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How Medical School Admissions Work


What Courses to Take Before Medical School
If you want to be chosen to get into medical school, you'll have quite a stack of work to get done.
If you want to be chosen to get into medical school, you'll have quite a stack of work to get done.
© iStockphoto.com/dra_schwartz

Medical schools are less concerned about what you've majored in and more concerned with the overall body of your coursework. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reports that most schools require completing a certain number of credit hours in the following areas:

  • Physics
  • Inorganic/General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biology
  • English

Each specific school you're applying to may have its own additional requirements. For example, some may require a certain amount of biochemistry, zoology, or behavioral sciences such as psychology and anthropology.

You should also be wary of how Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Placement (CLEP) credits are counted in these requirements. For example, some medical schools may not accept AP Biology credit as a replacement for taking one or more undergraduate biology courses. Before applying, check with each medical school to determine whether you'll need to take a certain course that you have AP or CLEP credit for.

Even though your major doesn't matter, your courses, club memberships, employment and volunteer activities can make you more competitive in medical school admissions. Medical schools encourage you to take advanced/honors courses, independent study and complete research work while you're a college undergrad. Also, consider joining a club or academic fraternity for prospective health professionals at your college.

No matter what your major, a pre-med program can help. If your college has a pre-med program, it probably has advisors to answer questions and to offer advice and services that prepare you for medical school and a medical career. The pre-med program might also have selected coursework for those going to medical school, designed to get you started on that path even before you're admitted.

Use your undergraduate activities to build relationships with professors and medical professionals. These contacts could lead to the good letters of recommendation you'll need for your medical school applications.