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Medical School Admission Requirements Shifting


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Premed students must pay close attention to the courses that med schools require for admission. Undergraduate premed students’ courses tend to be dominated by medical school requirements; post-bac programs and students tailor their curricula to meet a broad set of requirements. Over the last several decades the prerequisites for medical school have remained largely constant despite the exponential increase in scientific knowledge.

Lately, however, there has been a shift in thinking regarding premed requirements. Some of this is due to the idea that med school applicants should be evaluated based on competency in key areas; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Association of American Medical Colleges produced a report, the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, which advocated this approach. However, the medical schools have yet to figure out how to assess competencies. At the same time, the MCAT is undergoing a radical shift which will roll out in 2015. More scientific content will be on the test, in addition to statistics, sociology, and psychology, along with medical ethics. Medical schools are handling this change in various ways. Some are only specifying the last course in a sequence that must be completed, giving freedom to both premed students and undergraduate institututions as to how to reach that end point. Other med schools are adding requirements, some in science content and others in the social sciences.

Where does this leave medical school applicants? Confused. The burden is on them to figure out exactly what is required by individual medical schools. The bottom line is that many of the premed requirements will remain the same: the core requirements of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics seem likely to stay. All premed students will have to take biochemistry in the future, along with statistics and social science classes–simply to be prepared for the MCAT, if not for medical school. Two semesters of English have been required at many schools; that appears unlikely to change. Many schools either require or recommend some sort of math at the college level but the shift is towards statistics and away from calculus. All medical school applicants should be sure to check the latest edition of the Medical School Admission Requirements; that is the best resource to check on each medical school’s specific requirements. Premeds should also read the guide to the MCAT2015 to understand exactly what will be covered on the new test so that they are fully prepared. Consulting with both of these resources will help premeds cover their bases for both the med schools’ requirements and the MCAT.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting 

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