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|Ivy League Admission Guide: Medical School|
Copyright 2007. Magnificent Milestones, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
Electronic and CD-ROM versions published by:
Magnificent Milestones, Inc.
Post Office Box 100582
Palm Bay, Florida 32910
CD-ROM Edition 10-digit ISBN 1933819103 13-digit ISBN 9781933819105
PDF Edition 10-digit ISBN 193381909X 13-digit ISBN 9781883819099
(1) This book was written as a guide; it does not claim to be the definitive word on the policies of any specific medical school. The opinions expressed are the personal observations of the author based on her own experiences. They are not intended to prejudice any party. Accordingly, the author and publisher do not accept any liability or responsibility for any loss or damage that have been caused, or alleged to have been caused, through the use of information in this book.
(2) Admission to medical school depends on several factors (including GPA, MCAT score, reference letters, interview and personal statement), along with the individual expectations of each school. The author and publisher cannot guarantee that any applicant will be admitted to any specific school or program if (s)he follows the information in this book.
Table of Contents
I. The Medical School Admissions Process
Business School: What are the Odds?
Requirements for Admission
How Each Admissions Criterion is Evaluated
Admissions Criteria: Grades & GMAT Scores
The Academic Index (AI)
Mitigating Factors in Admissions Decisions
The Admissions Committee (A Look Behind the Scenes)
Special Cases (where the "normal" rules don't apply)
II. Reference Letters for Medical School Admission
What Makes a Great Letter?
How Reference Letters are Used
Who Should Write Your Recommendations
Letters from Undergraduate Committees
Additional Reference Letters
Red Flags Regarding Your Choice of Reference Letter Writers
Challenges to Getting a Great Reference
How to Ask for a Medical School Reference Letter
III. The Medical School Interview: Questions & Strategies to Gain Admission
Profile of Successful Applicants
A Graduate's Ultimate Roles
Tips to Asking & Answering Questions Effectively
Interview Mistakes and Disasters
Interview Rating Forms
Questions Arranged by Category
Tell us about yourself
Why do you want to be a doctor?
Are you qualified / well-suited for medical school?
What are you outside interests?
What are your core values?
What area of medicine most interests you?
How much do you know about current medical issues?
Why should we take you over other applicants?
Give your perspective on these difficult ethical issues.
How well do you remember your basic sciences?
Curveball questions to test your confidence /stamina.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Questions to ask faculty members
Questions to ask current medical students
IV. Conclusion: Our best tips to gain admission
The Truth About Waitlisting
If You are Rejected
Common Questions & Answers
Appendix 1: A Terrific Medical School Personal Statement
Appendix 2: Request for Reference Letters
Appendix 3: Sample List of Match Points
Appendix 4: Sample Rating Sheet
Appendix 5: Sample Thank You Note for a Reference Letter
Appendix 6: A Persuasive Reference Letter for Medical School
Appendix 7: Sample Interview Rating Form
Ivy League Admission Guide: Medical School
I. The Medical School Admissions Process
When people discover my profession, they either love it or hate it. As part of my academic career, I have served as medical school admissions officer. Everyone has strong thoughts on the subject and specific questions for me. How do we choose applicants? Is it true that we give an edge to minority students? Is the deck stacked against a low-income white applicant? Why didn't their brilliant niece Alice get accepted? She's the best student Abilene, Kansas ever saw.
I am amazed at the many myths and misconceptions that surround medical school admission. Despite a strong public relations campaign to encourage applications, I repeatedly see qualified students hold back, while other less talented candidates feel entitled to admission for irrelevant reasons. An admissions committee has the challenging job of assembling a talented, diverse class from an overwhelming number of candidates. Due to space limitations, we must reject 80-95% of all applicants, including many with perfect test scores and grade point averages. How do we do it? What gives an applicant an edge?
We (at www.ivyleagueadmission.com) decided to publish this information to enable potential students to better approach the medical school admission process. We feel compelled to share this information for several reasons:
1 To encourage applicants who meet the stringent admissions criteria
2. To discourage non-competitive applicants whose needs are better served by less selective schools or alternative career paths
3. To dispel common myths about the relevance of minority status, undergraduate majors and employment history in the selection process
4. To enable college students to better prepare their curricula and outside activities to maximize their chances for medical school admission
5. To ultimately improve the quality and diversity of the applicant pool by disseminating useful, relevant inside information about the admissions process
After working in admissions for 20 years, we know the intricacies of the process and the many myths and misconceptions that surround the Ivy League mystique. We've watched otherwise viable candidates lose their admission opportunity by poor planning, poor preparation and poor handling of the application. We want to inform applicants about how they will be evaluated. Ultimately, by sharing this information, we hope to increase the quality of the applicant pool and enable candidates to understand their admission chances.
Medical School Admission: What are the Odds?
Medical school admission is competitive at all accredited schools in the US. In fact, over 50% of all medical school applicants are rejected by every school to which they apply. Consequently, applicants must use every possible advantage to gain acceptance.
Medical schools fall into three general categories:
1. State-supported schools, which charge lower tuition and give admission preference to state residents
2. Private schools that charge high tuition but admit students strictly based on academic achievement
3. Ivy League schools that are famous for their acclaimed faculty, large research endowments and state-of-the-art facilities. These schools typically accept less than 8% of their highly competitive applicant pool.
We believe that applicants should use whatever leverage they have to maximize their chances of admission. Often, this means applying to a number of schools that vary in selectivity:
1. Apply first to state-supported medical schools where you will have preferential consideration.
2. Also apply to a few private medical schools where you will be competitive with the rest of the applicant pool. Check the statistics for the entering class that summarize the GPA, science GPA and MCAT scores.
3. Don't hesitate to follow your dream and apply to an Ivy League school as well. These programs seek a diverse student body and hold a few seats in their class for students from different backgrounds with exceptional strengths. Although acceptance rates vary from year to year, 2003 data show that Harvard Medical School admitted 4% of their applicants, while Cornell admitted 34%. Clearly, the competition is fierce.
With rare exceptions, no one is ever guaranteed admission, regardless of class rank, test scores, family connections or wealth. Our goal is to explain in detail the admissions process to enable an applicant to determine if it makes sense to apply to medical school. We hope to maximize the chances of every applicant and show how to present yourself in the best possible light.
Requirements for Admission:
In addition to your academic records, the committee also considers the following information in making its admission decision:
a. Your overall grade point average (GPA)
b. Your science grade point average (SGPA)
c. Your scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
d. Your personal statement
e. Extra-curricular activities
f. Employment history, particularly positions in the health care field
g. Personal history and life experiences
h. Motivation and inclination to succeed as a physician
i. Recommendations from faculty members and allied health personnel
j. Personal interview
k. Breadth of your undergraduate curriculum and mastery of chosen field
We seek evidence of integrity, maturity, concern for others, leadership potential and an aptitude for working with people. All students must possess the physical and emotional capabilities required to independently undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty.
Medical schools accept applications from current students in good standing and graduates of accredited US colleges and universities. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements listed below, as well as demonstrate success in their chosen undergraduate majors. Throughout the application package, we seek consistent evidence that an applicant's intellectual and personal credentials are of the highest caliber.
If it doesn't go without saying, it certainly should; academic rigor is expected. We've seen several "guide books" that suggest that applicants should take lower level science classes to ensure A's, rather than risking lower grades in more challenging classes. Nothing could be further from the truth. We frown on "grade-grubbing," as demonstrated by limited class selection and resistance to academic risk-taking. We encourage applicants to take advanced courses, if qualified, and to demonstrate a commitment to science beyond the basic premedical requirements. Admissions committees take both the level of the courses and the caliber of your undergraduate institution into account when considering your academic performance. Our first choice is a student who aced the highest level coursework available.
Why? The first two years of medical school require the successful completion of over 60 semester hours of graduate level science classes. A strong preparation in the sciences and mathematics is mandatory. As a general rule, an applicant's undergraduate science courses should be comparable to those taken by students majoring in these subjects; they should not be the easy, watered-down versions. Further, students admitted to college with advanced placement in these areas are encouraged to take upper level and graduate courses, rather than use advanced placement credits to shorten the college experience. However, in the final analysis, it is not the number of years in college or hours in a course, but the quality of education and the maturity of the student which determine his/her readiness for medical school.
Required Undergraduate Courses
1. Biology: one year with laboratory experience. Courses should cover the cellular and molecular aspects as well as the structure and function of living organisms. Advanced placement credits cannot be used to satisfy this requirement; upper level courses should be taken if you have been granted advanced placement credits.
2. Chemistry: two years with laboratory experience. Year-long courses in general and organic chemistry generally meet this requirement. A one-semester course in organic chemistry which covers the relevant material supplemented by a semester course in biochemistry may substitute for the traditional year of organic chemistry. A course in analytical chemistry is highly recommended. Other options that adequately prepare students for the study of biochemistry and molecular biology in medical school will be considered. Advanced placement credits which enable a student to take an upper level course may be used to meet one semester of this requirement.
3. Physics: one year. Advanced placement credits which enable a student to take an upper level course may be used to meet one semester of this requirement.
4. Mathematics: one year of calculus. Advanced placement credits may satisfy this requirement. A course in statistics does not meet this requirement.
5. Expository Writing: one year. Writing skills are important for the study and practice of medicine. This requirement may be met with English courses, writing courses, or non-science courses that involve substantial experience in expository writing. Advanced placement credits cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.
6. Additional requirements: many schools now also require calculus through differential equations and one year of calculus-based physics. A course in biochemistry is strongly encouraged before matriculation.
Advanced placement credits used to satisfy portions of the chemistry, physics, or mathematics requirements noted above must be indicated on the college transcript. If these credits are not shown on the college transcript, either the scores from the placement examination or a letter from the chairperson of the respective department certifying that the student has met the requirement in question must be submitted. If there is doubt about the suitability of advanced placement credits, the admission committee should be contacted for approval before a final admission decision can be made.
Recommended Undergraduate Courses
Courses in literature, languages, the arts, humanities, and the social sciences are encouraged. At least 16 hours should be completed in these areas. Familiarity with computers is also desirable.
Honors courses and independent study or research are encouraged because they permit the student to:
1. explore an area of knowledge in depth
2. enjoy a scholarly experience that will facilitate a lifelong habit of self-education.