How to Succeed as a UCLA Pre-med

April 24, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 4/24/24

Thinking of becoming a UCLA pre-med? Keep reading, and we’ll go through everything you need to know!

UCLA is one of the most highly regarded schools in the country. The facility is home to cutting-edge research, a thriving student body, and countless successful alumni. For many college hopefuls, applying to UCLA is a no-brainer. But how does UCLA hold up for those wanting to pursue medicine?

Being a pre-med at UCLA is one of the best ways to plan out your journey to medical school. This is because the university has resources that will enable you to make the most of your time there and thrive as a pre-med student. From diverse course selection, extracurriculars, and research opportunities, UCLA is a top pre-med school.

It’s no surprise that not everyone is cut out for the pre-med journey, let alone medical school. Even with a school like UCLA, knowing what to look out for and how to plan your college journey can be an immense help before getting yourself lost in the pre-med track. Otherwise, you risk burning out, which could make things harder for yourself.

So, without delaying any further, let’s break down what it takes to be a pre-med at UCLA!

image of dots background

UCLA Pre-med Requirements 

The UCLA pre-med requirements include biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, physics, and English. While you’ll have some room for electives that interest you, it’s a good idea to plan out what courses will be used as prerequisites for medical school

Most medical schools will typically expect a full-year course or equivalent in each category. Science classes are assumed to have laboratory requirements. In addition, biochemistry and statistics aren’t always required for every school, so it’s important you check with the medical schools you’re interested in applying to.

Medical School Prerequisites UCLA Courses
Biology Life Sci 7A - Cell & Molecular Biology
Life Sci 7B - Ecology & Evolution, Genetics
Life Sci 7C + Life Sci 23L - Human Physiology, Genetics + Lab
Life Sci 107 (optional) - Advanced Genetics
General Chemistry Chem 14A or 20A - General Chemistry
Chem 14B or 20B - General Chemistry
14BL or 20L (+ 30AL optional) - General Chemistry Lab
Organic Chemistry Chem 14C or 30A - Organic Chemistry
Chem 14CL or 30BL - Organic Chemistry Lab
Chem 14D or 30B ( + 30C optional) - Organic Chemistry
Biochemistry Chem 153A - Biochemistry
Chem 153L (optional) - Biochemistry Lab
Mathematics Math 3A or 31A or LS 30A - Calculus \ Mathematical Modeling
Math 3B or 31B or LS 30B - Calculus \ Mathematical Modeling
Math 3C or 32A or LS 40 or Stats 13 - Diff Eqs & Lin Alg \ Calculus \ Statistics
Physics Physics 5A or 6A or 1A - Mechanics
Physics 5B or 6B or 1B + 4AL - Waves, Electromagnetism
Physics 5C or 6C or 1C + 4BL - Modern Physics
English English or Comp Lit or “W” course - English Literature and Writing

Source: UCLA

Pre-med courses go over most foundational science concepts with a strong emphasis 

on medical sciences. Students will learn about topics to help them understand medicine as it relates to the human body, such as organic chemistry, genetics, cell and molecular biology. All these courses provide important information to succeed in medical school.

UCLA Pre-med Two-Year Course Plan

Planning out your pre-med course selection is the most basic way you can plan out your journey and find out exactly which courses you need to take. With all the information you’ll need to learn, having a clear progression of courses can structure your education in a way that’s much more effective for learning.

This table will break down how a biology major might go about fulfilling pre-med course requirements.

Semester Course Units
Fall 1 2 of (10 units):
LS 7A (GE)
LS 30A (QR)
Chem 14A (GE)
1 of (5 units):
EngComp 2 (ELWR)
10 + 5 = 15
Winter 1 2 of (10 units):
LS 30B
Chem 14B
1 of (5 units):
EngComp3 (WI)
10 + 5 = 15
Spring 1 2 of (10 units):
LS 7C+23L
Stats 13 (QR/GE)
Chem 14C
1 of (5 units)
10 + 5 = 15
Summer 1

Semester Course Units
Fall 2 1 of (4 units):
LS 30A
Chem 14A
1 of (5 units):
Phys 5A (GE)
1 of (5 units):
4 + 5 + 5 = 14
Winter 2 1 of (4 units)
LS 30B
Chem 14B
1 of (5 units):
Phys 5B
1 of (5 units):
GE/Writing II
4 + 5 + 5 = 14
Spring 2 1 of (4 units):
LS 7C+23L
Stats 13
Chem 14C
1 of (5 units):
Phys 5C
1 of (4 units):
UD major
4 + 5 + 4 = 13

Source: UCLA

Of course, not everyone has the same pre-medical education. Many medical school applicants come from a life sciences background. This table outlines the suggested path provided by UCLA for biology majors. The courses ensure you cover foundational science areas such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

If you’re planning to pursue a different major, then it’s important to make sure you take the appropriate prerequisites. For majors outside of science, you should remember that some of the required courses have prerequisites themselves. Always remember to check that you’ll meet the requirements for each prerequisite so you can take them.

Strategies for Maintaining a High GPA 

You can maintain a high GPA as a UCLA pre-med by planning study sessions, reviewing material, and keeping track of all due dates. Although medical schools do take a holistic approach to admissions, MCAT and GPA are the main quantitative metrics to group applicants, and GPA is significantly harder to change down the line.

What this means is that you’ll need to have impeccable study habits. Succeeding as a pre-med can be thought of as a battle of attrition: you’ll need to juggle multiple requirements and courses for extended periods of time. Apart from your courses, you’ll want good extracurriculars, volunteer work, and research experience.

Within the courses themselves, the best approach is to partition your time according to course requirements. This means planning and budgeting out your study time on different scales of days, weeks, and months to ensure you’re never falling behind. Furthermore, reviewing daily will help you avoid burnout due to cramming.

Finding Academic Resources 

UCLA offers an abundance of different academic resources to help students perform their best in college. Staying on top of things in college means making the most of the resources available to you. Fortunately, These resources include a career center, remote learning resources, writing programs, and major information.

One of the most flexible and useful resources you can benefit from at UCLA is the Center for Academic Advising in College. The academic advising center will be able to answer any questions or clear up any confusion you may have in regard to your academic goals. Countless students rely on academic advising for college success.

You’ll most likely encounter writing-based courses throughout your time as a pre-med at UCLA. In order to perform to the best of your abilities, it can be a good idea to check out the Undergraduate Writing Center. This is where you’ll be able to learn how to communicate as effectively as possible for all written work.

Selecting the Ideal Major for UCLA Pre-Med Students

The ideal UCLA pre-med major is one you’re passionate about and can maintain a high GPA in. UCLA has over 125 majors to choose from and a Major Blast center to help you decide which one makes the most sense for you.  While most pre-meds tend to favor areas in the life sciences, choosing majors from arts or humanities is just as valid.

The most important question you’ll want to ask yourself when selecting a major is what you feel you can get high marks in for the duration of your studies while balancing other pre-med obligations, such as volunteering, research, and extracurriculars. Your major itself won’t make a significant difference for your med school application.

Having a major you’re actually interested in can make all the difference on those stressful nights spent studying on your fourth cup of coffee. If you think you can do well in a social science like economics, a humanities major like philosophy, or in a science like math, then you shouldn’t hesitate to pursue them.

MCAT Considerations

There are four MCAT sections you’ll need to study and prepare for: 

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

Something students often forget is that the MCAT is less a test about memorization and more about your understanding of these various topics. One of the best ways you can improve your performance is by taking as many practice tests as possible. The application of your knowledge on a test is a skill that needs to be refined.

Furthermore, succeeding on the MCAT is similar to succeeding on other standardized tests, such as the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE. Retaking tests like the MCAT are often a great way to understand what areas you may be lacking in. Not to mention, having multiple attempts can keep test anxiety at bay.

UCLA Pre-Med Extracurriculars

The best UCLA pre-medical extracurriculars are ones that you’re enthusiastic about that include areas like athletics, leadership, healthcare, and volunteer work. So, it comes as no surprise that 74% of students are part of one of the 1,200 clubs and organizations the university has to offer.

Keeping in shape and getting involved in a sport can make your application more well-rounded. UCLA Recreation ensures that students have the best athletic experience on campus, with 50 club sports and 30 leagues.

Although being a pre-med can be stressful at times, having a support network can make things easier. The Pre-Med Community at UCLA offers students a chance to network with like-minded peers who have similar medical aspirations. Better yet, everyone is welcome, regardless of their academic background.

One thing pre-meds all have in common is looking for the right volunteer opportunities. 

UCLA Pre-med Clinical and Community Volunteering

Checking out the UCLA Volunteer Database can help narrow down your search for clinical and community volunteering opportunities. Through the database, you’ll be able to search for volunteer placements related to healthcare, disabilities, and disaster relief, among other things. Having diverse experience can help your med school application stand out.

If you feel overwhelmed with choosing the right volunteer opportunities, don’t worry. UCLA has its very own Volunteer Day, where students, faculty, and even community members can participate in a variety of volunteer and community service events. This can give participants a broad overview of volunteer opportunities.

UCLA also compiles resources specifically for those interested in medical volunteering. These can be found through the Clinical UCLA Health Sciences (CUHS) Volunteer Program. The UCLA Volunteer Center gives you access to more than 5,000 sites across LA that offer activities related to healthcare and humanitarianism.

UCLA Pre-med Shadowing

UCLA has a student organization, Pre-Medical Undergraduate Learning through Shadowing Experience (PULSE), that gives students the opportunity to learn about medicine through shadowing. What makes PULSE unique is its emphasis on giving students a broad overview of the medical field.

Unlike other shadowing placements, PULSE will enable you to see what you like and dislike about medicine. Avoiding an overly narrow experience will enable you to make unbiased decisions about your medical career. Having exposure to different kinds of environments can make you more well-rounded.

Through the UCLA Pre-Health services, you’ll also find various sources for shadowing opportunities in addition to general guidelines to follow. In short, you’ll want to maintain a sense of professionalism and treat your shadowing experience much like you would a real job, making sure to always be polite and diplomatic.

UCLA Pre-med Research

The UCLA Undergraduate Research Center is one of the main ways students get involved with research opportunities. In addition, the university makes a detailed breakdown of their research programs and resources for different years of your undergraduate education.

Doing the right research is not only important for medical admissions committees but also for students. Research can give insight into the future of science and how new developments are shaping the field of medicine. As a life science, medicine is evolving everyday faster than ever, and research can help you keep up to date.

If you need additional help with your pre-medical journey, the David Geffen School of Medicine offers pre-med guidance for students trying to figure out their trajectory to medical school. Hearing from experts in the field and talking to potential mentors can give you a clearer sense of your future in med school.

Getting Into Pre-medical School From UCLA 

Since UCLA doesn’t offer students a specific pre-medical major, getting into the right pre-medical major follows the same requirements as other programs. UCLA does have a pre-med and pre-health planning program to help ensure students meet the prerequisites for a wide range of medical professions.

As mentioned before, there’s not a single major that’s best for medical school. The pre-med and pre-health planning program caters to students pursuing a wide range of majors, including those in STEM, arts, humanities, and social science. As a result, you’ll have more flexibility and freedom in planning your pre-med education.

Taking a look at the freshman profile can help give you a sense of what you’ll need to get into UCLA. The median unweighted GPA is a 4.00, while the median weighted GPA is 4.57. Students from over 50 different countries attend UCLA, so it’s safe to say you’ll meet all kinds of people during your studies there.

UCLA Pre-med Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

There is no official UCLA pre-med acceptance rate since the school doesn’t offer a pre-med program. However, the school has a 9% acceptance rate across all programs. Around 150,000 applicants apply for approximately 7,000 spots, so it’s safe to say that UCLA is a highly competitive school.

Through major data provided by UCLA, it’s evident that The College is by far the school type students apply to. The College includes majors in the humanities, life science, physical sciences, and social sciences. The school that receives the second most applications is the Samueli School of Engineering.

Although a large number of students matriculate and compete for well-known majors and programs, you shouldn’t shy away from any that interest you. Admission statistics show that sciences and engineering are popular at UCLA, but that doesn’t mean they’re required for pre-medical education by any means.

Getting Into UCLA as a Pre-med Student

Although UCLA doesn’t have a specific pre-med program, you’ll want to have a high GPA and extracurriculars to get in. Since pre-medical students can take a wide variety of different majors, you’ll have to compete with the general UCLA applicant pool. For the most part, UCLA attracts a very academically studious group of students.

You’ll want to focus on maintaining a competitive GPA. Taking AP and IB classes gives you the opportunity to raise your weighted GPA. At a school like UCLA, going above and beyond can make all the difference in your application. In addition to your academic work, acing the SAT and/or ACT will help you stand out.

To help round out your profile, you should think carefully about your work outside of the classroom. Engaging in an athletic extracurricular is good for your physical and mental health and shows you’re capable of succeeding in a variety of environments. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have quality volunteer experience.

Final Thoughts

Succeeding as a UCLA pre-med is a question that countless students pursuing medicine think about. Going to a school like UCLA can help set you up on the right track for medical school. The most important thing to remember to succeed as a pre-med at UCLA is to familiarize yourself with all the opportunities they have to offer students.

Since your major isn’t a top priority for medical admissions committees, you’re best advised to student something you’re interested in so that you can achieve a high GPA. UCLA makes it easy to determine which courses you’ll need with their pre-health requirements and degree maps.

You’ll also be able to use UCLA's resources for research and volunteering. Altogether, you should be able to have a competitive med school application. If you’re still confused or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out for help with one of our admissions experts. That way, we can make your white coat dreams a reality.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.
Get Free Consultation
image of dots background

You May Also Like