The road to an M.D. is long and
hard. Even the most gifted and well-intentioned pre-meds
sometimes get off on the wrong path. One of the things I
do as a consultant is to help students in that situation
get back on track again.
I once worked with a great medical
school applicant who had lost his way. He had been
enrolled in the undergraduate portion of the combined
B.S./M.D. program at a good university. Obviously, he
had a lot going for him to have been accepted to the
program in the first place. He maintained a good GPA and
had pretty good extracurricular activities.
But then he got killed by the MCAT.
He got something like a 26, which was a point or two
below what the university required to stay in the
program. And so he was kicked out.
He was something of a broken spirit
when he came to us – a free-flying pre-med with real
doubts about his ability to get into medical school in
the U.S. He was thinking seriously about trying his luck
at foreign schools.
Of course he asked about re-taking
the MCAT. I didn't think that was necessary. His score
clearly didn't reflect his abilities. He had maintained
a quite respectable science GPA of 3.5 or so. I think he
just lost his touch when he took the test.
I've seen a lot of people run into
that problem. They seem to assume that if they did well
on the SAT, they're bound to do well on the MCAT, but
the two tests are entirely different. The SAT is about
reasoning, but the MCAT is about content. You either
know the stuff on test day, and can pull it together
under test pressure, or you can't. I think this client
simply stumbled on that.
I advised him not to put himself
through the ordeal and expense of re-taking the MCAT.
I knew an admissions committee would be able to see
that he was smart enough for medical school, if he
presented himself the right way.
He had neglected a lot of things
when he first prepared his medical school application, I
think because he was so dispirited. I worked with him to
bring out all of the things that mitigated his MCAT
score. We didn't sweep the MCAT under the rug, but we
did use the rest of the application to highlight his
It worked. He was admitted to every
one of the three in-state schools he had hoped for,
including his target school. He'll make a great doctor,
and I'm happy to have been able to help him get things
back on track.
– Contributed by Senior Consultant Tim Wu, M.D. Tim served on the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine admissions committee.
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