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New survey highlights tips for getting into medical school

Monday, December 11, 2017
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New survey highlights tips for getting into medical school
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Medicine is such a competitive field that only a select few garner a spot in medical school. According to data gathered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, there were 53,042 medical school applicants in the U.S. in 2016, but only 21,030 applicants, or 39 percent, were offered admission. That statistic alone can make the application process nerve-racking. But there are ways to raise your chances of getting into medical school.

Kaplan Test Prep, an educational and career services provider, recently conducted a survey of 66 accredited medical schools across the U.S. and Canada. In this survey, medical school admissions officials shared tips and advice on how aspiring doctors can get ahead in the medical school admissions race.

Send applications early
Submitting your application early may work in your favor. A large part of admissions officials (70 percent) said that those who apply early gain an advantage over those who don't, with 41 percent indicating that advantage to be "significant." One of the admissions officers surveyed even said that they consider early applicants to be strong candidates because "they have their stuff together."

Stay on top of your application by organizing all the needed documents at the start of the year and taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) as early as May because test results are usually released around 30 days after the test date. Then, send in your application between June and July. That way, you'll make a good impression on admissions officials.

Ace the MCAT
Your MCAT score is still the top factor used to assess your application. A majority of medical school admissions officers, or 54 percent, said that a low score can make or break your application. Some admissions officers (36 percent) also consider your undergraduate GPA.

Make sure you're well-prepared before taking the MCAT. Create a study plan, use practice questions, and take full-length practice exams to identify your strong points and weak areas. Preparation is key to ace the MCAT.

Medical school books and stethoscopeA high MCAT score can raise your chances of getting into med school.

Leave politics aside
More than half of medical school admissions officers, or 53 percent, said that applicants should avoid any mention of politics, especially during interviews or in personal statements submitted with an application. It's just too risky and you're better off keeping your political opinions to yourself when applying for med school.

Be smart on social
You may not think that social media can influence an admission officer's decision regarding your medical school application, but social media can be a deciding factor. Almost a third of admissions officials, or 29 percent, said that they learn more about an applicant by checking his or her social media profiles. A majority of the group found something that counted against an applicant's chances of getting into medical school, such as "unprofessional behavior" or "lewd images."

So think twice before posting on social media. Social media matters and you never know who might be looking.

Create the strongest application possible
Having a strong application is a good start when applying to medical school. But applying early, getting a high MCAT score, setting politics aside, and keeping your social media accounts clean will get you even further.

As Eric Chiu, executive director of pre-health programs at Kaplan Test Prep, said, "Pre-meds should work diligently on putting together the strongest application possible, starting with a strong MCAT score, high GPA, a compelling personal statement, and persuasive letters of recommendation. And if you can apply early, do so, as admissions officers say it can provide you a boost."

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