Getting into Medical School

How to Moneyball Your Way into Medical School

In an age where the medical board uses a student’s current MCAT scores to predict their future USMLE Step 1 proficiency, many pre-meds consider their life a numbers game. Let us help you keep your bases covered as you craft a winning medical school application.

Craft a Winning Strategy by Building a Strong Lineup

Queue up the Moneyball (with co-stars Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt) for an enjoyable baseball movie. The story illustrates how the sum of individually underwhelming parts can be magnificent when combined in total.

In the film, General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt) recruits one player because he reaches base at a disproportionately high rate compared to his mediocre batting average. Another player is recruited for his pitching prowess, despite an unconventional throwing delivery. When Beane tried this data-driven methodology of team formation, it reinvigorated the Oakland A’s into a winning team despite their low-end budget, making “moneyball” a viable and popular analogy in other sectors of underperformance.

“Like Billy Beane, when we broke from conventional metrics,” recalls Meredith Twombly in College Admissions Moneyball, “Hampshire College found that a more nuanced approach to admissions allowed us to identify all these high-school-student gems who never would have risen to the top in a strict SAT/GPA-driven system.” But unlike the moneyball theory of management and investing, here we propose a way to moneyball oneself into med school.

Know Your Starting 9 within Your Medical School Application

Similar to a baseball team’s nine members, beyond grades and test scores, there are nine crucial pieces to your medical school application that can help you win when executed well. You’re the coach. Get it done.

How to get into medical school infographic

  1. MCAT Exam Score – Identify which topics may be your weakness. Think about working
    with a tutor. Try to keep scores for each topic even.
  2. Academic Transcript – Highlight strengths that could make up for any areas of
  3. Resume – Focus on activities and achievements which are associated with qualities that
    make for an ideal physician.
  4. Background – You know yourself best, so think about what makes you a unique
    candidate. Leverage topics and trending issues you can relate to.
  5. Storied History – Just like stealing a base, your educational actions may come back to
    haunt you. Be prepared to explain any less than stellar grades or exam scores. Make
    sure you can identify what you’ve learned from any situations you’re less than proud of.
  6. Recommendations – Plan early! Get to know your professors! Find mentors by thinking
    outside your every-day world. Focus on quality of quantity!
  7. Interview Skills – What does the admission board care about? Tailor your response to
    that. And practice more than you think that is necessary – including mock interviews.
  8. Social Media – Plan ahead. Try searching for yourself.
  9. Personal Statement – You are unique, so make sure your personal statement reflects
    that. Try to get a different perspective by interviewing someone who knows you – about

Look inside yourself and prepare yourself to deliver nine absolute stunners (one instance per section) which, taken together, present a candidate of holistic potential.

  • Could your ‘A’ in statistics offset that ‘C’ in Precalculus?
  • Have you helped elders in your community with eLearning, cell phones, or Zoom
  • What about the time you raised your hand in class and answered an impossible question
  • Did your boss become your biggest fan when you worked overtime so they could go
    home for the holidays?
  • Are you determined to be your family’s first female physician— if according to, you’re Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec’s great-great-great granddaughter, can you leverage that?

Whoever you are, whatever is noteworthy or enduring of you: reflect, gather, list and highlight.

Small Players Can Make a Large Impact

Huddle up the team. That is to say, unify your nine spectacular instances into a cohesive personal statement. You’re about to direct the Admission Committee’s attention to your lineup of accomplishments.

Example by example, there is evidence that students can outperform. Individually, nine moments of excellence may have escaped notice, but linked one after the other in a personal statement, they create a sizzle reel of undeniable wins. This is like the MLB Draft, and you are selecting the best players to get into your own med school playoffs.

Bring the Major Leagues to Your Literary Structure

To pull off the moneyballing approach after you brainstorm what your 9 stars are, but before you start to draft, your essay will need a theme, a frame narrative, or some other organizing structure to make the interconnections make sense.

The sample essay in my book, Do It Yourself Medical School Admissions Essay, creates “cupcakes versus bullies” as a spin-off of David and Goliath. In the words of the epic advice heard a hundred times over, “think outside the box” as you decide what metaphor, symbolism, allegory, or theme can convincingly accommodate the nine different times you did your best. Step by step, you graduated high school and applied to college.

Term by term, you advanced along a pathway that led to applying to medical school. And accomplishment by accomplishment, you have built up a personal inventory of everything required to achieve your next big goal of getting into medical school. Showcase your finer distinctions.

Good luck as you round the bases toward medical school. And if you need any admissions advising help, don’t forget to call on MedSchoolCoach. All their advisors have served on admissions committees, and they can boost your odds of winning.

Jacqueline Wigfall

Jacqueline Wigfall is veteran faculty of Writing in Medical Education at the Duke University Summer Biomedical Sciences Institute. She published Do It Yourself Medical School Admissions Essay: DIYRXDOC in response to COVID-19’s cancellation of SBSI 2020.

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