How Can I Improve My Med School Application?

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Session 54

In this episode, Ryan talks about how you can improve your medical school application where he touches on some points such as postbac courses, clinical experience, and international clinical volunteering.

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at where you can ask questions, get answers, and participate with other students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster has the following credentials:

  • 3.0 undergrad GPA
  • 3.8 Master’s GPA in Health Administration
  • 28 on old MCAT (now studying for a year and hopes to get a 510+ on the new one
  • 3+ years of research experience as a lab technician for a medical school but they have a 3.25 undergrad GPA cutoff
  • 2 shadowing experiences
  • Clinical volunteering with 3-week international trip and 25 hours in emergency department

This student is taking some postbac courses this upcoming semester including advanced biochem and advanced genetics and maybe an O chem retake.

How can you best utilize my time to improve my application when you work full time and you’re planning to apply this upcoming cycle entering 2018 class?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Master’s degrees don’t really have a huge effect on your application especially Health Administration GPA because it’s not a “hard sciences.”

More postbac classes, better undergrad GPA

Look into taking more postbac classes to help boost your undergrad GPA. Remember, postbac classes are undergrad GPA courses so they would affect your undergrad GPA. These would be listed separately in the application but they will be combined into your compete undergrad GPA.

Shadowing experiences and clinical volunteering

Two shadowing experiences wouldn’t be a lot unless they are long term. You need a good 25-30 hours of shadowing or a little bit more as a minimum.

International trip is okay although a lot of medical schools don’t really like international clinical volunteering. It’s actually debatable whether it helps your application or not because it’s seen as unnecessary.

More than your stats

Your application is much more than just your stats since it includes everything about you.. Your personal statement is huge as well as your extracurriculars and how you described them.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Get enough clinical experience. Get a great MCAT score. Think about some more classes to bump up your undergrad GPA.

Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years Session 171: Reapplying to Med School – What You Need to Know to Improve



Dr. Ryan Gray: The Old Premeds Podcast, session number 54.

You’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms. You may have had some hiccups along the way, but now you’re now ready to change course and go back and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your nontraditional journey to becoming a physician.
Now welcome to the Old Premeds Podcast. We are dedicated to helping you, the nontraditional premed student, and sometimes medical student, but really we focus on the premed student here on the podcast. We are part of the community. If you are not a member over there, go sign up, it’s free, an amazing community of forum over there where you can ask questions, get answers, and participate, and be around other students like yourself.

Improving an Application

This question taken directly from the Old Premeds forum is from a poster who’s asking about improving their application. And they ask- they give kind of a list of credentials I guess, stats, and want to know what to do next. So let’s go ahead and dig in to what they’re saying here.

This student posts that they have a 3.0 undergrad GPA, bad freshman year around 2.0 but great upward trend which is good. I would have liked to see what the science versus the overall GPA is. They have a 3.8 Master’s GPA in Health Administration, a one year Master’s program. Now you can go back and listen to a previous podcast that we did talking about the non- talking about Master’s degrees, and how they really don’t have a huge effect on your application. Especially Health Administration GPA, it’s not going to have a big effect on your application because it’s not a hard sciences. They have a 28 on the old MCAT, they’ve been studying for a year, and will hopefully get a 510 plus on the new one. They have three plus years of research experience as a lab technician for a medical school, which is great, but they have a 3.25 undergrad GPA cutoff. They have two shadowing experiences, they don’t really talk about number of hours for shadowing, and some clinical volunteering having a three week international trip and 25 hours in an emergency department, and they have some non-clinical volunteering as well. This student is taking some postbac courses this upcoming semester including advanced biochem, advanced genetics, and maybe an o-chem retake. And they want to know, ‘How could I best utilize my time to improve my application as I work full time? I was considering more postbac courses to demonstrate my academic potential while studying for the MCAT. I will be applying this upcoming cycle,’ which is for the entering 2018 class.

So this student obviously- when you look at stats and stats alone, this student doesn’t have the best stats. A 3.0 GPA in biochemistry. I’m assuming because it’s biochemistry, a large majority of those classes are going to be the science classes, and so their science GPA is not going to be great. They have a 28 on the old MCAT, let’s hope that they do get that 510 plus on the new MCAT. My recommendation for this student would be to look at taking more postbac classes. Those postbac classes are going to be what is going to help boost your undergrad GPA, because remember postbac classes are undergrad GPA courses, and so they affect your undergrad GPA. In the application they are listed separately so you’ll see your undergrad GPA is usually broken down by year as well, you’ll see a postgraduate or postbac- sorry postbac coursework and the GPA from that, and then you’ll see any sort of graduate level coursework. So the Master’s program that this student has would be listed separately.

But even though the postbac classes and the undergrad classes are listed separately, they are combined into your complete undergrad GPA. And so more postbac classes means more- means hopefully a better undergrad GPA if you do well on your postbac courses, or in your postbac courses. So that’s where I would focus my time. Two shadowing experiences doesn’t sound like a lot unless they are long term shadowing experiences. You don’t need a ton of shadowing but you need a good 25, 30 hours of shadowing, maybe a little bit more as a minimum. I normally don’t like throwing out hours, but I’ll throw those out there for right now. And then clinical volunteering, the international trip is okay. A lot of medical schools actually don’t really like international clinical volunteering. It’s an interesting discussion among medical schools, and whether or not it really helps your application. Because it’s seen as something that is not necessary. There are plenty of things that you can do in the US locally to get clinical experience and help your local man and woman I guess.

So that’s interesting, and the 25 hours in the emergency department, I’d be interested to know what those hours look like. Are you actually getting clinical experience, or are you just stocking shelves and delivering blankets to patients? So that’s a question there I’d have as well. So I’d really look at that.

But I’ll say it here, I say it on The Premed Years, I say it everywhere, your application is a lot more than just your stats. It includes everything about you. Your personal statement is huge, your extracurricular list and how you describe those are huge, your GPA and your MCAT are big as well. And this student mentioned that the school that they work at has a 3.25 undergrad GPA cutoff. I would press that. For nontraditional students, and students like yourself like this student posting, if you have a strong upward trend after a bad year like this student had, a bad freshman year, I would press the school and say, ‘Look at my application please,’ and let them know that while yes you recognize the fact that they have a cutoff, that usually those are more recommendations and not rules. So I would push that a little bit more.

Alright that’s all I have for this student. Make sure you’re getting enough clinical experience, that’s huge. If you go back and listen to The Premed Years, session 171 I believe, we talked all about re-applicants and the number one mistake that was discussed was not having enough clinical experience. Get a great MCAT score, and think about taking some more classes to bump up your undergrad GPA. Good luck in your application and keep us informed in how you do.

Final Thoughts

So if you’re looking for some help in your applications coming up, I am working with students every year now for the last couple years since I’ve done this full time, and I had a blast this last year, the first full year doing this, and I’m looking for more students to work with this year. I’ve had a bunch of students sign up and I might actually start thinking about capping the number of people that I work with. I’ve had a lot sign up because I’m raising my rates starting in 2017. So it’s not too late if you’re listening to this when this comes out on December 28, 2016. Go to, check out the ‘Our Services’ tab or you can just go to But I’m raising my rates on everything; mock interview prep, personal statement editing, a little bit of everything. So you can buy now and use later if you want, if you know you want to use me for your personal statement, or for mock interviews, buy now, use them later, or if you want to start working with me for coaching I have- I think I’m up to probably about twelve students that I’m working with for this upcoming application cycle in 2017. I’ll probably cap that around twenty. So go check those out, I’d love to help you and work with you to put together- help you put together the best application possible.

Alright I hope you got a lot of great information out of the podcast today. I hope if you don’t already, go over to, sign up for a free account, go check out everything that’s going on over there. It’s an amazing community of likeminded nontraditional premed students who believe in the core here at the Medical School Headquarters of collaboration and not competition. So go check them out. Have a happy and safe New Year, I hope your holidays are going great, and we’ll catch you next week here at the Old Premeds Podcast, and the Medical School Headquarters.