September 16, 2014
Identifying Your RecommendersAs an MCAT instructor, I routinely field questions about the med school application process, especially concerning credentials and Letters of Recommendation (LORs). Your med school application’s LORs carry the potential to pull admissions committees over to your side by showing them your many diverse attributes and personal qualities. To highlight these, you’ll want to submit excellent recommendations from professionals who can paint a flattering picture of you by way of vivid descriptions and sincere commendation. [embed]http://youtu.be/oBSH7v3UAC4[/embed]
Requirements for your Letters of RecommendationEach medical school has its own set of standards and formats for the LOR, so you’ll want to do some research into the specific schools to which you’ll be applying. If you’re applying to US allopathic (MD) medical schools, visit the AMCAS website and check out the latest Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) guide. If you’re applying to osteopathic (DO) medical programs, you should visit the AACOM website and check out the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. Regardless, make sure you know the deadlines, number of letters required, and which recommenders you will need to approach for your varying types of recommendation letters.
Types of recommenders for your med school requirements:
- Science Professors: You’ll want at least one recommender from a pre-med science, like biology or anatomy, to speak to your hard science credentials. The letter should not be written by a teaching assistant, though TAs are welcome to contribute their thoughts to the professor writing your letter. If you don’t have strong relationships with any of your professors, start visiting them during office hours to build a rapport.
- Non-Science Professors: Reach out to a humanities or social sciences teacher (past or present) as well.
- Physician: You want to find someone who knows you personally and If you’ve worked with or shadowed a physician during your pre-med extracurriculars, this is the perfect place to start.
- Pre-Med Committee (only if your school performs this service): This is basically a cover letter that is written by your school’s pre-professional advising committee, pre-med office, or similar body at the institution.
- Research Director or Principal Investigator, if you have research experience
- Representative from Volunteer Programs, if you have medical-related volunteer experience
- Graduate Program Director, if you are a graduate student or have completed your master’s degree
- An Update…: A new letter accounting for your past year’s activities, credentials, and successes (if you are re-applying)
Characteristics too look for in med school recommenders:When choosing the recommenders to help you meet your med school requirements, it’s important to note that the credentials of your letter writers do not carry more weight than what they write about you! In other words, just because someone is a well-respected authority in a specific field doesn’t necessarily make them the right person to pen one of your letters of recommendation—it’s far more important that they know you as an individual. Along the same lines, you want to avoid the dreaded form letter of recommendation because it says nothing unique about your personal attributes vs. those of any other applicant. Your goal is to identify writers who are knowledgeable about two things:
- Your unique characteristics and credentials
- The demands of medical school or the medical profession
- critical thinking
- logical reasoning
- oral communication skills
- personal maturity
- work habits
- cultural competence
- intellectual curiosity
- motivation for medicine
September 4, 2014
Medical School by the NumbersAccording to the AAMC, in 2013, over 48,000 people applied to medical school in the U.S., which was a record number! Of those nearly fifty thousand applicants, just over 20,000 (20,055) of them matriculated into their first year of medical school. This is the first year that medical school matriculations topped 20,000! Fortunately for you hopeful applicants, medical schools continue to add spots to meet demand for future physicians. Fun Medical School Application Facts:
- The application pool is nearly evenly split between males (53%) and females (47%).
- Most applicants report backgrounds with research and/or community service, which is pretty typical.
- In the past twenty or so years, medical school first-year enrollments have increased by almost 22%!
Should You Focus on Your GPA, the MCAT, or Both?If you're early in your undergraduate career, focusing on your GPA to get it above the average is a great start. You want to build a solid foundation for your application and, more importantly, your knowledge base when you start medical school. Keep the MCAT in the back of your mind, but focus on your undergrad classes for the first two years. If you're later in your undergraduate career, say Junior or Senior year, or even graduated, the MCAT is where you want to focus your energy. That doesn't mean you can neglect your undergrad classes, but your GPA is less mobile at this point. That means the MCAT is one of the major admission factors, which you can impact to improve your application. The average applicant may have an MCAT score of 29, however the average matriculant score is closer to 31. What that means is, every MCAT point counts!
New Medical School OptionsIn the next two years, we can expect seven new medical schools to open in the United States in Washington, Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Oregon. What’s even more interesting is that all of these programs are Osteopathic Medical Schools, which reflects on the growing popularity of these programs. Often, pre medical students forget that both M.D. (allopathically trained) and D.O. (osteopathically trained) physicians are licensed in the United States, and with the shift towards more primary care physicians, the osteopathic path is a natural fit since historically, the majority of its graduates practice as a primary care physician. But the news gets even better! Currently, there are 23 schools throughout the United States that are forming and awaiting accreditation and the split is about 50/50 between M.D. granting and D.O. granting programs. So the opportunities to study medicine in the U.S. will continue to be on the rise for current undergraduates. Be sure to explore all of your options, so you find the right fit! Kaplan can help you achieve your MCAT goals, guiding you toward a successful medical school application and a career in medicine. Each point that you increase on the MCAT moves you past thousands of other applicants and moving towards your true goal of becoming a physician and living your version of the “good life”! We want to hear from you!Tell us what the good life means to you in the comments section, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #kaplangoodlife. We may share your story in an upcoming post. Then stay tuned for more articles to get you inspired! Visit kaptest.com/unlock to see what the good life has in store. Happy studying! ...read more
August 20, 2014
Intimidated by applying to medical school?We get it; the medical school admissions process can be daunting. After all, the end result of becoming a doctor is something you’ve wanted for a long time—something that’s going to help you pursue your vision of the “good life.” So it’s only natural to want everything to be perfect when you submit your application. Today, we will break down and simplify the application process to take the edge off.
3-phase processApplying to medical school is both a three-phase process and a rolling one, meaning decisions at each stage are made on an ongoing basis—not at any one or two predetermined points in the year. In fact, while schools have a final submission deadline, it is often ill-advised to wait for that date to roll around, as classes are sometimes full by that point. Let's look at the phases of the medical school application process.
1) The primary applicationThe primary application—as its name suggests—is the first portion you will submit, and generally the earliest it can be sent is the first week of June of the application year—the year immediately before your first year of attendance. So, if you wanted to start medical school in the fall of 2016, you would submit your primary application in June of 2015. Most U.S. medical schools use the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®), which is the Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) centralized medical school application processing service. The great thing about AMCAS participating schools is that, no matter how many med schools you apply to, you submit just one online application to AMCAS. If you apply to non-AMCAS schools, however, you will have to fill out primary applications specific for each one. Prior to submitting, start gathering all the materials that will go into your primary application. It’s best to begin this process in April and May. You will need to:
- request your official transcripts
- start perfecting your personal statement
- take inventory of your extracurricular activities
- make sure you have taken your MCAT! Medical schools will only take their first action and review the primary application if it is considered complete, and this includes having an available MCAT score.
2) The secondary applicationThere are two possible outcomes at this phase in the application process:
- the medical school will reject your application, and the process ends there for that school, or
- the medical school will send you its secondary application
3) The medical school interviewIf you do not get an interview from a particular medical school, they will notify you right away, and the process will end for that school. If a school wants an interview, they will also notify you, and you should schedule your interview at the earliest convenient time. Candidates in the third category, however, will not hear anything until that school moves them into one of the other two categories. As schools are interviewing applicants, they are making decisions. Usually, you will hear one way or another within a month of interviewing, but sometimes this phase takes longer: it all depends on the school’s individual process. Some candidates will not be rejected, but placed on a waiting list that will be reviewed as candidates accept and decline offers. It’s long process, but completely manageable with the right planning. In future posts, we will take a look at how to achieve the best outcome at different points in the application process. Stay tuned! We want to hear from you! Tell us what the good life means to you and how you plan to get there in the comments below, on Facebook, and on Twitter using #kaplangoodlife. We may share your story in an upcoming post. Then stay tuned for more articles to get you inspired!. Visit kaptest.com/unlock to unlock the good life. ...read more
July 8, 2014
April 24, 2013
What's the best way to be a premed?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su71axT9g6k ...read more
April 23, 2013
What activities and extracurriculars should premed students get involved in?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tutriY-mwLU&list=UUwZ7x4y5NY7tz-yEyz9gr4g&index=7 ...read more
April 8, 2013
MCAT 2015: What You Need to Know ... Now!
Monday, April 8, 2013 | 8 PM EasternBig changes are coming to the MCAT in 2015. At this event, we'll explore what those changes are, why they're happening and what you need to do now to be prepared. Admission is free -- and you don't want to miss this event! Our panelists will include:
Judy ChoeJudy is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she was appointed a faculty member in UT Austin's Chemistry department upon completing her Master's degree in 2005. After three years in Austin Judy moved to New York to join Kaplan's national MCAT product and curriculum development team. She left in 2011 to enroll as a medical student at DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. When Judy's not teaching students or continuing her own training to become a physician, she enjoys running, outdoor adventures, and traveling.
Alex graduated from Boston University with a BA in Musicology and is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania. Alex is one of the Content Managers for Kaplan's new MCAT 2015 course. When not preparing for his residency in pathology or teaching MCAT, Alex enjoys playing classical piano, exploring new cuisines and traveling on road trips.
Paige McLaughlinPaige graduated from Georgetown University in 2003 with a degree in mathematics and computer science. She attended Drexel University College of Medicine, and graduated from their MD program in 2009. She is currently an orthopedic surgical resident. She enjoys playing the guitar, running, and teaching the MCAT to the next generation of medical students!
Director, MCAT 2015Owen Farcy is director of MCAT 2015 for Kaplan Test Prep, and is responsible primarily for operations and program development for the company's MCAT group. As a long-time top-rated faculty member for Kaplan, Owen is intimately familiar with the MCAT as well as other standardized exams for pre-health students including the DAT, OAT, and PCAT. An interest in global health and student advocacy has led him to work closely with several pre-health student groups, including the American Medical Student Association, Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity, and Global Brigades. Owen has worked in a variety of roles within Kaplan and has been integral in the delivery of free online content to pre-med students throughout the world. He holds a BS in Biology from Emory University, and has previously worked in environmental education and sustainable development. We hope to see you tonight!
March 4, 2013
- Why medicine? What draws you to it?
- What are you doing to further your understanding of the medical community and things taking place in it?
- How are classes going? Do you need to seek out help to improve grades in a particular area of study?
- Have you established close relationships with professors that can attest to your character and provide a meaningful Letter of Recommendation?
- What experiences help you standout that you could write about in your personal statement?
About Kaplan Test Prep
Building futures, one success story at a time. We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed*.
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part I: How Many People Get into Medical School?
- Creating Diversity in Your Medical School Application
- Holy cow! I got into Medical School!
- Pre-Med Priorities: Tips for Building a Strong Academic Foundation
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part III: What’s the Average GPA? (And What Can I Do About It?)
- Med School Admissions Statistics, Part II: What’s the Average MCAT?
- Finding the Right Medical School For You: Your Questions Answered
- Pros and Cons of Taking the New MCAT 2015 in April
- The Pre-Medical Experience: A Critical Review
- A Tale of Two MCATs: Which Should I Take?
*Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit Kaptest.com/hsg
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