Medical school is rigorous and only for those who are studious. The grades needed to qualify for a spot in medical school vary greatly, depending on the institution. Some medical schools are more competitive and harder to get into; these schools typically require a higher grade point average. Many medical schools don't set minimum grade requirements for incoming medical students, but interested students should aim for an "A" grade in all undergraduate work.
Many schools separate an applicant's science grades from their overall GPA. This is especially convenient for students who are especially strong in these subjects, but may have received a satisfactory grade in an unrelated subject like art or business law. For example, University of California, San Francisco's (UCSF) class of 2010 earned a median science GPA of 3.73, which was higher than its average overall GPA. In 2011, Howard University's College of Medicine required that incoming students earn at least an average 3.25 GPA in science classes.
The overall GPA is the median grade earned for every class taken during a four-year degree program. This varies per institution, but applicants interested in the most competitive schools should strive to earn a 4.0 overall GPA. UCSF's class of 2010 earned a median overall GPA of 3.71. The 2010 entering class at Harvard Medical School earned an average overall GPA of 3.8. In 2010, the entering class at New York University's (NYU) College of Medicine earned a median GPA of 3.75. Howard University, on the other hand, required that students earn at least an overall GPA of 3.5 to gain acceptance into the College of Medicine.
The score earned on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is as important as your undergraduate GPA. The MCAT is a standardized test that measures your medical aptitude and is divided into a verbal, physical and biological science component. Each component is worth 15 points, and examinees can earn a maximum score of 45. In 2010, Harvard University's entering medical students earned a mean verbal MCAT score of 10.76, an average physical science score of 12.48 and a 12.36 in biological science. UCSF med students earned an average 11 in verbal, and 12 in both physical and biological sciences on the MCAT. NYU med students earned an average total MCAT score of 33. Howard University required students to earn at least a 24 on their total MCAT score.
Help a Lower GPA
If your GPA and MCAT score is not as competitive as many other students entering your school of choice, you can balance your GPA out by displaying a passion for medicine and self-initiate, both of which are important to many medical school admissions representative. Volunteer time in a clinic or hospital setting in the U.S. or in another, less privileged country. This will display passion, initiative and a desire to be in the medical field. Retake classes for a higher grade either at your four-year or a community college; retaking a class to earn a higher score will show initiative and a desire to improve.
Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.