If you’re wondering how hard it actually is to get into medical school then Reddit’s a pretty good place to go.
The communities’ unfiltered and candid opinion? Something that can be valuable for prospective students weighing up their options!
To help you filter through all the noise, I’ve curated (based on my own judgment as an actual med student), what I feel is the best input when it comes to answering the question.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How hard it is to get into med school
- How hard it is to get into DO school
- Why med school is so hard to get into
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
How hard is it to get into medical school? Reddit’s best opinions…
Clearly, medical school is hard to get into. But every student sees it differently.
I’ve attempted to sum up the main factors why it may/may not be hard below…
It differs by country
Probably around 9/10 on the hardness scale.
Canadian schools being 11/10.– dodolol21
One thing to consider, as the user above points out, is that the process of getting into med school varies depending on where you’re applying.
Some countries are more competitive than others.
But there are “easier” options
Caribbean School.. do you have a pulse and a checkbook?– HyrumBeck
Caribbean Schools (just like European ones) do have the stigma of taking students with lesser stats.
Even if a lot of graduates go on to successfully work as doctors internationally!
The prereqs are tough (and many people give up)
It’s fairly rigorous. Getting an adequate GPA and MCAT score on top of having all of the extracurriculars in place can be difficult for many people, and of all of the applicants every year, ~60% get rejected from every school they applied to. While a ~40% acceptance rate seems high, you have to take into account that that’s 40% of a fairly self-selected group of students. The vast majority of premeds don’t make it to the application at all and switch to another career route.– tummy
It’s obvious that grade point averages (GPA) and MCAT (the med school admissions test) scores are going to come up in an article on how difficult it is to get into medical school.
That said, many students underappreciate how tough it actually is to come out with high scores for both!
Throughout undergrad, they typically get discouraged.
It’s easier with high stats
Honestly I don’t think it’s as hard as people make it out to be. If you cut out all applicants with a <3.4 GPA and <66th percentile MCAT, about 70% of remaining applicants will make it into at least one school.– byunprime2
This one is pretty straightforward. It’s much harder if you fail to meet the GPA and percentile MCAT cut-offs.
To know what those are, you’ll want to pay close attention to the yearly admission statistics of the schools you intend on applying for.
It’s easier if you apply “smartly”
About half the applicants get at least one acceptance. Considering that a solid 20% have low stats and another 15-20% apply poorly (late, bad school list) I don’t think it’s overly hard. Apply early and apply smart and broad with 3.5/507+ – should have an 80%+ chance of acceptance.– Bubba_Gump2020
Things like applying late or applying for schools you have little chance at make for many wasted applications.
You need to tailor your application to schools you see yourself fitting. The best way to do that is through research.
Certain factors can play in your favor
Depends on a lot of factors. Your race, who you know, etc. Some people get in with pretty terrible scores, others are rejected with stellar exam results and high grades.– mycuspidvalve
While it’s true most med schools have a strong commitment to diversity, you can’t take your socioeconomic or minority status as a given you’ll get accepted.
It can be an advantage in certain cases but you’ll still need to work hard.
There may be an in-state advantage
Getting in is difficult, but once you’re in, you’re in. State medical schools also depend a lot on your state of residence. The state schools are usually always heavily biased toward in-state students and reserve a certain number of seats for them. This can be good/bad depending on what state you live in.– Darkfire757
Anecdotally, the bias appears real. But in-state applicants also usually benefit from reduced fees too. Without being able to pay for medical studies, it can be hard to get in!
But it’s mainly just a numbers game
Getting into a specific med school is much harder. Even if you are choosing an average med school, getting into a specific school is hard from purely a numbers standpoint. There are thousands of applicants for a few hundred spots, even if you are qualified, there is a chance factor that you won’t be chosen due to the numbers game.– Anonymous
This is another reason for tailoring your application to those where you have the best chance of getting in.
You figure that out by looking at acceptance rates, stat averages, the number of places, etc.
And sometimes down to luck
T10s and T20s can honestly be a major crapshoot. There are more applicants than there are seats for those positions. Sometimes great students are overlooked and other times an under-qualified one really fits the schools mission and connects with the school and gets accepted.– Pooker__
But it’s also hard because you can seemingly do everything right and still not make the cut (more on this later).
T10 and T20 refer to the “top ranked” 10/20 med schools in the US.
How hard is it to get into DO school? Reddit’s best opinions…
Whereas allopathic (MD) schools are notoriously tricky to get into, there’s an idea that osteopathic (DO) schools could be easier.
Let’s take a look and see whether Reddit feels that’s true…
Potentially easier as they accept lower stats
DO schools have slightly less rigorous requirements because they’re tailored towards non-traditional applicants (veterans, people changing careers, etc.) but they are extremely competitive as well (504-505 average and 3.4 GPA on average). In the U.S. DOs practice medicine in all 50 states and learn osteopathic manipulation on top of traditional medicine.– renaturedprotein
As you can see, you still have to work hard at undergrad (and beyond) to gain acceptance into DO schools.
But hard as they expect other commitments
I disagree that DO schools are “easier” to get into all around – yes their MCAT/GPA requirements are lower but I think they force you to work harder in other ways. My interview for the school I was admitted to (a DO school) was much more intensive and required pretend patient interactions with actors, as well as a lot of emphasis on the reasons behind pursuing medical education and the kind of stuff I had worked on in health-fields while in college. It isn’t simply “easier” – they give you more leeway in some areas and expect more in others.– Anonymous
DO schools often have just as great expectations of their applicants too. Even if the stats may be lower than those going for MD, the process has its own complexities and challenges.
And schools have reputations to keep up
They are not easy. Especially when you get to the more established DO schools. They will be more forgiving than MD schools if one aspect of your app fall poor, but they cannot and will not accept students with lackluster apps. The students and their performance reflect on the school and they don’t want student who can’t perform well in med school.– blue20_02
DO schools are just as competitive as allopathic ones in their quest to recruit top talent. They’re not going to let just anyone in. That would damage their reputation.
Getting in has varying degrees of difficulty (not all schools are equal)
Not all DO schools are equal. Someone applying to TCOM, Michigan, Heritage, PCOM, etc will have to try much harder than someone applying to ARCOM or KCOM. The older more distinguished ones and the ones attached to state schools (receiving state funding) are not the same as the brand new low quality ones. The resources and support are on different levels even if there is lack of prestige.– stresseddepressedd
As it is with allopathic schools, no one DO school has the same application process.
Some may favor students with lower stats, others may have a slight in-state bias.
It’s down to you to research each school and figure all that out.
Why is it so hard to get into medical school?
As for theories on why it’s so hard to get into medical school, Reddit offers some interesting input.
Feel free to follow through to the threads to read the discussions in their broader context.
The question of supply and demand
The reason doctor’s salaries are consistently high is because the medical schools strongly restrict admissions. They are basically restricting supply. If we opened twice the number of medical schools and still kept the same standards, medical expenses would fall significantly.– IanArcad
This is true in every country. Physicians are expensive to train and the process is lengthy.
This isn’t your everyday training program.
The MCAT on the other hand required a year and a half of classes and cramming 5 subjects into my head on my own in 10 weeks before the test. It was infinitely more difficult and time consuming than the LSAT or the bar exam (though the three day, all essay bar exam takes the cake as a test of endurance).– jendet010
In a discussion over if it’s easier to get into law school than med, this user comes up with a very good point.
The MCAT, the admissions exam most med schools will rank applicants on, is definitely no walk in the park.
The process can be overwhelming
Get good grades. Forget about research, volunteering, or anything else until you have a stable grade foundation. Bad grades are near impossibile to fully recover from, whereas research and volunteering can be fixed last minute senior year or in a gap year if needed. (Obv not for MD PhD) Moreover, it is WAY MORE EXPENSIVE to fix GPA than it is to fix any other part of your app. You have to pay an extra year of rent to get more research or volunteering in? Thats 15k. If you have to do an SMP, thats 70k.
It pains to see freshman and sophomores post about being overwhelmed and how their GPA is tanking as a result.
Having a 3.7+ GPA opens you up to SO many schools and high GPA MCAT combos put you in contention for scholarships. It makes life easier.– KingofMangoes
Yes, a high GPA and MCAT is the key to making getting in easier.
Prioritize it above everything else.
The obstacle of picking the wrong major
I’ll go ahead a add my mistake of doing a hard major. I am the first person in my family to go to college and medical school. I had no idea what I was doing. Majoring in biochemistry was a terrible idea. I struggled there and think it got in my way much more harm it helped.
Do something that will get you good grades. That’s all that matters.– Stefanovich13
I’ve written about this trap extensively here; What’s The Easiest Pre Med Major? (Read This First!).
The lack of clarity in terms of admissions
Med school is unfortunately very unpredictable. Many very qualified applicants don’t get in anywhere because their stats are too high for low tier schools but they aren’t interesting/unique enough for top schools. Or there could be many other reasons.– Code_Moo
Again, it’s important to recognize that sometimes luck plays a part in how easy/hard it is to make it into medicine.
Admissions processes are transparent to an extent, but there’s also a whole load of guesswork.
The task of staying motivated
You just have to have some way to keep yourself motivated. I’m about to be a 4th year Bio Major at UC Irvine in California. Going in with a full-ride scholarship, I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting straight A’s with an easy path to Med School. But there are just a lot of times in the past three years where I’ve lost sight of my goal, and my grades have slipped a couple of times… I think as long as you have a good friend to remind you of your goal or you can keep yourself motivated, you’ll be fine. There are a lot of distractions in college, though, so you better decide what your values are before you head in.– AzureSky
This certainly rings true. You have to stay motivated (both before and during med school) if you ever hope to make it as a doctor.
As I’ve said many times on this site, studying can be a grind.
But it’s a grind that gets easier with discipline.
I got into medical school: Reddit’s stories
But if you’re feeling discouraged reading all that (and downhearted about your chances), don’t. Reddit has some great success stories too.
As evidenced here…
Perseverence wins in the end
I applied to medical school 4 times before being accepted. The first two times, I was not a good candidate, and knew it. I didn’t even get an interview. I decided to go to graduate school and got a masters degree in physiology. The courses for that program were the medical school courses. While the medical school operated on a pass/fail system, the graduate school operated on a letter grade system. A ‘B’ was considered passing in graduate school, while anything lower (B- and below) was considered failing. In order to get a ‘B’ in these med school classes, you had to be in the top half of the course. In other words, in order to pass graduate school courses, you had to beat the majority of the medical students. I lost half of my graduate school class that year, and actually had a little survivor guilt.
The third time I applied, I had passed all of my graduate school classes and was now tutoring the medical students in their classes. I was interviewed, but still didn’t get in. I was getting ready to cut bait and get my PhD, but I sat with the director of admissions to ask for advice (from someone who was notorious for not giving advice). She told me that if I didn’t apply one more time, I’d be giving up a year too soon. I applied again, my name came up for discussion, and I was in with no issues.– angmarsilar
Like any worthwhile goal, medicine is hard. But, as this scenario shows, if you really want it, you’ll find a way.
You might have to put up with years of rejection first. Perseverance is key.
Success built on targeting specific schools
I ended up getting 3 interviews, out of 25+ applications. One from a top 15 school, another from a top 40, and one from my state school, which is pretty damn good. I just got into my state school, rejected from the top 40, and waiting to hear from the top 15. I made an A list of the schools I would love to go to, and that I thought would be a perfect fit. What I found interesting was that I got interviews at 3 out of 8 schools on that list. I think this might show that when you do your research, and can write essays that target the school, you stand out more.– u/yayprocrastination
I fully recommend reading through the thread here.
You could really learn from the mistakes of this repeat applicant. They spent 10 years in the process!
If you enjoyed this article, you might find the following ones interesting:
- How To Study In Medical School (Reddit’s 26 Best Tips!)
- “Why Do You Want To Be A Doctor?” (Reddit’s 19 Best Answers!)
- How To Get Into Harvard Medical School (Reddit’s 8 Best Tips!)
- How To Get Into NYU Medical School (Reddit’s 7 Best Tips!)
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in digital marketing and journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.