Advice for Medical School Reapplicants

Being denied acceptance to medical school is disappointing. However, by identifying your weaknesses and correcting them, your next cycle could be the one the one that ends in an acceptance. After an unsuccessful application cycle, the first thing to do is determine what went wrong. Take an honest look at your application, or even better, ask your premedical advisor to help you analyze what happened. Then, directly address your weaknesses.

This advice may seem obvious, but often, applicants want to shore up their strengths further, rather than addressing their weaknesses. The biggest example of this is MCAT scores. A strong GPA will compensate for a low MCAT score, but only to a point. An applicant with a 27 and a 3.7 GPA will not gain much by raising the GPA to a 3.8 or even higher. This applicant should focus his or her energy on improving their MCAT scores, not taking more courses. Sometimes the issue is not the total MCAT score, but a particular section. An applicant with a 31, but a 7 on one section is going to have a much harder time gaining admission to medical school than an applicant with a the same total score but at least a 10 in each section. A weak section is another reason to retake, even though it may mean spending many hours mastering your least favorite subject. Doing what we are good at is much more enjoyable than remediating weaknesses; however, to truly improve your application, you should  dive in and take care of what is truly inhibiting your application instead of adding to areas in which you have already proven yourself.

Conversely, some applicants have a high MCAT score but relatively low GPA. If this is your situation, you can make your application more competitive by taking additional classes either independently or through a structured post-bac program. Doing so will demonstrate that you have the study skills and  commitment needed to succeed with the very demanding coursework in medical school.

Along with taking care of your numbers, continue to gain clinical experience as you prepare to reapply. Good numbers are needed to get through the initial screen at most schools, but without the clinical, research or community service experiences to back up your commitment to medicine, you may not get all the way to the acceptance stage. Seek out clinical opportunities and show depth in your commitment by sticking with at least one experience for an extended period of time, rather than dabbling with different activities every few months.

Finally, make sure that you apply strategically. This means that you should apply early in the cycle and have a realistic list of schools. Even strong applicants who apply late in the cycle may find themselves waitlisted instead of accepted. Applying to only a few schools, to schools that are out of your reach or filling your list with out-of-state public schools will make it harder to gain an acceptance.

In summary, before you reapply, you should address your weaknesses, differentiate your new application from your previous and apply early and strategically.

Need the help of an experienced medical school admissions advisor? Contact Dr. Eaton at (626) 768-2154 or for a free 20- minute phone

4 thoughts on “Advice for Medical School Reapplicants”

  1. I am Masters graduate of Microbiology and immunology and until recently I was intent on a research track. However certain life experiences have changed my view and I have begun volunteering at a hospice and a clinical research lab in order to apply to the 2013-2014 application cycle. What are the chances of admission?

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      While clinical experience and research are assets to the med school application, GPA and MCAT are the two most important factors. To be competitive for allopathic (M.D.) schools in the U.S., you should have at least a 3.5 GPA and 30 on the MCAT, and preferably higher. For D.O. schools, an in the mid-twenties is competitive for many schools, and in the high twenties is very competitive. Those numbers, with strong clinical, community service and research experiences would give a you chance at admission. Other factors, such as obstacles overcome, disadvantaged status, etc. also are taken into account by schools, so there is no set formula for the chance of admission.

    1. Hi David,

      I do not know what country you are in; however, most medical schools in the U.S. require that most or all of the prerequisite coursework for medical school be taken in the United States or Canada. Those classes include one year each of general biology with lab, general chemistry with lab, physics with lab, organic chemistry with lab, one or two semesters of college-level math and biochemistry for some schools. In addition, you will need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). A good place to start to learn about the application process for medical school is the AAMC website,

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