Right now you are maybe starting to draft or redraft your personal statement, asking for letters of recommendation (or at least thinking about whom to ask), and coming up with your activities list. You have a lot to do, which makes it easy to defer making your school list.
We recommend that you take some time to objectively look at where your metrics (GPA and MCAT) place you with respect to competitiveness for individual schools. We have made a tool to help you do that, namely our Medical School Chance Predictor. Plugging your numbers in is an anxiety-provoking task for many applicants, particularly if your scores and grades are not quite where you think they should be.
|| Read Medical School Chance Predictor FAQ ||
I spoke to one applicant (call her Taylor) recently, who was convinced that she would not be a good candidate for US schools. Taylor has significant experience in scientific research, several years of EMT work and leadership in EMT training, and a true passion for emergency medicine, but her demanding science major and difficulty taking standardized tests has left her with less than optimal metrics. She finally mustered the courage to test out the Chance Predictor, which at first confirmed her fears that every school was out of reach. She then toyed with slight changes to her MCAT scores and found that changing her MCAT score by even a couple points was enough to dramatically improve her chances at US medical schools. She has enrolled in a Kaplan MCAT course and is planning to retake her test.
Your metrics are of course only a small part of your application and say little about how good of a doctor you will be, but the reality is that they can influence whether or not your application will be read and considered. All the time that you spend on your personal statement and descriptions of significant activities will not matter if you do not make it past a first look. The 2016 application fee is $160 for the first school and $37 for each additional school. At nearly $40 a pop, you should do more than shoot in the dark when sending off apps, particularly because many schools seem to automatically send you secondary applications, which can cost another $50-$100-plus each.
It can be anxiety-provoking and stressful to confront your own numbers, but by doing so you can get a realistic picture of where you should aim. This information can allay anxiety and reduce lost time, effort, and money in the long run and may change your decision-making along the way.
Taylor had been going to bed each night in a cloud of anxiety and depression in the face of uncertainty about her chances of getting into medical school. When she got up the courage to take an objective look at her numbers she realized that her outlook was bleak but that she had the opportunity to dramatically change her chances by retaking her MCAT. From my own experience applying to medical school multiple years in a row, the worst part is uncertainty. While much about the medical school application process remains elusive you should take advantage of the areas upon which you can shed light to maximize your chance of success.
|| Read Should I Retake the MCAT? ||