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> Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 21:13:39 -0700 (PDT)
> Subject: Pre-Med Program???
> Rich, My name is Tung and I am 17 yr old. I have just recently decided that I
> wanted to become a doctor but I don't know what kind just yet. The only
> problem now is that I don't know what kind of college I'm suppose to be
> looking for. The current colleges that I am interested in don't have any kind
> of pre-med program (for example University of California, Riverside) what do u
> suggest that I do? Should I just forget about those colleges and look for ones
> with pre-med programs? I know u must be really busy but if you could write me
> back ASAP that would be great! Thanks for ur time and ur website is really,
> really useful.
> Tung

Hi Tung,

Some universities say they have a "premed program" and others do not, but
since there is no "premed major", a "premed program" is basically, arts and
science courses with premedical advising included. While there are many
criteria you should consider when looking into which school to attend,
certainly one of them would be the quality of the science instruction and
the expertise of the pre-health advising staff. You may find this link a
good place to start:

Good Luck!

Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 18:09:32 EDT

Dear Rich,
Hi. I just received my August MCAT scores ( V9,P9,WQ,B8) and I am very
disappointed. I took a prep course and studied all summer. I just finished a
post -bac program at NYU and had a 3.78 science average. My undergraduate
GPA was a 3.5. The only science course that I took during undergrad was
biology( first semester A-, second semester honors C) and it was freshman
year ....7 years ago...I am 24yrs old. Additionally, I have a learning
disability and took the August exam with extended time. I did not mention
the learning disability in either my AMCAS application or the secondary
applications. I have always been very involved in research and have had a
lot of volunteer experience. What do I do now?? Do I have any chance of
getting into medical school in the fall or should I plan to retake the MCAT
in April. Any advice you could give me would be very helpful.


After all the work you have done preparing for the MCAT your disappointment
is warranted, but with a 3.78 post-bac GPA (assuming you took a full-time
course load) you would have a good shot (over 50%) if you could just get a
few more points--10, 10, 10. The odds for now are not so good, but you do
not need to improve dramatically--four more points may represent less than
20 more questions correct out of 219. As far as your learning disability, I
think not bringing it up was the right way to go, while it shouldn't make
any difference one way or the other, I do not believe there would be any
benefit in mentioning it.


> Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 04:42:53 -0800
> Thanks, Rich, for your advice in these med school matters-I wanted to run one
> other idea by you-I was thinking of e-mailing some of the schools I plan on
> applying to and querying them as to whether they would see me as a competitive
> applicant-and/or ask about MCAT scores. The MSAR tells the average scores-but
> I hear from people to give yourself a range of two points either way. That
> is, UCSF wants 11's, but if I have all 10's I still might have a chance. I
> just don't know, if they have a mandatory minimum and have thousands of
> applicants they need to eliminate, those with the 10's might be eliminated
> right off the bat without looking at personal essay and such. In this way it
> is not worth my applyling with these scores if I am going to be eliminated
> right away. The only thing I can see lacking might be the MCAT scores-do you
> think schools would let me know if they have a 'mandatory minimum' score? My
> dilemma lies in that I don't want to spend all of the time and money applying
> this next June if I am not a truly competitive applicant-I would rather wait,
> retake the MCAT and then apply. However, the other half of me says to just
> apply and if I don't have luck, then I know it is the MCAT and then reapply
> the following year, taking the MCAT in Spring 2003. BUt ideally I would like
> to enter school Fall 2003-please any advice is much appreciated RIch Sorry for
> the length and thank you for your time
> LIbby

Hi Libby,

I don't know, but my instinct tells me that you will not get much more
information then you already have, and that generally such inquiries will
not be very welcome. But, like I said, "I don't know". If you learn more,
please let me know.


> Date: Thu, 01 Nov 2001 10:56:25 -0800

> Hello Rich-
> Would you agree with this generalization when applying to give yourself two
> points in either way with each MCAT score? We are advised to apply to
> schools that we have a 'realistic chance' of getting accepted to-but how is
> one to know what is 'realistic'? I really don't know if the schools give
> this kind of info or not, I just fear offending them in asking the
> I probably will not!
> I guess I just need to go for it and like you said hope that someone on the
> committee looks at my background and responds favorably-I just fear wasting
> money on applying when I might need to retake the MCAT. yikes-any advice
> and words of wisdom are appreciated
> thanks and take care
> libby

Hi Libby,

No, I do not agree with the "two point" generalization.

Lets say an applicant had a GPA of 3.55 and an MCAT score of 10, 10, 10. If
all else was equal they would have about a 50% chance of acceptance overall.
But if they applied to a specific school that had an average GPA and MCAT
scores of 3.56 and 10, 10, 10, respectively, their chance of acceptance at
that school might be around 25%. Now if their GPA and MCAT where to increase
to 3.75 and 11, 11, 10, now they might have a greater than 50% chance of
being accepted at that school. Likewise, if they had a GPA of 3.35 and an
MCAT of 10, 9, 9, their odds of acceptance may fall below 10%. These effects
are nonlinear--they increase rapidly above and below the averages.

The admission process can be expensive, and if you add up the numbers it is
quite profitable for the medical schools, which each receive several
thousand applications and then send out secondaries to the majority of
students who apply (you may wish to read between the lines).

Libby, it's a craps shoot, and to mix my metaphors, your background is the
wild card.

Good Luck!


Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 09:34:01 EST

can u tell me what is a good review for the mcat~should i take a course ? etc. also what would be the disadvantage if i take the mcat senior year?

thank you~sherry

Hi Sherry,

A great set of course materials is available for about $200. You can get
Kaplan's Comprehesive MCAT Review book for $52 online at Barnes and Noble.
And a large set of AAMC Prcatice MCAT tests from the AAMC at If you are good at working on your own this may be
enough. What a course provides is mainly a structure and incentive for
studing--you've payed a lot of money for the course. If you can get an
experienced and good instuctor, you can benefit in a large number of ways.
If you live in the Miami area I'd recommend my course, but I'm prejudiced.
If not, I am familiar only with Kaplan and Princeton Review. I like Kaplan's
notes better, but they are the same as those mentioned in the above
textbook. I like Princeton's tests better than Kaplan's because they are
more similar to the MCAT, but they contain too many mistakes. The best tests
are those from the AAMC--see link above.

I think the deciding factor is the instructor. If you decide to take a
course you should get info about your instructor. Even though you will
probably hear "all our instructors are well trained and qualified" you can
insist on talking with your instructor and getting vital info, like how many
times he/she has taught the course, and you can ask to speak with his/her
former students. Don't be afraid to do this, you have every right, including
having it put in writing on your contract, BEFORE signing, that you will
receive a full refund unless you are able to get a specific instructor. When
they say "sorry we can't do that" then walk, or ask to speak with the office
manager or director, and then walk if you don't get what you want. Get it in
writing, don't except promises, and don't me afraid because you really have
nothing to lose. A friend of mine who is a very good negotiator knocked 50%
off the "list price" of his course by playing one companies price against
the other in much the same manner as one can do when buying a car.

The only real disadvantage with taking the MCAT in your senior year is that
you will have a year off before entering medical school--which may not even
be a disadvantage, depending on your perspective.



> Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 10:15:47 -0800 (PST)
> hey rich
> well i must tell you ho wmuch of a help and a mentor u
> are to more people than u reall yknow.And in the past
> one week too many people have been glad i recommended
> you and your site to them.
> I had one other question for you.I moved here to
> minnesota in october and since i will be a non
> resident for U of M i woul dhave to pay more than i
> will be able to so i am taking an (unfortunate) year
> off.but my ambitions r clear to me.I know i can make
> it because it is only those who dare to dream that can
> achieve them.
> anyways like i said i want to do premed.I want to
> discover all opportunities... with regard to
> finances.i have two jobs now.anyways,i anted to know
> what u thinkof that.anyways also that with some
> assistance from my parents i know i will do it.
> I might be able to work at the fairview eagan clinic
> as a receptionist which would enable lots of patient
> interaction.Is thta hte kind of clinical experience
> that might be expected...ofcourse i have also planned
> some volunteering.please help me understand the
> different aveneus i can explore for making my college
> journey easier and very productive and promising.
> All of your advices to their last words will be
> appreciated.
> thanx rich
> You r the best!!!

Hi Mohisina,


The more contact you have with patients and with medicine the more solid the
clinical experience. If you plan to also do volunteer work, I think working
as a receptionist at a clinic would be a nice compromise between having a
source of income and getting clinical experience.

As far as making your "college journey easier and very productive"...I've
tried to post what I believe to be helpful on my website.

By the tone of your email you sound like you have a very positive attitude,
and are very determined to be accepted into medical school. Since getting
accepted can really be a struggle, financially, emotionally and
intellectually, I'd advise you to hold on to those qualities--they can be
very helpful.

Good Luck!

Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 10:03:08 -0600


I want to first thank you for having this site up, its been such a great
help! I am currently a junior biochemistry major and my gpa is pretty bad
2.5 ish. I predict being in school for 2 more years. I was wondering about
some of these med schools in or near Puerto rico, are they real? Some say
they will accept you if you have completed 90 credit hours of undergrad and
you can get a bs during the first 2 yrs of med school, then 2 more to get
your MD. Also, it says that MCAT is optional-I don't understand this type of
school. Is it credibleif, for sake of argument, I went there and received
my MD, would I be able to find real work in the US, is there a chance to
move up to suregery, im confused about this whole thing in generalplease
give me guidance oh wise one---thanks so much!---JB

Hi JB,

Thanks for your comments. Yes, these schools are for real, in fact they are
U.S. Medical Schools--Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. According to
MSAR 2000-01* the MCAT is required by all three schools in Puerto Rico.
Unlike the situation with foreign schools, only your academic record and the
reputation of the school is a consideration for getting accepted into
internship and residency programs. In other words no USMLE** is required.

If you look (see MSAR) at the average GPA and MCAT scores for these schools
you will see that they fall below the average of the national average of
3.5+ and 10, 10, 10, respectively. If you were to do extremely well at one
of these schools you would have a shot at getting into surgery, but you
would still be at disadvantage.

**USMLE: United States Medical Licensure Exam (or something like that)

aka oh wise one ;)

> Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 17:03:44 -0500
> Dear Rich, I am a senior in high school who is interested in applying to a MS
> in the future. I am interested in Biology and love the subject. It will be
> my major in college. My question is this: Will majoring in Biology minimize
> my chances of getting in to a MS? I have heard that Biochemistry is the major
> of choice for those attending MS. Biology is something a lot of undergrads go
> in to the application process with so it's sort of monotonous. I have also
> heard that if you are going to MS you better take Biology. Either way, I am
> taking Biology because I love it. I just wanted to know how this would affect
> me in the future. Please let me know. I can't get a unified answer on this
> and it is driving me crazy!!! Thank you so much.
> Angela Girvin

Hi Angela,

Majoring in Biology will not minimize your chances of getting into an MS
program. If Biology is what you are interested in, than that is what you
should pursue. Just do well in your classes and you should have no problem.


Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 11:19:38 -0500

Hello, Rich. I have a question regarding MCAT preparation. As a biology
major with a 3.95 GPA, I will be taking my MCAT's in April. What additional
courses would you recommed in addition to the core courses(i.e. Gen Bio 1,2,
Chem 1,2, Organic 1,2, and Physics 1,2) For instance, do you reccomend
taking genetics or immunology simply to raise MCAT scores. Also, I have
about six month left. Do you feel this is ample time to prepare. Thanks.
This website is amazing and I am genuinely grateful for this assistance.

Thanks again


Thanks for your comments. Yes six month's of serious study is, in most
cases, enough time to prepare for the MCAT. I'd place Cell Biology and
Microbiology first, than Biochemistry, then immunology and genetics, in
their utility in assisting in MCAT preparation.

Good Luck!

> Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 09:26:59 -0800

> Hi Rick- I have considered studying medicine in Germany if I don't get
> accepted here. I speak German and have family/cultural connections there. I
> have read general info about foreign medical schools already. Do you have an
> opinion in this area? Sincerely, Sara

Hi Sara,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Besides linguistic
considerations there are two disadvantages that I am aware of to attending a
foreign med school, both of which are minimized by going to a well respected
institution. The first is a general lack of information and/or respect for a
given school, which can effect your internship/residency. The second has to
do with the USMLE (licensing exam). While all med school graduates must pass
the USMLE in order to practice medicine in the U.S., some foreign schools
have a low pass rate. Of course this could be due to a variety of factors,
and may not be a direct reflection of the school.


> Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001 04:18:19 +0000
> Subject: Re;student doctor
> Hi,
> my name is Tomi, and i am Nigerian.I just came over to the states two months
> ago.I was a medical student in nigeria, and i wish to continue studying
> medicine here.I spent only a year in medical school and I took courses like
> organic chemistry, zoology, botany, physics and a sociology course. I am going
> to start school in January, and i have some questions to ask. My GPA was 1.96
> on a scale of 5, what good do you think that will do? Is it better if I just
> start over again instead of transfering? Can i take the mcat now since I have
> some basic knowledge of the courses you listed on you website?if i do take the
> exam now and passed can i get admitted into medical school now? or do I still
> have to go to college? Thank you for providing this medium for us prospective
> doctors, it has relly helped to make things clearer. Could you please reply me
> with some advice?I'd really appreciate it. Thanks Tomi

Hi Tomi,

Sorry it took this long to get back to you. The courses you describe taking
sound like premed courses not med school courses. This could be due to a
cultural difference in curriculum or language. Either way, since it is only
one year, I believe your best bet is to start over.

You can take the MCAT now, but to get admitted with out graduating you most
be accepted in an early admission program (see website: Applying)

Advice: Start over. Take full loads. Start preparing for the MCAT now, but
do not take for at least a year. If you do want to expedite your admission
to med school you might still want to further explore transferring (some all
all of your credits) rather than starting over. While I do not believe this
option gives you the same chance of acceptance, it may still be feasible.
You might wish to sit down with a premedical advisor that has some
experience in this area to talk over the pros and cons.



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