How To Improve Your Med School Application

The list of factors to determine if you will be accepted into a certain medical school can go from your MCAT scores/undergrad GPA all the way down to your hometown.

But, the objective factors such as MCAT score, GPA, courses taken, etc., are fairly easy to measure and compare to other students. Other subjective factors like interview score, research/work experience, etc are much more difficult to compare but can still impact your outcome.

So, here is what you need to get into the top med schools:

GPA: Most med schools want to see at least a 3.5 GPA. Your GPA can be a fairly objective measurement; however, many undergrad schools are known for grade inflation, and med school admissions officers know which ones are. So, a 3.7 at Ohio State University is not necessarily comparable to a 3.7 at Yale University.

Curriculum: Most med schools (not just the top schools) require at least one year of the following courses:

  • General biology
  • Physics with lab
  • General chemistry (inorganic chemistry) with lab
  • Organic chemistry with lab
  • Calculus
  • English


  • MCAT: This is the most objective factor in your med school admissions process because every student’s test is weighted/scored the same, making scores easily comparable. Your MCAT score very well could be the most important factor.

Average 2011 MCAT scores for the top 10 med schools, as ranked by the US News & World Report:

Note: These are not total scores, but rather the average of the three-multiple choice scores.

1. Harvard University: 11.9
2. University of Pennsylvania: 11.6
3. Johns Hopkins University: 11.8
4.Washington University in St. Louis: 12.5
5. Duke University: 11.5
5. Stanford University: 11.6
5. University of California–San Francisco: 11.4
5. Yale University: 11.3
9. University of Washington: 10.5
10. Columbia University: 11.8

Top 10 med schools with strictest MCAT requirements

1. Washington University in St. Louis: 12.5
2. Harvard University: 11.9
3.University of California–Los Angeles: 11.9
4. Columbia University: 11.8
5. Johns Hopkins University: 11.8
6. Brown Medical School: 11.7
7. University of Michigan: 11.7
8. Baylor College of Medicine: 11.6
9. Stanford University: 11.6
10. University of Chicago: 11.6

-MCAT scores according to the Medical and Societal Journal of a Vitreo-Retinal Surgeon. 

In-state vs Out-of-state: Your chances may be better at in-state schools. Many of the public med schools (including the top schools) are more lenient toward in-state students; however, not all of them are. This leniency is not nearly as strong in private schools as it is in public schools.

Research: This would quality as a subjective factor; however, any student can still create a strong research project. Having research to show can only help your chances, but it is optional. It’s best to start your research project early and work with a trusted faculty advisor. Be prepared to discuss and defend your findings in a future interview. 

Learn how talented MCAT tutors are able to help you improve your chances of acceptance into a top med school. created a med school admissions calculator. All you have to do is enter your MCAT scores, GPA and primary residence, and it will give you an idea of what schools you will be accepted into in your area. See the med school calculator here.