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[I]> Time: Tue, 29-Aug-2000 17:48:14 GMT IP:
> Rich,
> Your website is nothing short of amazing! I will try to be brief
> since you get so many of these messages. I went to a very
> competitive undergrad, so I could only muster a 2.9 science
> average( I got a C in Chemistry and a C+ in Physics). I have a
> 3.2 overall. I took the MCAT and got 10's on the sciences but a
> 7 on the verbal. I know I have to take the MCAT again and will
> need to prep more. I applied to a few schools and got
> rejected by all of them. Here are my questions:
> 1. I have a real "phobia" about the verbal b/c it was so hard
> for me the first time. I have this feeling that I am going to
> get in there and choke. Any advice?
> 2. Will my science GPA kill me. I have the opportunity to take
> some more science classes, but at this point, getting A's in both
> of them would only get me up to a 3.0 average. Is this even
> worth it?
> 3. Do med schools look a little more favorably on people who
> reapply to their school?
> Thanks for your help,
> Dan
> 3. I have been told by many

Hi Dan,

1. I know its hard to get over a "traumatic" verbal reasoning experience,
but many have been able to do so before you, and you can too. Work
hard at preparing for VR. When ever doubts or insecurities enter your
mind, let them go, and get back to work.

2. You need better than a 30 on the MCAT to be "alive".

3. If you reapply with a better record, yes.



[II]> Time: Wed, 30-Aug-2000 19:43:38 GMT IP:
> I will be graduating as a Civil Engineering major in another 9
> months. I have been able to take all of my pre-med requirements
> except for Organic Chemistry. Unfortunately I will be working
> full time after I graduate. How can I go about taking organic
> chemistry while working until 5 in the evening? Are there any
> correspondence Organic Chem class? Are organic chem night
> classes common?

Some schools cater to working students and offer night class in Organic
Chem, but no, they are not common. I'd advise staying away from
correspondence courses.



> Good Morning
> I am a New Zealander in my final year of high school and am interested in
> possibly applying for medical school in America. Is the MCAT a test that
> requires undergraduate study at university? What other tests would be
> required?
> Thank you.

Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2000


No other tests are required, but a minimum of 2 years of chemistry, one year
of biology and of physics at the undergraduate level is highly recommended,
but not required, to take the MCAT. The MCAT is given though out the world
in mid April and mid August.

To be accepted to medical school in the U.S. you require a minimum of 2
years undergraduate work for an early decision program, and 4 years under
normal circumstances. A list of required courses (there is some variation
from medical school to medical school) may be found in MSAR. More
information may be found at: MSAR:
Application Information:


Rich Hochstim


> I found your website to be very helpful and informative! I have a question
> that you may be able to help me with. Here's my history-I have a 2 year
> degree (GPA3.2), A B.A. in Biology (GPA 3.01) and will be finishing with
> another Bachelor's in medical technology (GPA 3.55). I want to know if the
> admissions will average all the GPA's together and go from there (which would
> be an unimpressive 3.2) or will they focus on the most recent coursework with
> the good GPA? I have not yet taken the MCAT yet either. Thank you for any
> info you can provide.
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000
Most schools will look at both GPAs independently if they are from different
schools during different time periods, and place more emphasis on the more
recent work. On the other hand if the two degrees are from the same school
during similar time periods the GPAs will tend to be averaged, but more
emphasis will still be placed on the more recent work.


> Thank you for the feedback! I do have one more question about the GPA
> situation...I thought that the ACMAS took all of your grades and computed your
> "overall" GPA and that this was what the admissions committee first sees. I
> guess I would also like to know what GPA and MCAT scores would put me in the
> running...or would applying just be a waste of time for me? I appreciate your
> help!

You are correct, that is what admission committees will look at first, but
if your overall GPA is 3.2 or above then most committees will also look at
your record. While your situation is not ideal, you can emphasize your
recent record in the personal comments section of your application. The
current average GPA/ MCAT score of a student admitted to medical school is
3.6 and 30 respectively. You do have a chance, but really require an MCAT
score above 30, with no individual MCAT sub-score of less than 10, to be


> Time: Wed, 27-Sep-2000 02:08:43 GMT IP:
> Hi Rich,
> Fantastic website! Wish I'd found it sooner! I am
> concerned about a few things. I am a senior at the University
> of Arizona double-majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology
> (with chem minor) and Italian. My main GPA concern at the
> moment is the science GPA. Freshman year was pretty bad due to
> bad roommate and the death of a close family member - I got a B
> and A in honors biology, an A and B in Gen. chem and (worst of
> all!) a B and C in honors calculus (why I took honors, God only
> knows!). Anyway, sophomore year I overestimated my abilities
> (again!) and took O-chem and calc-based physics at the same time
> both semesters and subsequently got B's both semesters in both
> classes. So my science GPA is not too spectacular. I think it
> is somewhere around a 3.35 right now and hopefully will be up to
> a 3.5 by the time I apply. My overall GPA is also climbing and
> I anticipate it will be up to a 3.73 by the time I apply (I
> still have two years remaining until graduation - one year until
> I apply). I took six months off to conduct neuropharmacological
> research in FLorence, Italy (and worked on two papers which have
> been submitted for publication), and when I returned, I really
> became serious and have been earning straight A's (in
> biochemistry, genetics, cell and molecular bio, etc.). I am
> just wondering if these earlier bad grades are going to kill me
> or are they going to see the improvement and realize that I
> truly am capable? I just took the MCAT in August and haven't
> received my scores yet, so I don't have that info yet.
> My other question is about clinical experience. I have made
> some dumb mistakes there too, it seems. I have experience from
> high school volunteering in peds and radiology (although I know
> they don't care about high school) and I spent a year in the
> NICU (I loved it and really learned a lot, but perhaps patient
> contact with newborns doesn't really count!). Now I am getting
> ready to volunteer on the transplant floor. I planned on
> volunteering in the ER as well, but it doesn't look like I will
> be able to based on conflicting schedules. My question is, is
> it absolutely necessary to have experience in the ER? It seems
> like that is the trend for premeds, but I am frustrated and
> tired of hearing about "premed formulas" for having so many
> hours here and there, etc. The ER is a wonderful place to gain
> experience, but surely med schools realize it is not the ONLY
> way to enlighten oneself! I know my school has a great MS, but
> since I am a female and plan to become a neurosurgeon, I know
> that I need to attend a more competetive MS and am not sure what
> my chances are and what I should do to improve things during
> this last year. If you have any comments on this, I would be
> extremely appreciative. I apologize for taking so long to get
> the point across, but I really appreciate you giving your time
> to us stressed premeds who are trying to keep our heads above
> water and not miss anything! Thanks so much again!!!

I am so glad you like the site. The answers to your two questions are, DON'T
PAINIC and DON'T PANIC!, and you may want to stay away from those nasty
honors courses, but I thing you've got the idea by now.

Medical school committees will look at your whole record, not just your GPA,
provided you score above a certain threshold which varies from school to
school and is linked to your MCAT scores. In your case I expect you'll be
above that threshold, so you need not worry. If you get your GPA up, while
still taking full loads you will be competitive. As far as the ER, while
that sure does provide an intense clinical experience, it is by no means the
one true path to medical school. What is important is getting real clinical
experience. You also would like to get some type of experience in the area
you are interested in. While this may be difficult in the neurosciences, it
could help, but not absolutely necessary.

Best of luck to you,


> Time: Wed, 27-Sep-2000 03:29:26 GMT IP:
> ::Hello, I am a highly unlikely medical school candidate,
> u-grad
> gpa of about 2.8, (I know) , MCAT practice scores of about 37.
> know, I was surprised, too. I'm currently in a m.s. program in
> Epidemiology, (thesis), have about a 3.8 or 3.9 there -
> basically, finishing with All A's and one B, about 40 hours
> worth of credit. What the heck can I possibly do to get myself
> in? Is there anything at all, or have I blown it? I'm
> unable/unwilling to go overseas, due to family obligations, so
> is there anything (postbacc? do better on the mcat?) I can do
> to
> make myself a less awful candidate? I have the volunteer
> and
> research thing happening, though I probably won't be
> published.
> That's it. Help, help, help. :)
> Thanks,

Once you perform well in a serious graduate program in the medical sciences
your undergraduate grades are given very little weight. I have advised a
number of premeds with poor undergrad grades to get in to a serious masters
program, they did, and they were later accepted to medical school, when they
had no reasonable chance before. Its kinda like reincarnation! :-)


> Time: Fri, 29-Sep-2000 00:31:10 GMT IP:
> Why do medical schools put so much weight on the VR? It would
> seem to me that if a science major does bad on the science
> section, it says something. I am a Senior Biology major at a
> small liberal arts college, although my first two years were at
> a juinor college. I only took the the April MCAT and received:
> VR-6 PS-10 WS-M BS-11 and have achieved 3.9 GPA in my first 3
> years. I don't plan on applying to major private schools, just
> my state and surrounding state universities. Do I even have a
> moderate chance of getting admitted?
> Thanks

With a 3.9 and good solid scores on the MCAT, except verbal, you DO have a
decent chance, but if you could get that VR score up to an 9, you would
almost surely be accepted, provided all other parts of your record are ship
shape. By the way some schools will over look the verbal score and others
will consider it very important. You might want to consult with a premed
adviser on this one. A good advisor should be aware of the different
tendencies at different schools. This information is not published and
really cannot be extrapolated from data in the MSAR, so what you need is a
premed advisor who has been on the job for ten years or more, and thus will
have that type of inside information.

OK, why do some medical schools consider the VR section so important? The
explanation goes something like this "We can always teach you the science
you do not know, but since we really don't have the time to teach you much,
you will be, in effect, teaching yourself most of the time while in medical
school". Since this situation does not mirror the situation you experienced
as an undergraduate, GPA alone is not considered the sole indicator of
medical school performance. In theory a high score on VR indicates a type of
mentality that would allow one to excel under circumstances were self
teaching was required. While medical school committees do look at the over
all picture, they are also provided data from the AAMC which apparently does
show a positive correlation between VR scores and medical school
performance. While I am sure this is true, I am equally sure that there are
a significant minority of individuals that score low on verbal reasoning but
would also be at the top of their medical school class if accepted.

Good luck,

> Time: Sun, 01-Oct-2000 02:59:36 GMT IP:
> Hey Rich,
> Let me tell you, everyone in my house, 8 premeds, loves you.
> This site is our bible. :)
> I'm in grad school, have awful undergrad grades but all a's and
> a b for my masters (thesis) gpa. So...I need to do great on the
> mcat, question is, how many months of studying is
> optimal? Do you have a good idea of how long someone who *needs*
> to do well, at least mid-thirties, should study? I'd always
> heard about 9 months, is that correct?

Thanks, its great to hear such nice comments!

As far as the amount of time required to prepare for the MCAT, I have found
a great deal of variation from person to person, but I would put the average
at around six months. The thing is it is not just the number of hours that
matter, but the number of times a week one studies. Except when taking
practice tests, 2 hours five times a week is far more effective than 5 hours
twice a week. Also, while prep courses may not really do that much, they may
make it possible to shave off two or three months from a student's study
schedule, because of the structure they provide.

If you have forgotten a lot of the fundamentals, 9 months sounds right, but
play it by ear, see how its going and adjust your schedule accordingly.


> Time: Tue, 03-Oct-2000 19:30:25 GMT IP:
> I just graduated from High School and I wanted to know if there
> are any international or US programs where it is possible to
> have a direct 6 or 7 year Med Program.

For 6 and 7 year programs in the US please refer to the MSAR.


Richard Hochstim

> Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000
> I have written to you before with a question and I just want to thank you
> for taking the time to reply-your advice has been very helpful. i do have
> one more question you might be able to set me straight with-
> I realize that when a person goes on to graduate school to pursue their
> masters, the grades recieved in grad school are more heavily weighted than
> undergrad with the admissions committee. What about in the case of someone
> who goes on to recieve a second bachelor's degree and has raised their
> grades considerably with the second bachelor's degree? The school I am
> attending now is also a medical school (SUNY Syracuse)-will that also be an
> advantage? Thank you again in advance

Yes, but not nearly as much.


Richard Hochstim

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