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Medical School Admissions 101: How Important is GPA?

Wed, Feb 13, 2019 @ 10:00 AM

AdobeStock_188090741Learn What Kind of Grades it Really Takes to Get Into Medical School

Similar to the college application process, grades are one of the most important factors in admissions decisions for medical school. In fact, the Association of American Medical Colleges rates GPA as one of the most important academic metrics according to a survey of admissions officers.

While many pre-meds understand the importance of a high GPA, students are often unsure about how GPA is reviewed and what factors are taken into consideration when admissions officers evaluate grades. IvyWise Medical School Admissions Counselor McGreggor is here to answer some of the most common GPA questions from medical students

Is there a certain GPA college students need to achieve in order to be competitive in the medical school application process?
There’s a high bar in terms of where an aspiring doctor’s college grades need to be for the student to have a realistic chance of being admitted to medical school. In order to gauge what kind of GPA medical schools are looking for, it is helpful to review a chart published by the AAMC, which provides the admission rate for applicants based on their GPA and MCAT score. The chart indicates that for the 2017-2018 admissions cycle, two-thirds of applicants with an MCAT score between 506 and 509, and with a GPA greater than 3.79 were admitted to a medical school. However, once their GPA drops to between 3.6 and 3.79, only about 54% of these students are admitted. 

What can an applicant with below average grades do to compensate?
There are several ways for an applicant to help compensate for a subpar GPA, but no tactic will serve as a “quick fix” for poor undergraduate performance. Applicants who are concerned about their GPA should strive to get an exceptional MCAT score and consider addressing any extenuating circumstances that hindered academic performance in their application. Another option for applicants is to explore a Master’s Degree or post-baccalaureate program related to medical studies and prioritize maintaining a high GPA throughout this coursework.

Will a student with a 4.0 GPA have an advantage? How much of a difference will it make?
A perfect GPA is challenging to obtain, particularly when a student completes pre-medical coursework. The AAMC’s top band of GPAs is defined as 3.8 or higher, which is an excellent GPA for students looking to be competitive in the medical school admissions process. According to AAMC data, two-thirds of applicants with a GPA higher than 3.79 are accepted to medical school.

Is there a minimum GPA students need to meet in order to apply to medical school?
There is no defined bare minimum, however many colleges will actively counsel out students with lower GPAs and will not support these students in their medical school application process. Students can certainly apply independently, but they may end up applying without important premedical committee letters that serve as a seal of approval from the college.

Do admissions officers view GPAs from different schools differently? What about majors?
In general, admissions officers have a sense of which schools grade a bit tougher than others, and are well aware of any anti grade-inflation policies. They also know that there are many routes through the same major at the same college, some easier than others. If they see a risk-averse student coasting by, but another student in the same institution is taking a more challenging course load and a slightly lower GPA, they’ll usually gravitate towards the applicant who sought out a challenge. There’s a great deal of respect in medical school admissions for “tough” majors like engineering, mathematics, and physics, but applicants from all majors can be competitive if they obtain the requisite GPA and MCAT score.

While GPA is undoubtedly important, grades are only one component of the medical school admissions process. Our team of expert counselors can guide you through each application step and identify which medical schools may be the best fit for your needs and goals.

IvyWise

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