Although it’s challenging to get into medical school, you shouldn’t let this discourage you. Instead, see it as a challenge. According to an article in US News, “Why It’s Hard to Get into Medical School“, the acceptance rate to get into a medical school is less than 4%. So, it will take plenty of preparation on your part to make it. Getting into medical is a long and tedious process that takes a lot of preparation.
What is the MCAT and What is on it?
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) developed the Medical College Admission Test, a computer-based standardized examination, and administered fourteen times a year at a Prometric Testing Center. You should know the changes to the MCAT, which includes the exam now, takes eight hours to complete. While previously, it took about 5 hours.
Since medical education experts discovered that the essay was not a useful predictor of success, they have removed it. However, the AAMC added a new section in 2015 called Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior to evaluate if test-takers can deliver medical services across diverse cultures. They added this section because of the rapid demographic changes in the country.
The AAMC designed the Medical College Admission Test to estimate the test’s takers’ mastery of critical analysis and reasoning as well as knowledge of physical sciences, biological sciences, and social sciences.
How to Study and Prepare for the MCAT
When preparing for the MCAT, you will need to study for the four sections of the exam:
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills and will test your understanding of humanities and social sciences disciplines.
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Apply and will assess your mastery of basic biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry.
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems will judge your grasp of biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics.
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior will appraise your knowledge about how psychological, sociological, and biological influences affect human behavior, social interests, and stress management.
You should register early for the exam to secure your date and location. You will take the exam during your junior or senior year of undergrad, and you can register online at the Association of American Medical Colleges.
When it comes time to study for the exam, here are some things to keep in mind when setting up your study schedule:
- Study for at least 12 weeks
- Stick to your study schedule
- Invest in study guides
- Do as many practice exams as possible
- Identify what areas you need to focus on
- Join a prep class, either online or offline
Medical School Application Process
Medical schools admit students on a rolling basis. Spaces in the program are offered to qualified candidates until all spots are filled. Your primary application is submitted through one of three centralized application services: AMCAS (for MD admissions), TMDSAS (for Texas Medical Schools), or AACOMAS (for DO admissions).
Your primary application provides medical schools with enough information for screening and should include the following information:
- Academic transcripts
- MCAT scores
- List of your relevant extracurricular activities: such as clinical work, volunteer work, or research work
- Personal statement: an experience that influenced your point of view about medicine, why you want to be a doctor, and any obstacles you had to overcome in school. Also, mention any relevant, challenging personal experiences or relationships with a mentor.
- Letters of recommendation
You will want to submit your primary application as soon as you can because an early application improves your chances of getting accepted. Those submitted early in the cycle will be reviewed first and give you a better chance of acceptance.
If a school accepts your application, they will then send you a secondary application. The secondary application will include essays on assigned topics. If your secondary application is accepted, you will then get an invitation for an on-campus interview. Another outcome after submitting your secondary application is the school might put your application on hold then review it again after reviewing applications from other candidates, and then organize a new round of interviews. The interview is another great opportunity for you to stand out from the other medical school applicants.
By making sure you are prepared for the MCAT and ace the test, you are one step closer to applying to medical school and becoming a doctor.