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What to Expect When Applying to a Post-Bacc

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All pre-medical post-bacc programs have one aim: getting you in to the medical school of your dreams. However, they all have different ways of getting you there. As you research your options, you’ll also discover they have different requirements for admission. In this article, we explain what you can generally expect in terms of requirements and documentation when it comes to applying to post-bacc programs.

Important Reminder: Post-Baccs Are Not Remedial

Before we dive in to what most post-bacc admissions departments are looking for when you apply, we feel it’s always worth reiterating that post-bacc programs are very competitive.
You can make up prerequisites you didn’t take in these programs. You can boost your GPA to strengthen your application to a specific program you have your eye on. You can re-take courses in which you didn’t perform as well as you could have due to a legitimate extenuating circumstance, such as a serious illness or family issue. But you can’t totally recover from a lackluster undergraduate career.
Be realistic and take your post-bacc application seriously. In fact, consider your application to a post-bacc just as carefully as you would your medical school application.

GPA Requirements

For most post-bacc programs in our database, the minimum GPA requirement for entry falls somewhere between 2.5 – 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. However, bear in mind that there’s often a difference between the stated minimum GPA a program asks for and the average GPA of accepted students. For example, at Columbia University, the admissions page for their post-bacc points out that applicants should “have an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above; most successful applicants, however, have an average GPA of 3.65.”i
So, you’re more likely succeed as an applicant if there are a few tenths of a point between you and the minimum GPA. If you are right on the edge, make sure you have other factors to recommend you (e.g. strong standardized test scores or relevant experience such as clinical volunteering or employment in a healthcare-related occupation).

Standardized Tests

Standardized test requirements for post-baccs vary, but most require evidence from at least one test. Some post-baccs will assume you have already had one attempt at the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)® and list a minimum score in their requirements. Others will not. Still others (generally those focused on career changers) may only consider applicants who haven’t taken the MCAT® at all.
Post-baccs that do require the MCAT® may often stipulate that you need to have taken it within a specific time frame. For example, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine wants applicants to have taken the MCAT® within the past three years.ii For programs in our database which list the MCAT® as an admissions factor, minimum scores for applicants typically fall between 23-27 out of a possible 30 on the pre-2015 MCAT®, and 500 or better out of a possible 528 on the new MCAT®—what Kaplan refers to as “competitive scores”.iii
Some post-bacc programs will ask for scores from your SAT or ACT, while others also include the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as a factor. It will vary by program.

Prerequisites

Post-bacc programs will often require applicants to have achieved a minimum GPA in their pre-med science and math courses, too. Minimum scores for programs we have evaluated tend to fall between 2.5-3.0, but, as with overall GPA, the scores achieved by successful applicants may be much higher than this.
Note that post-baccs specifically for career changers may require that you not have taken the typical pre-med prerequisites (or have only taken a limited number of those courses).

Letters of Recommendation

Post-bacc programs request letters of recommendation as additional evidence that you have what it takes to succeed in their program and in medical school. If, like most applicants, you have recently completed your undergraduate degree when you apply for your post-bacc, you’ll usually be asked to submit two letters: one from a professor or department chair in your major study area, and the second from another professor or employment supervisor.
If you are a career changer, and it has been several years since you graduated from your bachelor’s degree, your options may vary. Often, the admissions department of the program you’re applying to will permit you to send professional letters of recommendation. It may also help to obtain a letter from someone in a medical-related field, such as a clinical volunteering supervisor.

Emphasize Your Passion for the Profession

Overall, your goal in assembling your post-bacc application is to show your suitability for (and dedication to) becoming a physician. While having a dream is good, having specific documentation of your efforts to gain admission to medical school is better. Make sure everything you include in your application contributes to the story of why you would be a great doctor. Good luck!


i https://gs.columbia.edu/postbac/applying-postbac

ii https://lecom.edu/admissions/entrance-requirements/health-sciences-post-baccalaureate-entrance-requirements/

iii https://www.kaptest.com/study/mcat/whats-a-good-mcat-score/

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