Why Was I Rejected From Medical School? The Top Reasons

April 26, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/26/24

When applying to medical schools, especially prestigious ones, it’s important to remember that admissions officers aren’t admitting just anyone. It takes a lot of hard work to be a doctor, especially when you will be responsible for other people’s lives. With such a rigorous job like that, it is expected that applying to school to be a doctor is just as precise.

Applying to medical school is extensive and comes with a long list of requirements. If they are not all met or they are not up to admissions officers’ standards, there is a strong chance that you will be rejected. This is a common occurrence for premedical students, especially when considering low acceptance rates and high competition levels.

If you were rejected from medical school, don’t worry, there is still hope! And you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to determine precisely why you were rejected and what you can do to assure you will be accepted in the next application cycle. 

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Understanding Why You were Rejected From Medical School

Being rejected is bound to trigger feelings of disappointment and confusion. You’ve likely asked yourself, “What happened?” or “Where did I go wrong?” 

Getting silently rejected by medical schools is never easy. Since you spent months poring over your medical school application, you will need to examine a lot of aspects to determine just that. Or maybe you already have an idea. Perhaps your interview portion didn’t go so well. 

Maybe you were not confident in your clinical exposure and extracurriculars – or lack thereof. Maybe you were concerned about your GPA. It could be a combination of factors at play. 

For example, perhaps you had a low GPA, no shadowing experience, and a poor letter of recommendation. Once the issues in your application are identified, you’ll be one step closer to fixing them. 

If you are having trouble pinpointing which part of your application contributed the most to your rejection, consider reaching out to the institutions you applied to for feedback. 

This is a great starting point in identifying where your application needs work for the next application cycle. An admissions consultant can also help you navigate through this process.

Reasons why you were rejected from medical school

Grades: GPA & MCAT Score


It is pretty common knowledge that you will need a high GPA and strong MCAT score to be accepted into medical school. But what are the magic numbers for medical school GPA requirements

Your GPA reflects your experience and academic performance during the last four years of schooling. Therefore, it gives admissions officers an acute insight into how you would perform at their medical institution. If your GPA is low, that is a cause for concern. But it isn’t the end of the world. 

Most medical schools tend to set their minimum GPA cutoff at 3.0. Any applications received that don’t meet this cutoff won’t typically receive further consideration. While it is possible to get into medical school with a 3.0 GPA, the higher your GPA is, the better your chances are. 

The most recent average accepted GPA at US medical schools was a 3.62. Your GPA is not the only thing medical schools look at when reviewing applications, but it is still an essential aspect of your application. Look at the average accepted GPA at the medical schools you applied to, and see where your GPA fits. 

For example, if you have a 3.5 GPA and most of the schools you applied to accepted students with, on average, a 3.7 GPA, this could have been why you were rejected--your GPA simply wasn’t competitive enough. However, there are ways for you to bring your GPA up, like taking another class before the next admissions cycle.


The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a vital component of your medical school application and is required by most--if not all--medical schools and institutions. A strong MCAT score is required to be seen as a qualified applicant. 

The highest possible score for the MCAT is 528. The average accepted MCAT score of last year’s matriculants was 511. This is an excellent basis to refer to, as ideally, your score should not be lower than the average. 

There is nothing wrong with taking the MCAT more than once to bring up your score for the next admissions cycle. In fact, it is very common. If your MCAT score was a problem area on your application, this could have been a contributing factor for why you were rejected. 

Check with the schools you applied to and see what their average accepted MCAT score was, compared to your own. If your score was lower than the average accepted MCAT, that very well could have been the reason for your rejection. 

But you can still take the time to study and prepare more before retaking the MCAT and reapplying to medical school. This will boost your chances of getting accepted significantly during the next admissions cycle.

Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement is your big chance to show medical schools who you are and why you are passionate about pursuing medicine. Your job is to prove to admissions officers that you would be a perfect candidate for their program by highlighting your extracurriculars, motivations, and achievements.  Discussing what has shaped you as a person and future doctor is ideal.

If your personal statement does not stand out amongst the others in each medical school’s stack of applications, it is possible that this was the reason you were rejected. 

“You want to reveal something about yourself and your thoughts around your future in medicine while also making an argument that provides evidence supporting your readiness for your career,” says Kate Fukawa-Connelly, Director of Health Professions Advising at Princeton University. 

Being able to uniquely and powerfully communicate why you want to and why you should be a physician is critical. It is all about proving to these medical schools that you are a worthy and passionate candidate for their program. 

Your personal statement is the one chance you get to do just that. Take a thorough read through your personal statement, and have a family member or a friend read through it after that. 

Did your statement wow them like you thought it would? Did it represent you in the best way possible? If you can’t answer these questions confidently, this is an area that needs reworking when reapplying.

Experience, Activities, and Extracurriculars: What Really Helps?

The sections of a medical school application highlighting previous experiences, extracurriculars, and activities are also a crucial part of the application process. If not thought about critically, this could have been a section that contained weaknesses in your application and could have contributed to your rejection. 

Clinical exposure and experience are vital parts of any medical school application, and admissions officers take this seriously. To be a good doctor, you will have to be comfortable and confident dealing with patients and their needs professionally and compassionately. If admissions officers do not see this highlighted in your application, it is grounds for rejection. 

The good news is that you can gain experience in this category before your next application is sent in and processed. You can volunteer in a medical institution, shadow a medical professional, and much more. 

Volunteering is also essential for any pre-med student. Becoming a physician is all about helping people. You can show admissions officers your passion and drive for this through volunteering. 

Finding volunteer work related to medicine can also help prepare you for entering medical school. But non-medical volunteer work can be just as beneficial. 

It is all about the essential character of the experience and how it has shaped you. If you have limited volunteer experience, admissions officers may question whether you have the passion, drive, and experience to be a doctor through their institution. 

There are many different ways to volunteer to gain the experience necessary for your growth while also showing admissions officers you are a great candidate for their medical program.  

Letters of Recommendation: What You Need To Have

Letters of recommendation are an excellent way for medical schools to see who you are as a student. This is why having past faculty members and advisors, with whom you have had a strong professional relationship, are great candidates for letter writers. 

If there is a lack of depth in your recommendation letters--or a lack of recommendation letters in general--it is a cause for concern in your application. It could very well be a reason for rejection. 

Your letters of recommendation should not be a mere display of your academic achievements. Your letter writers should be people that are familiar with your character and drive. With their full support of your pursuit of medicine, this shows admissions officers that there are people that believe in you and your drive to be a doctor. 

If letters of recommendation were a reason for your rejection from a medical school, it is important to re-evaluate them and reach out to your letter writers. Consider sending them the American Association of Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) Guidelines for Writing a Letter Evaluation

This guide helps give your letter writers a general framework of what medical schools want and need to hear, which will increase your chances of getting accepted. Having strong letters of recommendation makes all the difference in your medical school application.

Interviews and How To Prepare For Them

It is no secret that interviews are a nerve-wracking experience for many people, let alone a medical school interview. Medical school interviews, though completely necessary, put an excessive amount of pressure on medical school applicants. 

It is not uncommon for an applicant to receive a rejection from a medical school because an interview went south. But there are always ways to prepare yourself for your next medical school interview. 

Look back on your interview(s) you had with prospective medical schools, and think about your performance. Do you think you did really well? Did you miss any questions, or answer poorly at some stations of the MMI? 

It is important to note that if you made it to the interview stage, it is likely that your overall application was quite good, and your main area of focus for improvement is your interview performance. 

If your medical school interview sessions were your problem area in your application, you can absolutely work on this before the next application cycle. Practice, practice, and more practice is vital. Research the schools you are applying to and interviewing for before applying. 

Research the interview formats for each school to be familiar with them and prepare when your interview comes. Hold a mock interview with a friend or someone you are comfortable with.

Other Common Reasons To Be Rejected From Medical School

Applying Late

With a lengthy and complicated application and application process for admission to medical school, it is no surprise that there are many reasons for possible rejection. One reason for being rejected could be that you simply applied too late. 

Even if you applied by the necessary deadlines, medical schools use rolling admissions. So, your application may just be arriving as another applicant has just been offered an interview. 

Typically, there are limited interview spots. As time passes, slots fill up. By turning in your application as early as possible, you already have an advantage against other competing applicants.

Spelling and Grammar Issues

As simple as it seems, spelling and grammar issues are another common cause for rejection. And this is such a simple, easy fix! Ensure you are double-checking everything in your application before you send it in to be reviewed. 

Have a friend, premedical advisor, or admissions consultant review your application. A second, fresh set of eyes reviewing something you have pored over countless times makes all the difference! Grammarly is also an excellent tool that will help you catch errors in your writing as soon as you make them. 

Missing Experiences

As stated above, weak or missing experiences could also be a reason for a medical school rejection. Clinical exposure (as well as other enriching experiences) is valued very highly at most--if not all--medical schools. Before the next admissions cycle, utilize your time by gaining this necessary experience and adding it to your application. 

This shows admissions officers that you have prioritized this weakness in your application, and you have spent your time doing something productive and necessary in your path to becoming a doctor.

Tips for Getting Accepted Next Application Cycle

Tips for reapplying for medical school

1. Review your application numerous times before pressing the submit button.

Even if you feel you’ve checked your application enough, review it one more time, so you are sure you have corrected and perfected every aspect of your application. You want admissions officers to notice a stark difference between your previous application and your newest application. This shows them that you have dedicated time to your application and is an excellent way for them to see your drive to be in the medical field. 

2. Make an effort to gain as much experience in the medical field as you can.

As discussed above, there are many ways to do this by volunteering, shadowing a medical professional, getting your certified nursing assistant’s license, volunteering as an EMT, and much more. Admissions officers will see these additions to your application, and this shows them that you have put in the work necessary to earn a spot in their program. 

3. Be confident in your medical school interview.

Interviews can be a difficult and challenging feat, but if you take the time to practice consistently, it will get easier, and it will pay off for you. If your interview performance was your weak spot, interviewers will be able to tell if you have taken the time to practice and prepare since your last interviews. 

4. Don’t give up.

Being rejected isn’t something any prospective pre-med student wants, but it happens often and commonly, and it is okay. There is room for improvement and tools to help you get there. By utilizing these and taking the time to better your application, you are setting yourself up for success.


1. How Can I Improve My GPA and MCAT Score for the Next Application Cycle?‍

Use the time between application cycles to either take another course to boost your GPA or prepare to retake the MCAT, or both! Your GPA and MCAT score should reflect each other, and these should also reflect your academic drive for success. An improvement here is precisely what admissions officers want to see.

2. Should I Only Discuss Medical-Related Extracurriculars, Work, and Activities in My Personal Statement?

No! You do not have to stick to only medically-related activities. As long as these extracurricular, work, and activity examples show admissions officers they have shaped who you are, helped you grow as a leader, or led you to your passion for medicine. If you can connect them to your journey to medicine, it is an excellent addition to your application.

3. I Did Poorly During My Medical School Interview. How Can I Do Better Next Time?

Practice, practice, practice! Interviews alone are a scary experience for many. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with the prospect of an interview. As stated previously, there are many resources you can refer to to better yourself and your interviewing skills.

4. How Can I Be Sure I Have Everything I Need in My Application? 

Consider meeting with an admissions consultant to ensure your application is tailored and ready to be sent to medical schools. An admissions consultant reviews applications and provides feedback for a living, so they will know exactly what to look for and what factors to avoid in medical school applications.

5. Should I Take a Gap Year to Improve My Grades?

There is nothing wrong with taking a gap year to improve any part of your application. Especially if your application issues have to do with your GPA or clinical exposure and experience. By taking a gap year, you are allowing yourself the time to actively work on these areas, so they are strengths in the next admissions cycle, not weaknesses.

6. Can I Send In the Same Application During the Next Application Cycle?

This is possibly the most detrimental thing you could do when reapplying to medical school. If you are applying with the same application that was rejected, wouldn’t you just be rejected a second time? You want to give yourself the best chance at being accepted when you are reapplying to medical school. Giving your application a thorough review and making necessary changes gives you that best chance.


Applying to medical school is a lengthy, complicated process. That is a well-known fact. Receiving a rejection from a medical school is very common. That is not a well-known fact. 

This guide on being rejected from medical school can be used as a diagnostic tool when reviewing your application. You will be able to identify areas for improvement and make the changes necessary so you can submit a brand new, improved application next year.

The process of becoming a doctor is long and difficult, and not everyone has the same journey. Receiving a rejection is normal and okay. Having the courage to work hard and keep going is the best thing you can do.

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