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Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 12:46:03 -0700

I wrote you earlier with a question about my MCAT scores. I got a 9, 10, 9
and an O in August 2000, and a 10, 10, 10 and S in April 2001. I told you
about extras that might enhance my application to make me competitive for
the top schools. First question is, do you think I am kidding myself in
applying to schools such as Harvard, Hopkins and Stanford, and second of
all, would you release both sets of scores to the schools? I have not
released either set yet. Lastly, I am wondering if you might agree that
taking the MCAT a third time to increase my score does not really make sense
as I used a prep course and studied my buns off for the April test.
Granted, I did end up in the ER the night before and take the test on 1/2
hour sleep, but I think adrenaline kicked in and I honestly did the best I
could do. Thanks for any help-and thanks for your site- Libby

Hi Libby,

Based only on your MCAT scores, you do not have a reasonable chance for
admission to Harvard, Hopkins or Stanford. Yes, release BOTH scores. As far
as retaking the MCAT, a 10, 10, 10 is a good score, unless you really want
to go for one of the top schools, I'd hold off on a retake.

Good Luck!

> Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 11:44:44 -0700
> Hello, and thanks for the response and terrific web-site. Just wanted to
> add a few details in response to the last e-mail-tho' my scores are fairly
> low, (10,10,10) that is for a top med school, I did graduate magna cum
> laude from a california state school, completed honors in psychology with an
> indpt research project, two minors, lots of volunteer and community
> experience, and i presently just finished a research internship at the nat.
> institutes of health and am now in west africa with the peace corps working
> with health care within developing communities and villages-this leads into
> my two questions actually. first, does this help with my competitivness-ie,
> i realize you have no magic answers (= but in your opinion am i competitive
> enough for top schools without retaking the mcat...and secondly, have you
> ever heard of medical schools doing phone interviews in lieu of face to
> face? i am planning on applying next summer, and have figured out how
> primary and secondaries will work-i will be in africa two years and will
> finish right before school starts as is-but interviews remain an unanswered
> question. if i continue as planned with twenty or so schools, and even if
> not, travelling to interviews seems close to impossible. i have recently
> heard of schools doing phone interviews on a case by case basis if students
> are in a situation such as my own. any insight or info on this is much
> appreciated-will send this before i get disconnected-thanks again
> libby

Hi Libby,

Because of your extensive range of experiences, your chances of being
accepted to a top ten medical school is certainly improved. If you were to
retake the MCAT and improve by a couple of points, it probable would not
make a big difference, though it would help. In your case someone on an
admissions committee is going to look at your background, and if you are
lucky, make a convincing case in favor of your admission. Its hard to
quantity the probability of this occurring, other than to say it is

This is the first I've heard of "phone interviews". You should contact the
schools you plan to apply to in the near future. There may be special
arrangements that can be made.


> Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 11:23:27 -0400
> Hello-
> I was wondering if you might offer any suggestions for post bacc programs
> and what your opinion is regarding post bacc programs versus a MS
> program...what is better for acceptance into med school?
> Thank you


Both are fine, as long as they are well respected programs. If you have not
previously taken any of the classes, a post bacc program is fine, otherwise
a Masters program is preferable. I do not recommend specific programs, but
typically schools with a better medical school, have better post bacc
programs--still talk with students in the program, if possible, before you
join, don't just rely on information provided by the admissions office.


Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 22:01:31 -0500

I have a gpa of 3.86 and scores of 10-BS, 10-VR, and 7 in PS. I am planning
on taking the MCAT over in August. Do you think I should? Should I release
my first scores. I plan on applying soon?


You can retake and VOID your score if you do not feel you did well. If you
think you can increase your PS score to a 9 or better, without losing more
than 1 point in VR or BS, then you should retake. You should release your
first scores.


> Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2001 04:59:14 -0700
> I found your site while researching the idea of going back to school as a
> Pre-Med student and found a lot of great suggestions for traditional and
> post-grad students. My question concerns the chances of a returning student
> being considered by a medical school.
> I started college when I was 17 with no idea what I wanted. By 19 I had
> finished my general education requirements and, still with no idea what to do,
> I quit. I became an Emergency Medical Technician and began working in EMS. I
> have been and EMT for 7 years and a Paramedic for 4 years. My GPA was 3.0. I'm
> 27 years old now and know what I want, I want to be a doctor. By the time I
> finish the courses I need to even apply I'll be closing on 30 years old. Would
> a medical school even look at someone who took 10 years to get on the right
> track? What is the average age of medical school applicants? And how tough is
> my competion? I look forward to your advice and your opinion, positive or
> negative. Thanks for your time.


The average age of all applicants is 25 yrs old, and the average age of
applicants accepted is between 24 and 25 yrs old. The percentage accepted is
greatest for the 21-23 yrs old group at 46%, 36% for 24-27 yrs old, and
11.2% for 28-31 yrs old.

The decline in acceptance with age is, I believe, largely due to differences
in GPA and MCAT scores, rather than due to age discrimination.

Right now about 40% of all applicants are getting accepted. The competition
is tough, but if you can get a 3.6 GPA or better in premedical science
courses, and do well on the MCAT, then you will have a good shot at
admission--your age should not even be a consideration.

Good Luck!

> Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 11:43:59 -0400
> Thanks for your response. Do you think with a master's degree there would be
> a better chance of acceptance than applying from a post bacc program? Also is
> a master's degree is something medically related, say public health, is this
> more likely to gain you acceptance or just a master's degree in general is
> what they look at for GPA regardless what it is in? Thank you for your time.


Medical schools are looking for evidence that an applicant can perform well,
when taking a full load of classes which are similar in content and
difficulty level as those given in medical school. A post bac program or a
masters program can achieve this end equally well. Generally speaking the
best master's programs would be in the areas of biology, microbiology,
biochemistry, immunology, (or some similarly related area). Public health
would not be as useful. Most folks that could enter a masters program in
these areas, should not apply to a post bac program in the premedical
sciences, since they would already have completed their core premedical
science requirements, and folks that have not completed most of their
premedical science requirements would not be eligible for acceptance in a
masters program in the aforementioned subjects.


> Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001 04:11:56 -0000
> Hi,
> I would appreciate if you could answer me what kind of disadvantages there are
> for an international applicant, other than lack of federal financial support,
> when English is no problem either. If it is financially viable, is an
> international applicant still at some kind of disadvantage at private schools
> or he is subject to no discrimination on lack of citizenship. I would be
> obliged to get an answer.


Some med. schools require that you are either a citizen or a permanent
resident of the US in order to be considered for admission.

The application process for citizens and non-citizens is the same, except
that transcripts from foreign schools may require some additional form of

All the information I have indicates that their is no discrimination on the
basis of citizenship, but I have limited first hand experience in this area.


> Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2001 12:29:51 -0600
> Hi, here's my situation.
> I'm 28, have a BSc in Kinesiology, and am currently doing a 2 year MSc in
> Physiotherapy (course based). I did my BSc in Canada and am doing my MSc in
> Scotland. I am planning to apply to a med school back in Canada after I am
> done my current MSc. I feel as if I have the marks, life experience, and CV to
> get in to this particular University, but I have not written the MCAT yet and
> know I would get crushed if I wrote it right now. I did slightly above average
> in my university science courses, and never took physics. I've taken
> biomechanics, but that only touches on physics. So, I need to learn some new
> material before attempting to write the MCAT next August 2002. Can you tell me
> the best approach, or suggest a good review book or two. Do you think it would
> be in my best interests to take an intro physics course this summer, or just
> try to learn the info by books and practice MCAT exams?
> Best regards,
> Kyle


Your best bet is to take an intro physics course.

Good Luck!

> Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 23:31:17 -0400 (EDT)
> Hello Rich,
> There's a lot of great info at your site, especially in the e-mail
> correspondence, but I' still have a few questions for you I can't find the
> answers to anywhere. My GPA was a 3.0 at a competitive state university
> (mostly hurt by organic chemistry c+ and D+) and after graduating I've been
> working full time in a molecular biology research lab. I took the MCAT's
> (VR=11, PS=9, BS=11), I'm volunteering as an EMT, and I'm retaking organic
> Chemistry during the summer at another respected university, all while working
> full time. If I pull high B's or A's this summer will some school's consider
> me or is my GPA still too low? I plan on taking a graduate level Physiology
> course during the fall and spring. Would A's in that solve my GPA problem? I
> got almost straight A's my senior year so i do have a trend towards
> improvement. Any advice you have would be really useful, thanks so much for
> your time,
> Dan

Hi Dan,

Glad you found the site useful.

Even if you do well at Orgo the second time around it will not help much.
Your MCAT is fine, but your GPA will still be a big problem. If you take
graduate courses you need to take a full graduate load to demonstrate to
medical school admissions committees that you can handle the pressure. I
realize that this makes it hard if you also need to work, but a single (fall
& spring) graduate course, even if you are working full time, will not be
enough to compensate for your low undergrad GPA. A year in a full time
masters program would provide enough data to admission committees to make
your undergrad GPA essentially irrelevant.

Good Luck!

> Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 14:49:41 EDT
> Thanks for your site, it was awesome! I just graduated from a liberal arts
> college in the Northwest with a 3.79 overall and a degree in Biology. My MCAT
> scores were V:12, P:10, B:13, WS:R. I have two medically related volunteer
> experiences and research experience as well. I just submitted my AMCAS
> application today because I was having difficulty accessing the website. My
> questions are: Do I have a good chance of being accepted to a California
> medical school? Is my application still considered relatively early in the
> process? Can I send letters of recommendation to schools before I receive
> secondary applications from them. Thanks for the help.


> Thanks for your site, it was awesome!
Glad you like it!

> Do I have a good chance of being accepted to a California medical school?
Yes, you have a good chance.

>Is my application still considered relatively early in the process?
Yes, you completed your app. on 7/26. Because AMCAS did not anticipate the
number of students who would apply early, as you tried to, all the
applications where delayed, so your app. will be near the top of the pile.

> Can I send letters of recommendation to schools before I receive secondary
> applications from them.

No, you should wait, because there often are special forms or instructions
that you will receive in your secondary app. that you will need to give to
the author of your letters.

Good Luck!

> Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001 21:07:04 -0400 (EDT)
> Hello.
> I have been exploring your webpage and wonder if there are any materials or
> assistance you can provide to someone residing in New York. I am currently a
> MPH student at Columbia University's School of Public Health. I am also a
> premedical student, but am struggling with the MCAT. I have been studying for
> the test off and on for 2 years. I took it once, but scored only a 25 and put
> off applying to med school. This was after attending the Kaplan prep course.
> I stuggle mostly with using the basic science facts (that are easy enough to
> memorize) and applying them to the information provided in the passages in
> order to get the correct answer. For example, if I am required to combine a
> piece of outside knowledge with a fact stated or (worse) implied in the
> passage, and add that to a piece of information provided in an accompaning
> graph, I almost certainly get that question wrong.
> Are any of your services available to "distance learners"? Can you suggest a
> method of study that might help me overcome the difficulty I have making the
> appropriate logic leaps from outside knowledge to information presented in the
> passages?
> Thank you very much for your time.
> Sincerely,
> Julie


The difficulty you mention, "making the appropriate logic leaps from outside
knowledge to information presented in the passages", is truly what makes the
MCAT a challenge. While I have found ways to help students improve in this
area by working with them in person, there is little I currently have to
offer "distance learners".

The one piece of advice that does come to mind is to take as many high
quality MCAT practice tests as possible. Always take the exams under timed
conditions. When time is up, take a break, do NOT look at the answer key.
Spend additional time reevaluating your answer selections, with an open
textbook if you like. Only when you feel you have thought through each
question as thoroughly as possible should you look at the posted answers.
Make a comparison between your first set of answers, your second set of
answers, and the post answers.

The rational behind this exercise is to give you the maximum opportunity to
develop a style of thinking that allows you to make the connections between
what you know, what is presented in the passage, and the questions. Once you
have looked up the posted answer, do NOT look any written explanation of the
answer. Write out your own explanation (include all answer selections, i.e.,
the correct and incorrect choices), using any textbooks/study guides you
wish. Then compare your written answers to those that are posted.

As far as practice tests, AAMC's are best. After working with a large number
of Kaplan and Princeton Review practice exams that are provided as part of
their respective courses, I have found that although Princeton Review tests
have more errors then Kaplan's, the Princeton Review tests more faithfully
reproduce the MCAT then Kaplan's do, which tend to have some "over the top

Good Luck!

> Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2001 15:44:40 EDT
> Hello Rich,
> I will be taking the MCAT for the first time on August 18th. I'm not feeling
> as confident as I could be. I'm sure that's not uncommon. While I realize I
> will get a sense as to how I did just by taking the test, it would be very
> nice to see my scores to know if it's worth applying this time around.
> Originally I was planning to submit my AMCAS application just a few days after
> the MCAT - so that it could get to the schools and be evaluated as soon as my
> MCAT scores were available. I know I am already at a disadvantage applying
> this late in the year, but my question is this: Will my disadvantage be even
> greater if I wait the additional 4-6 weeks to see my scores before I submit my
> AMCAS application? Or would my completed application be available to the
> schools at about the same time in either case? I guess fundamentally, I'm
> curious to know how long it takes schools to receive the application after it
> has been submitted to the AAMC.
> Thanks for you site - it's a great help.
> -Ben

Hi Ben,

Now that the application process has gone truly digital, the time delay
between when you send out the application and when its received SHOULD have
been very small, but there have been significant problems. The last I heard
the application process for this year has been set back about three months.
Although some problems have been solved, others remain. See:; also see FAQ.

> I guess fundamentally, I'm curious to know how long it takes schools to
> receive the application after it has been submitted to the AAMC.

This year I do not think even the AAMC knows with any reliability the answer
to your question.

Since your application can't be evaluated until your MCAT score is received,
the time delay in having your application evaluated COULD be less than 4-6
weeks, assuming you sent out your app. as soon as you received your scores,
as opposed to sending it out now. Of course, it probably will not be
evaluated immediately in either case, and the delay may be greater as more
applications accumulate. The problem is the equation is very different this
year. If there is trouble with your app. --far more likely this year, it
might be delayed even more, or perhaps since the whole application process
is delayed, it really won't matter much.

I'm not sure anyone can really tell you how much of a disadvantage a delay
in sending your application will make this year, but obviously, the safest
thing to do is send out your app. ASAP.



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