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How to Prepare for Pre-Med in High School

November 7, 2022
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How to Prepare for Pre-Med as a High SchoolerRecommended High School Courses for Pre-MedFAQs: How to Prepare for Pre-Med in High School


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/13/22

Are you looking to get a head start on your medical school journey? Good thinking! Here we cover how to prepare for pre-med as a high school student. 

Becoming a doctor is a long educational journey, and it can feel overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. The good news is we’ve got you covered! Learning the steps to prepare for pre-med in high school is an excellent move and a great way to prepare for medical school early on. 

Follow along to learn every step you should take as a high school student aspiring to become a  physician. This complete guide will cover how to prepare for pre-med, recommended courses, and more.

Let’s get started!

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How to Prepare for Pre-Med as a High Schooler

Here are a few things you can do as a high school student to prepare yourself for your pre-med years. Keep in mind that these are only our suggestions. If you’re motivated to find local opportunities in the fields of medicine or science, you should absolutely do so! There are plenty of opportunities out there for young future physicians. 

Find Your Passion

If you’re considering a career in medicine, you should explore the different areas of medicine before choosing one path. It’s important to know how many years of education are required for each area you are interested in, potential salary options, and job satisfaction rates. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers an “Aspiring Docs” fact sheet for young students to learn the basic ins and outs of medical school. We also offer plenty of articles on how to become a doctor and how long it takes to become different types of doctors. 

Keep in mind you don’t need to make any decisions now! You should do plenty of research to help yourself make an informed decision later on. For now, focus on doing well in school and learning as much as you can. 

Summer Camps

Attending science or medical summer camps is an excellent way to show initiative in your pre-med application. Summer camps like these can range anywhere from a day to several weeks and typically take place from May to August. 

Take a look at your local paper, science centers, hospitals, and universities to see if there’s a science or medical summer camp available near you. 

Conduct an Independent Study 

An independent study or a “self-study” is a great option for high school students who don’t have a lot of in-person opportunities nearby. To conduct a self-study, you simply have to set a goal and measure your progress.

Think of this as learning to play piano and journaling your progress. Everyone has done some degree of independent learning in their lives. The difference here is that you are measuring success with benchmarks you have set for yourself. Self-study looks excellent on a resume because it shows initiative and a passion for learning.

Become A Tutor

Tutoring is an excellent way to demonstrate a passion for learning and a thorough understanding of different subjects. Of course, whichever subject you tutor should be relevant to your pre-med degree. This includes math, science, and language courses.

There are several other high school jobs that may help you along your journey to medical school as well. For example, becoming a lifeguard can help you develop fast reaction time and basic health skills such as injury treatment and CPR. 

Volunteerism and Community Service

When it comes to volunteering, you can’t go wrong. Committing your free time to assisting underserved communities or volunteer organizations is an excellent way to show initiative. Volunteering isn’t necessarily the most glamorous experience, but it is sure to reward you with perspective and you may even make some new friends.

For pre-med, you may want to look at volunteer opportunities that allow you to be in medical spaces, such as your local hospital or clinic. Working in soup kitchens or community centers is also a great way to practice listening and learning about others. Ultimately, any volunteer opportunities you are drawn to in your local community will look great on your pre-med CV.

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Recommended High School Courses for Pre-Med

Here are the courses we recommend taking in high school to improve your chances of being accepted into a pre-med program. 

IB Program/ AP courses

Participating in an IB program, AP courses, or any courses of elevated difficulty is an excellent way to prepare yourself for the challenging courses in a pre-med degree. However, it’s essential to understand that not all universities take IB/AP courses into consideration when reviewing your GPA. 

If you feel that maintaining an excellent GPA might be challenging due to the difficulty of your advanced courses, you should consider getting help from a tutor, or dropping these courses to prioritize getting good grades. 

Science and Math: As Much As Possible

It goes without saying that you should take as much science and math as you possibly can throughout your high school years. Taking courses like biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus can give you a good head start in college. Cultural and human sciences such as languages, health, social science, and history are also great courses to take before pre-med.

Consider A BS/MD Program

If you already have a strong idea of what you want to do later on, you can consider applying to a  BS/MD program. BS/MD programs shorten your pre-med studies, usually by a year, so that you can attend medical school sooner. 

BS/MD programs are rare and are only offered to a small group of keen students each year. If you have excellent grades and are passionate about medicine, this might be the right path for you!

FAQs: How to Prepare for Pre-Med in High School

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how to prepare for pre-med in high school.

1. How Can A Teenager Prepare For Med School?

There are many ways a high school student can prepare for pre-med. The following are a few suggestions from our experts:

Don’t be afraid to get started! Showing initiative in your high school years in any way looks excellent on your resume.

2. What Extracurriculars Should I Do In High School For Pre-Med?

The best extracurriculars for pre-med aren’t all medicine-related! In addition to shadowing a physician or volunteering at a clinic or hospital, you can also:

There are plenty of in-person and online opportunities for high school students interested in pre-med! Keep an eye on your local paper, hospital, and universities for camps and volunteer opportunities. 

3. What AP Classes Should I Take If I Want To Be A Doctor?

You should take all the science and math courses available to you in high school if you are interested in attending a pre-med program; with a specific focus on biology, chemistry, and physics. Most schools also require english, and social sciences. 

4. How Do I Prepare For A Pre-Med Course?

If you are nervous about starting pre-med, consider taking science or medical summer camps before starting school. You can also preemptively hire a tutor to help you go over science and math subjects before school starts.

Final Thoughts: Preparing For Pre-Med in High School

If you’re considering pre-med in high school, you have a leg up on many other future med school candidates. Getting in the right courses and extracurriculars at this stage shows a lot of passion and initiative. But don’t worry, you don’t have to make any solid decisions just yet!

By focusing on getting an excellent GPA, taking all of the science and math courses you possibly can, and seeking relevant extracurricular activities, you’ll be well on your way to your pre-med years. 

Good luck!

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