Premed Reddit and the Most Common Premed Myths Found in Online Forums — Shemmassian Academic Consulting (2023)

Learn how to navigate online forums during your medical school admissions process

Introduction

If you’re like most premed students, you’ve probably spent some time reading online message boards that discuss stressful aspects of the medical school admissions process. While communities like the premed Reddit forum or Student Doctor Network can provide support for applicants seeking guidance, they’re also chock-full of content that can leave even the most confident applicant running for the hills.

A message thread might tell you—in no uncertain terms—that only certain types of applicants get accepted into your dream MD program or that there’s only one way to write your personal statement. You might’ve even posted in the “What are my chances?” threads asking other premed hopefuls to assess your med school admissions odds.

There are also more general posts, which remind you of the competition you’re facing—for example, it’s not uncommon for student with a 3.8+ GPA and 520+ MCAT score to express uncertainty about their admissions odds. Posts like these might make it seem like only candidates with top-tier credentials should even consider applying to medical school. These threads can be disheartening and discouraging, to say the least.

So, when it comes to information you find on websites that aren’t professionally curated, what should you believe?

Our goal is to debunk common medical school admissions myths perpetuated by well-meaning but misinformed users on online forums like premed Reddit.We’re here to provide you with guidance based on nearly 20 years of helping students get into their dream programs so that as an applicant you can feel confident on your journey toward medical school.

Premed Reddit Myth #1: Medical school admissions is super competitive and, therefore, only students with exceptional stats should apply.

For many prospective students, one approximation is a constant source of anxiety: roughly 60% of applicants don’t get accepted into any medical school the first time they apply. This percentage is often referenced alongside other statistics that speak to the competitive nature of medical school admissions, which can leave you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or out of control of your future.

But what’s important to keep in mind is that about 40% of applicants do get into somewhere by focusing on the things they can control: their academic credentials, written materials, application timeline, and their overall outlook on the process.

Think about it this way: spending too much time worrying about your odds of getting in is energy spent away from researching and employing strategies to improve your chances.And believe us, the folks getting in are not just the ones with incredible stats. We routinely help students with sub-3.6 GPAs and sub-508 MCAT scores get into medical school, even MD programs.

Premed Reddit Myth #2: A good MCAT score is one that’s above a 520.

All students dream of getting a good score on the MCAT, but it’s important to keep in mind what a good score really is. There’s a great deal of back and forth about what’s a good score versus a bad score on the internet, so let’s put some facts on the table. Here are general statistics on how students score on the test:

  • Mean MCAT score: 500

  • Mean MCAT for applicants over the last 4 years: 506

  • Mean MCAT for matriculants over the last 4 years: 511.5

The average score for matriculants typically rises from year to year (in 2021–2022 it was 511.9), so you’re right to assume the MCAT carries more weight in medical school admissions now more than ever.

However, when thinking about how your score will factor into the admissions process, there’s no need to piece together various bits of information. The Association of American Medical College’s MSAR Database is the preeminent resource to see how your MCAT score measures up against those of other applicants and matriculants at select schools.

Once you have an MCAT score, make sure you reflect on what it means for your overall profile. Remember, admissions officers will be weighing it beside other key factors, particularly your GPA and extracurriculars, when developing their initial impression of your application.

Using MSAR and additional resources can help ensure that schools on your list are the right fit for you.

(Suggested reading: What MCAT Score Do You Need to Get Into Medical School?)

(Suggested reading: How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To? Which Ones?)

Premed Reddit Myth #3: Premeds with a low GPA are doomed.

Similar to your MCAT score, your undergraduate GPA matters significantly in the admissions process. Schools that review your application want to know you’re academically prepared for medical school.

Although it’s difficult to get into medical with a low GPA, here are some basic strategies that can increase your chances:

  • Have a high MCAT score. Statistics have shown that performing well on the MCAT will increase your chances of getting into medical school.

  • Consider enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program or a special master’s program. These one- to two-year programs offer an opportunity to retake undergraduate premed courses and/or take courses alongside first-year medical school students. An added bonus is that many of these programs offer linkage with medical schools.

(Suggested reading: Post-baccalaureate Programs: How to Get In (Essay Example Included))

Premed Reddit Myth #4: Undergrad prestige is more important than stats.

Medical schools are looking for the most qualified applicants, plain and simple. However, if you’re an applicant who didn’t go to an Ivy League-caliber school for undergrad, you may be concerned about how your GPA will stack up against your competitors from more prestigious institutions.

Unlike the MCAT, your GPA is representative of your academic credentials at a particular institution. In medical school admissions, an undergraduate GPA of 3.8 obtained at Stanford is viewed differently than an undergraduate GPA of 3.8 obtained at a lower-ranked university. There’s no universal metric to measure how admissions officers perceive or rank different undergraduate institutions.

Here are some strategies to counter potential anxieties you may have about your undergraduate institution:

(Suggested reading: Average GPA and MCAT Score for Every Medical School)

Premed Reddit Myth #5: When it comes to extracurriculars, quantity is king.

We all have a vision of that perfect medical school applicant. In addition to having a high MCAT score and GPA, their resumé is full of clinical and shadowing experiences and research opportunities, which can leave you, their competitor, feeling like you’re doomed to fail in the admissions process.

But when it comes to highlighting extracurriculars in your AMCAS Work and Activities section and school-specific secondary essays, remember that quality is just as important as quantity. For instance, let’s say you have two applicants: one who has completed a dozen activities with no significant accomplishments in any of them, and one who is a rockstar researcher with several first-author publications. Who is more prepared for medical school? Which candidate has developed a rapport with supervisors who’ll write them better letters of recommendation?

Ultimately, you’ll need to develop your own narrative around how these experiences helped shape you for medical school applications. You can always enhance any weak spots on your resume if you edit your written materials with this goal in mind. Even though this work can sometimes be frustrating, there’s always an opportunity to amplify impressive parts of your application.

Premed Reddit Myth #6: There are specific topics you should include/avoid in your personal statement.

The medical school personal statement is one of the most important components of your application. It’s your chance to speak directly to admissions officers, share aspects of your character and personality, and make a case for why becoming a doctor is the right path for you. For these reasons your statement should, in fact, be personal.

There’s a lot of discussion about what content makes for an impressive personal statement, and what content should or shouldn’t be included. This advice can make you feel self-conscious about your initial essay topics or latter drafts that don’t seem to align with examples you see published online.

We’ve distilled proven strategies for writing these statements in our comprehensive guide to medical school personal statements. Here, you’ll learn about what every successful personal statement requires without sacrificing an applicant’s individuality and personal voice, plus numerous examples.

Premed Reddit Myth #7: Submit AMCAS primary and secondary applications ASAP (regardless of quality).

The medical school admissions timeline can be a tricky thing to manage, especially if you have other responsibilities like work, internships, or school.

To take advantage of rolling admissions, you’ll want to submit your primary application as soon as the AMCAS application opens in May (the same goes for TMDSAS and AACOMAS). This means working on your personal statement and Work and Activities section well in advance.

However, if you find that your materials need some work, quality should take priority over a speedy submission. In other words, it’s okay to submit your materials a few days later if it means there will be substantial improvements in quality. Conversely, don’t delay your application for an extended period because of perfectionism.

Our guide to the ideal medical school admissions timeline outlines important dates and times of year for the process.

Final thoughts

As a premed, you may feel like you’re overloaded with information, which can make you question your commitment to becoming a doctor. But remember, there is no such thing as a “perfect applicant.” Your journey toward medical school will be unique no matter the circumstances surrounding the process. By following the strategies outlined in this post, you can approach your admissions process with peace of mind.

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