Tips for Pre-Med College Majors

Med school is no small task


Applying to medical school is no small task; after the ordeal, many students consider themselves an expert on the subject. Caitlin Stork, a first-year med student at the University of Michigan, offers some advice for pre-med college majors.

Undergraduate Preparations

Medical schools accept applicants of any major, provided that they’ve completed the requisite pre-med coursework. Typically, the vast majority of accepted college students are science majors, but this tendency is changing as medical colleges seek to diversify their student bodies. “If you do well in your science courses, it’s probably to your advantage to be a non-science major because you’re contributing to the school’s diversity,” says Caitlin, who majored in religion at Harvard College.

In addition to math, science, and English requirements, take as many biochemistry classes as possible. Try to space out your pre-med coursework over the four years so that you can devote your maximum effort to each class.

Furthermore, use this time to get to know your professors outside of the classroom. “I think it’s really smart to get to know some of your professors on a personal level, so that if you do ask them for a [recommendation] letter, it’s distinct,” Caitlin says.

Extracurricular Activities

Joining every pre-med organization on campus won’t make you a shoo-in for medical school. Rather, focus on activities that truly will make you stand out. Caitlin didn’t join any pre-med groups but instead got experience by working at a hospital.

MCAT

The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is given in August and April. Give yourself at least three months to study, whether you review on your own or take a prep course.

“I’ve heard that the best thing those classes do is that they force you to study. They force you to go to class; they force you to participate,” says Caitlin. “I didn’t take a course because I don’t learn well in a classroom environment.” Even if you opt to study solo, buy or borrow a course book to work through; Kaplan and The Princeton Review are popular brands.  

Application Process

During your undergraduate years, decide whether you’re more interested in research medicine or clinical care. Then you can focus your med-school search on institutions that excel in your desired field.

Medical school applications comprise three stages. The first is the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), a standard procedure that most candidates must complete. The sooner you finish the AMCAS, the more time you’ll have to prepare for the second and third stages of the application process.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was written by Dalia Wheatt

Dalia Wheatt is from Cleveland, Ohio. She has worked as an editor, freelance writer, and Spanish teacher.

37 Comments

  1. Alicia Perry

    I have a B.S. in Communications and Theatre Arts and want to study Medicine.What will be my prerequisites to further my studies in medical school?

  2. mackenzie

    I am looking at going to a pre-medical school, which one is right for me? I currently have a 3.8 GPA. I am still a sophmore in high school, and was looking at University of South Carolina for pre-med. But I didnt know which speciality to go in to, I was looking at possibly going into neurosurgery, but im still confused.

  3. Denito

    I wouldn’t take my advice from someone who majored in religion at Harvard talking about medicine, just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  4. nicolekhal

    alicia, you will have to take (for most schools):
    1 year of general biology
    1 year of inorganic chemistry
    1 year of organic chemistry
    1 year of physics

    …and then whatever extra prerequisites particular schools ask for (if any). start researching what schools you would hope to apply for when you finish with your pre-req’s (since you already have a B.A.) and then go from there. talk to a pre-med advisor at your school, and have intentions of studying and working hard in your science classes, as they prepare you for the MCATs. most schools prefer that you have a 30+ on your MCATs, and a science GPA of 3.6-3.8, as well as an equally good general GPA. again, this varies from school to school, so begin to look and see what are the general requirements to schools that you would like to look at. also, keep in mind that many medical schools have a pass/fail system rather than handing out grades (such as duke, harvard, case western, u of mich, uc davis, yale, uw, and many others) to encourage more cooperative learning, less competition, and a focus on the material rather than having students focus on the grade. some schools also maintain the traditional grading system. figure out if this is something that will be a deciding factor for you and go from there. also, don’t rule out the possibility of going to an osteopathic medical school as opposed to allopathic (to become a D.O. rather than M.D.). D.O.’S receive the same training as M.D.’s, but get additional education in musculoskeletal manipulation, learning to use their hands as another approach to healing. they have a generally more holistic approach to medicine. just another option for you to consider. unfortunately, D.O.’s are still a minority in the medical community (about 10% of physicians are D.O.’S, most of them family practitioners) and sometimes have to defend their background training. just more options for you to consider what is right for you and your personal approach to medicine :) best of luck!

  5. Nelly

    mackenzie,
    If your goal is to go to a good medical school, then you take a “pre-med course”. This is misleading because this just means you take the necessary classes (2 years chem, biology, mathematics, etc.) to meet the requirements to get into medical school. Your major, for lack of better words, doesn’t matter… you could major in religion, or music. You just need to take the necessary classes. So a “pre-med” school doesn’t exist, just go to a respectable college and do well in your classes, get a high MCAT score, and apply to med school (:

  6. tekeisha mills

    hey my name is tekeisha and i want to be an anesthesiologist. i was wondering, would it be better for me to major in pre-med, biology or chemistry. i was thinking about majoring in pre-med but im not really that sure if its the best major for me.

  7. Dexu

    Hi my name is Dexu and I am planning on majoring in Biochemistry. I am currently a junior in high school and met with my counselor couple of days ago. He told me about the pre med program and i have question that need answers:
    1. Can somebody explain Pre med for me and how you can transition to Medical school?
    2. If I go into pre med can i still major in biochemistry?
    3. I heard there is some people that doesn’t have to take the MCAT to get into medical school. Is that true through the pre med program?
    4. I have taken AP Chem and will take AP Bio next year. How is that gone affect my courses in first year?
    5. What is the max courses per semester in College?

  8. Kari-Ann La Borde

    well i did Chemistry Biology and mathematics in secondary school but i didnt continue those subjects at college i am still eligible to do pre-med or medicine at all?

  9. Alyssa Mahoney

    Hi my name is Alyssa and i am a senior in high school and I will be graduating in May. I am wanting to be a pediatric oncologist. I understand that i have to get my bachelors first and then get into medical school. But i am just worried that my highschool GPA is not good enough to get into medical school. Do medical schools look at your highschool GPA or just your College GPA?!?

  10. Justin

    You use your college GPA to send to medschools. The high school diploma has no more
    Use after getting accepted into a college.

  11. natasha

    hi my name is Natasha i am 19yrs old and i want to go to school from pre med but at the moment i am in a community college taking practicle nursing. what do i need to do next?

  12. Joseph Bank MD FAAP

    Alyssa, It is unlikely that a medical school will dig very impressively into your high school record. It is important that you work hard and win a more impressive GPA in college. Medical Schools will look at your coursework while in college, your college GPA, and most importantly your MCAT score prior to application. I am a pediatrician practicing in Columbus, OH. Best of luck to you in the field of medicine and in your specialty of pediatric oncology.

  13. Heather Houchens

    You have to major in a bachelors program before even considering med school. Once you receive that degree you take the mcat and then you go to med school. Per med is simply a degree program that focuses on medical classes and science based classes. Unless its a major university, you won’t have a pre med program. Majoring in a science major will be best. A bachelors in physics, biology, or chemistry is best. Med schools look at if you have a bachelors degree or not, grades, gpa, and extra curriculars. Your undergrad bachelor studies won’t be completely directed towards your career choice. That won’t be until med school and you work for you M.d. I’m currently working towards a bachelors at UNF in chemist; pre med professions. Then I will take mcat and go to UF for med school. I work at a hospital which will help. Jobs are very good to have before med school.

  14. Lucy

    At the moment I am about to receive my Associate’s degree in General Science, but am not sure what “major” or route to take as I transition to obtaining my Bachelor’s degree. I want to either apply to medical or physician’s assistant (PA) school eventually, but am stuck on what courses should take to get me “in the door.” I would like advise on the best path to take.. I’m rather stumped at the moment. Thank you!

  15. Sam

    I’m in my senior year of high school. I want to be a family physician. I don’t think I can because I have a low GPA (2.85) and didn’t join many clubs (3) or any sports. Should I still try to become a doctor or go for something like a nurse of physician assistant? I would be happy in any career that involves medicine

  16. Christian Valentino

    I plan on attending Med school in the future, would it be a bad idea if I went to community college first and then transfer to a 4 year college?

  17. Melissa

    I’m planning on becoming a surgeon and i just wanted to know what kind of subjects i should be taking and what is the university process that you would normally go through (is it 4 years of med school after you graduate high school or do you have to do something before that, what do you do after 4 years at uni ect) ?

  18. Melissa

    I also wanted to know if it would be better for me to do A-Levels Or IB ?

  19. Courtney

    I will be attending Farileigh Dickinson University in the fall. I have heard med schools find it impressive if your major is not so typical. Is this true? They say major in something that interests you versus the typical route; biology or chemistry. However biology is what interests me. Should I take the typical route or try something new?

  20. OJ

    Which universities offer combined 6 year undergraduate/medical education?

  21. Alexis

    Hey, i’ve got one more year of school left and im going to sit my SAT’s General and Maths level 2 tests. I’ve done lots of interns at private and public hospitals with lots of chief surgeons and nursing staff but i still don’t knw if that’s enough to get me in pre-med at Weill Cornell. Im struggling to find more stuff to do to help me im doing Chemistry,Biology,Geography and Math at A-level at my british system school is there any tips anyone might want to point out to help me out? Please contact me asap, thx again :)

  22. aryan

    I have done my graduation in accounting and finance. But however I feel that I should study medicine because I have developed a keen interest on it. But unfortunately in my country its impossible to study medicine without having a background in science. Is there any possible wayout?

  23. carlos

    would a B.A in chemistry look bad for when applying to Medical School? Or is it better to get a B.S in Biology and minor in Chem? i can go either route.. just dont know which one is better.

  24. ROOSEVELT

    Hi, can some one obtain a degree in biochemistry and get admitted into medical school for 4 year course and become a general practitioner in medicine?. OR how can i gain admission into a medical school after after obtaining my degree in biochemistry?

  25. Laura

    I am a Sophomore in High School currently with a 3.9 GPA. I’m planning on going into a surgery degree for Grad School, but I’m confused about the steps I need to take to get there. People have been recommending that I take some of the required classes before college in a community college, thus getting them out of the way for free. What are your opinions on that route? Also, I know it does not matter the major or minor you have before med school, but I was curious what you’d recommend.

  26. jane

    I am a high school senior, have a high GPA of 3.75, I plan to go to medical school but I would like to get my bachelor ‘s degree in BSN nursing, will that be a problem or will it limit my chances when I take MCAT exam? the reason behind this idea is in case I did not make it into medical school. please I need advice

  27. ludovic sophie

    Can I complete a bsc applied bio chemistry as pre-med to study medicine?

  28. Hak

    Hi My name is hak, I am planning to end up in umich med school, I did high school at a foreign country, Now i am willing to enroll in a community college”washtenaw c.c” and start taking transferable general education requirements, then transfer to umich and complete my major, The question is ; that umich website for new transfer students says that”Note that all pre-health prerequisites should be taken at a 4 year institution” Does that mean that i can’t take the medicine school prerequisite’s at The c.c… ?

  29. Derrick Van

    First off, there is no such thing as majoring in pre-med… Get that out of your head ASAP! You major in whatever you want, and as long as you take the REQUIRED classes to get into medical school, you will do fine. Also if you ever plan on getting into medical school, NEVER, and I mean NEVER take the pre-med classes at a community college. Your application will be the least competitive and your chances are down the toilet. Once you get into a 4 year university, your high school GPA and transcript is gone. Med schools do not look at your high school transcript. RESEARCH RESEARCH REAEARCH

  30. Ana

    Hi, I am a BSN graduate. What should I do if I want to go to med school.

  31. Masara

    hello!
    I’m going into university starting next year and my future plan is studying medicine.I applied for 2 majors ,biology and chemistry and got accepted in chemistry.I know that i can get a Bs. degree in chemistry while taking pre-med courses for 3 years and then continue medicine if I pass the MCAT. Let’s say that I passed the MCAT and is able to continue medicine.However wouldn’t that be a disadvantage for me since i don’t have a Bs. in biology?i mean wouldn’t it be harder for me to catch up with the other students who have a Bs. in biology? since they have taken more biology course than i did during the Bs. degree?
    Thanks in advance!

  32. Jessica

    Masara, you might want to consider a minor in biology if you are concerned about not meeting the requirements for medical school. And there is no limit as to how many classes you can take wile getting a B.S degree. Also, most medical schools only require at least 2 biology courses so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. While it is true that bio majors tend to be more prepared for the future medical classes, it does not always mean that you will have harder time in med school than the biology majors. Think of it this way: You are paying thousands of dollars for med school to learn something new, not to just review some of the things you already learned in undergrad school. If you still feel at a disadvantage then you might always be able to study some materials in biology on your own if you have a little extra time. I myself am majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in chemistry, but I still feel like there is always a bio class that I can take to help me in medical school but with no time in my schedule at all. I think that no matter how much schooling, nobody is ever ready for what lies ahead in medical school

  33. Jadene

    Im Jadene! I am currently a senior in high school. My question is if I have to go to a community college before I can transfer to a university should i just rule out medical school because my chances of being accepted would be so low? Or if I do still have shot what classes should I take at the community college and which classes should be take at the university?

  34. abdoul rachid ayouba

    Hi.I plan to enroll in a community college and transition in medicine at university.but actually I don’t know which course I’m gonna take to pursue my education in medicine. Your help will be very beneficial for me.

  35. Osei

    Is it compulsory for me to offer premed before I can enter the medical school.

  36. Osei

    Can I use any other major to enter the medical school apart from premed? Please I need your advice.

  37. Jordan

    I was accepted to indiana university and plan on being in pre med while getting a major in biology. I was just curious to if it takes a top 10 caliber high school student to succeed in medicine. I’m no slouch, and I set at a 3.8. Should I go for it or rethink the career I want to pursue?

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