Why Are Medical School Acceptance Rates So Low?

Every year, tens of thousands of students apply to medical school, but only a fraction are accepted. Why are medical school acceptance rates so low? There are many factors that contribute to this, including the increasing cost of tuition and the growing competition for seats in medical schools. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why medical school admission rates are so low and what you can do to improve your chances of being accepted.

Why Are Medical School Acceptance Rates So Low?

The reason why medical school acceptance rates are so low is that there are more students applying to medical school than there are spots available. In order to be accepted into medical school, students must go through a rigorous application process and demonstrate their academic excellence and passion for medicine. With such fierce competition, it’s no wonder that the acceptance rates are so low. 

5 Reasons Why Medical School Acceptance Rates Are Low

Despite the countrywide shortage of doctors, medical schools still retain low acceptance rates, which leaves many applicants wondering why it is so hard to get into medical school.

Here are the major reasons why medical school acceptance rates are so low.

1. Large Number of Less Qualified Applications

Over the years, there has been a growing interest in health care careers. Doctors get good pay and are hailed as heroes, which motivates most students to study medicine.

Unfortunately, most applicants are not qualified for medical school because they do not meet the admission requirements.

Most students only apply to top medical schools like Harvard, whose acceptance rates are so low, and therefore, they will never get a chance even after reapplying three times.

You should expect stiff competition, not only from many applications but also that other applicants are incredibly qualified with high scores and super recommendation letters.

2. Shortage of Medical Schools

There are insufficient medical schools to cater to the increasing number of medical school applications.

Moreover, existing medical schools are not investing in expansion to meet the spiking applications.

This roadblock means that schools cannot increase their acceptance rates because they do not have enough resources to cater to many students.

3. Doctor Shortages

Doctor shortages should translate into medical schools admitting more applicants, but this is not the case. Here is why. After noting the underserved medical specialties, some candidates craft their applications to meet the requirements of the field even if it is not their area of interest.

However, this trick backfires on the students because the application officers rely on proof to show meaningful work in the field you have applied for.

Most applicants who play such games do not have a track record and end up not getting accepted, which keeps the acceptance rates low.

Therefore, applicants are encouraged to be honest about their passions and display their experience in their applications.

4. High Pass Scores

Medical schools only admit students with high academic qualifications. You might be top of your class, but there is a student from another school with better grades who will be your competitor in med school applications.

The GPA and MCAT scores vary with each admission year, and students who do not meet the scores cannot get a chance.

To choose the best from the many qualifying candidates, some schools hire more reviewers to look at the applications closely and choose the best fit.

Therefore, to be accepted into med school, your scores must be higher than they have ever been.

5. Holistic Assessment

Med schools have a low acceptance rate because they only pick students who pass their holistic assessment.

Med schools follow different assessment processes. The most common ones include interviews and mini interviews to prove your interest in the field you are applying for, commitment to community service, evidence of organization and leadership skills, and research interest.

Candidates who do not pass these requirements do not get a chance, which explains some schools’ 2% acceptance rates.

How to Improve Your Chances of Being Accepted into Medical School

Medical schools have very low acceptance rates, and the competition is stiff, but that does not mean you should give up. Here are some tips to help you boost your chances.

1. Apply To the Right Schools

Most med school candidates never get a chance to study medicine because they only apply to top schools. You might have come across the advice that you should apply to at least 30 schools, but have you compared the admissions stats of the schools to your qualifications?

If 20 out of 30 of your applications are to reach schools, it is like you are applying to only 10 schools, which reduces your chance of getting an acceptance letter.

It is okay to try your chance at top medical schools, but 25 applications out of 30 should go to target and undershoot schools to increase your acceptance chances.

2. Apply To Both DO And MD Medical Schools

Whether you attend an osteopathic or a conventional medical school, you will become a doctor. Therefore, take a chance with both medical schools.

If your scores are not very good, send more applications to DO schools because they are less competitive with higher acceptance rates.

Related: Can You Convert A DO To An MD Degree? (Explained!)

3. Explore Ways to Prove Your Passion

People apply to study medicine for different reasons. Some people are motivated by the high salaries, while others want to be held up as heroes.

However, medical schools are looking to train individuals with a passion for helping people because the job can sometimes get very hard.

You will never get a chance if you cannot prove your genuine interest in medical school through your essay, personal statement, experience, and interviews.

To be among the 4% of accepted applications, you must come up with ways to stand out among other qualifying applicants. Take up volunteer opportunities and present research projects in your area of interest.

Do not lie about your area of interest in an attempt to get a chance in areas with doctor shortages because the admission officers will identify your tactics, and it will backfire on you.

4. Submit Your Applications on Time

You do not want to be the last person to send applications in this competitive field. Therefore, check the application deadlines on the school’s website and submit your applications as early as possible.

Moreover, ensure that your applications are high quality and supported with relevant documents. A low-quality early application can never earn you a spot.