Ten Steps to Getting into Medical School

My name is Dr. Rory Rickenstein and for me, it’s a personal obligation to share some of the information and experiences that helped me get into medical school after my application process came to a close.

To begin, here are my stats: I applied to 25 medical schools, received six interviews, was admitted to four institutions, and was placed on the waiting list for two others.

Along with a diverse group of other applicants, I was able to put my best foot forward and ultimately be successful. It’s difficult to go through this process with friends and classmates and not speak about it regularly. Other candidates, students, and physicians shared their triumphs and failures with me in many talks and now I want to repay the debt.

In order of priority, these are some of the things I’ve learned and now suggest to others who want to become doctors:

A good GPA in general, as well as a good one in science

Grades are the only thing that matter. Don’t lose hope if you’re reading this during your final year of college shortly before you open your AMCAS application.

Look into post-baccalaureate programs of study. Although today’s medical schools are more interested in your history, personality, and extracurricular activities, their primary worry remains: can this individual complete medical school?

A student’s scientific coursework is a good place to start when attempting to answer this question. If you’re not sure you want to be a doctor when you’re 18, you could be better off pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts, maturing, and then pursuing a post-baccalaureate program after gaining job experience.

Many of the students I know struggled in college but soared in their post-baccalaureate studies thanks to a newfound drive and maturity. Even so, if you’ve been getting high marks, you’ll be in a stronger position. The second alternative is to study hard and achieve academic success in college beginning at the age of 18. This isn’t that difficult if you’re a genius. If you’re not, you’ll have to give up part of your time. However, I’m prejudiced since I had a great time at college and postponed my plans to become a doctor because, as an 18- or 19-year-old, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. This is a long-winded way of saying that you should always strive to achieve excellent scores.

Obtain a High MCAT Score (505 or greater)

At this point, you may be thinking that all this is an apparently obvious. In a sense, yes, but I’m being completely honest.

Those who fail the MCAT have the greatest difficulty getting into med-school (as opposed to those with low GPAs, who rarely get in). The MCAT isn’t something I like, but it’s not something I despise either. The MCAT is simply a selection tool which weeds out academically incapable students.

A score in the 505-507 area on the MCAT, in my unqualified view, is a passing score. Higher is better; anything below is bad. You shouldn’t worry too much about it; all you need to do is study hard, take a whole bunch of practice exams under identical testing settings (no breaks and the same time as the actual test), and then do your best.

I also suggest taking the exam as soon as you feel prepared. Taking it too close to application deadlines results in a retake, which delays the whole application process.

If you’re an overseas student you may be required to sit the GAMSAT test instead of MCAT however in reality both of these tests are very similar. Gamsat section 3 in particular is very similar to the science paper of the MCAT.


You may submit your AMCAS application beginning on June 1 each year. On June 1, you don’t have to hand it in, but it’s always a good idea to do so. Any time in June is fine, but I enjoy the first part of the month the most. You’ll hear a variety of explanations, some of which are well-known and others that aren’t.

If you apply early enough, you’ll have a better chance of getting into a school since there will be fewer students competing for a limited number of slots. Admissions offices freely admit that applying early does not guarantee acceptance. Knowing how to distribute their acceptances throughout the year, they’ve done it previously, but who thinks that March interviewees have the same opportunity as those who apply in October? There is no one else in the world like this. In my perspective, this gets me to my second and most important point.

Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application. Having a sense of well-being is the most important thing to me. In other words, put your application year first and have fun with it. The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) welcomed the most upbeat person I know in October, (yours truly) As soon as I was approved, I was able to work and vacation as I pleased. As of early March, many of the most dissatisfied persons are still wondering where they will be admitted if at all.

All is not lost if you fall into the latter category, but your year is likely to be less pleasant.