The medical profession needs individuals from a variety of backgrounds with diverse interests and talents. While the philosophies and goals vary among the nation's medical schools, all recognize the importance of a broad education--one with a strong foundation in the sciences blended with the social sciences and the humanities.
A thorough understanding of the sciences basic to medicine is necessary for the entering medical student. In order to achieve a minimum level of understanding, medical schools generally require the following:
Two semesters of biology with laboratories
Two semesters of general chemistry with laboratories
Two semesters of organic chemistry with laboratories
Two semesters of physics which include laboratory work
Two semesters of English with emphasis on communication skills
While only a few medical schools actually require a specific mathematics sequence, all value competence in mathematics and many require or strongly recommend mathematics courses. Mathematics courses provide the foundation for understanding rigorous courses in chemistry, physics, and biology.
Yearly Sequence of Pre-Med Requirements
Choosing a Major
"Unbeknownst to many college students, there is no such this as the 'best' major for those bound for medical school.. Admissions committee welcome students whose intellectual curiosity leads them to a wide-variety of disciplines. And no...you won't necessarily be at a disadvantage if you choose to major in English, for example, rather than biology. Using just one measure, those of MCAT scores, you may be surprised to learn that there is very little difference in median total scores among those who major in the humanities, social sciences, and biological sciences."
- Association of American Medical Colleges
University of Kentucky students with a broad range of majors have been successful in the medical school admissions process.
Students apply to medical schools through The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) for allopathic medical schools and The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS) for osteopathic medical schools. Centralized applications simplify the process by requiring applicants to submit only one set of application materials. There are a few U.S. schools that do not participate in a centralized application (you apply to those schools directly).
The AMCAS or AACOMAS application is available on the website around May of each year. The earliest the completed AMCAS can be sent in is June 1. Applying early (between June 1 and July 15 or so) means that your application will get to the medical schools early for their consideration. In any case, be sure you send it in before the application deadlines at the schools where you're applying.
Application Fee Assistance is available. Students may apply for waivers through The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) or AACOMAS Fee Assistance Program (FAP) but be aware that application deadlines come early. Refer to the application website for more information.
Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
The MCAT is the required entrance exam for medical school. It aids medical schools in identifying medical school candidates who are broadly educated in the social sciences and humanities as well as the sciences. The MCAT assesses "problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine."
In April 2015, the AAMC launched a new version of the MCAT exam. Scores are reported in four sections:
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
The MCAT is taken when you have completed, or have in progress, all the premed prerequisite courses (general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics). Registration for the MCAT is only done online. For registration and administration dates visit the MCAT website.
Preparation for the exam can be in a number of ways. There are professional preparatory courses, prep books, and software available. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) sells several full-length practice exams. Becoming familiar with the exam itself is very important to a student's success. An individual's method of preparation should consider your learning style, organizational ability, self-discipline, and finances. MCAT preparation varies from one individual to another.
Where to Apply
Because medical and other state funded education is heavily taxpayer supported, public medical, dental and other professional schools give a high percentage of their slots to residents of their home state. Your best odds will be to apply to the public-supported schools of your state of residence. Kentuckians will want to apply to the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville medical schools. Medical school applicants whose official state of residence is elsewhere would apply to the public schools in that state. Use the MSAR book and information gained from web sites, to determine the instate/out-of-state admits, and the average GPA and MCAT scores for students admitted to various schools. Consider location, programs, tuition, and where you think you will likely practice.
If required, essays are very important parts of your application to professional school. Take time to think carefully about who you are and what experiences have shaped your life. How have you come to this point of seeking a career in medicine? The essays that you write should be so much "you" that no one else could have written any portion of them. Admissions officers want to learn more of who you are. In addition to careful attention to content, please be sure that your essay is error-free. Have someone proof your essay to ensure that spelling and grammar are correct.
In most cases, official copies of your transcript(s) need to be sent directly to centralized application, unless otherwise noted. Make sure to check the application instructions. Transcripts can be requested from the Registrar's Office. A transcript from each and every post-secondary school you have attended must be submitted. Besides your UK transcript, be sure to request official ones from any community college or 4-year institution where you attempted or earned credit, any college from which you earned credit while in high school, correspondence programs, summer programs, military education; etc.
You will need personal copies of your transcripts for use in completing the academic portion of your application. Review them carefully to be certain that all coursework and grades are recorded accurately.
For a printable Pre-Med advising handout, click here.