Pre-med requirements are only part of the journey. Stay on track to submit a fantastic medical school application with our advice on everything from grades and course selection to choosing internships and extracurricular activities.

pre-med requirements

1. You don't have to follow a pre-med playbook.

Back in the day, almost every undergraduate who wanted to go to med school majored in biology, chemistry, or physics. This is changing though as med schools realize the value of a liberal arts education, and there will be a variety of pre-med majors in the applicant pool. So, study what you love. You'll still need solid MCAT scores along with good grades and stellar extracurriculars.

2. Make a plan for finishing pre-med requirements.

Bear in mind that each medical school has its own pre-med course requirements. Depending on where you plan to apply, courses in the following subjects may be required or recommended.

Basic Subject RequirementsRequired or Recommended Subjects
  • Biology (with Lab)
  • General Chemistry (with Lab)
  • Organic Chemistry (with Lab)
  • Physics (with Lab)
  • English
  • Biochemistry
  • Calculus
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics/Biostatistics
  • Genetics
  • Humanities
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Social sciences

By the time you have finished your prerequisites, you have already been exposed to most of the concepts and research principles tested on the MCAT .

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3. Don't procrastinate.

By knocking out your medical school requirements in the first two years, pre-meds can use the last two years of college to take electives, study abroad, or pursue a non-science major or minor.

4. Invest your time wisely.

While you’re still an undergrad, begin exploring various medical specialties. Considering pediatrics? You may want to take courses in development, child psychology, or family dynamics. If you're interested in becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist, enroll in human sexuality or gender studies courses. By demonstrating a long-term interest in a medical specialty you can enhance your chance of winning a competitive residency later.

5. Focus on your grades.

Your grades ultimately matter more than your transcript. GPA is one of the most important criteria for medical school admission. Med schools will consider both your science GPA and your overall GPA. And while your science GPA is more important, both hold weight and both are heavily considered.

6. Get outside the classroom.

Most med schools expect applicants to have some medical experience , either as a volunteer or paid worker. Primary care experience is particularly valuable. Many hospitals and clinics have volunteer positions that allow you to interact with patients. You can also consider finding a position at a hospice or a chronic-care facility, or assisting disabled children or nursing home residents.

7. Be professional.

If you want to learn at a more depth level you can set up a preceptorship. In a preceptorship, you’ll shadow a knowledgeable physician as an observer over an extended period of time. The best preceptors are doctors with great people skills, patience, and a passion for education.

Medical research is another worthwhile extracurricular to pursue. A number of well-known universities, labs, and private companies run summer internship programs for undergraduates.

Don’t dismiss other volunteer experiences, even if they're not directly related to health care. Teaching, tutoring, peer counseling, or any activity that demonstrates your compassion, communication or leadership skills will be impressive to admissions committees.

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