There are four medical school requirements that you’ll need as premed student for getting into medical school. These main medical school admission requirements center around your premed classes.
The requirements for medical school will have you take four premed classes along with their associated premed classes and will put you one step closer to becoming a doctor. You definitely want to get the best grades possible in your medical school prerequisites because getting admitted is tough enough already.
Courses Required By Medical Schools
Take a look at the classes you’ll need for medical school entry. I went ahead and listed them in the order most premed students will take them in too.
You don’t have to follow this order exactly because I know everyone’s situation is different. But you’ll certainly want to earn top grades in:
- 1 year of general chemistry with associated lab
- 1 year of biology with associated lab
- 1 year of physics with associated lab
- 1 year of organic chemistry with associated lab
As you can tell you’ll need to factor in time to take the laboratory experience too. I can remember spending four hours in organic chemistry lab and it’s like a rite of passage of being a premed student. If I can do it then you can too.
Some of the kids at Northwestern actually came up with some pretty cool t-shirts to promote being premed because the shirts read, “Sorry, I can’t…I have LAB!” This pretty much sums up your premed experience in a nutshell from an academic standpoint.
Retaking Medical School Requirements
“What happens if I get a bad grade in a required medical school class?”
For starters it is going to negatively affect your GPA, both the science and nonscience components. You should know that your grade point average means is a key factor used by the admissions committee in making a decision for admitting a student or not.
I’ll tell you like it is and if you have a grade of “C” or below in one of the courses needed for admission to medical school then you’ll want to repeat the course.
At some medical schools your application will be rejected if you have a grade of C- in a course required for medical school entry because it can be considered equivalent to a F grade depending on the grading system used by the admissions committee. Since you already know the medical school requirements in an already competitive environment don’t try to press your luck by having a bad grade in a course needed for medical school admission.
Another option if you are concerned about doing will in your required premed coursework is to consider summer school. This will allow you to lighten your courseload during the regular academic year and then focus solely on academics over the summer because you won’t have to worry about any extracurricular activities.
I took up the opportunity to do summer school twice actually. The first time was for Biology and then I came back to Harvard Summer School for Organic Chemistry. Obviously, it was a tremendous amount of work but I really enjoyed being able to focus solely on academics and earn good grades. Plus, I made many new friends who are now in medical school too.
Raising the Bar with Suggested Courses
Once the four medical school requirements have been satisfied it is important to carefully consider which medical schools you will be applying to. Some schools require additional coursework in areas such as:
Biochemistry: is the study of chemical processes in living organisms. It shows how the collections of inanimate molecules (protein, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acides, and other biomolecules) that constitute living organisms interact to maintain and perpetuate life solely by the physical and chemical laws that govern the nonliving universe.
I highly recommend taking biochemistry and an anesthesiologist made the decision very easy for me when he stated, “It never hurts to see the same material twice, besides once in medical school the course will be very unforgiving, so you might as well see it beforehand”.
I think you’re going to be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t take a course such as Biochemistry before starting medical school because many of your peers will have done so. Also, more and more medical schools are requiring students to have taken this course before matriculating to medical school.
Medical school moves at an extremely fast pace where you can expect to do a semester’s worth of material every two weeks. This leaves very little time for you to learn on the fly, you need to arrive on campus with a strong grasp of the material. Biochemistry is a foundational course of the basic sciences and I think in the future it is going to become a requirement for medical school admission.
Following along with this same line of thinking more and more medical school professors are teaching this class not on an introductory level, but are making the assumption that most students have taken a Biochemistry course by the time of their arrival to professional school. If you’re on the fence or have the option of taking Biochemistry before medical school classes begin, then I strongly encourage you to take the class.
English: This course is self-explanatory and does not require a definition. You take this course because medicine involves communication (writing prescriptions, treatment plans, etc). Many schools only suggest this course because you will have gained writing skills simply by being in college. There is no need to be stressed over English coursework though it is a small portion of medical school.
Humanities: covers ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts. Exposure to the humanities brings diversity to medicine which ultimately deals with patients (people) and having a broad perspective will make you a better doctor.
Besides with all the talk about socially conscious physicians and diversity, especially with the changes to the MCAT in 2015, these humanities classes are going to become a practical necessity. Thus by default we can now add humanities are courses a premed will be required to take for admission to medical school.
Not because a medical school will ask directly about your experience in these subject areas, rather because it will become a major component of the Medical College Admission Test.
One a side note, never choose a college major based on whether you think it will get you into medical school, instead choose a major you like and find worthy to pursue regardless of your medical school aspirations.
I don’t want it to become where students begin to leave the hard sciences and start majoring in Psychology for example, because they believe it will give them a boost on the MCAT and getting into medical school. If you know my story I was Political Science because I’ve always been a news junkie and enjoy politics.
Mathematics: In the words of my high school teacher, “math is the language of science.” As you should already know, math plays a significant role in science and medical schools want students who have the ability to solve complex problems. So now more and more schools are requiring that you not only have some statistics but in some cases a full year of calculus.
Math has never been my strong suit and I have been very lucky that a lot of medical schools will state you can substitute statistics for a semester of calculus too meet their full-year calculus requirement. I took BioStatistics in graduate school and surprisingly enjoyed that class but calculus and integrals, that’s not for me.
Although, depending on what type of research you conduct as a premed student, medical student, or professional you may find that mathematics because an everyday part of your life. I will just cross that bridge when I get there though.
If you are unsure or have the option to take more advanced math courses in algebra, statistics or calculus I would urge you to take those classes, it will only make you a more competitive applicant. Medical school requirements vary from institution to institution so please consult each respective medical school to find out the specifics of getting into the medical school of your choice.
But if my memory serves me correctly Harvard Medical School and the likes will want you to take calculus based courses such as the calculus version of physics and once you arrive in medical school you’ll see plenty of calculus too.
Know What’s Expected Before It’s Too Late
I covered a lot of material and you already know you need to be on top of your game to get into your top choice medical schools. If you want the full out details and secrets for making medical school a reality then I have a very special offer for you.
You’ll want to get behind the scenes insider info on all the key aspects to successfully being premed and having a great application.
What I find is that premeds don’t know what’s required of them until it’s too late so I want to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Therefore go ahead and check out a special book that you should have in your possession already. It’s an authoritative guide to all things premed!