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> Hi I was wondering if you know how long an MCAT score is "good" for. Is
> there a certain time period that a score will be considered recent by a med
> school (for example, after say 4 years is the score old and they would
> rather see a new score). The reason I ask is because I'm a junior right
> now and am planning an taking the August MCAT, but I will not graduate
> until Dec. 2001 and then I want to work for at least a year before I go to
> medical school.
> Any advice?

------ reply 04/30/00

It varies from school to school. See MSAR for the specifics:


> Hi Rich! I am a Canadian student planning to apply to US Medical schools,
> however, I do not know which schools accept Canadian students (are we
> considered international or foreign?). Basically I am Really hoping you would
> know of a place where I can find a listing of US schools which accept
> Canadians (I do not have US citizenship, nor have I ever attended an undergrad
> institution in the US). Your help is tremendously appreciated.

------ reply 05/22/00

Basically the issue is not whether you are a Canadian or not, but that
you are a foreign student and a non-U.S. citizen. Still the application
procedures for ALL applicants are essentially the same -- see MSAR 2000 -

See page 30-31 of MSAR 2000-2001 for info on residency polices.

You will find the requirements for entrance in MSAR in the section which
list the individual schools, some schools restrict applicants to U.S.
citizens and permanent residents, others do not. If a school does not
specifically state that it will not accept or consider foreign students or
non-U.S. citizens, then it generally will.

*MSAR info is at

Your best bet is to use MSAR and other resources, including the AAMC web
site (see to become as informed
about the application as possible. It will take some time, but its the smart
thing to do.

Best of luck,

> Rich,
> First of all, I want to to thank you for putting up a great web site that I
> am sure helps a lot of people. I have a few questions. I am a Canadian
> citizen who is studying at an American university, specifically Niagara
> University in New York state. I am interested in going to medical school in
> the US. However, I have come to realize that since I am not a permenant
> resident (I do not have a green card) in the US, many school will not take
> my application. Where can I get information regarding what schools I can
> apply to. (I have been going thru the web sites of various medical colleges
> looking for this info, but the the info posted on these web sites are
> usually regarding international students, and I am not sure whether I would
> be considered an international student.)
> Also, I went to high school in Ontario, Canada and I attended Grade 13 as
> required by the Ontario ciriculum. In Niagara University, I recieved some
> credit for my OAC (Gr.13) courses. SInce, I got these credits and since I am
> going to attend summer school, I am planning on finishing my degree in 3
> years. Is this looked down about by med schools? If so, should I repeat the
> courses that I got credit for (I got credit for 1 year of Calculus and
> English).
> Thank you very much.
> Yours Truly, D.K.

------ reply 05/22/00

Any student who is not from the U.S. is a foreign (or international)
student. You can find a complete listing of schools that will accept your
application in MSAR 2000-2001*. Look at each school's requirements for
entrance. If a school does not specifically state that it will not accept or
consider foreign students or non-U.S. citizens, then it generally will.

As far as repeating the courses you mentioned, as long as you have a good
record, I see no advantage in repeating them.

Thanks for your kind words about the web site, and best of luck to you!

*MSAR info is at

> Do you happen to know anything about the different courses available? I am
> trying to decide between the Princeton Review and the Columbia Review
> home-study course. I wanted to take the Columbia review in California, but
> was too late to sign up for that one as it starts earlier than the rest. I
> now have the choices of the Princeton Review in Dallas (I live in Arkansas,
> and the home-study course. I am having a tough time deciding. Have you heard
> any thing about either?

------ reply 06/02/00

I am not familiar with the Columbia Review's materials. I do have an MCAT
prep book that I bought at a local bookstore by Columbia Review that is well
written, but perhaps of necessity, incomplete. How this piece of information
translates into their home study course, I'm not sure. You may kind out more
on-line on premed message boards.

I am familiar with Princeton Review's course, the course materials are user
friendly and are well organized, but have a greater number of errors than
one would expect from a professional test preparation company. A "live"
course has certain potential advantages, notably the individual(s) that
teach(s) the course. This is a variable with a considerable degree of
variation. If you do explore taking the Princeton course you should INSIST
on meeting the instructor before signing on the dotted line. The standard
line is "All our instructors are extremely qualified and well trained", but
the range in teaching ability and enthusiasm for teaching vary greatly.

The bottom line, whichever you choose, is that the brunt of the
responsibility is on your shoulders, prep courses and materials can help,
but their influence is slight when compared to the contribution you will
have to make in order to do well on the MCAT.

Best of luck,

> Hi;
> I have decided to take the Mcat in August, but can not afford your fee at this
> moment. I am sure, it is worthwhile.
> Can you suggest books, test, and cd that I can buy. I would appreciate your
> input.
> Thank you

------reply 06/09/00

I'd recommend Kaplan's Comprehensive MCAT Review ($65, in most bookstores,
CD included), and any, or all of the AAMC MCAT Practice Tests, available
from I particularly like the Practice Items/Practice Test II
package ($20) and Practice Test III.

Good Luck,

> Hi Rich,
> I am a senior at a high school and I am planning to attend Purdue University
> this fall 2000.. I wanted to become a doctor. Since I moved to United States
> two years ago, my SAT score is 1000 and my high school GPA is 3.5. In spite of
> the language problem and background, I took AP classes in my junior and senior
> year and did OK. I also volunteered at a hospital and shadowed a doctor for 6
> month through my high school program. I realize that getting into medical
> school is very competitive and requires excellent skills and talents. I
> applied as undecided at Purdue. My biggest concern right now is to decide my
> major. I feel I would not be a strong candidate for medical school and so I
> don't want to take the premed route. I thought about studying Pharmacy as
> undergraduate and then apply to medical school in the third year of phramacy.
> This way if I don't get admitted into medical school, i will atleast have an
> option to become a Pharm. D. My question is do you think that candidates with
> respective background like mine are likely to get admitted into medical school
> and will pharmacy and then med school would be a better choice for me. Do you
> know the percentage of pharamacy students getting admitted into medcial
> school. I was talking to a doctor at the hospital where I volunteer and she
> said that medical schools look for variety and intersting majors. He adviced
> me to choose another intersting major like philosophy, english or biology that
> shows my interest in the field rather than dry and hectice major as pharmacy.
> Your advice will truly help. Once again thank you for your time.

------reply 08/10/00

Generally your high school GPA and SAT scores are not used to evaluate your
qualifications to be accepted to med. school. It is your undergraduate GPA
and MCAT score, along with all your past activities that are principally
used to evaluate whether or not you are invited for an interview. Since you
have almost your entire future ahead of you, so to speak, it is not possible
to make a meaningful interpretation of the likelihood of your acceptance to
med. school.

The percentage of pharmacy students who applied to med. school and where
accepted for the 1998-99 entering class was 29.2%. As a point of reference,
philosophy was 50.2%, english was 50.5%, and biology was 39.9%. See MSAR
2000 p. 28 for more: MSAR info is at:

While there are other variables to consider, I do agree with the advice
given to you by the doctor at the hospital where you volunteer. A pharmacy
major gives you more options, but is not as likely to result in med. school
admission as other alternatives.


> I decided that I wanted to go to med school after I had already completed a BS
> in an unrelated field. As a result, I'm currently finishing up the science
> requirements for med school. My problem is this: the last class that I have
> to finish is organic chemistry, which I will be finished with in December.
> I've been told by advisors at various medical schools that I should not take
> the MCATs in August before I finish up this class. However, if I wait until
> April to take the MCAT, what are my chances of being accepted into med school
> by the following August (like, 4 months later)? I've been told by some of the
> same advisors that there are a few spots reserved for those who take the MCAT
> exam in April. I was just wondering exactly how "few" those spots might be?

------reply 06/11/00

I do not know of any available source of information that would allow me to
answer your question as to how "few" spots would be available with any
specificity other than to say that I do agree that "few" is an accurate
characterization. I agree with the advice given to you by your advisors, but
if you do decide to apply after taking the April MCAT you can always reapply
for the following year with out any serious penalties other than the costs
of application.


> I am found your link and thought you possibly could answer a question I had.
> What is an average score for the MCAT and what score do you need to apply to
> most schools. I have found all this information on admissions and they only
> say "competitive scores." My husband just received his scores yesterday I I
> would like to know a scale. Any help is greatly appreciated.
> Thank you,
> Pam

------ reply 06/17/00

24 is an average MCAT score. 30 is the average score of an applicant accepted to a
U.S. medical school (M.D.).

> Rich,
> You have a great site. It's been very helpful. I am writing to ask whether you
> think I should the MCAT again in August. I took the April test and received an
> 11 in VR, a 13 in BS, but only an 8 in PS. I earned a double-major BA in 1996
> in Political Science and Admin. of Justice from the Univ. of Pittsburgh, with
> about a 2.8 gpa. I worked for 2 years and returned to Pitt in Jan. 1999 as an
> post-bac undergraduate biology major and have just received my second degree.
> My coursework since I came back has consisted almost entirely of upper-level
> biology courses, and organic chemistry, calculus and statistics. I have earned
> mostly A's in these classes (with a B here and there). My overall GPA on my
> transcript has gone up to about 3.1, but since I came back for the second
> degree, I've gotten about a 3.5 each semester. I have work in a developmental
> biology research lab for the past year, but have not volunteered anywhere,
> because I am supporting myself by working 2 jobs and don't have the time. I
> have strong letters of recommendation from at least 3 of my science
> professors. If I had a higher overall gpa, I would be happier with the 32, but
> I'm worried that the med schools will look at the 8 on PS and my overall gpa
> instead of the 11 VR and 13 BS and my 3.5 science gpa. What do you think?
> Thanks in advance for your time.
> Eric

------ reply 06/23/00

Hi Eric,

You have asked a tough question because you could help or hurt yourself
depending on how you would perform on the August MCAT. You can read page 27
of the MCAT 2000 Announcement for more info, but I believe it all boils down
to why you scored an 8 in Physical Science. If you did poorly due to a lack
of recent exposure to PS, as is plausible based on your description of your
record, and you believe you can score a 10 with extensive review, then I
would suggested you retake the MCAT. On the other hand, if you retake the
MCAT it is probable that your VR and BS scores could, and reasonably may be
expected to drop to a 10 and 11 respectively (see page 27). Unless you also
score at least a 10 on PS, you will probably not help your situation. The
bottom line: (unless you feel you can definitely increase your PS score
(lets consider a 9 in PS a breakeven point, due to a probable decrease in VR
and/or BS), you should retake the MCAT only if you feel you did poorly on PS
due to a lack of recent exposure to this material, and if you have time to
review this material and can reasonably expect to make a ten or better in PS
on the August test. If you were to retake the MCAT in August and make the
same scores as you did in April, I believe this would be a negative result.


> Rich- your website is amazing. It provided me with endless information
> that I have been unsuccessfully searching for. I just graduated with my
> BA in Music from a small liberal arts college in central Illinois with a
> GPA of 3.75. I am employed by the college now as a member of the Student
> Life Staff, thus providing me the opportunity to take classes for free. I
> have always wanted to go into medicine, and actually came in pre-med, but
> do to other circumstances I switched to music right away. I now want to
> prepare for the MCAT and med school. I have read over and over the list
> of classes necessary, two years of chem (general, organic and inorganic),
> and a year of biology and a physics class. My first question is whether
> or not these classes really provide you with all that you need for the
> test. Also, not having the science undergrad degree, does that put you at
> a disadvantage once you are in med school, or is the material new to
> everyone. My last questions is although my GPA is fine, it is from a small
> no name school. How much will that matter? Is is fine to take the
> science classes here, or do I need to try and take them from someplace
> like the U of I, or Souther Illinois University?
> I hope to hear from you soon.
> Thanks in advance.
> Ken

------ reply 06/27/00

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your comments about my site.

In answer to your first question: "those classes" provide you with the
factual information, but often do not fully prepare you for the conceptual.
There are many critical thinking skills that are not adequately covered in
most of these courses. While taking additional courses does not provide any
additional information that you MUST have, extra courses, typically in the
biological sciences, tend to help.

In answer to your second question: it helps to take biochemistry and anatomy
before medical school, but not having a science undergraduate degree is no
cause for concern--the majority of material IS new to everyone.

Finally for small colleges medical schools have a "score sheet" to help them
evaluate the significance of your grades. This allows a basis of comparison
between the school you are attending and other better known schools. If your
college is "high" on the "score sheet" there's no problem. If not, your
grades will be adjusted downward. This may or may not be done
mathematically. Some schools use a strict formula, while others attach a
"flag" on your transcript, indicating the estimated "rigor" of the college
you attended.

Hope that helps!


> Hello,
> I will be taking the August 2000 MCAT. Last year, my verbal reasoning score
> was pitiful. I took a prep course, but it was not beneficial. I would like
> to improve my total MCAT score. Your attention to this matter is greatly
> appreciated.
> Thank you.

------ reply 06/27/00


Here's what I would recommend:

--Buy all four Practice tests and the Practice Items from the AAMC

Use the above materials in the following way: --Always take tests under
timed conditions (1.3 minutes / questions for the Practice Items VR, PS, &

--When you are done do not look at the correct answers. Take a break, then
come back and continue to work under unlimited time conditions. Only when
you feel you cannot do any more work should you look at the correct answers.
Always keep a record of the answer key changes made between timed, and
un-timed conditions. Try to learn from these changes.

--For VR you should get to the point were you are able to answer all
questions correctly under unlimited time conditions. When you reach this
point experiment with different pacing strategies and reading techniques in
an attempt to find the optimum compromise between speed and accuracy.

--For PS & BS make the test "open book" for the unlimited time session. You
should work on learning content (factual stuff) and conceptual skills at the
same time, rather than one at a time.

--The time you spend under unlimited time conditions should be used to teach
yourself as much about the MCAT, and the type of thinking required as
possible. You should take a break and come back as many times as is
reasonable, even extending the work from one day to the next.

--Once you look at the correct answers you should spend further time
learning why you made the mistakes you did.

--While you are doing all this work you should be getting a feel of the
"MCAT style". For example the way you must extract information from
different sources, some in the passage, some in your own knowledge base, and
than integrate them when evaluating a graph, table, hypothesis, or
experimental result. What I'm trying to say is that the MCAT tends to have a
certain way of asking things, the more skilled you become at handling this
"style" the better you will score.

--Finally, believe in yourself. In my experience, the students who have most
improved their scores on the MCAT, were those that ended up teaching

Good Luck!

PS More advice on MCAT prep may be found at:


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