Pre-Med FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What constitutes a "pre-med" major?
There is no single "pre-med" major. Medical schools are looking for students who have completed specific course work and who have performed at a high academic level. The prerequisite courses for medical school admission are: One year of English Composition, and one year of each of the following with labs: General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Calculus and Physics. Some schools require biochemistry. All schools value strong communication skills. Cell biology, genetics, developmental biology and other specific courses may also be recommended. We recommend that students' interests dictate their choice of major as long as the prerequisites for medical school admission are met.

Should I be a double major?
Medical school admissions personnel unequivocally state that the undergraduate major is not a consideration in the admissions process. They are interested in the courses that applicants have completed and the grades they have earned. Students interested in pursuing course work in another area might consider a second major provided that they can do so without overextending themselves academically, lowering their grades and therefore jeopardizing their chances of acceptance into medical school. Common sense should prevail in making this decision.

What academic record do I need to get into medical school?
Successful applicants to medical schools have a grade point average of 3.6 or better, a composite MCAT score of 30, strong letters of recommendation, and significant patient care experience.

Is there any way to predict what sort of scores I will have on the MCAT?
Yes, look at your SATs! The best correlation we have seen between MCAT and any other achievement is between the MCAT and the SAT scores. In fact, of the schools that do not require MCAT scores, ALL require the SATs. We have seen the exceptional student with modest SATs achieve strong MCAT scores however.

What can I do to strengthen my application to medical school?
Most successful applicants, in addition to strong academic records, have had experience working in hospitals or in the health professions community. Many have held responsible positions outside of college: employment, service, volunteerism and so forth.

What other factors are considered in medical school admissions?
Admissions committees often consider employment, the number of hours students are employed during the school year, extracurricular involvement including sports, and community service.

What percentage of UC Riverside applicants are actually accepted into medical school?
Nearly all of the students with at least a 3.6 average, a composite MCAT score of 30, and strong letters of recommendation are accepted. The farther from these qualifications an applicant is, the less likely she or he is to be accepted. UC Riverside sends numerous students to all of the health professions schools every year. This includes medical, dental, optometry, veterinary medicine, and others.

Can I reapply to medical school if I have been rejected?
Yes! A very high percentage of our applicants who reapply are accepted to medical school. There are a lot of ways to improve an application to medical school. The statistics quoted above do not include a follow-up on rejected students who reapply. A good percentage of these are admitted after improving their applications. Traditionally, students apply after completion of their junior year in college. However, many students wait until their senior year; some complete post-baccalaureate preparation for medical school; some complete masters degrees; some do not apply until later in their lives and careers.

When should I apply to medical school?
Current admission policies have led to the development of a number of pathways:

  1. Application after the junior year for students with a 3.5-4.0 average and strong MCAT scores.
  2. Application after the senior year.
  3. Application after a year or several years of "life experience." (There definitely appears to be preference for applicants with some "life experience").