Prerequisites / Preparing for Medical School

Whether you’re in high school or college, it never hurts to plan early if you want to attend medical school. The successful completion of a variety of prerequisite courses can be a great benefit to your education and increase your chances of being accepted to the program of your choice. Additionally, proper planning now can save you from failing to take an important class you will need when applying for admission to the school you wish to attend.


Earning good grades in high school and demonstrating an early interest in medicine will be just as important as your college performance. As you plan your high school career, include biology, math, physics, chemistry, and other college preparatory classes in your course schedule.

At minimum, college premed students must complete at least three years of undergraduate studies for entrance into medical school. Most applicants have a bachelor’s degree, and many, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted, have advanced degrees. When choosing a major, it is most common for students to select a science-related option, but medical schools are often interested in applicants with other backgrounds, as well. Science majors can expand their academic resumes by taking courses in the social sciences and the humanities. For a nonscience major, remember that it is still important to take science-related classes, as medical schools will be looking critically at your knowledge in this field.

Generally, schools agree that a year each of biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics, and relevant lab work for all courses, is essential to applying to medical school. A liberal arts education is also important, and approximately two-thirds of medical schools require English classes, while one-quarter of programs wants their applicants to take calculus. Remember that theMCAT exam, which is required for admission into a program, covers material from all commonly required courses. Students should study and prepare accordingly, regardless of the particular school they hope to attend.

Medical School Admissions: Other Factors to Consider

Prerequisites / Preparing for Medical School

Medical schools are becoming increasingly interested in nontraditional, older premed students, as well. Some students are pursuing second — and even third — careers. Those in this category are finding continued educational support and fellowship through organizations such as the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical & Medical Students, Inc.

Outside the academic realm, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommends that medical school applicants volunteer at a local hospital or healthcare clinic to gain additional exposure to the health professions. Other extracurricular activities, whether related to medicine or not, can also help make for a more well-rounded candidate and can be beneficial when crafting personal statements for admissions essays.

Premed students should remember that each medical school has varied requirements for admission. Sometimes, organizations such as the AAMC release publications that make it convenient to research numerous schools at once. Kaplan Test Prep recommends Medical School Admission Requirements and the Osteopathic Medical College Information Booklet.
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