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> Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2001 18:00:09 -0400

> Hi!
> I am a Canadian student studying at McGill University. I have completed my
> first year towards a B.Sc. in Physiology with a GPA of 2.95 (having failed one
> course).If I can get my GPA up to 3.5 by the end of this year,when I have to
> apply for med school, and get a score of over 30 on my MCAt's, what are my
> chances of getting into med school after completing my degree. (Note: A
> bachelor's begree at McGill is only 3 years). If you could please answer my
> question I would greatly appreciate it.
> Thanks,
> Maria

Hi Maria,

Your odds would be near 50%.


Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 23:14:34 EDT
Subject: DO or the Carribean or Graduate School (I'm conflicted)

I recently graduated from  college and got rejected at a bunch of M.D
Schools. This year I am applying to DO schools too and possibly Carribean
medical schools. I have a 3.41 science GPA and a 3.55 cummulative GPA. My
advisor has suggested a post bac. program, but I really don't want to spend
the next 2-3 years getting some meaningless degree, just so I can apply few
years later to be a physician. Do you think think I would be better off
going the Grenada, a DO school or going into a graduate program that has no
guarantees? Any advice would be appreciated. THANK YOU.


The answer to your question may depend on several variables, but in general,
DO is your best bet, with a graduate program second. Please understand that
without more information, I can only provide you with a generic answer.
Specific considerations that might result in deviations from the generic
include, but are not limited to, the type of medicine you hope to practice,
financial considerations, temporal considerations, and personal
considerations related to living in Grenada.


Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 15:59:00 +0000
Subject: Re: Post-Secondary Experience Question

...I appreciate your site. I have a question regarding post-secondary
experiences. I graduated with honors in 1994 in Business (dbl concentration
Mktg and Acctg) and worked until 1999 when I decided to pursue medicine.
Would you recommend describing experiences from my undergrad days in the
AMCAS application? I worked full-time during that time and was very
involved in a business fraternity, community services, etc. But I also have
extensive experiences as a postbacc and during my career in business.
Please let me know...some have advised to put them all down, others say
those undergrad experiences would diliute my postbacc experiences. But I
did take 6 years to graduate, and I would like the schools to know why...or
do they even care because it was so long ago? I have maintained a 4.0 as a

Hi Jennifer,

I'd advise you to include all of your experiences in your AMCAS application.
This will help to paint a broader picture of who you are and serve to set
you apart from other candidates. Its true that "they" do not care as much
about activities in the more distant past, but they are looking to get a
feel for who you are. This is done in a variety of ways, and one way is
through your description of your past activities. You should stress your
postbacc experiences more than your undergrad experiences, but I do not
believe you should ignore your undergrad activities completely.


Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 21:35:03 EDT
Subject: PA School

Dear Rich,
I have just recently discovered your site and already I have learned a lot
and gained much insight (Thanks). I am a graduating senior this semester
receiving a BS in biology. I have been interested in becoming a PA for
years, but my grades are not that spectacular. For most of my 4 years I
worked and took a full load of classes, resulting in B's and C's (I know not
great). Recently I have been able to drastically reduce my workload which
has enabled me to get much better grades, but that has only been over the
past year. My cumulative GPA is a 2.5. Could a masters program possibly
redeem me? I guess I'm just wondering what my next step should be. Should I
just plan on another career or is their still a chance for me? Thanks.


Hi Alexis,

I do not know what the average GPA is for those entering PA postbac
programs, but for those with low GPAs wishing to enter DO or MD programs a
masters program can essentially replace their old GPA with a new, and
hopefully higher, one. I imagine it might be the same for PA programs.

Good Luck!

Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 10:49:08 -0400
Subject: Med School Question (2)

Hi, Rich,

Your service on Premed411 is invaluable!

Now, I'll get right to the point. The goal: medical school. The hurtles:
tall, but surmountable (I hope). I'm a 30 yo male who received a BS in
chemistry from Kennesaw State University (1997), an MS in biology from
Georgia State University (2001), and graduated from a Surgical Technology
program (1999), all in Atlanta, Georgia. My undergrad overall GPA is 2.64
and science GPA 2.77, taking into account terrible freshman and sophomore
years. My graduate GPA is 3.57, and my surgical tech GPA is 4.0. I've
taken the MCAT four times. My highest of the first three is 27 (V8, P8,
B11, WS-M); the fourth (Aug 01) hasn't been scored yet. I have plenty of
clinical experience, including rehab, OR, and volunteer work. To
supplement, I have been teaching human A&P for two years at the collegiate
level, as a graduate teaching assistant. My letters of recommendation are
very good ones, from what I've read.

I've read your other responses to similar cases. However, I fear that my
terrible undergrad years are holding me back. (My MCAT score, of course,
being an important factor.) How do I continue to overcome this? I've done
what the "experts" say I should to improve my chances of acceptance, to no
avail--I mean, I am writing to you instead of studying for Gross Anatomy,
right? What about my consistent and tremendous academic improvements each
and every year--see below? How seriously do you suppose that fact is taken
into account by the admissions committees? (Wouldn't dedication be a
positive factor?) What would be your assessment of my situation and your
advice to me?

BCPM: FR 0.75, SO 1.83, JR 2.44, SR 3.40, GRD 3.63
AO: 1.50, 2.00, 3.50, 3.35
OVERALL: 1.26, 1.90, 2.65, 3.39, 3.63

Thank you for all of your help,
Jeffrey "Tell-Me-It's-Not-Hopeless"

Hi Jeffery,

You've spent a lot of time talking about your academic record, but I do not
believe that's the problem. Since you've taken the MCAT four times you
probable understand that the majority of applicants with MCAT scores below
30 are not accepted to medical school. If we could magically change your
undergraduate GPA to a 4.0, your odds of being accepted would only improve a
little. Its not hopeless, its the MCAT, and you need about 3 more points.
The mailing date for the scores for the August MCAT are about two to three
weeks away--hope you get what you need!

Good Luck!

Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 14:34:19 +0000

I am currrently attending the University of Illinois at Chicago and am going
to finish my undergraduate in a total of two years. I will have a Bachelor's
degree in biology and if I stay an extra semester I can double major in
history. My question is: would it be better to graduate in December 2002
with the biology degree, volunteer, and study for my MCAT until April, or
should I finish the history major and take my MCAT later? Currently my GPA
is a 3.4, I took a diagnostic my freshmen year and got a 3 in BS, a 4 in PS,
and a 6 in verbal. Thanks for your help.


All other things being equal, I'd advise going for the double major and
using the extra time to prepare for the MCAT, volunteer, and engage in
extracurricular activities that will enhance your AMCAS application.

> I had also considered going into D.O. work if I wasn't accepted and I have
> heard that the chances of getting into D.O. programs is much better than
> allopathic schools, is that true? Thanks for your help.

Sorry, I do not know.

Good Luck!


Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2001 15:21:47 -0400
Subject: MCAT fine, GPA unsure

I wrote the MCAT after my sophmore year and scored V-10, P-10, B-11 with an
R on the writing sample. My problem, though, is that my GPA is about
3.45...brought down mainly by Organic II. I know that Org and Physics marks
are pretty important, and I got A's in physics and a B in Org I. What are
my chances given these numbers?
Thanks a lot
your site is great and really informative


Your MCAT scores are slightly above "average", and your GPA is slightly
below. Your Orgo and Physics grades are "average", where "average" refers to
"what it takes to be accepted into medical school". Based ONLY on this
information, you have a 50% chance of acceptance.

Best of Luck!

PS Thanks for your comments about my site.

> Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 03:17:59 -0500
> Subject: top med schools
> Hey Rich,
> You have a very nice and useful I've seen so far. I was
> wondering what you think my chances are of getting into one of the top
> med schools (eg Harvard, Hopkins, Columbia, etc). I am third year at
> Yale, 3.85 GPA for first two years with science GPA of around 3.87 or
> something like that. I took the August MCAT and just got back my
> scores...11V, Q, 14PS, 14 BS. I am one of the editors on a publication
> and I do research at Yale Med on genetics. Is there anything else I can
> or should do with the year I have left before I apply, and where do I
> seem to stand so far?
> Thanks,
> Rob

Hey Rob,

Glad you found my site useful. If you find other useful sites, please let me
know so I can add them to the list of links I maintain on the Premedical
Resources page.

The short answer is you are in very, very good shape. Assuming you have some
solid clinical experience, in addition to the strong research experience you
obviously have, and you can comport yourself well during the interview
process, your chances of getting accepted to a top school are excellent.

> Is there anything else I can or should do with the year I have left before I
> apply...

Since I don't know much about what you have done already, there are lots of
things that come to mind, but lets try this one...since you are doing
research at Yale Med, you might, if you haven't already, get the chance to
interact with faculty that are on the admissions committee at Yale. While
this can certainly help your chances of acceptance at Yale, it could also
give you leverage at other Med schools. A faculty member at Yale could
unofficially put in a good word for (you outside of the application process)
by making a call to a colleague on the admissions committee of another
school. While this is hard to "engineer", it is possible.

Good Luck!


> Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 21:28:20 EDT
> Subject: your site is the best around for pre-med
> thanks so much for answering so many useful questions. now, i need to add one
> more to the list. my daughter is a bio. major at MIT (there is no pre-med
> major per se). In any event, they do offer all the courses she will need to
> meet the requirements. she is presently a 1st semester sophomore enrolled in
> org. chem but she has the option to take the 2nd semester of org. chem as a
> 1st semester junior on a pass/fail basis. What is your opinion of taking math
> and science courses pass/fail? Also, at MIT, all Freshman courses are
> pass/fail only. She has passed everything, but will this hurt her chances of
> acceptance into med school. thanks so much for your time and help, madelyn
> goldner

Thanks for your comments. If she were to do average in these courses than
taking them on a pass/fail basis would be best. On the other hand, if she
were to do above average then taking them for a grade would be
preferable--especially where organic chemistry is concerned. In general, it
is best to avoid pass/fail were "200+" level (2nd year and up) courses are
concerned. At a freshman level taking pass/fail is no problem, in fact some
students "CLEP OUT" (do not even take these courses because they take a test
that exempts them). Either way, this does not hurt their chances of
acceptance to medical school.


Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 12:06:18 -0700
Subject: MCAT Scores

I have a science gpa of 3.96, and an overall 3.92 from USC. However, my
mcat scores are: VR: 8, P: 11, B: 13 , and WR: P. I have volunteered over
1000 hrs. in a pediatric's office and played varsity ice hockey, however I
have not done any research. Should I send out more secondary applications
to lower end schools because of my low verbal scores? What are my chances
of being accepted into a top, medium, and a lower end school? Thanks for
this site and all of your help!

You have about even odds of being accepted to a "medium" school. Yes, you
should send out more secondary applications to lower end schools. There may
be a top school that will overlook the verbal score since everything else
looks great, but you will have stiff competition.


> Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2001 09:29:00 -0700 (PDT)

> hi rich
> I just moved from asia to the united states (minnesota). and i will be a
> tranfer applicant2002fallsemester U of M.however, i have trouble finding
> material on which major in school increases my chances in med school.i
> amlooking at a major in philosophy.biology is in consideration too.(But i will
> be an undergraduate in case i havent mentioned that). im aware of the
> prerequisites for med school.what kind of an overall extracurricular
> activities is one expected to indulge in. i have planned some work experience
> like both un-medical and also work for hospitals in the future and participate
> in undergraduate researches.and also is there a limit on how many letters of
> recommendation (min-max) i should obtain and can i start preparing for MCAT
> right in my freshman year and will it help.what material for the preparation
> can i pick up from barnes and noble and other best sources.any advice will be
> appreciated
> thanx rich


You can find info the percentage of applicants that get accepted by major in
MSAR*, but you should not use this information alone to select a major.
*MSAR info is at

Extracurricular activities include clinical and research experience,
membership or elected office in academic clubs, volunteer work in the
community, work experiences, hobbies, projects, travel experience...etc.
Unlike the premed requirements the only extracurricular activity that is
"required" is clinical experience. What you are striving for is a well
rounded background that also demonstrates positive personality traits such
as dedication, commitment, maturity, and a high energy level.

Re: Letters of recommendation 3 = minimum (one science, one non-science, one
non-academic) 7-8 = maximum<-- not a limit, just a point of rapidly
diminishing returns.

Re: MCAT prep. You should try to understand the conceptual nature of the
material you are learning in your present classes, and take good notes on
all of the important concepts and equations during your all of your science
classes, including the stuff the professor says will not be on the test. You
can also look at some actual MCAT tests to get a feel for the style (highly
conceptual) of the test. More targeted MCAT prep can begin approximately a
year before the date you plan to take the exam. In my opinion, the best prep
book is Kaplan Comprehensive Review ($52 online at Barnes and Noble), and
the best practice tests can be found at



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