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Data & Conclusions about GPA, MCAT Score, and Admissions Chances

  • by Brian McGrew
  • Mar 14, 2022
  • MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions

The process of applying to medical school can appear to be one big numbers game. Tens of thousands of students apply every year, so it’s easy to feel like a little fish in a big pond. There are several components to a successful medical school application, but two particular aspects are often at the forefront of students’ minds—undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and MCAT score. Whether you plug your information into an online “Medical School Chance Predictor” any chance you get, or you plan to simply submit your application and hope for the best, the impact of these two factors on application acceptance is something to acknowledge.

Stats from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), 53,030 students applied to MD-granting medical schools for the 2020 school year. Of those individuals, 23,105 were offered acceptance to at least one medical school. Though this information alone shows little more than a general acceptance percentage, the data garnered from AAMC’s report on those applications is exceedingly helpful for any potential applicant.

For example, their report tells us what the MCAT is out of and that accepted applicants submitted MCAT scores within the range of 477 to 528. The average score for accepted applicants was 512, though 14 students with scores under 487 were accepted. In terms of undergraduate GPA, accepted applicants earned GPAs between 2.14 and 4.00, with 3.79 being average.

Beyond MCAT Score and GPA

What does this mean for aspiring medical students? There is, of course, an overarching conclusion that most students realize already: the higher the MCAT score and undergraduate GPA, the better. However, while MCAT score and GPA are huge indicators for a successful application, they aren’t everything. For example, there were a substantial number of medical school applicants with scores above the median score of 512 that were not accepted. According to the AAMC, it is vital for students to recognize the “importance of factors other than MCAT performance—including undergraduate academic performance and a variety of personal characteristics and experiences—in the medical student selection process.”

Now, more than ever before, a balanced application is critical for acceptance to a medical school program. For instance, 83% of accepted applicants reported community service along with volunteer medical or clinical experience. It’s not that exam scores or undergraduate grades are unimportant—that’s not what I’m trying to say. On the other hand, medical schools are looking for more than impeccable grades—they’re looking for outstanding potential doctors.

Holistic Application Process

The AAMC refers to their application process as “holistic”, meaning that they take into account the whole picture when considering an applicant. In particular, they are examining “experiences, attributes, and academic metrics”, along with how these components relate to each other within your application. Have you volunteered at the same clinic three summers in a row? An experience like that could demonstrate diligence and commitment. Do your personal statements, recommendation letters, and interviews set you apart? It’s easy to appear similar to other premed students on paper. These aspects are just as important to admissions committees as your academic ability, even though there might not be written requirements of “X hours spent volunteering” or “would be interesting in a conversation.”

The holistic nature of the admissions process helps to explain some of the reported data that appears less intuitive. Based on those other factors, it is possible to score really well on the MCAT and have a 4.0 GPA, but not receive an acceptance. However, that can actually be a good thing! It shows that medical schools are looking for more than just numbers on paper—they’re looking at your overall potential. The best way to evaluate this information is to lean into your personal strengths and do your best. Studying for the MCAT is a vital part of the med school process, as is getting involved in your community, compiling your personal statement, and preparing adequately for interviews.

It is no secret that the med school application process can be daunting, confusing, and a little nerve-wracking. The good news is that the data is on your side! There are many ways to set your application apart—there is no cookie-cutter formula or perfect standard you need to measure yourself against. Taking the time to do your best in the more quantitative aspects (GPA, MCAT score) does pay off, but it’s strongly supplemented by the effort you put into the qualitative parts of your application. Don’t miss the med school application forest for its numerical trees—work toward being a well-rounded applicant, and it will pay off in the long run.

Blueprint MCAT has offers admissions guidance and consulting services to aspiring medical students from experienced admissions consultants whose only goal is to help you get into the medical college or university of your dreams.