I’m re-applying; what do I need to know?
High grades and/or MCAT scores alone are never enough. For those interviewed, impressions from the personal interview are exceedingly important. Other factors weighed in selecting applicants for admission include Letters of Recommendation, the Personal Statement, difficulty of courses and course loads, trends in grades, extracurricular activities, leadership, volunteer work, care-giving and healthcare-related experience, research, hardship, evidence of motivation for a career in medicine, and other non-cognitive attributes.
For several years, re-applicants have made up between 25 and 30 percent of each incoming class. In fact, the percentage of re-applicants who get admitted is almost the same for first-time applicants.
The average science and total GPA for successful applicants has ranged from 3.6 to 3.7, and the average MCAT score is 505. With few exceptions, all have completed undergraduate degrees, and most have majored in one of the biological sciences.
In short: sit down and re-evaluate objectively all parts of your application. Begin with the obvious, the numbers - grades and MCAT score(s). Then revisit your Personal Statement. Next, think about your extracurricular activities and Letters of Recommendation. Finally, if you were interviewed, reflect on your personal interview.
Chances are, if you go through the following, step-by-step, you will begin to clearly see ways to improve:
Grades and MCAT Scores:
This part of your re-evaluation should be done in comparison to the credentials of students recently admitted to our school.
Realistically and objectively evaluate the MCAT scores and grades submitted with your AMCAS application. It is very important to remember that a strength in one does not offset a deficiency in the other.
A grade deficiency is addressed by making A’s in additional upper level science courses.
Seek guidance from your pre-med advisor regarding future coursework, e.g., post-baccalaureate studies or a graduate program.
An MCAT deficiency is addressed by raising your MCAT score. Note: a high score in one category does not compensate for a low score in another category, especially the two science sections.
Should I take the MCAT again?
Probably. If you are asking this question, your scores are probably below average, and if so, then you should retake it. The Admissions Committee often regards standing pat on below-average scores as a sign of diminished motivation, the ill-favored response of someone who believes that below-average is the best they can do.
However, if your scores are above average and you are trying to offset a low GPA, then the answer is “No, you don’t need to retake it.” MCATs and grades do not offset each other.
If my MCAT goes down, will it hurt me?
Probably not. Most people go up a little, and dropping a point or two in your total is often better than standing pat on a below-average score on a single attempt. Your "true score" is probably in the middle.
Do you look only at the most recent score?
No. We look at them all.
Often underappreciated is the fact that your Personal Statement is your introduction to strangers. Interviewers have access to your Personal Statement prior to the interview. It should present a unified and genuine picture of you as a person, why you want to study medicine, and what personal experiences have driven your desire to pursue an MD. Grammar, spelling, and usage are important. You should consider asking trusted friends/family members/mentors to proofread your Personal Statement before submitting. Nonetheless, whatever you submit, you own. The bottom line to strive for is that the reader says after reading it: "Wow! I want to meet this person."
Remember that while extracurricular activities are important, they do not substitute for other credentials, especially good grades and MCAT scores. Our committee has expectations, and one of the biggest of them is that your decision to study medicine is founded on significant personal experiences, especially those involving meaningful patient contact.
If you interviewed, but didn't make it to the Waiting List, think: "I got the interview, so my grades, MCAT, Letters of Recommendation, and Personal Statement must have been at least okay. So, what does that leave?"
If you were on the Waiting List, but were not admitted, you should ask yourself the same question. Probably more discouraging is the answer to the first than to the second.
Either way, you might go to the library and check out a couple of books on evaluation interviews where you may find some interesting information about interview structure, purpose, and content.
A bonus tip for you if you are selected to interview: do your homework. Interviewers are generally impressed if you know something about the school you are visiting.