Research looks into med school admissions, weight of entrance exams

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions recently surveyed admissions officers at 83 of the country’s top medical schools, including Harvard, Yale and Temple University, on a wide variety of topics. They ranged from key admissions factors to future difficulties applicants may face.

Matt Fidler, MCAT program manager for Kaplan, said one of the survey’s key findings is that “about 77 percent of med schools determine GPA or MCAT is the most important factors for admission.”

Of those schools, 34 percent placed MCAT scores as the number one factor, while 39 percent named GPA as the most significant component of a candidate’s profile.

Emily Harrison, assistant director of Graduation Operations for Princeton Review, said that GPA and MCAT scores are important but other factors influence admission officers as well.

“Med schools will begin to look at other things if you have not-so-perfect MCAT scores and an outstanding GPA, depending on their criteria and how far below you are falling,” Harrison said. “However, those are the two big things they look for.”

For pre-med students, Fidler said one of the top concerns is the study’s finding that “a combined total of 84 percent [of admission officers] said it was more difficult to get into medical school now than five years ago.”

This is disconcerting, Fidler noted, because there are 17,000-18,000 medical seats available on average, while 40,000-45,000 students apply for those seats every year.

Given this new research, students may need to look toward various organizations, both on and off campus, for extra advice on applying and preparing for medical school.

“The Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-med honor society on campus, is a rigorous club that you have to strive to enter, and is devoted to helping its members find research opportunities and prepare for their exams,” said Jorge Feria, a freshman interested in pursuing neuroscience.

Also, the Toppel Career Center hosts a series of lectures on various careers, including one on “How to Apply to Graduate School,” which will take place on Oct. 24 at 6 p.m.

Kaplan and Princeton Review both offer MCAT practice tests. Visit and for more information.

Jenny Safstrom may be contacted at