Double degree in the sciences and liberal arts. Strong research, extracurriculars, leadership, and awards. The MCAT and I didn't get along so well...I scored a fair bit lower than my practice exam average.
These profiles were super helpful (though often stress-inducing) to me as I decided where to apply. Here are a few of my thoughts about applying to "top tier" schools with a low MCAT score that I hope future applicants will find helpful:
1. I thought long and hard about retaking the MCAT, and ultimately decided not to because I'd rather do something meaningful with my summer (work on my research, which is now being published) instead of slaving over the MCAT again. With acceptances from Vandy and Hopkins, I'm obviously happy about my decision.
2. I think the reason I lucked out getting into a couple great schools with my MCAT is because the rest of my application was very strong. If you have any weaknesses in GPA, research, clinical experience, or extracurriculars, applying with a low MCAT on top of that seems like a pretty big risk.
3. In my mind, unique, significant, and meaningful extracurriculars/leadership experiences are ESSENTIAL to getting into a top tier school, regardless of your MCAT score. It is especially helpful to have those things if your MCAT is on the lower end.
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/19/2012
Undergraduate college: Big State University
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Summary of Experience:
I had a very poor interview here which I suspect had a fair amount to do with my rejection. My advocate interviewer was concerned about my MCAT (understandably so) but then proceeded to diminish my GPA and my work ethic because “it must just be really easy to get good grades at your state school.” He also complained about my experience and interest in global health because he thought it was “a fad” among med school applicants. Please. I was also grilled on my medical specialty interests, my personal relationships, and my family life plans for the future. After this interview and doing a couple MMIs, I appreciate the MMIs for their ability to present applicants in a more balanced manner. I’m a bit bummed about this interview experience and outcome, but overall I’m thankful that I was fortunate enough to even land an interview here. Be prepared to address weaknesses like a low MCAT, but I wouldn’t sweat it too much – from talking to other interviewees, it seems like my experience was a rare one.
As for the school itself, the students were really friendly and happy, and the facilities were great. I was able to visit the School of Public Health and the Partners in Health office, which would have been huge factors in my decision if I had been accepted. Plus, Paul Farmer- enough said. Boston is a great city!
This is a very unique school. I was impressed by the public health and tropical medicine opportunities, the emphasis on community service, and I really liked New Orleans. Research opportunities here seemed a bit lacking compared to other schools which is a concern.
Summary of Experience:
YES!! So thrilled to be accepted here!
Of the places I've interviewed at so far, this is one of my top choices. All of the facilities are very new and impressive (the huge hospital, the medical education building, the research building where admissions is located, and the student apartments). More importantly, I liked what I heard about the Genes to Society curriculum, and the students all seem happy and successful. To me, Hopkins seems like a great place for clinical training due to the various patient populations it serves. The hospital's particular location in Baltimore means there is a significant underserved population that Hopkins treats, and there are many community-based free clinics and other health initiatives I'd love to get involved with. In addition, Hopkins obviously sees many unique and challenging cases that are flown in for specialized care. Finally, the research and global health possibilities here are essentially unparalleled, expect perhaps by Harvard.
Of the places I've interviewed, Hopkins had the best interview day by far. It was very clear they put a lot of effort into making sure the day was organized an informative. There was ample opportunity to talk with current first and fourth year students throughout the day, as opposed to other schools where I only talked with a handful of students. The amount of effort they put into making interviewees feel welcomed and informed was impressive.