Gaining acceptance into medical school can present a challenge for even the most focused and driven students. Pre-med students should make the most of their undergraduate years so their applications stand out against the competition’s. Maintaining a high academic average, performing successfully on the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, and choosing appropriate extra-curricular activities will help you demonstrate that you are the well-rounded, qualified applicant that medical schools are seeking.

Grades

Both overall and science grades are considered by admissions committees. Typically, you will need a 3.6 or higher to be competitive. There should not be a huge discrepancy between your science and overall GPA, according to Purdue University. The difficulty of your undergraduate course load is factored in as well, so choose courses that will challenge, but not overwhelm you.

MCAT

The MCAT, administered in a computerized format, measures proficiency in scientific concepts, verbal reasoning and writing ability. Medical schools will have access to all of an applicant’s scores, so do not attempt the test until you feel adequately prepared. According to Kaplan Test Prep, 10 to 11 points per section out of a possible 15 will put you in the competitive range, while 12 or more will put you in the elite range.

Medical Experience

Medical schools expect applicants to have experience in a clinical setting. Whether you arrange to shadow a physician or volunteer in a hospital, dedicate some of the spare time in your undergraduate years to gaining practical experience. If you are a working student, find employment in a doctor’s office, clinic or nursing home. You strengthen your candidacy and you will have an opportunity to ensure that medicine is the correct career path for you.

Extracurricular Activities

The activities in which you participate during your spare time help admissions committees see you as a well-rounded individual outside of your academic achievements. Whether you participate in a sport or are an editor on your campus newspaper, show dedication by sticking with a few activities rather than jumping around between many. Longevity with an organization allows you the chance to develop your leadership qualities by becoming a team captain or a senior editor, for example. Commitment and leadership potential are necessary qualities for practicing physicians.