AAMC FACTS Tables 3 and 4:  Applicant and Matriculant DataAAMC FACTS Tables 3 and 4:  Medical School Applicant and Matriculant Data

Med School Admissions Statistics, Part I: How Many People Get into Medical School?

October 21, 2013
Alex Macnow

The first day of autumn is coming this Saturday, and that means it’s admissions season!   If you’ve already gotten in your AMCAS application, you may be spending a decent amount of this time out of the crisp air and – instead – focusing on finishing up secondary applications, preparing for interviews, and charming admissions committees with your excellent credentials. MCAT Blog

Considering how much time and energy we’re putting into this, let’s make sure we understand some of the numbers (after all, we’re science people, right?).  This post is the first in a series focusing on medical school admissions statistics.  Today, we tackle one of the most important questions:  How many people get into medical school?  And – as a follow-up – what can I do to increase my chances?

The AAMC releases a wealth of valuable information each year about the admissions process.  If you haven’t found it yet, take a look at the AAMC FACTS tables.  Here, we’ll look at two in particular:  the number of applicants and the number of matriculants (individuals who were accepted to at least one medical school and officially enrolled).  We’ve generated a graph of this information to the right.  What’s striking here?  Well, while the number of applicants has increased quite a bit (from about 33,600 a decade ago to almost 45,000 last year!), the number of available seats in medical school hasn’t increased proportionately.  As a consequence, the percentage of accepted applicants has fallen over the last ten years, from a high of 49.0% in 2002 to 43.8% last year.  This information is NOT meant to scare you; rather, it points out how imperative it is to do everything you can to be a part of that group.  So what can we do to get there?

Of course, the significance of a strong MCAT score and GPA, extracurricular activities, experience within medicine, and stellar recommendations cannot be overstated.  But when it comes maximizing that acceptance rate, consider the following:

  • Apply broadly – The national average of schools a pre-med student applies to is 13.  This accounts for individuals who were accepted by early decision (applying to only one school), however, so the average for the rest is a bit higher.  While you certainly shouldn’t send an application to every medical school in the country, don’t limit your options by applying to fewer than ten.  Not only do you want to get in, but it’s always great to have options!
  • Geography – Many state medical schools have higher acceptance rates for in-state applicants than out-of-state applicants; in fact, some schools will only accept in-state applicants for their medical programs.  If geography is working in your favor, use that to your advantage!  Not only do you benefit from your residency, but you may also get a whopping reduction in tuition.  No state school?  Check for partnerships with other schools – if you live in the Pacific Northwest, for example, you may be eligible for the WWAMI program.
  • New medical schools – There are certainly new medical schools emerging (even since I entered medical school in 2009, eleven new schools have been accredited).  These new schools are eager to teach the next generation of physicians.  Make sure you’re using up-to-date resources when searching for schools so you don’t overlook a great opportunity.

If you’re in the midst of applying, what strategies have you used to maximize your opportunities to go to medical school?  If applications are still a bit of time away, what do you think you could do to help prepare for them – even as a freshman in college?

This article is Part I in a three-part series on Medical School Admissions Statistics.  For more information, check out:

Alex Macnow

Alex Macnow I graduated from Boston University with a BA in Musicology and am currently a fourth year in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I took Kaplan to prep for my MCAT. After such a great experience with my course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to teach and tutor hundreds of pre-health students for the MCAT, DAT, OAT and PCAT in both our Boston – Haymarket and Philadelphia Kaplan Centers. I am one of the Content Managers for Kaplan's new MCAT 2015 course. When I’m not preparing for residency or teaching MCAT, I enjoy playing classical piano, exploring new cuisines and traveling on road trips.

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