Medical school admission standards have remained the same for many decades despite of the often overlooked revolutionary change in medical technology, the pace of new discovery, and the permeation of biochemistry. The adequacy of preparation in the preclinical sciences requires the knowledge of more information than ever before. At the present moment, pathophysiology and pharmacology require detailed knowledge of various molecular targets and biochemical mechanisms, as well as all kinds of modern cell biology has become the language of medical disciplines such as pathology, oncology, cardiology, and neurology, which will all help advance the medical knowledge and benefit mankind in the future.
Medical School Requirements: Part 1 – The Science Requirements
At least 1 year of biology is required for medical school admission. The required 1-year biology course should be devoted to genetics and cell biology and should emphasize human biology (topics such as signal transduction, basic pharmacologic principles, homeostasis and feedback, an introduction to hormone receptors, neuronal signaling, and immunology should be covered as part of the coursework). Since biology is arguably the most elegant expression of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, computational skills that tie these previously separate disciplines together should be emphasized.
The focus on genetics should include nucleic acid, differentiation, cellular metabolic function, energy transfer, structure-function relationships, reproduction, and membrane properties. Preparation in biology should place more of an emphasis in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, i.e., molecular biology/genetics); the study of cell biology on human biology structure and function, genetic recombination, and mechanisms of gene expression should include subcellular organization and on principles of systems biology.
Although a formal year-long course that covers these concepts will meet this requirement, there are other innovative approaches that can be used to obtain satisfactory results in preparation of the biological sciences as requirement of medical school entrance admission. Advanced Placement credits will general not be accepted.
General chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry in a 2-year sequence that establishes the essential elements for the study of biologically relevant chemistry are required as a part of medical school admission category. Organic chemistry preparation should be incorporated with basic principles and ideas demonstrated in the study of biochemistry (topics such as protein structure and function should be covered as a part of coursework in detail).
Among the premedical requirement of 2 years of chemistry, the premedical chemistry curriculum should focus on more biologically relevant areas of general and organic chemistry. General chemistry coursework must include essential topics in physical and inorganic chemistry including but not limited to molecular structure, chemical reactivity, bonding, equilibrium, energetics, and some form of thermodynamics. Organic chemistry coursework must integrate with basic principles of biochemistry (especially protein structure and function) to provide a more complete chemistry education for the applicants. Instead of two semesters of organic chemistry, the second of which is devoted primarily to organic synthesis, both biologically relevant organic chemistry and biochemistry should be covered during these two semesters. This gives applicants a chance to explore among the knowledge of biochemistry. As opposed to, during the times of last generation, biochemistry had not been formally a requirement for medical school admission. From this generation on, the completion and mastery of biochemistry will be expected of matriculates in the future. Many different forms of courses can be used to satisfy this requirement; however, an integrated sequence that includes biologically relevant general, organic, and biochemistry is recommended for all applicants. Although a formal two-year course sequence that covers these concepts will meet the chemistry requirement, many different other innovative approaches that allow students to master these “competencies,” independent of discrete courses and semester time commitments, are encouraged and will be considered for admission purposes.
Generally speaking, Advanced Placement credits will not be accepted in the sciences, including chemistry in terms of medical school admission purposes.
As of physics, students must be well prepared in biologically significant areas of mechanics, kinetics, thermodynamics, quantum theory, wave theory, electricity and magnetism, and optics. Normally, the physics requirement is accomplished most usually by a year-long course in physics. Although a formal year-long course that covers these concepts will meet the physics requirement, other different and innovative methods that give students the chance to truly understand these “competencies,” independent of discrete courses and semester time commitments, are encouraged and will be considered for the purpose of admission.
Again, Advanced Placement credits are generally not accepted unless the student, in return, takes higher level physics classes. This, however, is generally frowned upon, as higher level physics knowledge are often of no use to future doctors.
Medical School Requirements: Part 2 – Other Requirements
In addition to the Science Requirements in Part 1, Med School Requirements include the following as well.
The required laboratory requirements of biology, physics, and chemistry are no longer defined as discretely as they were previously in the last admission cycle. Lengthy laboratory components of the required science requirement courses are not necessarily time must be efficiently spent. Active, sustained participation in faculty-mentored laboratory research experiences is strongly encouraged and can be used to meet requirements for the obtainment of laboratory skills. Proper focus on hypothesis-driven exercises, problem solving skills, and hands-on demonstrations of important principles should take precedence over long laboratory time commitments that steal time away from other, more productive educational opportunities. Computational abilities are required for contemporary scientific literacy. Although the calculus of derivatives and integration represents important concepts for the precise, quantifiable understanding of dynamic physiological processes and systems, a full year of calculus focusing on the derivation of biologically low-relevance theorems is less important than mastery of more relevant algebraic and trigonometric quantitative skills. Still, to prepare adequately for the quantitative reasoning demands of the modern medical curriculum and certain medical specialties, in addition to medical school admission in general, to provide analytic perspective and to appreciate the uncertainties in evaluation of biological systems, students are required to have familiarity with calculus. Broader and more flexible range of requirements is encouraged, but given the importance of statistics for understanding the literature of science and medicine; adequate grounding in statistics is required for most applicants.
Although the formal requirement for mathematics remains 1 year, due to the increasing competition, may have suggested the need for applicants to take beyond the required math sequence. Rather than increasing the one year devoted to mathematics preparation, the one-year effort should be more relevant to biology and medicine than the formerly required, traditional, one-year calculus course. Flexibility will be welcome in meeting these requirements. For example, formally, a semester course in calculus that covers derivatives and integration and a semester course in statistics are the basics; however, a calculus-based physics course and another science course that includes a firm grounding in biostatistics; or even an unified two-semester course that covers important, biologically relevant concepts in calculus and statistics can be used to satisfy this requirement.
Surprisingly, when it comes to mathematics, many medical schools do accept the Advanced Placement credits for admission purposes, allowing students to focus on other categories of their application with more time.
The formal requirement, 1 year of English, is extremely vague. However, these skills are expected from applications universally:
1. Write logically and with clarity and style about important questions across disciplines.
2. Articulate persuasively, both on paper and in oral presentations, focused, sophisticated, and credible thesis arguments.
3. Appreciate the methodologies that particular disciplines apply for understanding and communicating results effectively.
4. Approach evidence with probity and intellectual independence.
5. Use source material appropriately with scrupulous and rigorous attribution.
Generally, Advanced placement credits cannot be used to satisfy this requirement for most medical schools with the exception of a few.
It is of the utter most importance that a future doctor will be able to communicate effectively with his/her peers and patients, thus this foreign language requirement is established. While not strictly enforced, most schools expect to see the applicant’s mastery over a foreign language. This is a extremely useful skill that expands intellectual and cultural horizons and that reinforces preparation for patient care in a multicultural society, as in the future many of your patients and peers may be originated from different culture and may not communicate with you with the same language.
Medical School Requirements: Part 3 – Summary
As of now, the time required for premedical undergraduate science preparation is substantial due to its course of nature. Although expectations for scientific rigor at the undergraduate level are being increased, medical schools in general do not expect to make the time commitment to science courses so burdensome that medical school candidacy would be limited to science majors and that little time would be available in college to pursue other academically challenging scholarly avenues, the foundation for intellectual growth, extracurricular activities are also very important in one’s application. Therefore, the ideal solution is one in which the current time commitment to premedical science courses is refocused on more relevant content, interdisciplinary when practical, that can be covered within the same time frame or a time frame only modestly expanded. By doing so, the applicants can spend time more efficiently. The premedical curriculum should introduce quantitative assessment, academic rigor, and analyses of complex systems in human biology as a whole. Inculcation of scientific method and scientific rigor are assessed more important than the specific content of premedical science courses taken by applicants.
As a conclusion, it must be noted that the importance of college is not the preparation of medical schools but devotion and engagement of the student in general. The overall intellectual growth and maturity result is a more complete package than only academic preparation.
Please be noticed that every medical school may have different requirements. Although there is a basic set of courses and examinations that is commonly accepted as basic medical school requirements that will be considered by nearly every school. Many medical schools will make exceptions or emphasize different courses and topics in their admissions process.
Usually, an initial screen of applicants is done by computer to ensure that basic things like courses taken, GPA and MCAT scores meet a desired minimum. After that, it’s all about the person and not the numbers. The medical school admissions process is a mix of science and art.
Commonly Taken Classes
2 Semesters of Calculus (Required)
1 Semester of Statistics (Optional)
2 Semesters of Molecular Biology (Required)
2 Semesters of Physiology and Anatomy (Optional)
1 Semester of Genetics (Optional)
2 Semesters of General Chemistry (Required)
2 Semesters of Organic Chemistry (Required)
1 Semester of Biochemistry (Optional at some schools)
1 Semester of Fluid Dynamics (Optional)
2 Semesters of General Physics (Required)
1 Semester of Biophysics (Optional)
2 Semesters of Writing/Composition (Required)
2 Semesters of Economics (Optional)
1 Semester of Psychology (Optional)
Various Social Sciences Courses (Used to satisfy graduation requirements)
Various Foreign Language Courses (Varieties individually from applicant to applicant)
Medical school admissions are very competitive, so you need to have a strong GPA. Usually, a GPA above 3.5 is preferrable. A GPA below 3.5 can be weak in your med school application. There is a general impression that everyone gets a minimum 3.3, so the GPA cutoff might be more strictly enforced.
Your MCAT scores are very important factor when you are evaluated for your medical school application. The sections of the MCAT are similar to the required coursework, such as physical sciences, physics and inorganic chemistry, biological sciences, biology and organic chemistry, verbal, and a writing sample.
It has been reported that about 70-80% of all medical school applicants have taken an MCAT test prep course.
You need a college degree. However, it does not have to be in the sciences.
Research – optional
If you do enjoy science, then research is one way to show your passion, knowledge and skills, which may make you stand out on your med school application. If you’re going to do a research project as an undergrad, start early.
Physician shadowing – optional
If you are interested in getting into a medical school, then shadow a physician and find out what it’s like. A “shadowing experience” may not carry a lot of weight on your application, however, you do gain some experience.
Volunteer service – optional
Depending on the quality of the volunteer service you offered, it may add a positive weight for your medical school application. How long have you involved in the project? Did you take a leadership role? How does this project affect you, and how have you made a meaningful contribution to the project?
Future doctors are responsible for saving people’s life, therefore, medical schools are looking for candidates who are willing to take the time and effort to make a serious contribution. By a volunteer program, an academic pursuit, research, or even sport, you may show your passion and commitment. You have to show that you are willing and capable of working hard enough to accomplish an important goal.
Please be noted that there are 3 parts on Medical School Requirements. For the science requirements for getting into Medical schools, please refer to “Medical School Requirements: Part 1 – The Science Requirements”. In part-2, you will find other requirements for entering Medical schools.