There is no exact formula for getting into medical school. Even by following this guide to the letter, it is still possible to not be accepted. However, there are five major areas that consistently help an applicant get accepted: Volunteering, Research, Shadowing, GPA, and MCAT Score. Again, this list is not comprehensive but it does serve as a basic guide to becoming a successful pre-medical student at the University of Central Florida.
Dedication to serving the community is an important quality for prospective medical students. To demonstrate this dedication, many medical programs prefer to see volunteer experience throughout an applicant’s undergraduate career. High school volunteer hours do not count. The required number of hours is variable, as medical programs prefer to hear how an applicant’s volunteer experience has shaped their perspective rather than the number of hours committed.
Volunteering does not necessarily require a medical focus. Activities such as “Adopt-a-Road” and “Boys Town Tutoring” are perfectly acceptable. However, medical volunteering is popular among applicants, and may have the added benefit of assisting with obtaining shadowing hours. For example, Florida Hospital volunteers often come into contact with physicians whom they later shadow. Volunteering events held by Pre-Med AMSA can be found here.
An interest in discovering more about the world is critical for a physician, and is best demonstrated by engaging in undergraduate research. While research in biology, chemistry, or other biomedical sciences is slightly preferred, it is more important to be passionate about the research subject. Enthusiasm about the topic will make it easier to speak about research during the interview stage of medical admissions.
There are many programs at UCF to help an applicant get involved with research. The Office of Undergraduate Research is the best place to find research, while contacting individual professors is another effective strategy. Should an applicant become especially passionate about their project, they can participate in the Honors in the Major program.
Knowledge of the medical profession and experience in a healthcare setting is necessary for any future physician. The easiest place to shadow will often be with a family doctor or a family friend. Alternatively, shadowing can also be completed by interacting with physicians through volunteering or other events. Further, the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences offers a number of clinical internship programs. As with volunteering, the number of hours spent shadowing is less important than the quality of the experience. The ability to show knowledge about the medical field and the duties of a physician is more important than the time spent. Further, shadowing numerous specialties is encouraged if possible, but a single quality experience is more beneficial than numerous fleeting ones.
Physicians are expected to be leaders in both clinical and social settings. Therefore, medical schools prefer to see leadership experience from their applicants. Leadership may take many forms, but the ability to show how one’s actions led to beneficial results is more important than having an official title and never accomplishing anything of value. There are many leadership opportunities within Pre-Med AMSA, so members are highly encouraged to apply for a directorship or run for an Executive Board position.
Letters of Recommendation
It is very important for pre-medical students to obtain quality letters of recommendation. It is better to have a few letters from individuals who know you very well than several letters from people who barely know you. The number and types of letters vary, but a good general guideline is to have AT MINIMUM a letter from a doctor, a science professor, and a general character reference. The AMCAS allows up to seven letters and UCF will compile a packet of five letters for qualifying students, details of which may be found here.
Asking for a letter of recommendation can be a stressful process. This document may be helpful to individuals who have a general idea of their letter writers and need help with how to request one. Those who feel completely lost should contact the Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising.
Success in academics is the first part of an application medical schools review and can make or break an application more than any other part of the application. Before any part of an application is judged, all applications are sorted by GPA and MCAT score. Therefore, without a competitive GPA it is unlikely that an applicant will be accepted into medical school so it is very important to keep a high GPA throughout the undergraduate years. At UCF, there are many resources to help students do well in coursework, including the Student Academic Resource Center, Supplemental Instruction , as well as academic advisers.
When applying to medical school, one should apply to a couple schools with high GPAs, many schools with GPAs similar to their GPA, and a couple schools below their GPA. This strategy is equally applicable to MCAT scores, and the average acceptance rate for many GPAs and old MCAT scores can be found here.
The MCAT is the standard admissions exam for medical school and has changed to reflect a broader set of subjects, including biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. The scoring scale has also changed, details of which can be found here. The MCAT is also reflective of how likely an applicant is to pass the first step of the USMLE.
The MCAT is normally taken the spring or summer of an applicant’s third undergraduate year. However, this timetable is highly variable and should not be considered rigid. There are a number of courses that should be completed prior to the MCAT, and there are many options available for MCAT test prep. UCF students are also able to access an MCAT study guide produced by the Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising. Access to this Webcourses document may be obtained by contacting the Office of Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advising.
This document is not comprehensive and more specific questions may be directed to the appropriate Pre-Med AMSA director.