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Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 21:38:16 -0800

I am currently attending Gibbs College in Boston, MA. for Web Design. I just
completed my first semester and achieved an 4.0 G.P.A. . The program will
give me an Associate Degree.I have just enrolled in a local Community
College to take the necessary sciences (Biology etc.) that I know are
necessary to get into medical school. But I am still not clear that with all
the classes at these schools, will they be good enough ones to get into
medical school ? My friend told me that in order to get into medical school,
I have to go to a big University or better schools. Is this true, or if I
keep up my 4.0 G.P.A and graduate with an associate degree and the required
sciences is that all I need to do? Please advise me.


Hi Dawn,

There generally is an advantage to going to a well known/respected
university, but this is not an absolute necessity. Medical schools have a
system for evaluating academic records based on the schools which a
particular applicant attended. Unless you are able to be admitted to an
early acceptance program, you will need to complete four years of college
with a B.A. or a B.S. degree before being allowed to enter medical school.
This gives medical school admission committees the opportunity to see how an
applicant performs under different academic conditions. If you maintain a
very high GPA and the community college you are attending is well respected,
you should be ok, but you still may want to transfer to a University sooner,
rather than later.


Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002

Hello ,

I have visited your website which I really liked . I have some questions
that I don't know if you could help me with .I am a female optometrist who
graduted from Saudi Arabia and would like to study medicine and I actually
applied to some schools which do not require MCAT in Canada with no luck .

Now I think I should study to take the MCAT test in order to apply to more
med schools but as we do not have classes here in Saudi Arabia to learn for
the MCAT , how can I get prepared knowing that I have not much information
about Chemistry , Physics ..etc since I forgot most of what I have learned
in college ?!.

Thank you .Hello,

I'm glad you liked my site! What you need is a good set of materials and
perhaps someone to tutor you. I mention the materials on my site... Kaplan
Comprehensive Review and the AAMC practice materials. But you also will need
some good (but not too complicated) textbooks for general chemistry, organic
chemistry, biology, and physics -- if you do not still have the texts you
used as a student. You should have no problem acquiring these materials
since all are available online. Now this may be all you need, but you
probably will want to get some help from a tutor or graduate student to
assist in making the learning curve a bit less steep. If you have forgotten
most of what you have learned in college concerning the sciences, you should
expect it to take at least a year or longer, even with help, to get
adequately prepared to take the MCAT.

Good Luck!

> Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002

> Rich, I know you read this all the time, but I feel compelled to express just
> how much I appreciate your website. I have two questions: I'd like to buy an
> mcat book to have "lying around", even though I'll probaly be taking the mcat
> in 2003 or 2004. Is the Kaplans 99 or 2000 book for now- or will I be studying
> outdated material? Also, forgive my ignorance, but what exactly can I do that
> would fall under the category of strong clinical experience?
> I really appreciate your time.
> Thank you in advance,
> Ruchama

Hi Ruchama,

The MCAT will change in 2003, but the change will be minor. The Kaplan book will not be outdated.

Volunteering (or working for pay) at a hospital and getting a lot of patient
exposure is what I have in mind. You can do a Google search of
for more info. Click on Search this site and type in "clinical experience"
including the quotation marks.


PS Thanks for your comments.

> Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002

> Dear Richard,
> Thank you for all the wonderful advices you put on your email archive web
> page. I wish I found about this site sooner in my college career.
> Anyways, I have several questions I want to ask you. I recently graduated from
> UCLA undergrad (degree in Math) with a dismal GPA (2.6 overall, 3.2 major). My
> science GPA hovers around 2.8-3.0. And I am NOW focused getting into med
> school in the near future. I have started volunteering at a local hospital and
> pursuing to work at a community clinic.
> I have read from your advices that students with a low undergrad GPA should
> pursue a masters degree first (hopefully aceing all graduate courses w/ a 3.5+
> GPA) before applying to medical school. This is because the medical school
> admissions board will emphasize on the masters program GPA rather than
> undergrad GPA when evaluating one's application for med school.
> This is my question: I am currently enrolling in a local community college to
> take some basic chemistry, physics and bio courses, so I can review basic
> science materials and improve my overall science GPA and review for the MCAT.
> I want to apply to med school directly after taking the MCAT (which will be
> after taking all the necessary classes at my community college). Do you think
> this is a viable route?
> Or do you think taking classes at my local community college is a waste of
> time? Maybe I should just prepare for the GRE general test, so I can apply to
> a two-year masters program in public-health or science oriented this year or
> next year? I just do not know what my chances are getting into a masters
> program w/ my overall GPA. =(
> Another question is that I want to take only one standardized exam, like the
> MCAT only, which I may use to apply for a masters program and med school (like
> hitting two birds w/ one stone, so that I dont have to take two exams). I can
> use my top MCAT score to get into a masters program and med school afterwards.
> I dunno if you're an expert w/ masters program through colleges in the United
> States, but I prefer to take the route that'll improve my chances of getting
> into med school. Maybe I'm better off taking the GREs now and MCAT later? Your
> help and reply will greatly be appreciated!
> Sincerely,
> -John

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments, and sorry for the delay in my response.

Because of your GPA I do not think you have a reasonable chance for
acceptance to med school without some postbac education.

You should be able to get into a masters program; only med schools require
extremely high GPAs. A masters rooted in the "harder" sciences:
microbiology, biology, immunology, etc., should have more gravitas than

I am afraid that if you go for a masters, you will need to take the GRE
(general and often specialized) for the masters application, and then the
MCAT later, for med school application. In most cases it will not be
possible to take just one standardized test. GREs now and MCAT later is the
most realistic path. While there are possible exceptions to this rule, they
are not likely to result in med school admission.


> Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
> Subject: Re: Competition
> Hi Rich,
> I do not know if this is the best place to email you, but the only place on
> your website that I found your email address. Anyways, I am a premed student
> about to receive an BSc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology along with a degree in
> philosophy up in Canada. My MCAT scores are PS 7, VR 7, BS 9, and this past
> summer I decided to apply to some US med schools, My GPA is around 3.68, can
> you tell me how competitive I would be, considering I am a canadian applying
> to US schools (i.e., do they expect a higher std. from me). I applied to
> Keck, Cornell, Northwestern, South Carolina
> Regards,
> Mayur

Hi Mayur,

No, there is no higher standard (but since you are not a resident of a
particular state you are at a disadvantage for admission to state schools),
Canadian GPA's are evaluated by the same standards as those in the states,
although with somewhat less precision. While GPA scores are scaled based on
the school which you attended, MCAT scores are not. The bottom line is that
while your GPA is competitive, your MCAT scores are not. A 10, 10, 10, on
VR, PS, BS would make your application competitive.


Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 12:22:04 -0800
Subject: pre-med programs

I have carefully searched your archive and find no reference to any
published (or non-published) ratings of pre-Med programs in the U.S.

Do you know of a survey or source of information about the reputations of
specific undergraduate programs?


You will find studies by US News and World Reports, and other publications
in the reference area of the library. None that I know of does a very
thorough job of evaluation, though you will glean important information
regarding the various schools. Additional information may be found in MSAR
and online at



Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 17:23:03 -0500

hi i am a senior in high school and i want to go into a MS in future but i
am not sure which major will help me the most? Should i take a biology
major or Pre med. or biochem. ?


It depends on many things, especially on what you are interested in and what
you are good at. But if all other things are equal, I'd advise a major in

Please get advised before you decide on a major, it is not possible for me
to advise you without more information. Microbiology may NOT be the right
choice for you, instead biomedical engineering, or biochemistry, etc. may be
a better choice. If you are interested in an area of study and good at it,
all the admissions statistics may be of secondary importance to your
interests and aptitudes.


Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 14:07:17 -0800

HI, my name is Kristen. I have a question I was hoping you could
answer. How can I found out about what kind of documentation needs to be
presented by a person who has ADD in order to be allowed the extended time,
when preparing to take the mcat ?

Thank you very much!

Hi Kristen,

That info is contained in the MCAT registration kit, which is currently
available for the 2002 MCAT--see your premedical adviser. There is also an
online version which should (I have not checked) also provide the same


> Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 06:52:19 -0800 (PST)
> Dear Rich,
> My name is Kathy and I'm 2001 graduate of University of Florida. I recieved a
> B.S. w/ honors in Exercise and Sports Sciences (specialization in Exercise
> Physiology) and graduated with a 3.65 GPA. I'm looking to apply to med school
> for fall of 2003 and will be taking the MCAT this August for the 1st time.
> I've read through your entire web page which was great!! but have some
> additional questions. First, do you still regard the Kaplan MCAT review book
> (assuming the most recent edition) my best bet for study info? I have Kaplan
> review notes (from the classes you pay for)for Bio and Physical Sciences as
> well as Verbal sections but they are the 1997 edition. Are they worth my time
> to study them or should I invest in something more recent? I also have the
> REA (Research and Education Association) book of six full length practice
> MCATs, 2000 edition. I got a verbal last night but it seemed pretty easy (i
> got a 14) and was wondering if you knew anything about the quality of this
> book. Alright, I know I've asked alot and would just like to say thanks right
> now. Your help will be highly appreciated and I hope to hear from you soon.
> have a good one. signed,
> kathy

Hi Kathy,

Yes, the Kaplan book is the best for content review. Since the material on
the MCAT has not changed (yet) there is no need for an update. The practice
exams in the Kaplan book are not so great, but the REA exams bear only a
passing resemblance to the MCAT.

The tests distributed by Princeton Review in their class are very close to
the MCAT in style, but many are too easy and there are many mistakes.
Kaplan's "in house tests" have only a few errors but are considerably
different in style then the actual MCAT, and not in a way that is helpful.

"Over the counter" (bookstores or online) the tests by Columbia Review are
useful. In a way these tests are more like the MCAT than the MCAT
itself--they are caricatures. I like them, but like Princeton Review's
tests, they contain too many mistakes.

The best practice exams by far are the tests from the AAMC.
For Content -> Use Kaplan
For Practice Tests -> Use AAMC

> Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2002 03:05:31 -0800 (PST)

> Hi Rich,
> I discovered your site on-line and found it very useful. I would like to know
> if you could offer any information regarding the hurdles of learning disabled
> students in gaining acceptance to medical school. I was diagnosed with a
> learning disability three years ago and have since had nearly a 4.0 GPA,
> raising my cumulative GPA to 3.55. I was recently accepted to a well
> respected post-bac pre-med program on the east coast. Do you know how medical
> school admissions boards tend to view learning disabled students who require
> additional time on exams, including the MCAT? Any information would be greatly
> appreciated.
> thanks


I do not know precisely, but I would imagine that there would be a range of
opinions on this topic. My guess is that among some of the more senior
members of an admission committee there may be a greater percentage of
individuals that would tend to have a less favorable opinion of an applicant
with a learning disability then among the younger members--but this is just
a guess.

On the other hand med schools love students that are dedicated and hard
working. If you have a strong record, despite having a learning disability,
this could be viewed in a positive light.

As a result of ADA laws, and a greater cultural awareness of issues
surrounding disabilities, medical schools tend to make "reasonable
accommodations" to those students with disabilities. One would expect this,
especially from medical schools! Just like most med schools encourage their
students to follow healthy lifestyles--quite smoking etc., one would hope
that there would be a similar enlightenment regarding disabilities.

If you require extra time, I'd recommend you take it. There are already
plenty of medical students, and physicians, who have learning disabilities,
so you will be in good company.

Good luck,


> Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 08:28:09 -0800 (PST)
> Rich,
> Thanks for your web site. Sorry this might be a long question. I am a
> Registered Nurse and considering medical school. I have a bachelors degree in
> accounting and a masters degree in business administration along with an
> associates degree in nursing. I graduated with my bachelors degree in 1990
> with a GPA of 2.82 then graduated with my masters in 1992 with a cumulative
> GPA of 2.84 but my masters work GPA was a 3.75. I graduated from nursing
> school in 1996 with a cumulative of 2.84 with the nursing GPA of 3.6. I have
> worked as a registered nurse since 1996. I am considering nursing school
> because there is a population of individuals that are not receiving grossly
> needed medical services due to their inability to pay for services. My
> question is two fold. First what would I need to make on the MCAT to have a
> greater that 50% chance of acceptance or do I just need to forget med school?
> Thanks
> Dirk

Hi Dirk,

Even though you have a lot of educational experience, what you probably need
to do if you are to take the MCAT and apply to med school is to spend one
year in a postbac program (gen chem, orgo chem, physics, biology). This will
give the admissions committee some solid material to look at--you should be
a full time student, and will help prepare you for the MCAT. If you get a
3.5 in a postbac program and a 30 on the MCAT you would have even odds of
acceptance--perhaps better!

Good Luck!


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