Medical school is competitive and candidates need every advantage they can get to ensure that their application is taken seriously. While a low GPA certainly doesn’t make it easier to get into medical school, it isn’t the only criteria that is looked at. Candidates can boost their applications and improve their odds in several ways. If the applicant is still in school, obtaining high grades in the final semesters shows that the applicant is capable of doing well. Additionally, apply to several schools to increase the odds of being accepted.
Go to Graduate School
Consider going to graduate school for an advanced degree. The medical school may put a greater emphasis on the graduate school grades. Medical schools put an emphasis on candidates that have taken a diverse selection of courses. Don’t feel pressured to get a masters degree in something that is related to a medical field. Plenty of candidates that enroll in non-related degree programs find that medical schools value candidates with diverse experiences. Music, Psychology, Anthropology and even Business degrees are all useful degrees for medical school. Medical schools want to see a candidates level of commitment and ability to research and learn. Also consider enrolling in a masters program within the school you hope to attend for medical school. Those two years building relationships with professors and taking courses (sometimes in the same departments as the med students) can help you to stand out when you apply next time.
Ace the MCAT
The MCAT serves to demonstrate a candidates practical knowledge of medical, science and problem-solving ability. Scoring high on this test can help to level out a poor GPA. Medical schools use the MCAT to help set apart students, but it isn’t the only thing they consider. Nevertheless, you obviously want to aim for the highest score possible, especially if your GPA isn’t that great.
Provide Excellent References
Work in a hospital to network with doctors that can provide a recommendation when it comes time to apply to medical school. A solid recommendation can help alleviate the admission committees fears of allowing a potentially unqualified candidate from entering the program. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, try to shadow a doctor that is affiliated with the school somehow and obtain a letter of recommendation from them.
Impress at the Interview
For those that can get an interview, be ready to impress the admissions board. Be friendly and confident and practice interviewing with friends to ensure that the actual interview goes well. The interview is one of the most important parts of the process and it can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection. For even more help, take a look at our free top 10 medical school interview tips ebook.
Explain Extenuating Circumstances
If there were dramatic life events that prevented doing well in school, this should be addressed in the initial application. Divorce, death in the family, medical problems and car accidents are just a few reasons why someone might obtain low grades in an undergraduate program. Showing the admissions committee that there were extenuating circumstances can help improve the odds of being accepted into a program.
Highlight Volunteer Work
In addition to school work, volunteer to help out in the community. Show your willingness to work by joining relevant clubs and being involved in charitable programs that benefit the medical community. A candidate that can show a dedication to the field before being accepted has a chance of outshining a candidate that just received high grades.