How to get into medical school

Cover pages of three books that will get you into medical school.

The big three.

Getting into medical school in America is difficult… and here are some statistics to prove it. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, 53,042 students with an average non-science grade point average of 3.69 applied to U.S. medical schools. For clarity, an A- gives you a 3.66 GPA, which means these students received mostly A’s and only a few A-‘s in their non-science courses.

How many of these students matriculated into medical school? Only 21,030, or 39.6% of applicants. In other words, out of every 10 capable students who apply to medical school across the country, only 4 are accepted and matriculate.

I did not like those odds for me, and if you are applying (or will be), I surely don’t like them for you. So let me help you skew the odds a bit. To have an advantage in medical school, you need to learn as much as you can about the application process and give the admissions committee the strongest application, essays, and interviews you could possibly create. To guide you, here are three books I used that will get you into medical school.

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Book 1: The Medical School Admissions Guide by Suzanne M. Miller, MD

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide

This first book will teach you about the medical school application process, timeline, and requirements. The author not only attended the number 1 ranked medical school in the country, but also served on their admissions committee. By day, the author is an emergency medicine physician and the CEO of her Medical Admissions Consulting Company, MDadmit.

In the Medical School Admissions Guide you will find a week-by-week breakdown of everything you should do throughout the application process. The book is well-written, clearly edited, and infused with a little humor here and there. Suzanne is an amicable yet results-driven advisor. From start to finish, her voice is your personal consultant as you ask for recommendations, prepare for the MCAT, complete your AMCAS primary application, draft your secondaries, and prepare for your interviews.

This book is applicable to college applicants, non-traditional applicants, and re-applicants; applicants looking for a career switch, and applicants applying from the military. There is also information for students applying to Texas medical schools (which requires a different application). Interested in foreign medical schools? There’s help with that too.

As with all the books on this list, I found the examples the most helpful. Not many student think about the Work and Activities section of your primary application, nor the secondary application that will stream in after you hit submit. This book has strong and not so strong examples of both.

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Buy the Medical School Admission’s Guide today!

Cover of Barron's Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School

Essays, Essays, Essays

Your personal statement represents how you write and how you process experiences you’ve had. If that isn’t a challenge enough, you also explain why you want to be a doctor. Before you begin writing, you should know what to write about and how to write about it. Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School will guide you.

This books teaches you what admissions committees look for in a personal statement. There are quotes from admissions officers (yes they are real people) and itemized qualities deemed important in every medical school applicant based off their quotes and survey responses.

One chapter is strictly brainstorming exercises to help you think digest why you want to be a physician. and creative ways to express this. Another chapter teaches you how to write your essay, how to get honest and helpful feedback, and how to effectively edit until it is perfect.

In the last chapter, there are nearly 100 pages of personal statements from students who applied and were accepted into medical school. Each example has the students’ comments on their writing process and what they liked and disliked. I almost dropped the book when I read one student talk about the all-nighter they pulled to write their personal statement and submit. As an additional benefit, the authors include which schools the students were accepted to.

Finally, you will find advice on unusual personal statements in this book. Some students opted to write a comical essay, and others, to focus on only one activity like rowing. Whatever you are considering (or are anxious about) concerning your personal statement, you will find guidance in this book.

Buy Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School today!

Cover page of The Medical School Interview book

The Answer.

You’ve put the hours of writing and editing into your primary application. You’ve soul searched, found your soul, and stuffed it into your personal statement. You perfected your most challenging experience secondary essay. All this work paid off with interview invites to medical schools around the country. However you must stay focused Daniel-san—there is still a chance that you go home empty handed.

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The full title of this book is The Medical School Interview: Winning Strategies From Admissions Faculty, and it could not be more accurate. This book is thorough and comprehensive; the only book I needed to read about the interview process. Here is a bullet list of its table of contents:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Interview and its Importance
  • Chapter 3: Factors that Matter to Decision-Makers
  • Chapter 4: Interview Preparation
  • Chapter 5: Interview Formats
  • Chapter 6: The Basics
  • Chapter 7: Interview Day
  • Chapter 8: Common Pitfalls
  • Chapter 9: Interview Questions
  • Chapter 10: After the Interview
  • Chapter 11: Wait List
  • Chapter 12: Acceptance
  • Chapter 13: Osteopathic Medical School Interview
  • Chapter 14: Preclinical Years of Medical School
  • Chapter 15: Medical School Scholarships and Awards

When you purchase this book you will have 205 pages of thoroughly research information about each step of the interview process. The advice here goes beyond the common knowledge of “be on time,” and “wear a suit,” although that’s important too. Have you ever paid attention to your body language? Have you listened to how your vocabulary represents you? Have you thought about how you should act with other interviewees and staff members? Dr. Desai and Dr. Katta have.

The direct quotations from scores of admissions faculty is pure gold. Almost every page has pertinent advice from various directors of admissions, including their name and their institution. Out of all the books on this list, this one is the most statistically grounded, and every source of information is cited to rival any research publication.

Related: How many hours should I study for the MCAT? (Data-Based Answer)

Statistical page from the The Medical School Interview Book

98% of all surveyed admissions officers said one’s motivation for a medical career was assessed in the interview.

Dr. Desai and Dr. Katta are both practicing physician who hold academic and admissions roles at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Desai practices in internal medicine and serves on the admissions and residency selection committees, while Dr. Katta is a Professor of Dermatology as well as an author or multiple scientific articles and books. I think they are credible resources.

Conclusion

That being said, if you really do want to become a doctor,  continue to work towards medical school. Consider the other options listed above if you’re having a tough time getting in. This may provide you with a slightly easier way to get accepted!

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Jake Tabbot is the creator of medschooltips.com, a website dedicated to helping premed students. He enjoys writing about topics which have yet to be fully researched or explored in depth within the medical community. You can follow him on twitter at @medschooltip.

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#LifeofaMedStudent Recommended Books for Medical School

Recommended Books for Medical School

Basic Science Books:

Basic science classes can vary greatly between different medical schools. Despite this, there are common “must haves” in each course. Additionally, no study plan is sufficient without an adequate question book to supplement reading. Check out the best books by each basic science course here: The Best Books for Basic Science in Medical School

Clinical Rotation Books:

For rotation books, I suggest picking one study book and 1-2 question banks. Focus the first half of the rotation getting through the study book, and then the last half doing as many practice questions as you can. Read more on the best books for each clinical rotation here: The Best Books for your Clinical Rotations

Check out the other great companies that help sponsor our page here: #LifeofaMedStudent Recommended Sponsors

Research family-friendly schools

You will be surprised how much you can find out by talking to students, faculty and clinicians.

In our case, we spoke with our mentor, Tom Landefeld, PhD, a prehealth advisor at the California State University, Dominguez Hills. Dr. Landefeld has visited many medical schools and shared his insights with us on which schools were particularly family-oriented.

Barrera (left) and Patel discuss current topics in health care on a radio show at Rowan University. (Photo provided by Feroza Patel, OMS II)

At RowanSOM, everyone we spoke to in admissions commented on how amazing it was that we were applying together. Paula Watkins, the assistant dean for admissions, said she had seen other students become couples during medical school, but she had never seen a couple apply together. This told us that she paid attention to couples and saw how they grew together.

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