to any schools that you know are “throwaway” applications where you won’t get in. (4) Sprinkle in some DO schools too. Even if you’re interested in pursuing a medical specialty, it’s possible you can get a competitive residency if you are at the top of your class in a DO program. (5) Don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to your letters of recommendation. Give your contacts a sheet that reminds them of your experience and best attributes, which they can use when writing your letters. Obviously you can’t (and don’t want to) write the letters for them, but a page of bulleted ideas can’t hurt. (6) Finally, apply early. Best of luck to you!

  19. Matt Daniels March 1, 2016 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Bryce,

    I should have a 3.6 oGPA and 3.5 sGPA at the end of the semester. I’m taking the MCAT June 2nd and have been trending up the last two years in GPA. I have a published paper and abstract with my name on them, 600 hours worth of hospital volunteering, 120 hours of shadowing, different campus leaderships roles (including VP of a campus organization), and volunteering at a food bank for the past year and half. Personal statement is in the works but looking good, same for work and activities. My question is am I competitive for an instate school look SLU or Mizzou? (Missouri resident)


    • Bryce Johnson April 3, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Well, as you could guess, my first answer is, your MCAT score will rule! Here are the median GPA ranges for your instate schools: Mizzou (overall 3.6-4.0; science 3.4-4.0), and SLU (overall 3.6-4.0; science 3.6-4.0). Which means you are on the low end, but still in the range! The MCAT number you need for Mizzou is 504-515; for SLU is 508-517. Keep those numbers in your pocket on test day, along with a smooth stone you can squeeze, and the confidence that you’ve done everything you can to study and prepare.
      Since you’re in-state, you’ll have a 50% chance of getting an interview at Mizzou, based on basic matriculation data. There’s a strong bias towards taking in-state students, with 80% of the student body being Missouri-ites! On the other hand, SLU only gives interviews to about 20% of applicants. Less than 20% of SLU matriculants are in-state. So put everything into the next few weeks, and make that MCAT count!

  20. Samir April 25, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply


    I’m finishing up a post-bac year. I entered with a 3.29 GPA and am leaving with a 3.34, so on the lower side. My post-bac gpa is a 3.58 and science gpa 3.5. I have 320 hours of clinical experience, have held a research position this year while doing the post-bac doing qualitative research in the health care field, and will be shadowing daily for two weeks before my application is submitted in June. I also will be scribing this upcoming year. I take the MCAT in May and am aiming for around a 510. Applying to DO and MD programs. What are your thoughts?


    • Bryce Johnson April 29, 2016 at 1:11 am - Reply

      Yes. Both. Your GPA is a little wanting. Not bad but you won’t make the cut for some schools. It’s a plus that you’ve worked hard to raise it. A 510 MCAT score is respectable, and if you pull that, you’ll give your grades a boost. Your EC’s are going to help too, especially the research and if the clinical experience was valuable. Check out the MSAR. It’s really your best friend to help you find schools that are looking for students like you. You have lots to offer, but don’t waste your time applying generally. Apply to a minimum of 12 schools, maybe one or two more, and yes, make sure to include DO schools. Check out the response below regarding DOs. A great reminder that if you are willing to work hard and stay at the top of your class, you can get into a great residency as a DO.

  21. maria May 9, 2016 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    GPA 3.76, mcat 503, lots of volunteer experience (every summer for past 6 years), research, leadership experience. What are my prospects

    • Bryce Johnson May 25, 2016 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      It depends on a few things: what undergrad school you attended, how stellar your letters of recommendation are, what kind of volunteering and research you have under your belt, and what schools you are applying to. If you attended a fairly established/distinguished undergrad school, and have excellent LORs, then you will just need to tread carefully into the territory of which schools to apply to. Your GPA is good, and can get you into some mid-range schools (if your science GPA is in the same range). Your MCAT score is above average. Both of those taken into consideration won’t get you into top tier schools, but they should be good enough to get you considered elsewhere. When you apply, apply broadly. Start with your in-state schools, add some private schools, and you may want to also include one or two DO schools to cover your bases. Check out the MSAR (you can join for $25 annually) to find out the range of scores for those matriculating into the schools you want to attend. Don’t bother applying at schools where you are at the very bottom of the range. I think you should be encouraged with where you are. Finally, take the opportunity with your Personal Statement to distinguish yourself with a philosophy, unique experiences or perspective, and/or a background others may not have, so that the Admissions Committee will remember you.

  22. Lorena May 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Bryce, I took the MCAT in February and got a 518! I have a ton of ECs – 500+ hours community volunteering, 200+ hours clinical volunteering, 200+ hours shadowing (pediatrics, interventional cardiology, cardiology, OB/GYN), quite a lot of research (summer internships, currently in a two year NIH post-bacc research fellow program), biochemistry tutoring to upper classmen, 12+years private piano instructor, and I am a professional pianist. I am a non-traditional applicant with a double degree in biology and music – piano performance. My concern lies in my GPA stats. I have a 3.7 cGPA and 3.6 sGPA. Do you think I would have an excellent chance in getting accepted to high-tier/Ivy League schools or do you think I should stick with mid-tiered schools? What do you think my chances are in applying to MD/PhD programs? Thank you!

    • Lorena May 25, 2016 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      I forgot to include that I have an upward trend in my last two years of school. Also, I may be getting published in the next few months. Thanks!

    • Bryce Johnson May 30, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Without knowing the exact schools you’re targeting, I’d say you’re in pretty good spot for a higher-tier school. Your EC’s are excellent, and your MCAT score puts you in an enviable position. Your overall GPA and sGPA are nearly matching, and respectable, also good. While getting accepted is never a sure thing, a lot of students would love to be in your shoes. That said, I’d make sure to apply broadly. Re: MD/PhD programs, you are the kind of student—especially given your clinical experience, research and stats—who may get noticed for a MD/PhD program. But I’m recommending you don’t limit your options at this point. If there are MD/PhD programs you are interested in, go ahead and apply, and apply to MD programs as well. But include both mid- and top-tier schools on your list. (I’m assuming you’d rather go to a great middle tier school than wait out the year and apply again!)

  23. SadPremed May 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Hey Bryce!
    I have a 3.56 cumulative GPA, 3.5 science GPA, 506 MCAT (128 Physical/128 CARS/124 Bio/126 Psych). I have solid ECs, LoRs, ps, and a strong theme in my application. However, I’m from CA, a UC School. Do I have a chance? I’m worried about retaking the MCAT and scoring lower.

    • Bryce Johnson May 31, 2016 at 12:42 am - Reply

      Padding your score would definitely help your application. (Many schools will give consideration to which MCAT score is your best.) That said, don’t re-take it unless you are willing to do what it takes to improve on your first score. You’ll need to take it soon to have it make any difference. Check out the median scores/GPAs for the individual UC schools when deciding whether to apply. You can find the info on MSAR. Are you willing to go outside the UC system for med school? If so, check out MSAR matriculation data and target schools in your range!

  24. Esmeralda May 28, 2016 at 6:18 am - Reply


    My daughter has a double degree in math and biology from top 25 school with GPA 3.3 and science GPA 3.2. Mcat 30. Repeat mcat 29 unfortunately ( she was sick on that day). She has a lot of shadowing experience. She minored in spanish and spent a semester abroad and became fluent in spanish. And has lots I extracurriculars. She has some research work but no publications . She is taking the new mcat in july but will apply in June. What are her chances.? She is only interested in md schools. Thanks

    • Bryce Johnson May 30, 2016 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      I wish I could read the tea leaves here. With some strategic planning, I would say it’s possible she could get in to an MD program. Her GPA, sGPA and even MCAT are not bad, but less than stellar. Her best chance in my estimation is to start with your state schools. Then if she is willing to do the research, get on MSAR (a year membership is only $25, I think!) and look around at schools where her stats are in the acceptable range. There are definitely schools who will consider her. They may not be in your geographic area or on her favorites list. But being a woman, having research, having fluent Spanish in her wheelhouse, these are all positives, not to mention if she can buckle down and get her MCAT score up a few notches. She still has time!

  25. ConcernedMom July 7, 2016 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    My daughter has a 3.78 with an A average in Organic Chem. She graduated Cum Laude from the University of Rochester with a B.S.in Neuroscience. She just found out she received a 500 on MCAT and is concerned. She has great ECs, including voice lessons at the Eastman School of Music and great LOR. . She spent a semester abroad in Australia. After graduation in May 2015 she has worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC in Clinical research. She has one publication. She is concerned that 500 on MCAT will not get her a look at any schools. She wants to start Med School in August 2017 as she has already waited two years to fulfill her committment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. What are her chances? Thanks.

    • Marci Judd July 8, 2016 at 12:38 am - Reply

      This is tough. She will want to consider various options: choosing schools with lower average MCAT scoring; focusing hard on state schools; taking the MCAT again, even though it is a bit late for this cycle; adding DO schools to her list; reconsidering her LORs (they’d better be dynamite!). Her research will get her a glance especially at some research heavy schools. That’s one of the better things she has going for her. Does she have shadowing or volunteering in a health care setting anywhere? 500 is considered same as a 24 on the old test. Not great. But the AAMC is recommending that schools consider anyone with a 500 or above. Being a woman helps. If she’s minority, it’s another plus. I’m just trying to throw out there all the reasons she might have to be optimistic. But the 500 is going to put a question mark on her app at a lot of schools, or downright lock her out. It’s too late to add much to her application if it’s already submitted. If not, make it STELLAR! Incredible essays for sure. Remember that if she goes DO, there are plenty of DO students who get competitive residencies, if they make the top 5 or 1%. If she doesn’t get in this year, she can certainly take the MCAT again, add some shadowing and work in health care settings, and try again next year.

  26. karen July 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Hi Bryce- I am a AA female who just graduated from an ivy league school and will be working for 2 yrs as a clinical research assistant before hopefully applying to med school. Unfortunately my sGPA is a 3.4 (cumulative is around 3.66). i haven’t taken my MCAT yet, but have been scoring around 512 on my practice tests. However, because my GPA is so low would you recommend a DIY post-bacc to boost my sGPA to mid-3.4 to 3.5? Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

    • Marci Judd July 13, 2016 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Karen, I think bumping up your sGPA by such a small amount could be insignificant. Instead, you should put all your effort into the other parts of your application. If you’re getting a 512 on practice tests, word is that you’ll probably do slightly better on the MCAT. That’s a pretty good score. When you take it, make it count. Probably sooner rather than later, as you don’t want all the hard sciences to fade from your brain cells. A 3.4 isn’t great, and it will be the soft spot on your application. But you have a few things going for you. The 2 years clinical research will make you a good fit at some research schools. You’ll also probably increase the quality of your LORs by working closely with professors/docs on your research. Put 1000% into choosing the right people to write those letters. What does your shadowing and volunteering and work experience in a medical setting looking like? If you can fit some of those in during the next two years, plus anything else to SET YOU APART, it will add to your application. Being AA and female is huge. It will help. Just put your work into things that will really matter, rather than a tiny adjustment to your science GPA. I guess if you wanted to re-take a class where you got a C, and bring it up to an A, it would show some serious determination on your part to tip the scales in your favor. Hit all of these notes, and you’ll probably be just fine.

      • karen July 14, 2016 at 11:42 am - Reply

        Thanks so much for your input, Marci. I realize that my sGPA will be a low point on my app, and as a CA resident, I’m sure you know that my state schools are extremely competitive compared to other state residences. So I’m really worried about my grades and whether taking a few more classes would really be a benefit even though the difference will be minuscule. I definitely intend on asking my PIs for LOIs later down the road – I was already told that as long as you put in the work, writing a LOI is no issue. As for volunteering and shadowing in a medical setting, I haven’t had extensive experience because my school was pretty isolated and those type of opportunities were limited/difficult to access. (i guess that might give away where I went to school, but oh well..) I plan on volunteering weekly at the hospital that I’m employed at (hopefully in Emergency Dept) and have actually been really interested in volunteering at a hospice or a community clinic for the homeless later on. I have shadowed an OB/GYN during my undergrad for about 40 hrs but plan on shadowing the doctors that work in the same research group as me too.I just started working as a peer health educator for disadvantaged teens, and have quite a bit of hours built up from undergrad for nonclinical volunteering (mentoring, teaching, soup kitchens, etc)..but i do understand that my clinical exposure is lacking and I plan to beef this area up in the next 2 years. I apologize for this long response, but I did have one more question – If I boost my clinical volunteering/shadowing and do relatively well on the MCAT (510+), with a 3.4sgpa/3.66 cgpa, would you think I could apply next cycle (summer 2017), or should I wait an additional year (apply summer 2018) to build up ECs and possibly my grades as well? Thanks in advance!

        • Marci Judd July 21, 2016 at 3:17 pm - Reply

          Karen, You’re on the right track. Filling in the holes in your application will give you a boost. The steps you describe are just what you need. I can’t overemphasize getting fabulous LOR’s. Are you only applying to California schools? Some of the Texas schools are quite liberal in admitting out of state students and helping them get residency. It makes them comparable to California schools in terms of cost. Also, if you’re willing to relocate, check out the MSAR to find out-of-state schools that are looking for someone just like you! It’s hard to say if you will be marketable at UC schools by the next cycle. I would say yes, especially given your demographics, and if you can pump up your MCAT score to 513-plus.

          • karen July 22, 2016 at 6:19 am

            Marci, I would like to apply to CA schools, HBCUs, some schools in the south (like Emory, Tulane, etc) as well as schools in NY/NYC since I have connections to the state..I haven’t looked into TX schools, but now that you bring it up, I’ll make sure to check out the MSAR. After self-reflection and judging by your response I think I may hold off on applying next cycle, just so I can be confident that I’ll be as marketable as possible. Thanks once again for your insight!

          • Marci Judd August 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm

            That sounds like a good strategy, but just to be clear, I said I imagine you would be marketable in the next cycle, rather than having to wait 2 years.

  27. karen July 14, 2016 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for your input, Marci. I realize that my sGPA will be a low point on my app, and as a CA resident, I’m sure you know that my state schools are extremely competitive compared to other state residences. So I’m really worried about my grades and whether taking a few more classes would really be a benefit even though the difference will be minuscule. I definitely intend on asking my PIs for LOIs later down the road – I was already told that as long as you put in the work, writing a LOI is no issue. As for volunteering and shadowing in a medical setting, I haven’t had extensive experience because my school was pretty isolated and those type of opportunities were limited/difficult to access. (i guess that might give away where I went to school, but oh well..) I plan on volunteering weekly at the hospital that I’m employed at (hopefully in Emergency Dept) and have actually been really interested in volunteering at a hospice or a community clinic for the homeless later on. I have shadowed an OB/GYN during my undergrad for about 40 hrs but plan on shadowing the doctors that work in the same research group as me too.I just started working as a peer health educator for disadvantaged teens, and have quite a bit of hours built up from undergrad for nonclinical volunteering (mentoring, teaching, soup kitchens, etc)..but i do understand that my clinical exposure is lacking and I plan to beef this area up in the next 2 years. I apologize for this long response, but I did have one more question – If I boost my clinical volunteering/shadowing and do relatively well on the MCAT (510+), with a 3.4sgpa/3.66 cgpa, would you think I could apply next cycle (summer 2017), or should I wait an additional year (apply summer 2018) to build up ECs and possibly my grades as well? Thanks in advance!

  28. Rakesh August 8, 2016 at 11:19 am - Reply

    I have 3.85 GPA and 33 MCAT (10-11-12). I have research, teaching in school and working as scribe at Jersey City medical college. I have applied about 20 places and got 4 interview and all waitlist.
    Not got in any acceptance. Two got response that class is full for this year. I have started to apply for next year and got two interview.
    Collage is saying perfect candidate but rejected due to diversification. What is next?

    • Marci Judd August 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Your numbers look good. Here are some possibilities: you are applying to schools that demand higher numbers, your LOR’s aren’t great, your personal statement needs work, and you could use some shadowing and volunteer experience. If you are applying for the next cycle, I’d suggest finding either a professional in premed coaching or someone who’s sat on an admissions committee, and engage them (pay them!!!) to practice with you in interviewing techniques. Your interview has to show the adcoms that you’re really comfortable with the material you’re discussing, and don’t mind selling yourself, while also seeming down-to-earth. Those can be tough things to balance! Just for the record, there are some schools that admit applicants right up to the week school starts, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you hear back from one of the two remaining schools. But should you need to apply for the 2017 cycle, beef up your application in every way possible!!!!

  29. DavidS August 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply


    I’m David and am an incoming senior undergrad at University of California, Riverside (UCR). I’m really trying to make it into a CA Med School (esp, UCR School of Medicine) in general was hoping someone can tell me where my standing is. So far I have a 3.48 GPA, yet to take the (MCAT), 2 years of research (2 awards/grants, and presented at NIH), 2 years of volunteer work at a hospital (possibly moving up soon), and have a position at a volunteer Kiwanis group. Will shadow a doctor soon, and am guaranteed at least 2 LOR’s from research professor and BCH Professor.

    Thanks for the info.

    • Marci Judd August 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

      I’m assuming you’re a California resident. That’s a plus. With such a small student body (50 students per class), you’ve got some competition, but it is HUGE that you are an undergrad there (if at least six consecutive quarters). Your EC’s look pretty good, though I would shadow several doctors, not just one. Get more hours in there. Your GPA is on the line for UCR (range 3.4-3.9), and on the low end for most UC schools. If your science GPA is lower, it wouldn’t be a good sign (range 3.3-3.9). If you are planning to apply for Fall 2017, you are pretty late in taking the MCAT. But if you are determined, here’s what you need to do NOW: put on your ace student hat. Bump up your GPA to whatever extent you can Fall semester, and then set aside every scrap of time you can to study for the MCAT. The median at UCR in 2015 was 30, which equates to around 508 on today’s test. You can do that if you put in the time and know your stuff. As a California resident you could get props at other UC schools, but I’d make sure that you include plenty of schools on your application list (minimum of 12) so you don’t get bypassed. Some schools in Texas take out-of-staters, and other schools in other states do as well. Do your research by checking out the MSAR listings, which will show you the schools who are looking for students just like you! If you’re inclined, you may even want to apply at a couple D.O programs, to ensure more options. Good luck, and don’t delay on the MCAT!

  30. Sarah L August 25, 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply


    I went to the University of North Carolina for undergrad and graduated with a biology degree (GPA 3.487) with an upward trend. I took the MCAT July 22 and got a 516. I have nearly 200 hours of volunteering experience at UNC Hospitals and I currently work at a different hospital as a healthcare tech. I also played club softball for all four years and volunteered in several different things with it. I’ve also done psychology research for one year during college and we presented our data at several different places. As a North Carolina resident, do I have a decent chance of getting into UNC? How should I strengthen my application if I don’t get in this cycle?



    • Marci Judd September 2, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah, You have lots going for you. Your GPA is probably your weakest link, as I’m sure you know. But for the matriculants at UNC (most recent class), you’re in the range for GPA (3.4-4.0) and MCAT scores (491-516). Your MCAT score will turn some heads, so props to you for putting that away! Next, UNC likes applicants with research experience, which you have, and volunteering, which you also bring to the table. A very big number of matriculants (77%) also have shadowing experience. If you haven’t done much shadowing, I’d consider that a hole worth plugging. Being an instate applicant makes you about 47% more likely to get an interview. In fact, half of all NC applicants got interviews in the last go-round. Of those, 30% or so were accepted. Finally, being a woman is also one of your better features in this process! At UNC, today’s classes are weighted towards women, with a 95/86 split in the latest class. Everything I’ve said so far you can find for yourself on MSAR’s website for med school matriculation. What I don’t know is how prepared you’ll be for your interview, how impressive your LORs are, and what your competition is in this cycle. I’d be willing to bet you’ll get an interview. Don’t waste it by being typical or mediocre. Do some practice interviews with business people and/or docs or academics you know. Have something unique to sell. Show a side of you that they can’t resist. Give the adcom a look at your distinct attributes that make you stand out. Your numbers, especially your MCAT, plus your volunteerism and research, make you a serious player.

      Have you gotten an invitation for a secondary application? If not you should soon. If so, invitations for interviews will likely begin in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed! Let me know how it goes!

  31. Sitaram Sinha September 16, 2016 at 11:29 am - Reply

    On behalf of my daughter – she is in Masters program biomedical sciences, she will finish in December. MCAT – 515 Gpa on little lower side in undergrad- 3.3
    Worked as an adjunct professor for physiology and anatomy, so many letter of recommendations from work and professors. Shadowed DO and MD, went to volunteer in EL salvador and Peru with college team, lot of other volunteer work. currently she is in deans list in Masters program. I was expecting to get interview invite by now but not a single one yet. Not even from DO schools, What o you see wrong here ? Any suggestion to make the application stronger ?

    • Marci Judd September 16, 2016 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Ok, first, don’t freak out yet. It’s still early. I’m assuming most of the schools asked for secondary apps, and hopefully she’s sent them. If she went to a state school, it’s good to apply instate. Did she do that? Also, what’s her science GPA? If it’s lower than 3.3, that’s not good. The 3.3 GPA is the weakest part of her application by far. It will probably relegate her to lower tier schools and/or DO schools. In fact, if you look on the MSAR sight (you can join for $25), you can find the schools that will consider a GPA of 3.3. There are some…. But her subsequent Masters and professoring should help make up for the GPA! Being a woman should help her. I haven’t seen her personal statement, so that could be a possibility. Her letters of recommendation should only be from those she KNOWS will give her a quadruple thumbs up! (I know a guy who used a family friend/doctor for his LOR, and found out later he didn’t get into a school because the “friend” sent a letter that was far from glowing.) She may still get some requests, as many schools are just starting the process, so don’t worry yet. But now is the time to Google tips for preparing for the interview, as that is her next challenge. Here’s a good link from Princeton Review, that includes a link with possible questions: http://www.princetonreview.com/med-school-advice/med-school-interview-tips. Given your daughter’s lower GPA, which could sway some on the adcoms, she’ll want to be the most prepared applicant, ever!

  32. Breanna Murrin December 9, 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Hi! I am a female senior at USC graduating with an overall 3.4 undergrad with a Computational Neuroscience major. I scored a 505 on the new MCAT and just got accepted into the PeaceCorps which I will be serving in starting May. I have 2 years of research experience, EMT experience, and some shadowing experience. Do you have any advice for me?

    • Marci Judd December 23, 2016 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      With your stats, there’s a chance you could get accepted, but likely it would be a D.O. program. Your extracurriculars could definitely give you a bump. You may want to consider taking the MCAT a second time while things are still fresh (make sure to really prep for it!) to get into the 511-plus range. Also, what’s your science GPA? Hopefully a little higher than your overall… Check out the MSAR by joining as a member, and you can find some schools with lower GPA/MCAT requirements. Also, if you can bump your overall GPA up by a point or so in your last semester, everything counts. Good luck to you…

  33. Preston P January 24, 2017 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Would like to know whether my 3.35 overall GPA is going to hold me back anywhere (DO or MD). I did not do well in undergrad at Providence College (was a sociology major-hadn’t taken a single science course until my senior year [genetics] and scored an A highest grade in class). Then took all my pre-med classes at a school closer to home with a 3.89 while working. I have a 3.69 science/BCPM GPA in every high level science course you can take (most of which are medical school level pre-clinical and clinical science courses). My MCAT is a 504 (126 Chemphys, 124 CARS, 128 Bio, 126 psych soc). I am a 27 year old non-trad btw that is now a practicing chiropractic physician. My stats are as follows:
    BCPM GPA: 3.69
    Post Bacc pre-med/pre-req GPA: 3.89
    OA GPA: 3.35
    Bachelors (BA) degree in Sociology from Providence College (2007-2011)
    Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine (DC) degree (2012-2016), cum laude (5th in my class).

    Currently employed as a practicing associate doctor in a sports medicine group in my area-graduated magna cum laude 5th in my class from chiropractic medical school. If you arent familiar with the DC curriculum it is 4 years in length and is nearly identical to DO programs; ive taken every upper level science and clinical course imaginable over a 4 yr period (micro, path, bchem, anat, neuroanat, physio, ortho, neuro, rheum, pharm, clinical urology, clinical gastroenterology, clinical otolaryngology, clinical cardiology, clinical pulmonology, clinical rheum, clinical endocrinology, OB/gyn, physical diagnosis, neurorad, skeletal radiology, clinical derm etc to name a few), earning As in every class.

    Pre-clinical and clinical sciences tutor (path, bchem, micro, physio, physical diagnosis, skeletal radiology, cardiology)
    Peer mentor to first year DC students
    ~2000 hrs clinical experience (including my current position as a DC at a sports medicine group)
    Rounds at multidisciplinary urgent care clinic in downtown St Louis for underserved minorities
    Rounds at geriatric spinal rehab clinic in st louis
    ~50 hrs shadowing physiatry, family medicine, internal medicine
    ~75 hours non-clinical volunteering with school for disabled children, YMCA youth sports, soup kitchen
    Great LORs from DO physiatrist, MD internist, PhD physiology professor, a sports medicine DC and a radiologist

    My personal statement is very strong and explains my discontent with my profession and my passion to become an MD or DO since the middle of chiro school i just didnt want to quit what i had started. I always finish what i start

    Will my 3.35 overall GPA kill me for acceptance?

    • Preston P January 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Would also like to add that my BCPM/science GPA is cumulative of every single science course i have ever taken from my pre-med pre-reqs all the way through 4 years of chiropractic school (5000 hours of clinical and pre-clinical/basic sciences) all with an upward trend. These GPAs are all accurate and calculated by AACOMAS to exact decimal places

    • Marci Judd January 25, 2017 at 11:59 am - Reply

      No, I would say your 3.5 GPA won’t kill you. But it may be tough getting into an MD school. I would pick the top 10-15 DO schools you are interested in and apply. While your GPA and MCAT scores aren’t great, you have a big jump having completed a nearly identical curriculum. I think your approach of promoting your passion to change career tracks, plus your upward trend in all your science classes (and especially your chiropractic studies) is a good one. Your ECs are unbeatable. Not having done research is one small deficit I can see, but I think it’s more than accounted for with your professional experience. Obviously, I can’t guarantee you will get in, but I would give you a very good chance of gaining acceptance to a reputable DO school. I’ve never known anyone to do this, but it seems the school may even let you skip through a few of the science and OMT classes. Good luck!!!

  34. Preston P January 25, 2017 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the reply! Really appreciate it! I know you say my gpa is not great but i do have a ~3.7 science/bcpm gpa and a 3.8 pre-req GPA. That still puts my gpa at not great because my overall gpa is a 3.35?

    • Marci Judd January 25, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      No, I’m saying that taken in context you will be a great applicant. You might very possibly get into a MD school, but only if you choose carefully and/or you find a school that is as intrigued as I am at your story. Subscribe to the MSAR site that gives you all the schools’ matriculants’ scores. Your MCAT score is also a drawback, but then AAMC is telling schools not to put as much weight into MCAT scores, and to give those in the middle of the graph a second look. So that would be 500. I think you should be optimistic, and I guess I’d add to that last post that you should go ahead and send out a few MD schools as well, as long as you choose those with a lower MCAT. Push your GPA “trending” story, and I think you’ll find someplace it resonates!

  35. Preston P January 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the info and your time, Marci! I’ll check out MSAR, had no idea they gave the stats for each school. That is something that I have been looking for.

  36. Sitaram Sinha February 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm - Reply


    I had inquired about my daughter previously when she was in grad school ( biomedical sciences ), now she graduated with a GPA of 3.5 ( graduated in January )and MCAt is already 515. Worked as adjunct professor for anatomy and physiology for 2 semester.s. Lot of volunteer and research experience. I will think that that at least she should have gotten an interview in DO school at least. So heartbroken.

    • Marci Judd February 13, 2017 at 3:59 pm - Reply

      I’m surprised, as those numbers are above average for DO schools. Don’t give up. Applications open this year in June, and she should be ready to go again. Check out the stats on MSAR to find the schools who have the same stats she has. Have her apply more widely to more DO schools, and even to MD schools with lower stats. Is her science GPA lower than 3.5? That could be a problem. If there’s one science class that was low, she could re-take that if it would bring her science GPA up. Otherwise, I’d have her focus on her application for the next cycle. Add shadowing. Make sure she has the BEST people possible writing her letters of recommendation. A bad letter can sink her chances. And when it comes to writing her essays for the application, make sure she gets professional help staying focused on a theme/purpose. It’s rare but possible that she could still get an invite this year. I know a student who got two invites last week to interview. Tell her to keep her focus. Make the next year about preparing in every way possible. And if she’s going the DO route, her shadowing should be with DO’s. Let me know how it goes!

      • Sitaram Sinha September 28, 2017 at 2:09 pm - Reply


        This is the time of the year again when Students are anxiously waiting for interview invite. I had question about my daughter Megha Sinha who finished her master as a University scholar from Rowan University in Biomedical sciences. He MCAT score is 515. She has taught in college as adjunct professor anatomy and physiology. She has applied in DO and MD school, I know it is still early in the cycle but by looking at the SDN seems like students with lower credentials are getting II but she has none so far. What is the big mystery? At least Rowan should invite her ( DO school ) as she has masters from the same university. What else can she do at this point of time. Thank you in advance

        • Marci Judd September 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

          Hello! You’re in the worry zone, as is everyone else right now. Except the select few who have been contacted. We are early in the process. Don’t worry that your daughter hasn’t been contacted yet. Many of the schools are just doing their first round of contacts, and will do multiples as time passes. Megha’s MCAT score is great. Her experience as an adjunct professor is extremely helpful. And her having earned a masters in biomed sci is also impressive. She has much going for her at this point. There is really not much you can do, other than planning a time for her to go get a pedicure and take her mind off the process. This is wayyyy too early to worry, and all signs would point to your daughter getting some interest. Being a woman helps. Being a diverse student too. If her GPA is good and her extracurriculars are as well, I predict she’ll receive more than one interview invitation. Let me know how it goes!

          • Sitaram Sinha September 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

            Thank You very Much Marci for your kind and encouraging word. I will definitely let you know what happens and hopefully Positive things.

          • Sitaram Sinha October 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm

            Dear Marci,

            Here I am again with my concern. Students with lower credentials and MCAT have started getting interviews now and Megha hasn’t heard even from a DO school. We check on SDN.

            Albany med school already rejected her before interview which is heart breaking . Lecom, PCOM, Rowan Som ( her school where she did her Masters from ) has also not shown any sign of interest. Should she contact Dean or admission dept for her status ? What should she do ? She thinks it is inappropriate , no one will talk to her at this time. I did not go to college in this Country so I don’t know the protocol. Pre interview rejection really shocked me. What do you suggest
            to do at this point ?

            Thank You and regards.

          • Marci Judd October 13, 2017 at 5:39 pm

            At this point in the process there isn’t much she can do, but wait. However, as time goes on, it won’t hurt if she sends letters to the schools she is interested in to tell them she is still interested and uncommitted. That way, when openings happen, the adcoms will often turn to the sure thing, as long as she is considered a viable candidate at their school. So she can go ahead and send a letter of interest to all the schools she’s considering—-just a short, friendly letter saying that she’s still interested. If she gets to the end of the interview season without any interviews, then it’s ok to reach out to adcoms and find out if there is an obvious flaw in her application. Some will respond, most won’t. Rejections before interviews aren’t all that unusual. They just give the student the advantage of knowing not to expect contact. But there’s still time. She may want to reconsider her LOR writers, and re-do her personal statement (perhaps with some professional writing help) if she doesn’t get extended an interview or acceptance in this round. Don’t give up. She may still hear back this year, and if for some reason she doesn’t, there is much she can do to prep for next year. Adcoms often reward those who are persistent and come back a second time! The applications will be open as soon as June, which is just 8 months out.

          • Sitaram Sinha November 7, 2017 at 1:08 pm

            Hi Marci,

            Still not a single Interview invite for Megha which is very very surprising, Not to speak of MD school but even DO schools are not showing any love ( 515 mcat, masters , teaching experience nothing is helping ) She is very heartbroken already, don’t know what to do just sit and wait till the end or start e-mailing admission department. Thank You Marci, Happy that you are out there to guide.

          • Marci Judd November 8, 2017 at 5:49 pm

            I know this won’t help your nerves, but there is still time. There are many schools that invite and accept up through next spring. The first wave is finished, but there are drop outs, and there are people moving between schools. If you haven’t already, go ahead and send letters of interest to the schools you are most interested in, by early December. That just lets them know they can easily grab your daughter and put her into a slot if they have openings. Don’t despair yet. The process is still unwinding. Don’t be heartbroken. Even if she doesn’t get in this year, her best bet is to get busy, apply again, and do everything BUT sink into despair or be heartbroken. Adcoms want to see single-purposed determination, and will often reward it!

  37. IYK February 17, 2017 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Hi there. Would appreciate your advice on retaking the MCAT. I do not like disclosing a lot of information but here are some basics. Bio degree from Hopkins, GPA 3.78, MCAT 509 (fairly balanced). Basic science research, 1-2 volunteering experiences I really got involved in, working as an ER scribe during my gap year. I am interested in CA schools, dreaming of Mayo. Is it worth the risk to retake it? Thank you

    • Marci Judd February 17, 2017 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      If you’re California dreamin’, you’ll probably need better than a 509. It’s decent, but not for the schools you’re dreaming of. You have a few things going for you, and some handicaps. You have a pretty solid GPA; what’s your science GPA? Your research is positive; did you get published? Your current job will help; have you done shadowing? If you’re targeting the UC schools, I assume you’re coming in as a nonresident. That means you should be bringing your A-game. A higher MCAT score will help. I’d say minimum 513, and preferably higher. You can check out the MSAR stats for individual schools by joining at a $25 annual fee (you can get matriculation stats for all the schools you’re targeting). Your packet (written essays, letters of recommendation, extracurriculars) and your personal interviews will need to be top notch, so spend your free time working on every angle. (You can check out our posts on all of these angles.) I know someone who’s waiting to hear back from Mayo Scottsdale this year, and he had a 4.0, 518 MCAT score and published research. He’s sitting on the wait list, so he may or may not get a call. It’s possible you may be able to realize your dream, but only if you spend this gap year wisely. And when you apply, be realistic and apply widely to top, middle and lower-tier schools, and include your home/resident state where you have an advantage. Most Western schools accept very few nonresidents, making it a hard nut to crack.

  38. Anon February 20, 2017 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Hi, I have a 3.65 GPA, a 3.57 sGPA,and a 513 MCAT (97th in bio/biochem). I am a senior at UW-madison planning to apply this summer. I have been doing research for 4 years with multiple publications, and I have decent clinical and volunteering experience. I also have a lot of teaching experience. My dream would be to go to an MD/PHD program, is that possible?

    • Marci Judd February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Getting into these programs is tough, and getting increasingly more competitive every year. Matriculants at schools with Medical Science Training (MD/Phd) Programs had average GPAs of 3.76 and average MCAT scores that would translate to 514 today (using numbers from 2008 to 2010). Your unique experience in research, teaching and volunteering/clinical settings will help you get noticed by MD/PhD programs. I can’t tell your demographic status, but adding to a school’s diversity will make you more popular as well.

      There are two programs in Wisconsin, if you’re looking to stay close to home, which should be your starting point. As I’m sure you know, UW-Madison is one of the schools offering an elite Medical Scientist Training Program. You can check out the list of other MD/PhD programs by state: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/mdphd-degree-programs-state/. There are specific application processes at each school that you’ll need to follow to a “t.”

      Make the next few months count. If you can, get additional experience shadowing, in clinical settings, and especially, adding to your research cred. Take your time putting together your application packet, which means writing very focused personal essays, tracking down excellent LOR writers, and preparing extensively for your interview(s). Your interview/essay(s) should focus on specific scientific research career goals as well as relevant research experience. Your stats alone will not be enough; you’ll need to help the admissions committees see you for the uniqueness and strengths you can bring to their program! That will be the key to your success.

  39. Ele February 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Marci

    I have a son graduating from UC Berkeley with double major in Cognitive Sci & Molecular Bio. His MCat is 516 and GPA is 3.2. He applied to 15 medical schools and Gotten all rejections so far, couple more schools left. He applied really late. He has worked in Research lab for 2 years at Berkeley & taught courses of Research to other undergrads. He shadowed his uncle who is a doctor. He wants to apply for MD program again next year. What should his plan of action be? A Post bacc to improve his GPA? Where? What are low tier schools? Medium tier ones? What kind of volunteering should he do – in a medical facility? He is not a CA resident.

    • Brooks Johnson February 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Ele,
      So, it looks like your son has some great research experience. A 516 on the MCAT is a great score, and isn’t holding him back. It looks like there may be a few things keeping him from getting accepted. First, his GPA is pretty low– close to the lower cutoff a lot of MD programs have when considering primary applications. Second, he applied late. Most schools offer acceptances on a rolling basis after October 15th, and if he’s late in the pack, a lot of the spots he’s hoping to land are already filled. Third, you didn’t mention any volunteering experiences. That is REALLY important to almost every adcomm. They want to see that he is more than a brain. Finally, you mention that he shadowed his uncle, but his shadowing experience should be more robust, and shouldn’t be with family memebrs, exclusively.
      So, moving forward, the easiest deficiency to work on is volunteering. This doesn’t just refer to clinical volunteering, but should definitely include volunteering in a few different environments like soup kitchens, community organizations and schools.
      The next easiest part to work on is the shadowing. Surely your son’s uncle knows other doctors he can shadow. Getting a lot of exposure to different specialties is great, and spending 10+ hours with a couple docs is great.
      You want to make sure that he has 15 *meaningful* experiences that he can include in his primary and secondary applications.
      If he can bolster those parts of his application, he’ll definitely have a great shot in next year’s class.
      When it comes to post-bacc work to improve his GPA, that’s definitely an option. How much it could help his GPA, and if it’s worth the time is another question that I can’t answer.
      If he applies to DO programs with the newly-improved application next year, he’s sure to get interview invites. He could very well get invites from MD programs as well, but his GPA really keeps him from being competitive at top-tier schools like the UC programs. A great resource to understand how he stacks up against the students accepted to every MD program is the MSAR Guide. For a fee, you can access basically every statistic relevant to medical school applicants for every MD program. Using that tool, you can find schools where your son will be competitive.
      Best of luck in the journey, and tell your son to keep his head up! This is a brutal process, but persistence pays off.

  40. Tom February 22, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Hi there. I would appreciate your input into my chances. I am a Political Science major with an MCAT of 512, 3.73 GPA and sGPA of 3.51. Experiences include being an ER scribe for over a year, Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, substitute elementary school teacher for 4 months, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, full time employment during college, Affordable Care Act policy research and various food pantry volunteering opportunities. My only interest is becoming a DO. Thank you for your time.

    • Brooks Johnson February 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Tom,
      If you’re looking to get into a DO program, you look to be in great shape. In 2015 the average MCAT score for matriculants into DO programs was a 502, the average GPA was a 3.54, and the average sGPA was a 3.45. AACOM As far as the numbers go, you’re good.
      Your extracurriculars seem to cover all the important/desired experiences, including clinical experience, volunteering, research, and work experience.
      I’m sure, unless you botch your application, that you’ll get multiple interview invites to DO programs. I would encourage you to apply to MD programs as well, if you there are any schools that you would enjoy attending!


  41. Ilianna March 14, 2017 at 11:05 pm - Reply


    I am an undergraduate at a top five, Ivy League school, and will be applying to MD programs. I will be sure to apply early. I have a 3.55 cGPA and unfortunately only a 3.46 sGPA, both with a slight upward trend. My MCAT score is a 510 (126p/c, 129 cars, 126bio, 129psych). I have been doing lab research for 4 years and am preparing a manuscript. I also work on several clinical research projects and have a publication. I have presented my work at several conferences. I have shadowed physicians over 70 hours, and have volunteered in various hospitals for around 550 hours. I have also been a volunteer tutor for disadvantaged high school students, and started a mentoring program to get them involved in research. I started a successful bioinformatics student organization at my school. I will be working on bioinformatics research projects over my gap year. I am a first generation college student, and an immigrant (not URM).

    I am very worried about my chances of getting accepted to an MD program. I have been looking at the MSAR, and saw that my GPA falls on the low end for most schools. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on what my chances are, and what I could do to maximize my odds of being accepted somewhere given that I cannot make significant changes to my GPA or MCAT at this point. Thank you!

    • Marci Judd March 16, 2017 at 12:23 am - Reply

      Hi Ilianna, Here’s the thing: your MCAT score and GPA aren’t great, but they won’t keep you out of med school– even an MD program. I have a good feeling about your chances. Here’s why. You have phenomenal extracurriculars! I mean, very, very good. Your immigrant status—-and I’m assuming minority as well–especially being a female, will go a long way towards helping you get acceptance at a decent school. But you need to start the process in around 90 days, so make sure to put together a stellar application packet. Get some help reviewing your essays to make sure they’re top notch. They need to be focused, and give a clear purpose to your medical dreams. Think long and hard about who should be trusted with your letters of recommendation. Those can make or break you. And apply widely. Check out the MSAR to find where you fall, and apply to schools where you are in the GPA/MCAT “zone.” If you have a good state school or two, make sure to apply there, as you’ll have an edge. Don’t be afraid to apply to a couple of highly ranked schools that seem to exceed your “zone,” as many of them are looking for students just like yourself–great extracurriculars and diverse life experiences. Then do some serious study on what makes a great interview. Get together with a mentor, and practice how you want to approach your interview questions. If you do these things, you’ll put yourself on a very promising path. I can’t promise anything, but your hard work and effort can definitely get you over the line!

  42. Jason March 22, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Hi there. Would appreciate your advice on retaking the MCAT with 509 (B/S 130,C/P 128, CAR 125, SS 126) took twice and earlier scored 130,126,126,126
    Gpa 3.88
    200-300 hours volunteer in hospitals
    40-50 hours shadowing
    60 hours clinical experience
    Had two interviews one is on waitlist and other which is more fit for me but didnot hear yet from them.
    Please give me advice if I have a gap year
    Thank You Greatly

    • Marci Judd March 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      Your MCAT score is respectable, depending on the schools where you applied. There are plenty of schools where you would fit in the “acceptable” range based on your scores alone. You are also looking pretty good in the shadowing, volunteering and clinical experience departments. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that you get an invite late in this cycle, but if you don’t, don’t despair. There are literally thousands of kids in the same boat this year and every year. The ones who come back even stronger the second time often are rewarded for their tenacity. If you do indeed end up with a gap year, don’t bother taking the MCAT again. Spend the year in medical settings, and volunteering widely in your community and elsewhere. If you can get involved in research, do! And when you apply next year, apply widely, to mid- and lower-tier schools, many of which are excellent places to get your training. Who were your LOR writers? I can’t stress enough how much attention you should place on deciding that. I have a friend who got a lousy LOR from someone he considered a mentor, and didn’t learn about it until a year or so after getting rejected at his chosen school. Fortunately, he got an acceptance elsewhere, but it’s a reminder that you can’t be too careful in handing the LORs off to people who will give you the best possible review. People who really know you….and if they don’t, give them a “cheat sheet” of your interests and accomplishments that they can use in their letter writing. Oh, and did I mention that you should definitely apply at your state school(s)? That can give you a boost as well. If you end up submitting a new packet this year, switch it up, supplement your essays, step everything up a notch. Even your interview prep. Best of luck to you!

  43. Jeff Bordeaux March 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Hello. I’m doing a little research for my son that is getting ready to apply to medical schools. I would like to know if I could get a list of target schools that would be realistic for acceptance based on his GPA and MCAT. He will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Michigan State University with a GPA of 3.98 this May, and recently scored a 520 on his MCAT exam in January. I believe he is at 265 hours of volunteering at a local hospital, and has about 60 hrs of time spent job shadowing various doctors in multiple fields. He has also been part of a research project for the last year and a half, but has not been published. Thank you for your time.

    • Marci Judd March 23, 2017 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Ok, well, let’s just start by saying kudos to your son! His numbers rock. Not to mention his volunteering and shadowing. And having a long term research project is definitely another plus. I’d start with the University of Michigan, a great school, and he will have a leg up being a resident of the state. If he wants to stay in the Midwest, here are a few great schools: Case Western, University of Pittsburgh, University of Chicago, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and Washington University in St. Louis. Your son is going to be considered “the cream of the crop” with his numbers, so these are top-tier schools he’d be most likely welcomed at. If you join the MSAR, you can check out the exact stats for matriculants at each school. He’ll likely be welcomed at other top-tier schools based on his hard work and accomplishments so far. Keep in mind that the deadline for applications on AMCAS is coming up June 1, so he can begin assembling his application packet now, if he has a little time this semester. The packet needs to be stellar. He’ll want to get some help putting together his essays so they present him as uniquely qualified to appeal to each school. He needs a personal “story” that tells why he is interested in medicine, and why each school is a perfect fit (in the secondary application). Then he needs to be super selective in who is writing his letters of recommendation. Those can make or break a candidate, even a good one. Finally, as I recommend to everyone on this forum, check out our recommendations, and those of lots of other online pre-med sites, for prepping for the personal interviews. That’s where he will clinch the offers which are likely to come.

  44. Jeff Bordeaux March 24, 2017 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for your time!

  45. Sitaram Sinha March 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Hi ,
    I had posted this question in Feb and you wanted know how it goes, My question was : Hello,

    I had inquired about my daughter previously when she was in grad school ( biomedical sciences ), now she graduated with a GPA of 3.5 ( graduated in January )and MCAt is already 515. Worked as adjunct professor for anatomy and physiology for 2 semester.s. Lot of volunteer and research experience. I will think that that at least she should have gotten an interview in DO school at least. So heartbroken.

    Status- Just one interview in a DO school ( RowanSom ) and waitlisted. — Very Puzzled , Rowansom is a top tier DO school but nothing from pcom,lecom or nycom. we are very puzzled and sad. Any insight / Thanks for your time.

    • Marci Judd April 4, 2017 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Not knowing your daughter, and not having reviewed her packet, it is difficult for me to put my finger on the reason for her lack of acceptance. Her GPA isn’t great, but it’s probably not going to keep her out of many med schools, except the higher tiered ones. Being a woman and minority (I’m assuming) will definitely help! Did she apply widely, to medium and lower-tier schools, both MD and DO? There are plenty of schools where she would be considered in the “acceptable” range given her scores. If she does not get accepted in this cycle, I would recommend applying more widely next year. Get hooked up on the MSAR ($25 annual fee) to check out schools where she best fits, numbers-wise. Then she needs some help powering-up her application. Have a mentor read her personal statement/essays and help design the message. She needs to present her story as unique, based on either a pivotal experience she’s had, or something in her life that’s led her to medicine. Check out this post for some direction (https://premedfaq.com/how-do-i-write-a-personal-statement-2/), and look on the web for many more articles about writing a personal statement. If I were her, I would also find a mentor (even paid), who will sit down and practice interviewing with her. A good interview is critical to her success. Don’t give up! If medicine is her dream, and if she is willing to work (very) hard in the next 2-3 months to revamp her packet, she should have a good chance at acceptance.

  46. Michael Lee March 31, 2017 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Hi There,
    My son has a 3.69 GPA and 516 MCAT. He also has about 300 hours in clinical volunteering and 500 hrs in non clinical.
    He is a camp counselor for kids with HIV. Can you give us the list of schools that we might have a good chance of success. We are from California.

    • Marci Judd April 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      Hello! Your son’s numbers are respectable…3.69 GPA is decent, and a 516 MCAT score is excellent. The clinical hours and volunteering are superb as well. If he’s a California resident, that should give him a boost for California schools. (Not to mention a pretty good discount off the cost of med school, which can be literally double the cost). I suggest you get on the MSAR site where you can find the scores for matriculants at every California (and non-California) school. You can join the MSAR site for a year for just $25, so it will be well worth it for you. Here are a couple of things that get overlooked by even good students: first, the LORs (letters of recommendation). Those are solid gold. At most schools you need a minimum of three, and some schools require more. At least one will need to be written by a science professor. Do NOT entrust those to anyone other than people who know and love your son, and believe he will be an excellent doctor someday. The LORs have pushed many applicants over the line (both ways). You can be sunk by one deficient letter! Second, make sure that packet is professionally prepared. Not that your son needs a professional to do it, but treat it like it’s his best work ever. Get some help looking over his essays. Here’s one of our links for writing personal statements (https://premedfaq.com/how-do-i-write-a-personal-statement-2/) but you can find lots of information on the web for putting together a great essay. Your son will need to convey a personal story that is compelling and rich, and leads the committee who is reviewing his packet to zero in on him as an ideal candidate. If he needs it, get some help reviewing his essays. They need focus. They need color. His experience in the HIV camp is uniquely telling. That may be a good place to start. But the new application packet is due in less than 90 days, so encourage your son to get going on his packet soon, especially lining up LOR references and starting to create his personal statement/essays. Let me know how it goes!

  47. Michael Lee April 2, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    He applied last cycle a got one waitlist. He finished his degree in Biology last quarter. I felt that he was not prepared last cycle. And did not have two science rec letter required. But he has everything in order now.

  48. ubel April 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I have got into BS/MD @ U of Toledo with guaranteed interview with Toledo med school at the beginning of 3rd year. I have got into several other universities for regular bachelors. I see that Toledo is unranked and not guaranteed admission, but no mcat. Please advice me which path is better?

    • Marci Judd April 4, 2017 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      That’s a tough call but one you’ll have to make. You will greatly restrict your opportunities going the guaranteed interview. But guaranteed interview doesn’t mean much, so I can’t see why you would pick the U of Toledo for that reason alone. How hard are you willing to work in the next 3-4 years? If you are willing to buckle down and get the grades needed for a wider opportunity, you don’t need the offer you have. If you have the confidence that you’ll do what it takes to succeed in your classes and in taking the MCAT, then you could pick any school. That said, keep in mind that if you do attend a school in the state where you are a resident, and apply to med school at a state school, you’ll have some preferential appeal. For that reason, you may have preference whether or not you attend the U of Toledo for undergrad. The chance to skip the MCAT I think is your trump card. If you want to give it a try, that’s probably the best part of the offer. But if you just go to a good school, and pull your weight, you’ll be in almost the same spot. That’s my best advice.

  49. ubel April 4, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your advice. I am debating between Wisconsin, Madison and UIC ( in state). I will consider your advice now.

  50. Michael Lee April 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your input.

  51. Sarah May 2, 2017 at 10:40 am - Reply

    I am graduating undergrad this May. My GPA is 3.3 and I just took the MCAT and my score is 512. I’m thinking my best approach would be to apply to grad school before applying to med school. I’m concerned about my overall GPA. Would you agree with this approach?

    • Marci Judd May 3, 2017 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah,
      Can you let me know your science GPA, and your extracurriculars?

  52. Maria Allen May 3, 2017 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Hello Marci,

    Your advice to the above questions has been stellar. Thanks for taking the time to answer all the inquiries.

    I have a question for you, too, which I may know the answer to. My son is graduating with a degree in Pharmaceutical Science, switching from chemical engineering, where he had 2 rough quarters but rebounded well. Unfortunately cGPA only 3.2. MCAT 502. He is planning on a formal MCAT review, retaking the test, working in a pediatric hospital and volunteering for hospice.

    Any hope of DO program (we live in Ohio) or should he look into a different career?

    Thanks so much!

    • Marci Judd May 3, 2017 at 10:55 pm - Reply

      Maria, you probably do know my answer. It doesn’t lack hope, but will require amazing effort and perhaps a little luck to get an acceptance. His numbers put him well below the MD threshold, but perhaps within the boundaries for some DO programs. Read here: https://premedfaq.com/do-vs-md/ why that’s not a bad option. I would start with the closest programs (geographically), then spread out from there. Retaking the MCAT is a great idea, but only if your son is willing to buckle down and make it count. Even with his current numbers, there are DO schools he can get acceptance to, but I would focus hard on the extracurriculars: the volunteering and hospital work you mentioned are a great start. It would be advisable to get some help creating an exceptional packet, including the personal statement (see post: https://premedfaq.com/personal-statement-writing/), and letters of recommendation that rock (see post: https://premedfaq.com/how-many-letters-of-recommendation-should-i-solicit/). DO programs want you to have experience shadowing DOs, rather than MDs, so add that in. Before he gets too far from campus, make sure he gets some stellar letters from professors and others who really know his potential. Find the numbers for specific schools and target those where he fits. If he’s serious, and is willing to make this next year count, he may still be in the running. The application period has already started with AMCAS, and will be open soon for AACOM. This should be the best work of his career to date. Good luck!

  53. john May 3, 2017 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Hey I have 513 mcat a 4.0 in my MSMP and a 3.61 in my undergrad. My extracurriculars include shadowing, working in a research lab for a year, and volunteering in the hospital for four years. I am a Florida resident and would like to attend an in state institution. What do you think my chances are for this?

    • john May 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

      also I have calculated my science gpa to be around a 3.7. My Mcat score break down is a 128, 125, 130, 130.
      I am wondering if my 125 cars score will have a detrimental effect on my application?

    • Marci Judd May 4, 2017 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      John, you are in range for quite a few in-state schools. Considering the financial side of things, you will want to start with all of the public universities—here are their median numbers: Florida-Atlantic University COM—3.76 GPA/512 MCAT; Florida International University COM-3.71 GPA/510 MCAT; Florida State COM-3.74 GPA/505 MCAT ($26,000!); University of Central Florida COM-3.76 GPA/510 MCAT; University of Florida, Gainesville-3.86 GPA/514 MCAT ($38,000!); and University of South Florida COM-3.68 GPA/514 MCAT. Then there’s the University of Miami, that will cost you around the same as the Gainesville campus of U of F. As an in-state student, you will have priority at many of these schools that like to fill a requisite number of seats with residents. Florida State is a great example, as they only accept in-staters. The class sizes will be a determinant as well, as some of the above classes are large, while others will be smaller, hence more selective. But I’d say you have a great chance of getting accepted. Especially given that you have all your ducks in a row (shadowing, volunteering, research). You’ll also need good LORs, a great personal statement and packet, etc. It’s already time to get online with the AMCAS system, and you can submit your application on June 3, for submission to schools on June 27. I’d play up your MSMP program, and how that is central to your MD plan. It could be something that really sets you apart. Good luck! (Also, your CARS score is considered very AVERAGE, but you will be playing up other parts of your application, remember!?)

  54. Maria Allen May 4, 2017 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the excellent suggestions, Marci. It is much appreciated!

  55. Jim May 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    I’d appreciate an opinion on strength of undergrad classes. Much is written about GPA and to be honest one can major in PE as long as they take the requisite premed courses. But that same GPA compares equally to someone in a much harder curriculum (or does it)? As an example, my daughter majoring in American Chemical Society (certified Chemistry) and minoring in both Micro Biology and Math. Courses are extremely challenging and carrying a 3.66 GPA entering her senior year. I would think the adcom committees would put some emphasis on the tougher major??? Physical Chemistry in itself has taken her down in her Junior year .2 grade points from a 3.86. 90%+ A’s 2 C’s (PCHEM) and the rest B’s. How many medschool candidates have PChem on their schedules vs liberal arts? We are concerned she’ll get an acceptance now — and must kill the MCAT.

    • Marci Judd May 26, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Jim,
      If you check out my post on a “good” GPA/MCAT combo (https://premedfaq.com/good-gpamcat-combo/), you’ll see that a 3.7/511 is a pretty decent combination, and could get your daughter into a lot of schools. If she is at 3.66 (and her science GPA isn’t much lower), she should be in acceptable territory. It’s true that adcoms may not ever see candidates who are screened out with low numbers, but as long as they’re in the target range for a school, they’ll get a chance to show off their unique attributes. If your daughter has good research experience, shadowing, volunteering and some top notch letters of recommendation, that will boost her chances significantly. In her personal essays, she’ll have a chance to present herself with all of her strengths and weaknesses. She could highlight her chosen major and coursework, and perhaps even make it a part of her overall story (she loves a challenge; she has always been a scientist, so couldn’t resist the harder classes; she set herself up for the “ultimate challenge,” and hopes it won’t diminish her chances, etc.). At this point, she needs a dynamite application packet, all the extracurriculars in place, and yes, she’ll need to “kill the MCAT.” So she’ll need to set aside ample time to prepare, and perhaps get some help by taking a class: https://premedfaq.com/best-mcat-prep-course/. If she’s taking it this summer, there are even a few compact “immersion” classes (https://premedfaq.com/summer-mcat-prep/) starting in May and June, but they will definitely set you back quite a few bucks! There are a lot of great schools where a 3.66/511 is good enough. Join MSAR and find the best schools given her numbers, and perhaps even throw in a D.O. school or two. A little secret: she also gets a few props just for being a woman, so that will help as well. Good luck, and hope that answered your question adequately. If not, let me know!

  56. zinnia June 12, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Hi, so I am curious what are my chances. So I am looking at finishing my undergrad with a cumulative 3.55 GPA and a 3.4 sGPA. I have been doing research on a NASA funded biofilm project that will be sent to the ISS (space!) next year with a fellow professor (so about 2.5 years of research). I have helped found a non-profit organization dedicated to building schools for girls in Afghanistan and I have been volunteering with a NGO that promotes womens rights in Afghanistan. I am double majoring in Biochemistry and Developmental Biology with a minor in English. I understand my GPA isnt all that great, and I am looking to do my MCATs next year. Do you think I even have a shot at a MD program? Or should I just forget about it

    • Marci Judd June 13, 2017 at 1:11 am - Reply

      Hi Zinnia, Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball, so there are no guarantees here. But I see some hope. First, your research. Your volunteering as well will make an impact, I believe, as it shows dedication to an important cause and the willingness to invest yourself in making a difference. Your GPA is your low point, so you can work from there. You’ll need to shine with the MCAT, so get prepared and start studying now. You can buy a book set or sign up for a class. Some classes are termed “self-paced” as they’re online and you can go at your own pace: perfect if you’re spending several months preparing. Your double major may prove to be a plus too, as it’s clear that you’ve had to take more classes, and in difficult majors. That could be one of the points you make in your personal statement, showing that the GPA might be nudged up a bit had you taken an easier path. If you are asking me “should I forget about it?” that’s the low point of your letter. If you want to be a physician more than anything else in life, then you’re going to be cut out for the tough path ahead. You’d better make sure you’re not the type to “forget about it,” as the adcoms will detect that too. Your dream to practice as a physician has to have passion and drive behind it. Make sure it does. Here are a couple of suggestions: spend the months ahead wisely, volunteering, shadowing, continuing research, and getting together a packet that’s A-1. No sloppiness. Great LOR’s. A personal statement that’s second to none and follows all the rules of Personal Statement writing (see https://premedfaq.com/personal-statement-writing/ and https://premedfaq.com/writing-a-personal-statement/). Finally, the fact that you’re a woman will definitely make a small difference, as you’ll likely get a nudge forward. Good luck. Make this year count!

  57. Bruin premed June 17, 2017 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Hi Marci!
    I’m a recent grad from UCLA where I majored in chemistry, my stats are:
    MCAT: 513
    sGPA: 3.58
    cGPA: 3.64
    I have 500 hours of clinical volunteering
    500 hours of extracurricular leadership roles
    160 hours of shadowing
    80 hours of research
    600 hours of work experience (1/2 medical 1/2 not)
    A good PS
    B+ LORs
    And I submitted my primary app yesterday (June 16th)

    I have no idea what my match schools are, could you name some? USC would be my dream school, do you think I’ll have a chance?

    Thank you!

    • Brooks Johnson June 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Bruin premed! Thanks for the question.
      Your extra-curriculars are stellar. With those kind of hours, you’ll definitely stand out as an applicant.
      Your academic numbers are very good, not great. That being said, you are an excellent candidate, and will almost assuredly find a spot in a medical school next year.
      So, some of the schools that you fall close to, at least in academic ranking, include:
      Loma Linda
      Penn State
      Texas A+M
      University of Utah
      University of Arizona- Phoenix
      University of Texas- Houston
      UC Davis
      UC Irvine
      (USC averages around a 516 and 3.7 MCAT/GPA combo)
      The last few are a little above your MCAT/GPA range, but close enough that you would be a strong candidate.
      So, here’s my advice. Go to https://schools.studentdoctor.net/lizzym_score and put in your GPA and MCAT score to get your LizzyM score. From there, go to their list of schools and LizzyM scores and find schools that fall close to your score. Also, if you can afford the subscription fee ($28), I highly suggest that you use the MSAR information provided by AAMC. They give you comprehensive information about MCAT scores, GPA, and extracurriculars of admitted students at EVERY medical school (MD) in the US! Look up schools you’re interested in and see how you stack up against their students. In a way, MSAR is predictive of how you’ll do as an applicant at the individual school level.
      Lastly, here’s my big picture strategy– apply to 10-15 that fall close to your LizzyM score. Then, apply to another 5-10 schools that fall below your score– this acts as a type of fallback if things don’t go as well as you hope. For you that might mean applying to 4-5 DO programs. Then, pick 4-5 “stretch” schools that are well above your lizzyM score. For you that might mean USC, UCLA, Stanford and/or UCSD. This strategy seems to be very effective in getting you in the door for an interview.
      I hope this is helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions if you’d like some more info!


  58. Jenna B July 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm - Reply


    I graduated last May with a BS in Sports Medicine/Athletic Training. I’m currently taking medical school pre-reqs at a local community college and should be done next year. I will be taking a total of 9 more classes to help boost my GPA and prepare for the MCAT. I have about 2,000 hours of clinicals completed, a couple hundred hours in volunteer EMS, have worked for the D-League NY Knicks, completed two capstone projects my senior year of college on medical anomalies, was a student leader with many roles on campus, part of the Honors program, a member of multiple honor societies, won a few awards for leadership and academic excellence and had a great rapport with the faculty at my school. My final year in undergrad was spent working with paramedics and a podiatrist, where I truly solidified my love for medicine.

    I had a bad concussion my senior year, which led me to getting a lower GPA than anticipated. Thankfully, I have a letter from the Assistant Academic Dean discussing my character and the situation (she’s basically vouching that I was a good student and that my grades did not reflect my academic abilities). Assuming I continue to get A’s in the rest of my required classes, my GPA should increase to a 3.6-3.65. I have provided my undergrad GPA and current grades for the classes I’ve taken thus far, below.

    Undergrad GPA: 3.55
    Gen Chem I: A
    Gen Bio I: A-
    Gen Chem II: Starting tomorrow!

    Taking all of this into consideration, what is the possibility of getting accepted into med school when I apply in about a year and a half? *Will be applying to DO/MD schools in NY/PA*

    Thank you so much,

    • Marci Judd July 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenna, you are definitely on the line. Your GPA is a little low, which means your MCAT score will need to be excellent. Taking core classes at a community college is not a great strategy, as it looks like you are taking the easy route. If there is any way to take them at the university you attended, or a local four year university, that would be best. You have great extracurriculars, which will help. If there is any way to get involved in a research project in the next year or so, I would highly recommend that. Also, make sure to do some solid shadowing with a variety of doctors. Your letters of recommendation will probably be top notch, given the relationships you have with faculty. That is golden. So, for the next year, I would recommend getting back into a university setting for a semester of core classes, doing some research, doing some shadowing, and studying mightily for the MCAT. When it comes time to write your personal essay, hopefully you can translate your unique experiences into a compelling narrative, letting the schools see that you are an excellent candidate. I would also recommend joining MSAR, where you can find the median scores of all matriculants at all MD/DO schools. That should help you to make sure you are applying only where you should be. Make sure and include a couple of DO schools, and you can go ahead and apply to one or two higher tier schools, but make sure you apply to some on the lower tier as well. You’ll get a small punch from being a female candidate, but that will only carry you so far. Good luck to you!

      • Jenna B July 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

        Thank you for your reply. The only problem is that I can’t afford a semester at a 4 year school, which is why I’m taking them at a community college. How bad will this affect me?

        • Marci Judd July 20, 2017 at 6:32 pm - Reply

          When you are sitting on the line, it could be the difference between acceptance and rejection. It may or may not make a difference. But I would err on the side of caution. Either way, you will have to create a packet that is stellar. You will have to decide whether to beef up this one element of your packet or not… if you do indeed decided to rely on the community college classes, I would address it head-on in your personal statement, and explain your strategy.

  59. Jenna B July 25, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much for your insight. I will take what you have said into consideration going forward.

    Take care,

  60. Colby September 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    I’m very concerned with my MCAT and GPA and would like some insight if anyone is out there. I’m a student athlete at Johns Hopkins with GPA of 3.6 and MCAT of 508. I’ve done extended shadowing in 4 countries, research (with two grants and a presentation at a national conference in DC), a trip to Honduras to provide free health care to underserved populations, plus multiple other volunteering experience in and out of clinic. I’m wondering how my school, which is known for having a low average GPA (school average: 3.2 and premed average: 3.5) and how NCAA athletics plays a role in my application.

    • Marci Judd September 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Colby, So have you graduated and you’re waiting a year? Or are you a senior? If you’ve graduated, you’ll want to make good use of the year. Maybe some post-grad coursework, or some serious volunteering. Honestly, your scores are on the line, depending on where you plan to apply. I hope your science GPA is in line with your general GPA. You have so many things going for you, including your research, shadowing and other extracurriculars. You need to start thinking about the narrative for your personal statement. Have you already submitted it? If not, you need a story that is compelling as to why you are the best candidate to pick. Stitch together a story about who you are, and why medicine is your passion. Check out our tips for a phenomenal personal statement here: https://premedfaq.com/personal-statement-writing/. Your LORs will also be extremely important here. Hopefully, the writers of these letters are some of your best advocates in the world, and were willing to say so. The best advice I can give you is to join the MSAR, which has scores for all matriculants at every med school. There are lots of schools who will give you a long look! But you’ll have to find them. If you applied only to East Coast schools or top-tier schools, your chances will take a dive. There are so many great schools that will welcome you with your scores. There are state and private schools that are looking for someone with the research and other generous EC’s you have to offer. You may be a little late, but throw your application out there to a few more schools. You may want to consider a couple of DO schools too. Don’t despair. Get your best game on, and make one final push.

  61. Mali November 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    One of my students has a 3.26 Chem Engg GPA from Rensselaer (RPI). His MCAT is a 501. BCPA is 3.58, NCAA varsity athlete, stellar CV (two research publications, four internships, lot of volunteering, shadowing, Howard Hughes chemistry mentor for 3 years, great personal statement, great LORs and a great commitment to medicine. Was balancing a lot while studying for the MCAT. Deans list all the time. RPI is a tough school. Has applied to MD and DO schools. Any chance at all? Any suggestions for the next round? Should he apply to the Caribbean as well?

    • Marci Judd November 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Mali,
      It’s hard to predict what will happen here. It’s a shame he didn’t make the MCAT a little more of a priority, as it’s definitely under the norm for acceptance. His ECs sound excellent. Given his MCAT and GPA, he’s more likely to get picked up by a DO school. Hopefully he applied widely. The ECs can help to make an applicant shine, but they can’t typically make up that much difference. There’s still a chance he may hear back, but if he has a true commitment to medical school, then I’d suggest going all the way next time, taking some time off and studying hard to take the MCAT again. (I know, bummer!) It could be the difference between getting in and not. Going Caribbean is an option, but remember that getting the U.S. plum residencies is made more difficult, depending on the schools he attends. He could do some kind of post-bacc work as well during the next few months. Applications are due in June, so it’s just around the corner. He can take the MCAT as early as January, or March if he wants to be ahead of the game. That will clear the field for him somewhat if he can swing another 10-15 points next time (That’s going to require some heavy lifting!). And as I said, applying widely (using the MSAR as a guide) is essential!

  62. Mali December 1, 2017 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Thanks. He graduates in May 2018 with a Chem Engg degree. He did make 510, 512 and 516 on his last three practice tests. So I don’t know what happened test day. Needs work on biochem and psy. Good in CARS, Physics and Chem. Thanks for the suggestions.

  63. Anj January 4, 2018 at 10:10 am - Reply


    I have a 3.8 GPA with a B.S. in Biological Anthropology undergraduate and a 4.0 in an M.S. in Biomedical Anthropology (so far) with a 506. 3 years of research (no publications), clinical research with publication as co-author submitted, many hours shadowing/volunteering in underprivileged areas of NYC and worked in an Emergency Department shadowing. Also captain of dance team, tutor, student government involvement, and other e-board positions. Also worked 30 hours a week at my job and got promoted so I am now full-time balancing that with graduate courses. I am applying this cycle and have so far only hear back either “Hold” or rejections but have 15 schools left. Do you have any idea what my chances are/if not hearing back is a good/bad sign?

    • Marci Judd January 5, 2018 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      For those schools who’ve requested secondaries from you, there is hope. If you haven’t gotten requests for secondaries, I’d assume those schools have moved on. Your GPA and your extracurriculars are excellent, but your MCAT score is going to drag you down. If you had even 5-6 more points there, I think it would make a difference. But that doesn’t mean your chances are null and void. A school that’s looking for diversity and well-rounded applications may find your path intriguing. A few questions that will shape the outcome: did you apply widely enough, to enough schools where a 506 MCAT score are in the acceptable range? (This may include some DO programs.) Are you extremely confident that your LOR writers are generous to a “t” about your qualifications and strengths? Did you tailor your personal statement to the schools, and especially to a narrative about your medical passion/story/path? At this point, you will have to sit and wait. It’s hard to do. Most invitations for interviews come during the October-January period, so there is some time left here. One last possible option would be to write a letter to the dean of the medical school, for the purpose of persuading her/him that your unique story and set of skills and qualities is a good fit for the school. Perhaps adding some things that you hadn’t finished when you applied last year, or didn’t include in your original application. This is most effective if you have a connection to the school, and understand its mission well enough to know that you are indeed a perfect fit for the program. Don’t beg. Don’t whine. Just show why you are still the best candidate to consider. At this point there is still some maneuvering going on with last-minute interviews/offers, so letting the schools you’re most interested in know you’re still available may make you the chosen applicant when they need a quick fill-in. It’s not a shoe-in, but could help your chances. After that, you’ll need to turn to the next cycle. There is lots that can be done for next year if you need to hold off a year. Perhaps a masters or some post-bacc work will help, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to study extremely hard and get that MCAT score up a bit…best to you!

  64. Vicky February 27, 2018 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hi- I’ve just gotten my MCAT score back and I’m not sure if I should retest. I have a 3.8 from a Little Three school (both for science and overall) and hit a 509 on the MCAT (dropped three points from my other AAMC practice exams, nerves?). My resume is interesting (at least I think so!) with shadowing, volunteering at a hospital, teaching sex education and nutrition classes, spending significant time in three different countries, a paper (in environmental sciences) in the process of being submitted for publication, and volunteering with two organizations in the city where I want to go to medical school. My “dream” schools have median MCAT scores of 511-512 but with GPAs more towards 3.6-3.7. Thoughts about retesting? I don’t know if it’s worth it. I’m still a full-time student (senior!).

    • Marci Judd February 28, 2018 at 10:57 am - Reply

      This is tough. You are definitely on the line, and it could go one way or the other. (Meaning you are at the bottom MCAT score—and below—for many schools.) You don’t get a couple extra MCAT points for having a good GPA, which means your dream schools likely will screen you out in the first step, before seeing all you have to offer. This would point to your taking the MCAT again (I know, awful!). You do have good extracurriculars, and you may have a school or two take an interest in you because of your story. But it won’t be your dream schools, likely. The competition is so steep that there are applicants with your GPA and a 511 MCAT who aren’t guaranteed a spot either. You’ll be in a better spot if you take the time beginning in May to engage in full-time study and take the MCAT no later than June or July. (Check our main page for some discounts Kaplan and Princeton Review offer our visitors.) If you’re applying for the next cycle, you can go ahead and get your application submitted (minus the MCAT scores) on the first day applications open. Your score will catch up with your application, and you will still be among the first applicants getting reviewed. Your personal statement will be critical, as you can use your diverse experiences to tell your unique story. And great LORs can also help ensure you get a look from the schools you dream of. Do NOT give them short shrift. Get scheduled for the MCAT, and get focused on pulling a few extra points this time so you can breathe easy.

  65. Terrence S March 11, 2018 at 6:49 pm - Reply


    I recently retook the MCAT and scored 511: 130/123/128/130. The first time I took it, I scored a 506: 128/127/125/126. How does this look to med school adcoms (I have a cGPA of 3.62, sGPA of 3.67, and well rounded ECs)?

    • Marci Judd March 15, 2018 at 6:50 pm - Reply

      I can’t speak for the adcoms, but I would say you’re at least in the running for a spot. Here’s our post on a good MCAT/GPA combo: https://premedfaq.com/gpa-mcat-combo/. What was your low number (123) in? That’s gong to stand out a bit. Your GPA is a little lower than our post recommends (3.7), but it’s good enough for a lot of schools. The questions I would as are: have you applied widely to schools in your GPA/MCAT point range? If you are applying for the next cycle, make sure to. If you applied this cycle, then that will be helpful. Do you have plenty of hours of shadowing, clinical, volunteer and research activity? Check out our post here for some guidelines: https://premedfaq.com/shadowing-hours-for-med-school-application/. Next, do you have some mentors or professors who have given/will give you a stellar recommendation in your LORs? Don’t just assume. Choose only writers who know you well enough to give detail that will put you in the best light. Are you applying to state schools? In a lot of states, that alone will give your application greater strength. You’ll also have to support your good scores with a great interview, so don’t overlook lots of prep for that. You are in a pretty good spot, but every part of your application will need to shine. Let us know how you do!

  66. Stacy March 20, 2018 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    The truth is that it depends a great deal on your ethnicity. End of story. My daughter has worked so hard. She went to a top tier college, has a 3.65 gpa and a 515 mcat score. She has been told her extracurricular’s and personal statement are stellar. She is not a minority and is having the hardest time getting an acceptance into an MD school. Her peers that are Hispanic or African-American have all got acceptances with stats that are way lower. It’s completely wrong and not fair at this level.

  67. D A May 10, 2018 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    A little insight would be greatly appreciated. Overall GPA – 3.67. PCBM GPA – 3.72. Just finished a Post-Bacc at a top tier school with GPA of 3.81. Pediatric ICU nurse for 6+ years. Working in research for the past year. Excellent LORs and personal statement. However, my MCAT is a 500. What are my chances, and do you have any suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    • Marci Judd May 11, 2018 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Where did you do your undergrad? What’s your gender? Are you “diverse?” These are definitely factors that will influence admissions committees. You have a uniquely intriguing application, that will find favor with some adcom members given a great interview and excellent LORs. Keep in mind that even AAMC says that people with an average MCAT score should be considered if they are a minority, or the first in their family to college, or came from distressing circumstances, etc. Your personal statement is key: it should be a narrative that tells your story and reveals the passions that put you on your unique path. Make it compelling to read. I think you have a chance, especially if you apply broadly. (Include a couple DO schools, and plenty in the mid and lower-tier range?) If you’re applying to research schools, play up your research. Yes, your MCAT should be about 10 points higher, but a stellar application package can compensate for that one factor.

  68. jonathan vanmanen July 18, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Was wondering if I could get some input. I have applied this cycle to about 20ish schools. Mostly NY,NJ,PA low-mid tier MD and I have applied to about 6 DO’s. I’m a NY resident and white. My stats are MCAT 506(127/126/126/127) and cGPA 3.98, sGPA 4.0. I have shadowing about 200 hours and about the same for volunteering in a local clinic. I also have played guitar for the local church in my community (5 years) and volunteered in the food pantry (150 hrs). I did undergraduate research on Cervical cancer for about 3 years and the paper is in the process of being published with me as a co author. I would like to know if these stats would be sufficient for a few MD schools. Seeing all the posts about 520’s and all the crazy ec’s scares me and I hope I am not wasting my time of trying to apply. Thanks for the advice!

    • Marci Judd July 22, 2018 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Jonathan,
      Well, here’s my take on it…you are exactly the kind of applicant lots of schools would want. Here are some asterisks:
      *If you only apply on the East Coast, you are increasing your competition and decreasing your odds of acceptance. Why not try something out of the box…Look around on our list of medical schools and find some that fit your MCAT score perfectly. (I understand if you don’t want to stray too far from home, but what if this could make or break your chances?)
      *Your biggest flaw is your MCAT score. Most schools have a floor, which means you may not be considered if you fall below it. So if you have the motivation to do so, sign up for another stab at the MCAT, study day and night for 6 weeks, and see if you can add another 5 points. That will put you in a new category. But if you decide to re-take it, you must do better or it can backfire on you.
      *Without re-taking the MCAT, the DO schools should be really good shots for you.
      *Your publishing is fantastic, and especially attractive to schools that are big on research. It should give you some serious cred.
      *The volunteer hours are great. Especially the time in the clinic and shadowing docs. Getting focused on your future career is a biggie.
      *Given what you’ve shared with me so far, I think you’ll get some bites. As I said, your MCAT score is a weakness and you’ll have to decide whether to do anything about it. There are a lot of undergrads who would LOVE to have a 3.98/4.0 GPA. It depends on the school you attended, but those are solid numbers.
      Let me know how things go! In the meantime, do some serious prep for your interviews, as those can make or break you as well. Once you get invites, learn as much as you can about the schools where you’ll be interviewing, and let that show. I have a feeling you’ll get some looks.

  69. S P July 27, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Needed some advice.

    ORM. Florida Resident.

    My first attempt was a 504 (127/128/125/124). My CARS was the highest of all the sections. My second attempt was a 512 (128/123/130/131). Though positive gain overall, my CARS score went down from 89 percentile to a 35. Yeah, super unfortunate given I did pretty well on everything else.

    I am applying this cycle, but idk if I will get filtered out by any schools because of my low subsection or if they will see that I had the ability to score really well in it before. Can’t worry about it now I guess.

    GPA (cGPA 3.91/sGPA 3.86)

    I have a lot of ECs that I have been with for 3/4+ years. (below)
    Clinical experience (625 hours with a free healthcare clinic)
    90 hours of shadowing (primary and hospital)
    200 hours of community service
    2000 hours of leadership as a regional youth activities coordinator for international temple organization
    540 hours of research/community service with a program that research exercise intervention for people with disabilities. (Stopped volunteering here but I hope to get 2 publications here this gap year)

    I have been and currently am working (paid employment) as a research assistant and hope to have opportunities to publish this trial. (1750 hrs)
    Also going to coach powerlifting and soccer for Special Olympics

    Just wanted to see if you would recommend taking the MCAT again to balance the score. I have already applied early and broadly, but I don’t know if it will work out.

    • Marci Judd August 11, 2018 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the whole story!! I would say a couple of things here…. First, an out-of-balance MCAT score can indeed ding you. However, I think it actually helps that you have two scores to show that (1) you can improve yourself and (2) though your CARS score is dismal, you pulled it off the first time around. So you probably do have some CARS. Typically, extracurriculars (yours look super solid) won’t replace bad scores, but in essence you have pretty good looking numbers. Your cumulative and science GPAs are impressive, and set alongside a 512 MCAT score, should get you some attention. Hopefully you’ve returned plenty of secondaries at this point? I don’t think taking the MCAT again will make a huge difference (unless you’re planning on a balanced 217+). At this point, all you can do is wait. Hopefully you applied broadly including mid- and lower-tier schools, and especially your state schools. Being a resident is a huge deal for a lot of schools. Since you’re sitting on your thumbs at this point, get busy prepping for your interview. You have to make that count! Get a mentor and have him/her throw some questions at you. Look up the questions you should be expecting. Do your research on the schools you’re targeting. You have to show up in a way that your CARS score is an afterthought. (Btw, even if you had to go another cycle, I still don’t know if the balanced MCAT would be an important consideration. On paper I think you have what it takes to get some adcom attention. Let me know how it goes…)

  70. Kim July 31, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I just got my mcat score today and it’s a 505 (66%ile or 28 on old MCAT). My gpa is 3.8s/3.9cum with decent volunteer/shadowing/research experience. I am Asian (ORM) and have submitted several secondaries already, should I retake the mcat? Thanks

    • Marci Judd August 11, 2018 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      This will be difficult for me to respond to with any degree of certainty, but a 505 is definitely in a range that drops you from consideration at many schools. But then again, a 505, in combination with your 3.8/3.9 GPA will also put you in contention at plenty of schools. The important questions are: where did you attend undergrad? What med schools are you applying to? Did you apply widely, including mid- and lower-tier schools? What are your extracurriculars? If you have very strong extracurriculars, and if you applied to a range of schools (including DO?), and if you attended a university with a reputation for a solid pre-med program and not a lot of grade inflation, I think it’s very plausible that you’ll get something. It wouldn’t hurt to take the MCAT again and get it into the mix, but it really won’t really affect this cycle. When you get the call for an interview, you need to be ready, so I would be doing some mock interviews, and reading everything you can about what to expect, especially school-specific material. Best of luck! (and yes you should get some props at some of the schools for your minority status…)

Leave A Comment