Top 5 Don’ts For Pre-Medical Students Getting Ready to Apply
1. Don’t apply late.
The later your application is, the worse your chances of gaining admission into medical school are. Applying when the application season opens in early June puts you in a much better position than those applying in late June or July. There are 48,000 people applying to medical schools. You need to have your application in earlier than the masses if you want to increase your chances; and your application is not complete until your primary, secondary, MCAT scores and letters of recommendations are all in.
2. Don’t apply to schools that you have no intention of ever going to.
Doing this is unnecessary, expensive, and with the average costs ranging from $3000 to $6000, you will want to cut costs during the application process when possible. In addition, if that is the only school that accepts you, you’re now going to be attending a medical school that you don’t want to go to. Word to the wise, medical schools do not look favorably at applicants who they have previously accepted and have the candidate decide not to attend.
3. Don’t ask for a letter of recommendation from someone that does not know you well.
Medical schools do not want a letter that simply states what grade you got in your biochemistry class. They can already see that on your transcript. They want to know more about your competencies. What competencies are they looking for? You can find them here: https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/admissionsinitiative/competencies. If your letter writers can’t talk about these things then that letter is not enhancing your application.
4. Don’t take the MCAT without having adequately prepared for it.
This is not a test you can take without a considerable amount of study time, even if you are good at standardized tests. With so much riding on this test, do you really want to gamble with it? The average student studies anywhere from six months to one year for the MCAT, so planning to study for two weeks after classes end in Spring in order to take the test at the end of May is probably not going to work out well. If you know your class schedule is not going to allow for you to study much for the MCAT, you might want to reconsider your application timeline.
5. Don’t be afraid to take a gap year.
If you are applying between your junior and senior years, you will be applying with 25% of your academic profile missing. Why? You don’t have grades for your senior year courses. In addition to that, the average age for student accepted into medical school is 24, not when you graduate at 22. So your competition not only has a complete academic profile, they also have post-graduation experiences enhancing their applications. It takes time to become a competitive applicant, so if you have awesome internships, research projects, or other experiences lined up for your senior year, you should consider applying after those are completed so that they can be enhancements to your application. The road to becoming a physician is a marathon, not a sprint.