Whether it’s been a lifelong dream or a recent interest, the application process for medical school is daunting. It’s even more of a stressful and uncertain process if you have a low GPA from your undergraduate degree. It goes without saying that your GPA typically plays a major role in this acceptance procedure. However, there are many ways to make up for a lower GPA within your medical school application. Below is a guide that will walk you through ways to make your medical school goal a reality despite your lower GPA.
Is It Possible to Get Into Med School with a Low GPA?
It is definitely possible to get into medical school with a low GPA. It honestly depends on how one defines a “low GPA” since prestigious medical schools see a low GPA as a 3.7 while others would easily accept that. Furthermore, enhancing other parts of your medical school application will set you apart from your fellow applicants to make an impact on the admissions staff regardless of your undergrad GPA.
What is Considered a Low GPA for Medical School?
A low GPA for medical school depends on which medical school is in question. Typically, a top-tier to mid-tier medical school will require you to have a 4.0-3.8 GPA for admission. Some medical schools will accept students with GPAs as low as in the 2-point range, although they aren’t as highly regarded. As mentioned before, your GPA is a very influential aspect of your medical school application. That and your MCAT score ultimately decide whether or not you advance in the admission process for that particular school. The average GPA for medical school acceptance is about a 3.8, for reference.
Therefore, it is important that you meet the qualifications (they are often explicitly listed on the medical school’s website) for that program in terms of GPA. In other words, if you have a lower GPA, then you can usually still be admitted to a medical school if their GPA requirements are flexible enough to accommodate for your credentials.
Finding a medical school, or schools, that have “lower” GPA standards will help ensure your admission if you fall within the 3.5 or lower range rather than 3.9 range that is more preferred by more prestigious institutions.
Are C’s Bad for Med School?
Getting into medical school, as said above, is a difficult task, to say the least. There are typically multiple rounds in the admissions process and the few selected get more and more competitive each round. For instance, in the first round, one’s MCAT score and GPA from their undergraduate are considered. As the rounds continue, other factors of the specific student’s application are considered including volunteer hours and letters of recommendation.
Your GPA is an important aspect of your application
Therefore, since your GPA is one of the more heavily weighted pieces of information that you provide medical schools with, it can be especially difficult to get through those early-round if your GPA doesn’t match that school’s requirements. Since medical schools are so competitive, if you have a low GPA, but an average MCAT score, it is likely that another student matches your credentials, but exceeds your GPA. This competitive nature allows some students to stand out in the admission process while other applicants are held back consequently.
What’s my GPA?
If you have C’s, then your GPA will be around 2.0. For most top-tier medical schools, this GPA won’t cut it since it is comparatively very low compared to traditional other applicants. However, some lower-tier medical schools don’t have as steep as requirements and will be more flexible with a lower GPA like a 2.0. Furthermore, some medical schools will allow a higher MCAT score to compensate for a struggling GPA. It’s all about the perspective of the admissions committee and the specific school that you are applying to. It may be helpful to do some research before applying to get an understanding of how difficult it is to be accepted and what their range is in terms of GPA and MCAT scores.
Where was your undergraduate?
The university that you completed your undergraduate and received your GPA can also be an influential piece of information. If you went to a competitive university, then your 2.0 GPA will be seen in a very different light than another student who received the same GPA at a state school that wasn’t as selective or rigorous. In other words, it is implied that you had to work harder to get that 2.0 GPA than your counterpart within the admissions pool. Therefore, if a 2.0 GPA is a reality for you, don’t lose hope for medical school because if your place of undergraduate study is highly respected, some points of your grade point average may be excused due to the rigor you endured to earn it.
What did you study?
All college degrees are difficult to some degree but it’s clear that some are harder than others, especially in the eyes of medical school. If you are on the “pre-med” track and majoring in Neuroscience, then your lower GPA will be cut more slack than a fashion merchandise major which did little to nothing to prepare you for the medical world. Being aware of this when deciding your major is important during your undergraduate years.
What Medical Schools Accept Low GPA?
Below are some low GPA medical school acceptance situations. For each, there are some credentials listed that provide a better understanding of their unique admission standards. It is important to remember that although these schools aren’t as selective, some are still highly regarded. Others are still quite challenging to be accepted to, however, they may weigh aspects of the applications received differently than they may be traditional. For instance, it is likely that the MCAT score, undergrad GPA, personal statement, volunteer hours, letters of recommendation, and place of study for your undergrad are considered on a more equal weight compared to a more prestigious institution where GPA and MCAT scores are the most important by far.
|Meharry Medical College||Nashville, TN||3.42|
|Howard University College of Medicine||Washington DC||3.47|
|Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine||Roanoke, VA||3.52|
|Tulane University School of Medicine||New Orleans, LA||3.55|
|The Commonwealth Medical College||Scranton, PA||3.63|
|New York Medical College||Valhalla, NY||3.64|
What Medical School Has the Highest Acceptance Rate?
The medical school with the highest admission rate is the University of Mississippi Medical Center located in Jackson, MS. They accept 41% of their applicants and have a very low GPA and MCAT score requirements. The GPA they have listed on their website is a 2.8 minimum for admission. However, the average GPA at Mississippi Medical Center is almost a full point higher at 3.6.
This statistic shows that although it’s much easier to get into this medical school, it is still an institution regarded highly enough to draw students with higher GPAs. Therefore, if you are a student with dreams of medical school and a low GPA, don’t be discouraged if you end up at your last-resort school because there will be students who still attend and build the medical school’s reputation.
5 Ways to Get Accepted to Medical School with a Low GPA:
As we have stated many times throughout this article, GPA is definitely an important aspect of your medical school application. That being said, there is still hope for your medical school dream. If you achieve these 5 suggestions below, they may outweigh your struggling GPA and propel your application through the initial round of admission, where these 5 aspects will be further evaluated to determine your acceptance. Following these ways to get accepted with a low GPA will greatly increase your chances of admission.
1. MCAT Score
The MCAT is your best bet to grab the admission director’s attention. The MCAT and GPA are by far the two most weighted aspects of your application. Therefore, if one of these scores is lower than what is preferred by your college of choice, then the other can make up for it. In this case, if your GPA is a couple of points lower than what the medical school suggests, but your MCAT score is well above the average, then you still have a respectable shot at getting into that medical school.
Another positive of the MCAT score meaning so much to your admission is the fact that you can retake it multiple times. Once your GPA is calculated, especially in your upperclassmen years, it is extremely difficult to raise it. However, if you find yourself out of range for medical school, you can devote some time to the MCAT and find more immediate gratification in terms of your application status. Not to take away from the extreme preparation it takes to score well on the MCAT, it takes a significantly less amount of time to seek positive results than the years of work it takes to get a respectable GPA during your undergrad. You may find our articles on how to ace the MCAT and MCAT tips and test taking strategies helpful.
Volunteer hours are not necessarily a requirement for medical school, however, they are highly regarded. There are many opportunities to volunteer your time in both the short and long term. It is recommended that you get about 200 volunteer hours under your belt when applying to medical school. Furthermore, getting experience in a hospital or medical setting will set you apart from other applicants and prove your dedication and interest in the field. If you see that your GPA is starting to slip from a goal range, then you may want to start focusing on some volunteering opportunities to help make up for that loss on your application. We’ve also written a guide on how many volunteer hours is enough for med school.
3. Letters of Recommendation
Having respected and meaningful letters of recommendation will greatly help your case as well. Professors who know you personally are often a great choice since they can speak on the qualities that they believe will assist you in the medical world. Another strong group of candidates to consider having to write your letters of recommendation are those who observed your volunteer work. Likely, they have seen how you help others (something you will do a great deal of if you continue to pursue this field). This will be helpful when explaining your character, something that can easily overshadow your grades if they aren’t far off of the school’s intended marks.
4. Personal Statement
A common error in this section of your application is excuse-making, especially if you had lower grades during your undergrad. Instead of trying to justify why your grades were the way they were, instead explain the situation that led to these academic dips and how you overcame the situation. If you are a non traditional medical student with a low GPA or a vetran with a low GPA, this is an opportunity to tell your story.
5. Great Interview
If you use the above techniques to enhance your application enough to get past the first few rounds of admission, then you may find yourself in an interview phase. Answering questions with genuine and professional answers will add to the person spelled out on paper. If your GPA is lower than average, focus on bringing your application to life with this interaction to add another perspective to their consideration of you. It will help them better understand what kind of person you are in addition to adding depth to your application.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Get Into Med School with a Low GPA
We hope that after reading this guide you feel more confident applying to medical school, even with a lower GPA. Although your GPA is important, it isn’t everything. If you focus on improving your application in other areas and put effort into researching an appropriate medical school, it is likely that you will find an institution that will accept you. It would be unrealistic to state that an overall strong application will persevere a prestigious medical school’s application process if it is far off in terms of GPA. However, there are so many medical school opportunities that may not be among the top names, but will still provide you with the certification and education for your future medical career.
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