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[I] > Time: Wed, 13-Dec-2000 06:29:17 GMT6
> I graduated with an English degree and a 3.3 gpa, took a couple years off, and
> decided to pursue medical school. I am now taking the science prereqs, hoping
> for the best. My question is, does it make more sense to take more classes
> than just the standards, like taking Biochem, for example, to boost my gpa, or
> retake classes that I got B's in(gen chem). Does retaking classes help or hurt
> you? Finnaly, what is it like going to med school abroad(Ireland or St.
> martin), regarding getting residency or transfering to an american school.
> Your site is very helpful, thanks again


In your case, retaking will probably not hurt or help if you go from a "B"
to an "A", but taking additional courses (a full load) and doing well, will
help, and will also be useful (all though not necessary) in preparing for
the MCAT. If you feel that you have forgotten a large amount of the material
from your undergraduate courses, consider auditing these classes.

It is harder to compete for residency programs when you graduate from a
foreign medical school, but this depends on how well respected the medical
school you matriculated from is, and how competitive your area of
specialization is. You may wish to speak with a pre-health advisor for more
specific information regarding this matter.

While it is possible to transfer into a U.S. medical school from a foreign
school, you would generally need to start over as a first year student. The
odds of admission would be based on your record to date, including your
performance in medical school, and how well respected the medical school you
are currently attending is.

You also may which to look at issues related to the USMLE,


[II] > Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 15:07:08 EST
> Rich,
> Great site.
> I intend to enroll in a MCAT prep course this summer, almost a year before the
> April 2002 exam, in order to strengthen and consolidate my test-taking skills.
> The problem is that I will not have taken Organic Chemistry as of this
> upcoming summer. (That class I will be taking in my Junior year, which starts
> in the Fall of 2001.)
> Is this a risky approach, a good approach, or is every approach the same?


Glad you like the site!

I do not recommend taking an MCAT course unless you have taken Organic, or
are taking Orgo concurrent with the MCAT course. Getting a head start on
test taking skills IS a good idea. I recommend you buy Kaplan's
Comprehensive MCAT book from Barnes and Noble or Borders, and buy Practice
Test II/Practice Items (3 booklet set) from the AAMC,,
and get busy, this summer or sooner. These materials include four MCATs
worth of material and an extensive review of MCAT content. See: for study suggestions.

Starting an MCAT course around November 2001, running through April 2002,
makes the most sense to me, unless you have this summer free, and expect a
very tough junior year. In that case, taking an MCAT course this summer
would be ok, if you can retake the course. If you cannot retake the course,
then you really would like to have some knowledge of Orgo under your belt
(self study, auditing a course) before taking an MCAT course this summer.



Time: Tue, 26-Dec-2000 22:42:36 GMT IP:
> I would want to become a radiologist and am starting my undergraduate studies.
> Now I have heard countless advice to not major in biochemistry or sciences
> that don't interest you just to get into med school. Now I truly have a
> desire for physics which brought me to the path to become a radiologist.
> However I would like to minor in computer informatio systems. Would the
> technical part stunt my chances for admissions to med school as long as I
> complete all the biology requirments?

Hi Tim,

As long as you put in the time to be adequately prepared for the MCAT*, and
maintain a competitive GPA, you will be in good shape. Your GPA would be
looked at in the context of your challenging academic record which will give
you an advantage, and because medical school admission committees are
looking for a well rounded class, your selection of major and minor will set
you apart--that's good. To top it off, a physics major and computer info
systems minor make a lot of sense, considering your interest in
radiology--that looks good on your application.

*You may need to do more reviewing of biology, because you will have taken
fewer bio courses than the average premed.


Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000

your site is outstanding! love it! i was wondering, i am attending a small
no name community college. I am planning to transfer to a great 4-year
school with a great reputation for their high acceptance rates for med
schools.Where can i find a list of the top schools that med. schools look
at? and also, i know there is a scale that Med. schools look at to
determine how rigorous a small school is compared to a larger school. is
there anywhere there is a list or formula that i can compare my grades to?
thanks a million!


Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your comments!

Medical schools all make independent evaluations of the "strengths" of
different schools. As a result their isn't one list that would apply to all
medical schools, but you can get a rough idea of what a "generic list" might
look like by looking at the admissions requirements at various institutions.
As a first approximation the higher the high school GPA and standardized
test requirements, the more rigorous the school. Of course you also would
need to consider whether it is a private or a state school, and you would
want to know the quality of their arts and sciences program, especially in
the sciences. Where can you find all this? At the reference desk of a
library. There are a number of publications that will provide this type of
information. What would really be useful, but to my knowledge does not
exist, is data on acceptance rates from school to school comparing
applicants of similar background.


Hey Rich,
Love your site. I was curious since there are so many MCAT prep books on
the market, what is the best overall one book. I heard Kaplan new Book is good
for P. Sci, and Bio, but not good for verbal. Which book should I compensate
with to get a good verbal understanding. Also, since some of the old AAMC tests
are not similar to the new MCAT format, which tests are the best of (I --> IV) that
will prepare me for the April 2001 MCAT?

& -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Rich,
First of all let me tell you that me and all of my friends LOVED your
site very very much. You have done a grat job in gtting all the
information and organizing them is such a nice and easily recognized
order. I am sure alot of people will benifit very much by visiting your
site evernow and then, including myself.
The reason why i am writing to u is that i am really in a big loss. I
will be sitting for the MCAT exam this coming august, and i need your
advice badly on which preparation material is the best and what boks do
u recommend.
Thank u very much for your kind help


Since you both emailed at the same time with similar questions...

As far as review of science content, Kaplan's Comprehensive MCAT Review is
the best. For practice tests I like AAMC Practice Test III the most, then PT
II (I have not seen PT IV, but I have heard from numerous sources that it
was "too easy"). PT V will be on sale next month--January 2001.

The only major change in the MCAT has been in the physical sciences, so for
verbal and biological sciences PT I and II are still worthwhile. PT II's
physical sciences is slightly dated, and PT I's PS section is quite dated.
Although AAMC forgot to include the Practice Items on their web site, they
are available for $20, and include 31 verbal reasoning passages of high
quality covering a wide range of difficulty levels as well as a large number
of PS and BS passages. The info in the Kaplan book about verbal is ok, but
what you really need to prepare for VR is a large amount of high quality
practice materials, and for this all the AAMC materials are top notch.

By the way, here's some advise from the site...

...When you are taking practice tests do not look at the answer key
immediately after time runs out. Revisit the material after a break of 1 to
24 hours, Take all the time you want before you finally look at the answers.
You'll learn a lot more this way.


Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 01:13:10 -0500

Dear Rich--
Thanks for all of the great advice on your website. I am currently a high
school Chemistry and AP Biology teacher and I am interested in possibly
pursuing a medical career. Before now, I had always wanted to be a teacher,
so when I got my B.S. in Biology at William and Mary, I really didn't apply
myself because I knew that my grades didn't need to be competitive for my
field. William and Mary has no grade inflation, so I graduated with a 2.6.
I went straight into an MAT program in Biology at Indiana University where I
graduated with a 3.7 while teaching an undergraduate biology lab.

Now I have two years of high school teaching experience under my belt and I
am contemplating a pursuit of a medical degree but I need to know how
hampering my undergrad GPA will be. Since I wasn't pre-med in college, I
didn't complete my reqs for med school, so I'll need to take a post-bac year
to fulfill them. With a really solid grad school performance in biology,
three to four years teaching experience, and what's likely to be a strong
post-bac showing (I have no doubts in my ability now that I have a goal), do
I have a reason to even pursue the application process or am I wasting my
time? I would be risking a lot to quit my job for a post-bac year and MCAT
prep only to discover that there's no way in hell any med school would
accept me. Assuming solid MCATs and knowing that I interview extremely
well, should I bother?



Hi Mat,

The short answer is that your undergraduate record will have no significant
effect on the odds of you being accepted to medical school. With a good MCAT
score you have a real chance for acceptance. Good luck!


> Time: Sun, 21-Jan-2001
> I am a year one Accounting student and would like to know what extra courses
> I'll have to take to statisfy the MedSchool admission process while still at
> university.


You will find a complete list of premedical requirements, both generic, and
school specific in MSAR. See link at:


> Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001

> Dear Rich,
> Thanks for taking the time out to help all of us pre-meds =). It's very kind
> of you. I've got a question for you that may be of interest to your other
> visitors, but first here's my background. I'm currently in my fourth year as
> a biology major in a competitive university. I'm a student who had too much
> fun and did very badly my first and second years, netting a 2.75 for two
> years. Then I got my act together, and since then, once this semester ends,
> I've been getting a 3.85. Sadly, my overall GPA is about a 3.35. My MCAT
> scores are a PS:12 VR:11 WS:S BS:12. I have excellent recs, been doing 2
> years of clinical research, ER volunteer experience, and leadership experience
> in founding an award winning campus organization dealing with neglected and
> abused children. The thing that's really killing me is my GPA.
> Here's the question. I'm trying to decide when I should send in my
> application. I could send it in right away in June with a 3.35 GPA. Or I
> could send it in right after I take summer school, which would raise my GPA to
> a 3.41. I've heard that it's very important due to rolling admissions to get
> the AMCAS in ASAP. However, I would also really like to improve my GPA before
> applying. The transcripts for the summer term won't be ready until
> mid-September and I hear that AMCAS takes a while to forward them on to the
> medical schools. Will my chances actually be worse if I wait until September
> with a higher GPA than apply earlier with a lower GPA? And finally, another
> option for me would be to wait until the next year to apply. I'm planning on
> graduating in 4 and 1/2 years, so I'll be able to raise my GPA up to a 3.5.
> However, I'd prefer to apply this year and get into a good medical school. If
> I don't have a good chance of getting into a a good med school, I'd rather
> wait. What do you think about all this?
> Thanks so much for taking the time. Trying to make up my mind has been pretty
> stressful, and hopefully I can put some closure on the issue of whether I
> should apply in June, September, or next June.
> Sincerely,
> Dave

Hi Dave,

With your MCAT scores you do not need a great GPA and you can update your
application so that your latest GPA is included.

The truth is your GPA is going to be a low, but high enough that medical
schools will open your file and look inside--especially with your solid MCAT
performance. When they do, I do not believe the difference between a 3.35 or
a 3.41 is as important as the advantage of applying earlier, Some students
with your MCAT score get accepted with a GPA as low as 3.2! What you need to
do is to make it clear in your personal comments section of the application
that you have developed a strong commitment to medicine and that your recent
record, both academic and volunteer, clearly demonstrate this. With this in
mind I would advise you to apply earlier in the admissions cycle, you should
have your record updated with your latest grades as soon as they are
available, and you should follow this update up with a phone call or a
letter to insure that this has in fact been done.


> Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001

> Rich,
> I am an RN working in a clinic that cares for the needs of underserved
> communities in the Amazon jungle. I am a volunteer, and I have been here for 3
> years.
> I have an associate degree in Nursing, and a bachelor's in Psych. I am wanting
> to apply to med school sometime in the next 2 years.My problem is that my
> degrees were both earned through the University of the State of New York's
> external degree program. Basically, all of my credits are from proficiency
> exams and correspondence courses. I am now taking correspondence courses in
> Chem, Bio, and Org. Chem to help prepare me for the MCAT.
> My question for you is whether medical schools will automatically throw out my
> application because of the 'unusual' training I have had. Does it help that I
> am an RN? Also, I notice that most medical schools require labs with all the
> sciences. Would they still accept someone without those lab hours, if they at
> get those credits before they start med school? Would a high MCAT score
> nullify the need for those lab hours?
> Anxious for your opinion/response,
> Kristene RN
> Brazil

Hi Kristene,

Yes, being an RN does help and your particular experience as a volunteer in
Brazil does as well, but medical school admissions committees are also
looking for evidence of solid academic abilities which are normally measured
by GPA and MCAT scores.

Even if your MCAT scores are very high most medical schools will reject your
application because you do not have the necessary requirements unless you
complete all requirements prior to being admitted to medical school. Others
may make small allowances.

Good luck,

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