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  • Strategies for
    Second–Time Applicants

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    If you didn't get into medical school on your first try, it doesn't mean you never will.

    In fact, second-time applicants have roughly the same acceptance rate as pre-meds applying for the first time. So don't despair. Instead, focus on improving yourself as a candidate.

    Assess Your Application

    If you are planning to apply to medical school for the second (or third) time, begin by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your previous application.

    The best resource is your school's pre-med advisor. Not only does your pre–med advisor have years of experience in the field, they'll be acquainted with all the successful applicants from your college for the preceding year. They can tell you how your application stacked up against the rest of the pool; they can also recommend programs that seemed to favor applicants with a similar background to your own.

    Admissions committees are also often willing to give advice to rejected applicants (particularly polite ones). You should get in touch with schools at which you interviewed but were not accepted. Since medical schools only interview candidates that they are seriously considering for admission, these schools can give you a specific sense of how you can improve your chances in the next season.

    Commit to a Plan for Self–Improvement

    In most cases, unsuccessful applicants need to improve in one of the following three areas: GPA, MCAT scores or communication skills.

    If your grades need a boost, consider enrolling in some classes through your undergraduate college or through an extension program at a local university. Most med schools (though not all) will average all undergraduate coursework as part of your GPA. There are also post–baccalaureate programs specifically designed for medical school hopefuls whose undergraduate grades fell below average admissions criteria.

    In order to improve your MCAT scores, the cardinal rule is practice, practice, practice. Load up on materials and set aside a time every week that you will devote solely to MCAT prep. For maximum results, consider enrolling in an MCAT prep course. Remember to ask about a school's attitude towards multiple MCAT scores before applying. Some will only consider the highest score, some will average all scores and some will only consider your last score.

    If you were granted an interview but didn't get a spot in the class, perhaps you need to improve your verbal communication. Like any skill, the more you practice communicating, the better you'll become. Sign up for a practice interview at your school's career center. Remember that your skills as a writer can also affect how admissions committees view you. Find a friend with good writing skills to make sure your personal essays are clear and effective.

    Pursue Further Clinical Experience

    Medical schools seek students who demonstrate a desire to help others. Volunteering or working in a patient-based position will make you a stronger applicant.

    If your extracurricular activities do not include a position in health care with direct patient contact, consider a volunteer job at a local hospital. If you already graduated from college, look for a professional position working with patients in a healthcare facility. Another idea is to earn an EMT license, which will allow you to work as a paramedic or in an emergency room.

    Revisit the List

    Now that you've been through an application season, re–evaluate the list of schools to which you applied. Definitely re–apply anywhere that invited you to interview last year. But this is also your chance to seek out new schools that favor students with your background and strengths.

    Be the Early Bird

    Since most medical students accept students on a rolling basis, it is crucial that you submit an application as early as possible. Don't let procrastination or disorganization ruin all your years of hard work.


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