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What Are the Steps to Go to Medical School After Graduating From High School?

by Van Thompson, Demand Media

    Medical school is a lofty goal that requires years of preparation. The decisions you make after high school can greatly affect your odds of medical school acceptance. A good undergraduate college, excellent grades, high scores on the MCAT and sufficient knowledge about the basics of medicine can all improve your chances of admission. They'll also improve your likelihood of excelling in medical school after you're accepted.

    Undergraduate Degree

    You'll need to attend college before you can apply to medical school. A high-ranking school can improve your odds of admission, particularly if that school is known to send a large number of students on to medical school. Many schools offer a pre-med degree that provides you with a strong background in biology, physiology and chemistry. A humanities major is also a valid path toward medical school, as admissions officers often look for candidates who can analyze problems and communicate well with others, but you'll need to complete classes in anatomy, biology, physiology and chemistry regardless of your major. A high GPA and strong professor recommendations play a major role in your ability to be accepted to a medical school. Developing good relationships with your professors -- particularly those who teach science classes -- can increase your likelihood of acceptance.

    Extracurricular Activities

    Extracurricular activities in a health-related pursuit can make you a stronger medical school applicant, though they're not absolutely necessary. Try getting an internship in a medical practice, or volunteering at a community health center. If you take a year off of school after your college graduation, you can use this time to get additional experience by shadowing a doctor, taking additional courses or doing scholarly research. Such activities can give you more experience in the medical field, help you develop medical professionalism and make the material you've learned in your college classes more concrete. They also show your commitment to and interest in the field, which can make you a more appealing candidate.

    MCAT

    The Medical College Admissions Test is an achievement test that tests your ability to understand basic concepts in medicine. You must take and pass this test to get into medical school. You'll need to have basic scientific knowledge in biology and organic chemistry and be skilled at reading comprehension and writing. An MCAT preparation class, independent study or additional classes in areas in which you struggle can all help you get a strong score on this important test. The test is held several times each year and, because studying for it can take several months, it's generally best to take it when you're not in school -- either over the summer break before your senior year of college or after you graduate.

    Med School Application

    Your medical school application consists of your undergraduate transcript, MCAT scores, personal statement and professor recommendations, as well as an application fee. Keeping track of application deadlines is key, because if you miss the deadline, you definitely won't be accepted. It's also a good idea to apply to several different schools, because medical school spots are limited. By casting a wide net, you increase your chances of admission. You'll have to apply to each individual school, and you may be required to attend an in-person or phone interview. Appearing polished, curious about medicine and dedicated can all increase your likelihood of admission.

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    About the Author

    Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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