The science of getting into medical school

An excerpt from Med School Admissions Secrets.

by Jason Spears

There are currently 134 allopathic medical schools in the United States and you need to select approximately 20 schools.

You are not going to randomly pick, instead there is a system to getting into medical school.

The first step is ranking schools in the following manner:

  • Top-tier/Dream Schools
  • Competitive Schools
  • Safety Schools

Obviously, the top-tier med schools have high admissions standards based on MCAT and GPA. No more than 20% of your schools should fall into this category unless you have excellent credentials.

I always tell students, “you can’t get in where you don’t apply,” so if there is a school you’d definitely attend if admitted then go ahead and apply because you never know what a medical school is looking for in its entering class. But be sure to adhere to the 20% rule.

Competitive schools

These are the med schools where your numbers are going to make you competitive and you should have a decent chance at getting admitted.  This should compose approximately 60% of the medical schools you apply to.

Please be aware that medical school admission is never a clear-cut process.

There are many stories of applicants getting rejected from competitive schools while getting into top-tier institutions.

This also cuts the other way too.

So be open to the rollercoaster ride of med school admissions and take everything in stride. The goal though is to have you apply strategically so that at the end of the day you get admitted.

Safety schools

These are the schools where looking purely at the numbers you should definitely get admitted.

There is more to admissions than just numbers otherwise it would be very simple to determine where to apply and who gets in. As medicine is part art and science so is getting admitted.

I have known students who have been rejected by their safety schools … usually because their credentials are too high and the admissions committee doesn’t believe they would attend if accepted.

Major advice for safety schools:

  • Only apply to a medical school that you are actually willing to attend.

It is not unheard of someone to choose a particular medical school as a last resort and find out it is the only school they get accepted into. Treat every school like it is your only option.

Jason Spears is author of Med School Admissions Secrets and founder of DoctorPremed.

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