Attempting to go to medical school despite low stats?

Edit: The following blog post was originally created on loveformedicine’s tumblr ~2 years ago and thus is much older than a few days old. However, it has not been edited to preserve the original post. Additionally, the information is posted as unbiased as possible without inserting my own thoughts on any particular point to preserve this as an informational piece rather than an opinion piece.

A few days ago, I attended a webinar delivered by Alicia Nimonkar, former Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbacc program on on how to apply to medical school with low stats(low gpa, low mcat,both).

Note: Per my personal opinion, I found the webinar to be particularly useful for pre-meds who might be earlier in the application process. I took as many notes as I could during the 60 minutes. For simplicity purposes, I have put this in a list format in the order the topics were presented:

Numbers Game

  • Mcat scores are used as the main predictor for USMLE scores
  • GPA is considered less of a predictor for USMLE
  • conclusion: Mcat scores>> Gpa

What to consider after having met pre-req’s

  • If concerned about both your gpa and mcat, consider SMP programs(Special Master Programs) as some have linkage agreements to medical schools after completion.
  • Upward trends are critical, especially if applying with low stats. If there is a decline/downward trend in coursework, consider a post-bacc program to enhance your application.
  • If considering Master’s programs, consider an SMP as it displays convincing evidence that you are ready for medical school

    Personal Statement 

  • Self-reflect but also important to get a third person view to acknowledge strengths and weaknesses in your pre-med history to assess how to present it in your statement
  • State facts/address weakness’ but do not “whine” about what has affected grades
  • Tone is important: maintain balance between personal and professional- don’t come off as super cold but also stay away from “whining”
  • Make sure your statement is authentic and honest and be careful to not embellish
  • One paragraph is enough to talk about low gpa/mcat and factors that may have affected this- ending on a high note,of course
  • Better to show than tell– Answer any questions that might arise from the rest of your application that you may want to address
  • Highlight perseverance about any struggles in your story and end on a high note aka focus on your progress/what you have done to improve your situation

Technicalities: Create outlines to begin your writing,have other people read it, review drafts

Activities portion of application

  • For the meaningful essays portion, consider keeping a journal during the actual experiences. This is the section where you want to highlight how an experience was transformative and how it impacted your interest in medicine. You will want to include your most transformative and impacting experiences here.
  • Explain how the experience shaped your interest in medicine
  • Use ALL 3 meaningful essays
  • If you have too many activities for the activities descriptions portion (>15)of the application, consider combining similar activities into groups and bringing in a CV with the separate activities to the interview

School Selection

  • To maximize chances of acceptance, recommended # of applications= 20-25 schools.
  • When applying, if one of both scores is in the accepted range for a school, do not hesitate to apply- as long as one of 2 scores(gpa/mcat) is in range
  • Osteopathic schools are recommended over Carribean medical schools based on the lower probability of securing a residency post graduation
  • Apply EARLY- especially if applying with lower stats
  • Keypoint: Do NOT cut and paste from the personal statement to other areas of the applications.