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Applying to Med School with a Low GPA 

Maintaining a high GPA throughout college is certainly no easy task. Some professors make it their mission to craft incredibly difficult courses, family life tosses you its ups and downs, and on top of everything, there might be a global pandemic to navigate. Although your average GPA may not have turned out as high as you would have liked, the good news is that a few bad grades aren’t the end of your medical school dreams. 

Having a low GPA is not the defining feature of your medical school application. You can always emphasize the other strong aspects of your med school application, and you even have options to increase your average GPA numbers. 

Applying to Medical School with a Low GPA

Post-Baccalaureate Programs 

One way to increase your overall GPA before applying to medical school is actually to increase it. Yes, it really is possible! A Post Baccalaureate Program can serve as a helpful opportunity for applicants with low undergraduate GPAs to take additional classes, score well, and boost their overall GPA. This is not the route for applicants with very low GPAs since you must be able to be accepted into a Post-Bacc program. 

Still, for many applicants, this is a great way to supplement your pre-med preparation and MCAT and med school prep as well. Post-Bacc programs are completed after receiving a degree from a-year college or university program. Taking a smaller amount of classes after graduation often provides a different format and pace, which fosters successful GPA increases. 

Raising Your MCAT Score

Discussing application numbers can feel daunting to many applicants, especially those who already know they have a lower GPA. Still, the numerical component has more to it…the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT! Applying with a lower GPA becomes a great motivator to study effectively and score highly on the MCAT in order to boost all the numbers you’re applying with. 

Taking a gap year to effectively study before taking the MCAT, utilizing high quality preparatory resources, or even retaking the MCAT to get a more competitive score are good options to consider. Although a high MCAT score doesn’t perfectly fix a lower grade or GPA, it helps demonstrate your ability to the selection committees to study and test on difficult content well.

Explaining Your Low GPA

You are given several opportunities to explain your GPA during the med school application process. So, prepare for possible medical school interview questions related to your GPA. These essays and conversations are intended to give you a chance to explain trends in GPA or give explanations of academic hardships. It is a good idea to prepare in advance what you will say. It is important to demonstrate growth, perseverance, and how you worked to make improvements. This is not the moment to make excuses or complain about that one really hard professor’s unfair grading. It is best to draw attention to the lessons you learned from challenging classes. How did you use those takeaways to do better in the future? 

Medical school is a serious academic endeavor. One of the reasons schools care about GPA is because it demonstrates students’ abilities to persevere through challenging content and manage their time and commitments effectively. For applicants with low GPAs, it is important to demonstrate your overall growth on your grades throughout college if that is applicable. That learning process and being able to adapt to challenges with grit is still a positive aspect of your application, even though your overall GPA might be lower.

Holistic Application Revision

Are there other strong points in your medical school application, like exceptional volunteering, clinical experience, or leadership involvement? You may not have achieved perfect grades during college, but you were probably up to a lot of other fantastic activities, which makes you a well-rounded person and medical school applicant. 

While grades are an important component of your application, they are just one part. Trust that the selection committees will also see and value all your other unique qualities and the activities you’ve invested your time and energy into. Most schools emphasize that they view applications holistically; after all, they are trying to find applicants who will become good future doctors, which is much more than poor grades or a bad GPA score. 

Do some research when compiling the list of schools you plan on applying to. Consider schools that are less academically competitive and openly value the other qualitative aspects of a student’s application. It may be a good idea to apply to fewer schools that prioritize high statistics and grades. 

Applying to medical school with a low GPA may mean that you have some extra work to do to strengthen your application, but it is absolutely possible for many students. We encourage you to do some research for yourself and see which route will be the most suitable for making your application stand out. 


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