This premed scored a 521 on his MCAT and is at the top of his SMP class. Can he show schools he’s improved during the application cycle or should he reapply?
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.
[00:30] Question of the Day
“I retook the MCAT and I just scored a 521. I’m in a special master’s program. I‘m currently on top of both the med school path grade-wise and the master class grade-wise. Honestly, my update has not been sent yet. I’m still in the process of doing it.
But I was trying to see what other things I could do to potentially improve my application during the cycle. I have a ton of clinical experience, volunteer experience, and shadowing. I got six rejections that came in before my grade update went out.
Is there anything else that I could be doing to potentially show the school what I have been grinding at for the last three years?”
[01:23] Wait to Apply
It’s very common for students to rely on grade improvement through an SMP or through a postbac while also applying to medical school.'Apply to medical school when you don't have any more updates to send to schools.'Click To Tweet
Whether it’s clinical experience, shadowing, research, grades, or MCAT score, you cannot rely on medical schools to use those updates as part of their determination of whether they want to interview you and accept you.
Giving schools half-baked data is almost a wasted application. And so, if you are doing a master’s, an SMP, or a postbac, wait to apply until those grades are finalized. Wait until you’re done with the program and you’ve proven that you can handle yourself academically.
Now, for those schools that have rejected you thinking they will “never see” those grades, there are no rules out there saying that you can’t reach back out to those schools. And so, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to those schools that rejected you. Tell them they rejected you and that you would love for them to take another look at your application.
[03:50] Schools That Accept Updates
Now, for every other school out there, you have to do it on a case-by-case basis. Does the school accept updates?
If they do, how do they want their updates? What kind of updates do they accept? That requires research on your end to figure out who to talk to, what to say, and how to say it.
And the best advice I can give you when it comes to updates is to make them short and impactful.'Make them short and impactful. Nobody wants to read a sheet of text.'Click To Tweet
[04:37] How to Improve Your Application
This is a question that has a different answer for everyone going through the process. For some people, the MCAT score is a potential issue. For other people, it’s a lack of clinical experience. For some, it’s shadowing. Or if you’re going to a research-heavy institution, it could be a lack of research. Whatever it may be, that answer is going to be different for everyone.
Now, if you wrote a horrendous personal statement, you don’t get a chance to send an updated personal statement. So there’s no one
[06:47] How Medical Schools Get Data
Q: “Because my overall GPA is horrible, I started with a 2.3 my freshman and sophomore year. It was a five-year program. And in the last three years, I had a 3.89 so I have that upward trend. However, almost all my credits are concentrated in my fourth year.”
A: It’s a very big kind of misnomer about how medical schools get data. When you print out your PDF, it looks like you just have one big blob of fourth-year credits.
But the way medical schools get the data is they get every single data point and they can sort and rank and filter whichever way they want to. They can do whatever they want with it based on the last 20, 30, or 40 credit hours.
So that’s not really a concern if the AAMC categorizes your credits in a way that you have a lot of senior credits.
[08:54] Part Hard-Work, Part Luck
Our student is upset about getting rejected at Stanford and is wondering how to reach out to them in the best way possible. A lot of students set their hearts out for their dream schools. But it’s really hard to understand exactly what they’re looking for. And that’s where some luck comes into this process is.
There are various factors why medical schools could reject your application. Maybe the person looking at your application had a big fight with their spouse the night before and they’re just not in the mood to look at applications. So they’re looking at your application through a muddy lens.
And you just don’t have any control over that. Hence, it’s best to spread the applications out to all the schools you’re interested in going to.
[11:11] Don’t Make Assumptions
Now, our student used a language saying that he’s going to show the school that can do this, with his grade update. Again, he has no idea why they rejected him. But he’s assuming it’s his grades, and it may not be.
You can’t assume that the medical school wants you to show them that you can handle medical school. When in reality, they just didn’t like your activities or your personal statement.
They just may not have resonated with your story, and that’s okay. Therefore, don’t frame it in a way that you’re assuming your grade caused the rejection.
[14:32] The Balancing Act Medical Schools Do
Medical schools only have a certain number of interview spots. They only have a certain number of seats. Medical schools need to interview as many people as they think would mathematically work out so that in the end, they will have a full class. This is a balancing act that schools do. They’ll look at stats and say you’re too good for them so they’re not going to even bother.
Hence, advocating for yourself is the only thing you can do in this situation. Ask them to reconsider your application and tell them why you’re interested in going to that school.'There's this premed myth that all schools care about our stats, and so, if you have high stats, then they definitely want you. But that's not what all schools care about.'Click To Tweet
[17:53] A 521 MCAT: What Did He Do to Prepare?
Our student says he used a lot of the Blueprint MCAT practice tests during his prep. He also used the diagnostic to feel out where he was before starting his content review. That way, he could figure out what content he needed to hone in on.
He found that the Blueprint tests were identical to the actual MCAT. And so he used it in conjunction with the AAMC materials. He was so over-prepared by the time he got to test day. He felt ready because he finished every section in 30 minutes.'Make sure that you know the material at the level of critical thinking that you need for the actual test.' Click To Tweet
Join the Application Academy!