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How to Get Into Medical School With a Low GPA

This post is a contribution from our friends at IngeniusPrep.

Your grades and MCAT score are important pieces of the med school application. But they’re not everything. Medical schools evaluate you as a whole person in addition to your grades and test scores, and you should think about your candidacy that way. Even if a piece of your profile – like your GPA – is less than ideal, that doesn’t necessarily mean your chances at medical school are ruined!

There are many ways to address something like a low GPA on your applications. Four main areas to focus on include:

  1. Your AMCAS application
  2. Your letters of rec
  3. Your school list
  4. Your MCAT score

1. AMCAS Application

The written part of your application is a great opportunity to both explain a low GPA (if it requires an explanation) and to demonstrate the other elements of your profile. You never want to make excuses for yourself on your application, but additional information sections could be a good space to utilize if you have an extenuating circumstance – such as a family member falling sick – that caused your grades to dip at one point.

Otherwise, the actual application is the best place to showcase who you are as a person and why you’re a competitive applicant despite any hiccups during school. Consider what makes you unique, and focus on these points accordingly. The best applications are the ones that have a strong, consistent “theme” or “narrative” about them. Students with a unique story, interests, or set of life experiences will be more memorable to an admissions committee. Focus on your personal statement, and highlight what it is that makes you unique!

2. Letters of Recommendation

Validation by a professor is a great way to prove that you’re a good student. Even if your GPA doesn’t accurately reflect your academic capabilities, a strong letter of rec can. Make sure to choose someone that knows you both inside and outside of the classroom. Sometimes, having a professor from a class you did poorly in write you a letter can be a strong recommendation (only if it shows your effort and speaks to qualities like determination and grit).

Particularly when addressing an issue of a low GPA, strong academic recommendations can show that you’re truly capable of performing well in medical school.

3. School List

The best way to control your chances at getting into a medical school? Put together a balanced school list.

Compare your average GPA and MCAT score to the averages at the schools you’re targeting. Make sure that you include schools on your list that fall in your ranges, as well as ones where you’re above average. If your GPA is considerably low to the point where you might not make score cutoffs, consider med schools in the Caribbean or DO schools.

4. A Good MCAT Score

Your GPA and MCAT will be the two most important points of academic evaluation. If one dips, focus on the other to help balance out your profile. Grades and test scores are never the whole story since most schools do use a holistic process of review. But they are of course important. Especially when considering the rigor and poor retention rates of medical school, admissions committees need to know that you can perform up to their standards. Doing well on the MCAT (especially with a low GPA) always helps.

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