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5 Tips to Acing Premed Requirements

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Are A’s everything in med school admissions? Not really, in fact, you get get away with B’s on your transcript pretty comfortably. Want proof? Based on AAMC admissions data, for students who got a 30 on the MCAT, 54% of those with a GPA of 3.6 were admitted to med school. 72% of those with a 3.8 were admitted to med school. The likelihood is very high that with a 3.6 to 3.7, you’ve got some B’s on your transcript.

Obviously not all B’s are created equal, and in general you want to be performing well in your prerequisites (Organic Chem, Bio, etc.). There’s also no substitute for doing honest, hard work in your classes. In light of that point, what things can you do to optimize your chances of doing well and give you a structural approach to handling your coursework?

  1. Go to lecture!

    Classes like Organic Chemistry are tough to learn from a textbook. Although textbook and online resources such as videos are great supplements, different schools may handle problems in different ways, and you want to be on the same page with your professor. Most premed requirements at larger schools have multiple lecturers for a the course. Since the exams for these classes are usually identical for all sections, if you don’t like your lecturer, just go to a different one! You still need to take your exams with your section, but if you don’t like your lecturer you aren’t necessarily stuck.

  2. Show up for office hours.

    There are a bunch of reasons to do this.

    • You get your questions answered and help with the content.
    • The TA’s and/or professor may be able to “use personal discretion” and move your grades around if you are on the cusp of the next letter grade and they feel like you’ve been genuinely working hard for your grade.
    • The TA’s and/or professor may be helpful down the road for recommendation letters.
  3. Do the work!

    Seriously, just do it. A lot of the content covered in your premed requirements is going to show up on the MCAT too, so you get a double bonus for learning it well. Try the Pomodoro Technique for balancing work/relaxation time. Learn more about the technique here, and get a timer for it here.

  4. Look up what the med school requirements are from your premed department.

    Don’t get fooled into thinking upper level courses are requirements – they may not be! Your pre-health advisor/department can usually help and may have a list of courses. Use your advisors as a resource!

  5. Check the averages for different courses.

    Note: not all schools allow public access to grades, but it’s worth a check to see if yours does. If not, you can also get by using something like RateMyProfessor.com or other service to gauge different classes. Not all courses are created equal! While in theory you should be taking classes that interest you and not just those that have high averages, be realistic about the weighting adcoms will give your interests. At the end of the day it’s important to do well, and monitoring course averages to avoid bombing classes can do wonders for your GPA and your psyche. Different sections may have different averages with different profs as well! While this is sometimes due to random chance of the section cohort, it’s clear that some profs just don’t do their teaching job as well as others.

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