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Premed Zone



 Current Trends  

 Early Admission / Decision 

 How to Avoid the Sharks 

 Looking Like a Keeper 

 Premedical Timetable 

 Odds and Ins 

 The Interview 

 FAQ's / eMail 

~PageLink: Secondary application sample.
~PageLink: Sample Interview Questions

 EMAIL archive INDEX 
Selected emails and responses

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Current Trends in Medical Scool Admissions
 Year  No. of Applicants  No. Accepted*  % Accepted
 90-91  29,243  17,206  58.8
 91-92  33,301  17,436  52.4  (-6.4)
 92-93  37,410  17,464  46.7  (-5.7)
 93-94  42,808  17,362  40.6  (-6.1)
 94-95  45,365  17,317  38.2  (-2.4)
 95-96  46,591  17,357  38.1  (-0.1)
 96-97  46,968  17,385  37.0  (-1.1)
 97-98  43,020  17,313  40.2  (+3.2)
 98-99  41,003  17,379  42.4  (+2.2)
 99-00  38,529  17,445  45.3  (+2.9)
 00-01  34,859  17,456  50.1  (+4.8)
 01-02  33,625 17,592  52.3  (+2.2)
*Each year, the number of entrants is approximately 7% less than the number of applicants accepted.

 All other things being equal, with a 3.6 GPA and three 10's on the MCAT you have better than a 50% chance of acceptance to medical school (M.D.).

Decline of Medical School Applicants Continues in 2002 | Projections for 2003 indicate rebound

THE LATEST STATS - Applicants, Matriculants and Graduates


Why compete with the current wave of applicants when you can be accepted early?
Every year a small number of folks are accepted to Medical School (MS) while still in high school! While these folks are top students, their personal attributes are often as important as their GPAs and SAT scores. If the University you plan to attend has a MS that you wish to be admitted to, you can contact that University's undergraduate admissions office and find out if you qualify for an early acceptance program.
(Potentially available at Universities with MSs.)
Other early acceptance programs may be offered to select premedical students during their undergraduate years. Although these programs are often offered by invitation only, contacting the admissions office (in some Universities you may need to contact the MS directly) and finding out about the criteria used to selected students, is a smart way of maximizing your chances for acceptance.
(Potentially available at Universities with MSs.)
Along with the assurance of admission into MS, some of these programs allow you to enter MS after only two or three years of college. These are called early admissions programs.
Some programs offer full MS scholarships to students with top GPA's or MCAT scores.
EPS is a program currently offered by approximately 75% of MSs. Folks with strong records that want to attend a specific MS, and wish to avoid the shark infested waters associated with the general application process, should consider EPS. The EPS route can be a bit of a gamble, depending on your record. Basically you delay your applications to other MSs, thus decreasing your odds of being accepted by these schools, and apply for an early decision at a specific MS, which you agree to attend if accepted. Get advised on EDP before making any decisions.
The EDP is explained in MSAR or on-line.
=> Note: the percentage of acceptance through EDP is 10% greater than through the general admission process. This statistic, however, may be misleading since GPA and MCAT averages of EDP applicants are not provided by the AAMC.
Additional information concerning EDPs may be found in a book entitled MEDICAL SCHOOL from HIGH SCHOOL by A.M. ILYAS, MD. This text includes about 75 profiles of Medical School Early Admission Programs, as well as general information as to how EDPs function and the strategies to employ to best qualify for one. For more details visit

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CHOOSE YOUR SCHOOL. Which undergraduate school you attend can make a difference in your odds of being accepted to a particular MS. Information concerning the number of applicants accepted from various schools in the state can often be obtained upon request from MSs. Other considerations, of course, should also be evaluated.

CHOOSE YOUR PROFESSORS. Ask around and comparison shop. This is not a small point. Arranging your schedule, short term and long term, so that you can get the right professors, can make your GPA shine.

CHOOSE YOUR CLASSES. Research your options. Some classes require twice as much work, offer little that is of use, and may prevent you from make a higher grade in some of your other courses.

GET THE OLD TESTS. Use them as soon as possible. Do not save them till right before the exam! What is on the old tests is what your professor considers important. Learn what this subset of the total material is, how your professor asks it, and how to apply test taking strategies to master it.

NETWORK. Get to know your premedical adviser, your peers, premed students that are ahead of you, students that have been accepted to MS, students who work at a MS, and medical students. Foster these contacts and learn all that you can. Join a premedical organization. It may be possible to meet MS professors at meetings sponsored by various organizations, or by your premed adviser. If you are attending a University with a MS, you may even be able to talk with MS professors who teach undergraduate courses in Microbiology or Biochemistry.

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Because of all those fish out there, many with impressive GPA's and MCAT scores, you must set yourself apart with extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. These, along with your personal statement in your primary application, can turn you from just another fish, into an interesting human being that looks like a good catch.

You can find out all about extracurricular activities through your networking sources, but there's one interesting question that was asked at a lecture I attended by Drs. Hinklely and Layman* that I'd like to relate. The question was, "If I am not able to do both clinical work and medical research, which type of experience do you think would be looked upon most favorably by admissions committees?". Both doctors (clinicians) agreed that since the majority of members on most admissions committees are clinicians, and since clinical work is more closely associated with the art of practicing medicine than is research, that clinical experience would be the better choice, assuming that all other factors were equal. They also mentioned that working for pay, beat out volunteering, and strongly advised NOT to work for a relative.

      Ok, now on to letters of recommendation. Getting strong letters from folks you work for should be relatively easy, so lets talk about how to go about getting strong letters from your professors. As you can see in the Premedical Timetable letters of recommendations are submitted with your secondary applications, but it is before this time that you need to do your homework.
      You want to build relationships with your professors, and start to think about who you would like to have sing your praises. Obviously, the classes you make the highest marks in, especially with teachers you like, and who like you, are logical choices. Go to talk your professors during office hours, or better yet, schedule an appointment. Introduce yourself. Talk about the class. Ask or comment about the professor's area of interest or research work. Do not ask about the grading scale or how many points you need to make an A! When you're done, thank the professor for his or her time. When some time has passed, make a return visit =>
      "Hi, Dr. Goodletter! Remember me?­­Sally Johnston, I'd like to talk to you about ..." =>
      When the course is over stop by again to mention that you enjoyed the class. Later, when the time comes to request a letter, first ask how the good Dr. has been doing, and bring the good Dr. up to date about your adventures since the last time you two spoke. When the moment is right, ask away =>
       "Dr. Goodletter, you know how tough it is to get into medical school these days, well I need your help. Could I count on you for a strong letter of recommendation? It would really mean a lot to me.".
Its important that Dr. Goodletter understand that you require a strong endorsement, not a generic one . If this point isn't clear, you need to clarify it, even if you feel uneasy doing so. If Dr.Goodletter responds in an evasive or tentative way, definitely consider using an alternative source; anything less than a glowing letter of support, diminishes your chances to look like a keeper.
      But if Dr. Goodletter responds,"Why Sally, I would only be too delighted to compose a luminous letter of praise extolling your prodigious talents, achievements and virtues!", don't ask the good Dr. to calm down, instead have stamped and addressed envelopes all ready to present to your professor, along with your heartfelt thanks.

*Associate Dean for Admissions and Enrollment Management at University of Miami School of Medicine, and Director of Admissions at University of South Florida College of Medicine, respectively

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Last updated in 2001--changes may have occurred.

Detailed information about the admissions process may be obtained from MSAR or the The AAMC Web Site . Good advice is provided in KGMS.

Junior Year

  • March 15 -- official transcripts may be sent to AMCAS (you may need to wait till the semester is complete).

  • April -- MCAT offered during the third or fourth week of this month.

  • June 1 -- applications may me sent to AMCAS (this includes your personal statement and extracurricular activities).

  • July -- secondary applications may be sent (this may include a composite letter prepared by the premedical committee, and letters of evaluation which are sent directly to the medical school by their author). ~PageLink: Secondary application sample.

  • Interviews may begin as soon as an applicant's secondary application has been reviewed.

  • August -- MCAT offered during the third or fourth week of this month.

Senior Year

  • October 15 -- earliest acceptance notification allowed by AMCAS schools.*

  • March 15 -- number of acceptance notifications equals number of seats. Seats may continue to be filled, up to the last moment before class begins.

*Although the earliest acceptance by an AMCAS school is Oct 15, you should not delay in getting all your application materials in, unless you are one of those luck few that will be choosing between several MSs. Unexpected problems and delays can arise, and early birds (sorry about not using a fish metaphor) have a clear advantage.

Generally if you are prepared to take the MCAT in April, you should do so. Besides giving you the option of an August retake, it gives you an advantage over those folks that wait until August. Due to the nature of the rolling admissions process, impressions and decisions are made by admission committee members long before Oct 15. The sooner all your application materials are in (MCAT score included) the better your chances for acceptance.

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The most important predictors of your success in MS is your MCAT scores (with Verbal Reasoning taking on added importance with more and more admission committees) and your Organic Chemistry grades. Next in line is Science GPA (science plus math) and overall GPA. THIS IS WHAT THEY LOOK AT FIRST.

A few "C's" will not "kill" your chances. Its the overall picture that counts, but "A's" in Organic and Physics sure look good.

Your personal statement (in your primary application) is very important. Dr. Hinkely (see above) recommended getting professional assistance with your essay if you felt that you needed it. You do the writing, then a professional writer can clean up your work, and makes it shine. ~PageLink: MORE

The writing sample on the MCAT is "almost completely unimportant". --Dr. Hinkely with a nod from Dr. Layman. MORE

The ONLY real differences between D.O. and M.D. (besides philosophical) is that its easier to get accepted into D.O. schools, but more difficult to get into competitive residency programs as an D.O. Once you leave school and begin practicing medicine, there are few important differences.

Lots of folks I know didn't get in, and then did, by getting into a masters program in a medically related science. As a graduate, they look primarily at your graduate record, (especially if you are getting a degree in the sciences). So if your undergraduate GPA is low, you can get a second chance. Make sure to carefully investigate your graduate options. You want to generate maximum positive "spin".

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 THE INTERVIEW ~PageLink: (Sample Questions)

Once you're invited for an interview, MCAT scores, GPA, and all the other stuff take a backseat.

Interviews are not a test of what you know, but of who you are. Not the particulars of your life, although that's part of what you'll be discussing, but what kind of person are you. What kind of stuff you are made of.

When you are asked a question about, lets say, "health care", your specific answer is far less important then how you handle yourself. How well do you stand up to the pressure of a tough question? How mature are you? How thoughtful? Etc.

Don't worry about how much you know about "health care", I assume you know a little­­that's all you need. Relax and be yourself. Don't BS. Be honest­­but selective attention to your achievements and positive personality characteristics will help make you a more attractive candidate, as long as you don't get carried away.

What about your negative traits? Well, when asked about your flaws or weakness, turning "negatives" into positives is usually a lot better then scratching your head and replying "I can't think of any.". Examples of better replies might include, "Sometimes when I help people out, I don't know when to quit. Before I know it, I don't have any time for myself". Or, "When I don't know something it drives me crazy. I just can't stop thinking about it until I know the answer.

You should think over what it is about you, that would make a good doctor. Remember that when you are asked this question, personal and sincere feelings sound a lot better than "Because my Mom is a doctor". Of course if your Mom is an alumna, this might be a good time to remind the interviewer(s) as part of your general reply.

You should know about the school you are interviewing at, and why you want to go there. This is one area where specific information IS important. Do your homework.

Leave the cue cards and the rehearsed speeches at home. Mock interviews are a great idea if you feel they will help, but remember you're not rehearsing for a play.

Be prepared for your interview, but don't over do it. Feeling relaxed and confident is far more important than knowing all the "answers".

The details and advice given in KGMS concerning the interview, matches up well with what my sources, both inside and outside, of medical school have been telling me. So, for more details I refer you to page 215 of this book.

The questions and answers below were written by Frank Pernas, based on a talk Frank gave to my Spring 2002 MCAT prep class. Frank was a member of my Spring 2001 MCAT prep class, and was accepted to the University of Miami School of Medicine in Spring 2002. -Rich

Q: Is the application process as hard as they say it is?

A: The process isn t as bad as many people make it seem. The important thing is to treat it as a game and have the most fun while you re playing the game. For instance if you go interview at another city you ve never been to, take some time if you have it to look around the city attend a play or sightsee. It helps you relax for the interview and will help you make a better choice come time to deciding between two schools.

Q: How are the interviews?

A: My interview experience wasn t as bad as I had heard other people say it would be. I was asked tough questions but I had prepared answers and it went pretty smooth. As a general rule as you move north the interviews should be harder. In Florida the interviews are pretty relaxed. In Gainesville the interviews began at 1100 am. One important thing to realize about the interviews is that the schools are considering candidates, but you as a candidate are also considering several schools. It s a school s responsibility to impress you with their institution.

Q: Any tips for the interview itself?

A: Most importantly, be yourself. Everyone will tell you this, but what exactly does it mean? Talk to the interviewer in a normal tone of voice and using normal words like you regularly talk. Be expressive and talkative. Don t be afraid to take charge of the interview by telling the interviewer about yourself. The best kind of interview is the one that feels comfortable to you and to the interviewer, it should be a conversation. Don t be afraid to mention your hobbies or your pets. At UF I spoke with my interviewer about cooking, it makes the interview less formal and will make you seem like a person beyond what your application can describe. Remember that at the end of the interview he/she will ask you if you have any questions, if you don t have anything to ask, come up with something. Turn some of the questions on him, for example, what are the strengths and weaknesses of your school. They ll be impressed.

Q: How to best prepare for the interview?

A: Go to they usually have good advice. Read up on your application refresh your memory on all that you did because they will ask you about it. Read current events. Read about the school. Also review health topics, HMO s and look around the internet for typical questions they might ask. I was asked to talk about abortion, euthanasia, my research, my clinical exposure. The questions aren t very creative for the most part so it s easy to prepare. When preparing for these questions it s important, for example, in the case of abortions that whatever side you re going to pick, stick with it and defend you point of view. Not only will they ask you what you think about an issue but then they will pick the weakest part of your argument and turn it against you. We ve all heard the weak point for abortion (what if a 13 Yr old gets raped.) be able to find a suitable response and stick with it.

Q: What tactics will interviewers use?

A: I interviewed at 4 schools, I was asked several questions and they tried all kinds of tactics:

  1. Get you nervousbest thing you can do when they try to get you nervous is to be calm, not get mad, and respond the best you can.
  2. Test you on your research to see how well you can defend your outcomes.
  3. Try to get you stuck in a corner and make you refute something you said earlier.
  4. They want to see how you think, your thought process, so if they ask to describe what you would do in a certain situation, all they want to hear is you thinking and reasoning out loud.

Once you go to one interview you'll be able to adapt to any interview style.
Q: Are mock interviews helpful?
If you think you're a spontaneous person and think you don't need a mock interview it might not help. If your shy and need help coming up with some answers to typical interview questions then find a person to conduct an interview, it can even be a friend. It's important to at least think of some of these questions.
Q: What are some typical non-medical interview style questions?
A: Why do you want to be a doctor?
      Tell me about yourself?
      What are your strengths and weaknesses?
      Talk to me about your research?
      Tell me about your social life?
      What kind of beer do you drink? (<= I was asked this one at UM.)
      What support do you have?
      Do you feel you're mature enough to be a doctor?
      What are your hobbies?
Why do they ask these questions? They want to make sure you're a well rounded person, someone who knows how to handle people while being able to cope with stress. While you may think some of these are hard questions, think about them, you have a head start now because you already know they could ask them.
Q: Anything else to keep in mind once you get interviewed?
A: Once a school invites you to interview they are assuming you have what it takes to deal with the rigors of medical school. Now they want to know if you'll make a good physician and what motivates you to become one.
Q: Interviews seem so far away, how can I increase my chances of getting many interviews?
A: Start the process earlier, the faster you can complete your amcas and have satisfactory MCAT grades the sooner the committees will look at your complete file. It's also important to spend at least a week doing your essay, it's one of the more important items on your application, and it's what makes you a human being to the person reading your file.
Q: What is the best way to prepare for the MCAT?
A: Aside from reviewing all the necessary topics, it's especially important to take practice tests, nothing helps in preparing for the MCAT like taking practice tests. Information is helpful, but more helpful than that is knowing how to think like the MCAT and working through problems.
Q: What if I don't do well in the verbal section of the MCAT, what can I say at the interviews?
A: There are always things you can say to make it seem that even though you didn't do well in that section you're still a proficient reader. In my case I told the interviewer that I had taken many literature classes and had read many books in those classes. Aside from reading books I had been assigned to write papers in science and English classes. That way you make it sound like you read a lot and that there is no connection between the verbal score and your literary abilities.

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  Legal disclaimer and trademark information.

Copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002 Richard Hochstim (Content & Visual Arts). All rights reserved.


Hi, I was wondering if you could answer a quick question for me. I am a student at UCLA and I took the MCAT in april and am getting ready to apply to med school. However, I have the opportunity to push my gpa up to a 3.5 with this quarters grades. I heard that 3.5 is a cutoff for many schools to get secondary applications.

I was wondering if this was true and if I should defer sending in my application until this quarters grades are in. It will defer my application by about a month.


As I understand it, it is not an absolute cut off, but I would advise you to defer your application until after the new quarter's grades are in.


I took a few classes and would like to retake them for GPA reasons. I am planning on applying for medical school. When filling out the AMCAS, how can I show my "new" grades versus my "old" grades. Example: got a B in Biology and retook it and got an A. Do these grades get averaged? Or by retaking them, does the better grade take precidence?

Thank you,

Unless the school that you go to has a specific policy, whereby the grades you obtained upon retaking a class are replaced or averaged with older grades, then both the older and newer grade will appear on your record. You can get more information about this matter from your premed adviser to see what policies your school supports.

Some premedical students purposely take classes at another school first, often during summer, before taking the equivalent class at their regular school, but do not have their transcripts forwarded from the summer classes they took, nor do they make these records available to the AMCAS. This practice though ethically questionable, is not uncommon.


dear rich,

i completely love your pre-med site on the web! there's just this one phrase that you posted that got me puzzled. it said: "The writing sample on the MCAT is "almost completely unimportant". --Dr. Hinkely with a nod from Dr. Layman. i always believed that writing was the one of the best ways to evaluate an applicant. however, here Dr. Hinkley says that it is "unimportant". can you tell me why he would say that? or perhaps, it could have been a little typo. either way i'm sure there's a good explanation for everything, but it would definetly be enlightening to find out why.

thanks for your time,


Thanks for the kind words quynh.

Dr. Hinkely DID say "The writing sample is almost completely unimportant.", and Dr. Layman DID nod in agreement. Dr. Hinkely went on to explain that when the WS was initially suggested as a sub-test to be included on the MCAT, most admissions personal thought that this would be a very good idea. The manner in which the WS was actually executed and scored however, was generally disliked and is not considered to be very predictive of success in Medical School. They DID mention that Medical Schools DO consider writing skills important, but that very few schools have the resources to actually read the essays. Since the WS scoring system is thought to be flawed,
Medical Schools lack a practical means for evaluation writing ability.

At University of Miami and at the University of South Florida the WS is given almost no consideration according to these two gentlemen. From other sources, I have determined that some medical schools place more weight on the WS than do UM and USF, but that VR, PS, and BS will still comprise 85% - 100% of what admissions officers consider important when evaluating your MCAT scores.

Your personal statement, on the other hand, is considered far more important than the WS. Both Dr.s advised getting help preparing your personal statement should your writing skills be less than stellar. When a member of the audience asked "Don't they want you to write it yourself?", they replied that you should write it yourself, but you should consider getting help if your writing skills leave something to be desired, i.e., the personal statement is not a test of your writing skill, it is your opportunity to set yourself apart as a distinct and desirable candidate for Medical School.

Dr. Hinkely (actually it was Dr. Dix) mentioned that Medical Schools are required by law to keep ALL copies of WS essays from ALL applicants, for five years. So UM has a room filled from floor to ceiling with stacks of essays, that are just taking up space and will never be read.

Finally, GOOD NEWS! Medical School applications dropped from 47,000 to 43,000, for admission in the fall of 96 to the fall of 97. This represents a 8.4% drop. 41,000 are expected to apply for admission this fall. This downward trend is expected to continue.