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Successful Medical School Applicants

Admissions decisions at medical schools are based on multiple criteria developed by the faculty at each individual school. Each medical school will place varying emphasis on different aspects of the application criteria based on their institution’s mission and goals. While there is no “magic formula” to determine which applicants will gain admission, admissions committees are looking for applicants who not only possess the ability to successfully complete the rigorous curriculum, but also possess the personal characteristics desired in future physicians. Medical schools seek to enroll students who bring diverse talents and interests to medicine and who can contribute to meeting the health care needs of society. The successful candidate will demonstrate evidence of high intellectual ability, a good record of accomplishments, and personal traits that indicate an ability to communicate with and relate to patients in a compassionate manner. Applicants should strive to develop themselves not only as students, but also as citizens and active participants in their community.


The Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) lists the following selection criteria that most medical schools use in making decisions of admissions.


1) Strong Academic Record.

Medical school admissions committees are looking for evidence of academic success. The most obvious way this is evaluated is through undergraduate grade point average (gpa). The undergraduate record, particularly grades in biology, chemistry, physics and math, is the most important single factor in predicting whether or not a student will be admitted to a particular medical school. Medical schools play close attention to academic course loads and the types of course work taken. An applicant’s academic record should demonstrate a mastery of science course work including courses beyond the minimum requirements for admission. Science course work should be complimented with broad course work that demonstrates an awareness of the world and the people in it. Students are expected to complete 14-16 hours per semester throughout their undergraduate years. There are always individual exceptions for students who work full-time or who have other extenuating circumstances, however the typical student should strive to stay within this course hour range. The semester that you are studying for the MCAT, course loads may be slightly lower. The most recent data obtained from the 2004-2005 Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) indicate that the average grade point average of accepted applicants is as follows:


> 3.6 science gpa (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math)
> 3.7 overall gpa (all course work included)


The average gpa of admitted applicants at LSU Medical schools is typically in line with the national average.


2) Strong MCAT Scores.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a standardized national examination required of all applicants to medical school. It is strongly recommended that the test be taken in the spring of the junior year. Please refer to the section on the MCAT at this website or you may obtain additional information from www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm. The exam is designed to test material covered in required premedical course work. The AAMC states that admission officers use the exam to “predict success in medical schoool, to determine student’s strong and weak areas, and to compare students from different colleges and universities”. The most recent report from AAMC indicates that the average MCAT composite scores of admitted applicants nationwide is approximately 29. The LSU Medical Schools average score is typically in this range as well.


3) Personal Characteristics.

Candidates personal attributes and experiences are important factors in admission decisions. The following are personal attributes that are closely evaluated by admission committees as compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges:

> psychological maturity
> character and integrity
> self-discipline
> judgment
> empathy
> communication skills
> concern for helping others
> intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm
> motivation and persistence
> resilience
> leadership skills
> medical experience and knowledge

Admission committees seek information about these qualities in an applicant’s personal statement, in evaluation letters from faculty and advisors, and in personal interviews. These characteristics are demonstrated through research and volunteer experiences, service to the underserved and disadvantaged, and involvement in campus and community organizations. The focus should be on quality of experiences rather than quantity.