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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Applying to Medical School

Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school requires a serious commitment. Depending on your background and circumstances, you may need up to two years to meet all the course requirements for medical school and complete the arduous application process. Here is a general overview of the timeline and steps of applying to medical school.
Science and Math Course Requirements
Nearly all medical school requires some college-level prerequisites in biology, chemistry, physics and a smaller percentage require calculus. While some schools lack specific course requirements before applying, these are the exception rather than the rule. The MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) is a good resource that provides a list of prerequisite requirements for all accredited medical schools. In any event, you will need to know the material covered in these courses to succeed on the MCAT.

The Dreaded Standardized Exam: the MCAT

The MCAT is used by nearly all medical schools as an objective measure of how you will handle the academic rigors of medical school, and is an essential part applying to medical school. As such, the test is a test of your analytical abilities rather than a simple regurgitation of science facts. The test is imperfect, but it provides a nearly universal way to evaluate applicants of varying backgrounds.
The test is comprised of four sections and takes about five and a half hours. The sections are physical science (chemistry and physics), verbal reasoning (reading comprehension), writing sample (2 essay questions), and biological science (biology and organic chemistry).
Most applicants take the MCAT late in their junior year of college. This is ideal, as it provides time to retake the exam should you need to improve your score, if necessary. Also, it is advisable to take the exam early and get it out of the way so you can focus on the rest of the application and not worry about studying.
Keep in mind that schools will see both scores should you choose to retake the MCAT, so don’t simply take an exam for “practice”. The test is offered about 20-25 times a year – which is a vast improvement over the old system of twice a year. You can expect to get the official results in about a month after the exam date.