I want to go to a medical school one day. I have a high GPA (3.8 out 4), but very low ACT and SAT scores. I know it's going to be hard to get into top pre-med programs like Northwestern and Johns Hopkins. If I want to be able to get into a medical school when I graduate, what do you recommend?

3 Answers

SpanOne Staff Points0

Here are some things that you can consider:

1). There are some great colleges where test scores are not required or optional (e.g. Brandeis University, George Washington University, Wake Forest University).

2) To get into top medical schools in the U.S., you need a high undergraduate GPA, clinical experience, strong recommendation letters, and a decent MCAT score. So, find an environment where you have an opportunity to achieve those. For example, explore small liberal arts colleges where you get an opportunity to build relationships with professors and thrive in small settings. In general, liberal arts colleges place well into top graduate schools.

Janice Kirn-Sottilaro Points0

Students with high GPA's but lower test scores no longer need to believe that a top-tier college is out of their reach. Always remember to compare your list of schools to those listed on www.fairtest.org. This particular website provides a listing of colleges which, are test optional and many, many of these schools are truly outstanding such as Bates College, American University, and Franklin & Marshall to name just a few. Remember though that to be test optional means the choice is up to the student. If you submit your scores, they will be used. If you do not submit your scores and standardized testing, they WILL NOT be used to determine your acceptance status.

Now, let us look for a moment at an additional concern you presented: "I want to go to medical school one day." From reading your question if I understand your concern correctly it is that, due to lower SAT/ACT scores acceptance at an upper-tier school and thus later on medical school may, not be possible. Well, let's turn that concern around shall we and find another route for you to go.

Students are able to apply to pre-med programs for acceptance at the undergraduate level, but this is not the only road to medical school! Perhaps there is a high school senior out there that hopes to be a doctor one day with a GPA of 3.4 and SAT scores of oh let's say, 1750. They may be thinking that their dream of becoming a doctor will never come true but nay, nay there is another way!

A student in the above situation can apply and likely be accepted to a state-level college majoring in Biology. During their senior year of college, still hoping to be a doctor ,they study and take the MCAT (the cousin to the SAT for undergraduate school the MCAT is used for admission to medical school). If the student has done extremely well as an undergraduate securing a substantial GPA and, comes away from the MCAT with equally high scores they can apply to medical school as semester 1 of senior year begins to wind down.

In this situation the student can hope and pray to be accepted and sometimes, they are but there are more often those students (of which there are many) that, receive their BS degree from their undergraduate studies and then, begin to prepare for the MCAT with no other academic demands surrounding them now able to really concentrate on this single test. Upon completion of the MCAT students are now able to once again apply to medical school. For some acceptance comes quickly while for others it may take one or two years but it is that freedom to prepare for the MCAT which, allows generally for a higher score.

In the end you may not be among those students which, are accepted to medical school. In the end maybe you might not be able to pursue your dream of becoming a doctor but, that does not mean you will not be able to enter the medical field in a different capacity. The medical field offers many, many different career paths, being a doctor is but one!

Good Luck!

Janice Kirn-Sottilaro

Jon Semcer Points0

I think we have a couple of issues here. One, low SAT out of high school does not disqualify anyone from pursuing medical school. Your first goal is to select several schools that you will apply to based on their past performance of preparing students for the MCATs and the percentage ( and total number who apply and total number admitted) of graduating seniors who are admitted to medical school. Please keep in mind that students applying to med school can be chemistry, biology, physics, math or any kind of major as long as you are exposed to enough science classes to prepare for the MCATs and your undergrad GPA is high.

Get into Medical School from a Liberal Arts College

Your experiences should include some type of med preparation, you have outstanding letters of recommendation, your essay is well written and you meet all deadlines. Being admitted into a medical school is very competitive. Look at your undergrad school and see if there is a connection or relationship between the two schools.

Smaller liberal arts colleges tend to have a better track record of sending students off to med school. Here are some reasons why this is true:

  • The quality of their science, math and other related departments.
  • The size of the classes-- professors really get to know their students because the classes are small.
  • Your advisor knows you well because of the small advising load they may have.

I am not sure where you live but in Pennsylvania , New York,, New England and the midwest there many fine small schools that on a percentage basis are very competitive with the Ivy schools. Remember to ask the right questions, have a clear vision of what you are looking for, and make sure on a campus visit you spend a few minutes with the department chair to seek their advice. Start your college search early and do not dismiss schools you have never heard of before and keep dreaming the dream. All the best to you and have a great year. Jon Semcer


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