Students in a lecture hall satisfying medical school requirements for courses

Medical School Requirements for Courses: What Do You Need?

October 13, 2021
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Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. Purpose of Medical School Course RequirementsPart 3. Common Medical School Requirements for CoursesPart 4. Additional Course RecommendationsPart 5. Tips for Choosing Your Undergrad CourseworkPart 6. FAQsPart 7. Conclusion

Introduction

The most important requirement for medical school acceptance is a strong academic performance. For this reason, you should be focusing on performing well academically. All medical schools have a set of different standards and expectations about what they want when it comes to cutoffs and minimum standards. Medical schools even have minimum requirements for MCAT and GPA scores.

These scores can single handedly determine your acceptance to these institutions. Once students meet their MCAT and GPA requirements, other factors can come into play such as research and life experiences. This is why it is so important that while in your undergrad, you’re thinking about the courses you should take that will benefit your experience in medical school.

Understandably, it is confusing to know what's required to enter medical school. It doesn’t help that certain courses are only required by some medical schools.

Medical school requirements for courses at different institutions are listed on the Association of American Medical Colleges website. Medical schools are often focused on chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. However, medical school requirements vary.

It is important to note that admission officials are often off put by applicants that have taken all of their courses at community colleges so t is important that you enroll in a four-year undergraduate institution. In this blog, you’ll find out everything you need to know about medical school requirements for courses including tips for choosing the best undergrad courses.

Purpose of Medical School Course Requirements

The most important requirement to meet when applying to medical school is a strong academic performance. Prioritizing your studies is important and you will need to find a balance between your extracurriculars and your studies.

Some medical schools set minimum requirements and standards for both GPA and MCAT scores. This means that to gain acceptance to these specific institutions, you must prioritize your academics.

However, an impressive GPA and MCAT score doesn’t guarantee you admission. These factors help improve your odds but many other factors come into play.

These factors include volunteer work, research, letters of recommendation, your performance at interviews, and life experiences. Many schools want to see that you have had real-life experiences that will benefit your practice.

The purpose of medical school course requirements is to ensure that when you are in med school, you have a firm grasp of topics that will be presented to you. As you know, getting into medical school is challenging.

It is important for you to aim above the needed requirements in order to get accepted. We recommend that you take these courses in order for you to satisfy general requirements at most med schools: General Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Math, Organic Chemistry and English.

A good first step to take is to research the schools that you would like to apply to and determine their minimum requirements before enrolling in courses. Once you’re in your undergrad, a great tip is to also keep in close contact with your school's pre-med advisor. They will be able to point you in the right direction and ensure that you’re taking the right courses.

Meeting medical school course requirements is important because they will provide you with skills such as critical thinking skills, stress management, and provide a solid base for medical knowledge. Taking med school prerequisites also helps you with:

Critical Thinking

Med school prerequisite courses will teach you how to think for yourself. You will often be required to display an array of skills such as self-assessment and the ability to analyze information deeply.

Your overall performance in these courses will show medical school admissions that you possess these skills. Developing critical thinking skills will also be enhanced throughout taking Physics and Chemistry courses.

Stress Management

Admissions committees want to see that you’re able to balance your emotions while taking the courses that will get you into med school. Doing well in your prerequisites shows that you can juggle multiple things at once and manage your stress effectively.

Test Preparation (MCAT)

The MCAT isn’t required by all schools, but most do require the exam to be accepted. MCAT scores have a big impact on acceptance rates, therefore you must study as a premed student to pass it. The MCAT tests on chemistry, physics, statistics, biology, English and has some social science aspects. Your prerequisites can greatly help you prepare for this test. It's important that when you’re thinking of courses to pick, to also make sure they are functioning as MCAT prep.

Foundations of Medical Knowledge

Before entering med school, you are required to have a solid knowledge base in several subjects. Your prerequisites will aid you in accomplishing this.

Common Medical School Requirements for Courses

Most schools do agree on basic elements for pre-medical education. Here are some universal pre-med requirements:

Chemistry

Organic Chemistry provides a basis for understanding imbalances within the body. Studying chemistry is also the building block to understanding biochemistry.

Chemistry is important for medical students to learn because a lot of contributions to health care have been made possible by the study of it. The development of new drugs involves chemical analysis of compounds, which is what you’ll be learning about in your chemistry classes.

Chemistry also studies and deals with the composition, properties, and structures of substances. By studying the transformations certain chemicals undergo, students can learn about the energy that is released or absorbed during these processes.

Biology

A basic understanding of biology is a necessity for medical school.

Learning about genetics and the framework for life is an integral part of achieving success in your desired field. Biology examines the function, structure, growth, evolution, origin, and distribution of living things. Biology also examines how species come into existence and how they exist with one another in natural environments.

Mathematics

Most schools require a semester of math. Make sure you also have a deep understanding of statistics and basic math. As an aspiring health professional, math is important to understand to solve complex problems.

It is important for future physicians to study math because almost every medical school requires you to take physics and Organic Chemistry. Both require a fair bit of calculus based knowledge. Taking calculus is also good for building your problem solving skills and will strengthen your overall comprehension of physics and chemistry.

Physics

Studying physics introduces medical concepts such as laws surrounding volume and pressure. You must have a grasp of physics to understand how the body operates. Physics encompasses the study of the universe from small particles to the entirety of the universe. These courses will teach you how to understand how the universe behaves.

Minimum course requirements include at least a year of each of these courses plus additional related lab work. English courses are also less commonly required, however, many medical schools want you to have decent writing skills. It is therefore recommended to take an English or writing course to enhance these skills.

Biochemistry courses are also important to take because they will help you out on the MCAT. If you want to be as prepared as possible, you should enroll in these courses in your undergrad: Organic Chemistry, Chemistry, Psychology, Genetics, Calculus, Physics, Biology, and English.

As mentioned before, it’s important for you to go above and beyond these requirements. Since getting into medical school is rigorous, you will want to make sure that you’re over-prepared.

It is ideal if you complete these prerequisite courses for medical school whilst in college. If you don’t complete these courses during college, you will have to take them through a post-bac program. This route is much more time-consuming and will also cost a lot more.

Additional Course Recommendations

Extracurriculars and elective courses are important to get involved with and are a great way to show that you’re different from other candidates. Showing the admissions committee that you’re a whole and complete person, on-top of what you have already achieved, will be impressive.

By volunteering, you are demonstrating that you can help others while juggling your priorities. Taking courses that can also provide you with additional skills that benefit your medical school can greatly impact your resume and skill set.

For example, taking a second language course, such as French, could help you out in medical school. Having an interest in second language courses is great for a physician because you will be accessible to a larger demographic. By choosing courses you are naturally interested in, you’ll be more likely to secure better grades.

Other courses you can take to help you in med school include Sociology , Statistics, Philosophy, and Psychology courses. As previously stated, Foreign language classes can also be useful as a medical student because it will open more doors and connect you to more people.

It is important that you’re keeping most of your energy focused on your universal, core prerequisite requirements: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Medical school prerequisites are selected by the program you choose, so there are classes that aren’t required by all schools.

For specific course requirements and classes required for each school, take a look at the MSAR website.

Tips for Choosing Your Undergrad Coursework

Science majors are more common in the medical world. However, medical schools are interested in well-rounded students. Your transcript is an important part of the admissions process. If you are a science major, it will be a good idea to take some electives in the humanities. If you aren’t majoring in science, you will need to take core science subjects.

The science classes you take will be weighted with more importance since there will be less to base off of. For example, if you're choosing to major in English and not a science based program such as biochemistry, your science courses will be weighted with more importance.

When choosing your undergraduate coursework, we recommend following these tips:

1. Take courses you know you will excel in.

There will be a variety of pre-med majors in the applicant pool. Therefore, take courses that you are interested in. You will naturally excel in these courses because you will be more engaged.

Admissions see majors such as business and performing arts, nothing is really off the table - as long as you do well. Make sure you’re putting more energy into your biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics courses.

These courses will take up a significant amount of your time. It is important that when you choose your electives, you’re choosing them wisely.

For example, if you have a stacked course load, you wouldn’t want to choose another course that would add to the stress. Instead, choose something more light. Your main focus is to make sure your GPA remains high throughout your undergrad.

2. Choose courses that allow you to get outside of the classroom.

You will need to gain medical experience and this experience is extremely valuable to admissions. Hospitals and clinics have volunteer positions that you can apply to that will assist your learning journey.

Take electives where you can be placed in labs, so you can learn hands on techniques and watch experts. Admission committees want you to have research experience. It is important that you get some of this experience in your undergrad.

Having research experience can deepen your understanding and knowledge of what you learn in school. Having an understanding on how hypotheses are formed and how to challenge existing ones is an important skill to have and will enhance your medical school experience.

Research also puts you in an environment that encourages you to understand links between inconsistencies and ideas. Your ability to conduct research is something that must be worked on and built up over time.

FAQs

1. In which order should I take my prerequisites?

Always spread out the difficulty of your courses. You don’t want to have a semester of just electives or mandatory courses. Finding the perfect balance is required to obtain good grades.

2. Why are medical school prerequisites needed?

They are needed because admissions committees need to know you have a proper knowledge base before acceptance. The medical school curriculum is rigorous and you must be well rounded to excel.

3. Do medical schools have an undergrad major requirement?

The answer is no, medical schools don’t care which major you choose. Students can major in conscience disciplines. Medical schools are looking for candidates who are diverse and well rounded. Take the major that interests you the most.

4. What is the average medical school GPA requirement?

The average accepted GPA varies from institution to institution. Schools also pay attention to grade trends. You must maintain a steady GPA throughout college.

5. What is the medical school MCAT score requirement?

The higher you score on the MCAT, the better. These scores vary, admissions experts often suggest that you should try to get an MCAT score of 509 or above. This score places you in the 80th percentile of MCAT scores.

Conclusion

Follow your passion and choose courses that you’re most likely to succeed in. We understand that all the requirements you need to get into medical school can be daunting. The most important thing to remember is to keep your GPA as high as possible. Your main focus should be on your academics, everything else should come after.

The courses you should take throughout your undergrad are: Organic Chemistry, Chemistry, Psychology, Genetics, Calculus, Physics, Biology, and English. These are the courses that medical school admissions are looking to see if you’ve completed.

Focusing on these courses and getting good grades will boost your chance of getting into a medical school of your choice.

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