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Academic Preparation for Medical and Health Profession Schools

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Medical/Health Profession School Requirements

There is no required major for admission to health profession schools; however, schools do require applicants complete a number of science and writing courses prior to admission. Typically, these requirements include:

  • Two semesters of Biology with lab
  • Two semesters of Inorganic Chemistry with lab
  • Two semesters of Organic Chemistry, with lab
  • Two semesters of Calculus
  • Two semesters of Physics
  • Two semesters of English/humanities courses

Since Medical and Health Profession School prerequisites vary from program to program, it is best to refer to the admission requirements books such as Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR), American Dental Education Association Official guide to Dental School, Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements or others health profession requirement guides to be sure that all necessary prerequisites are completed.

Timeline
The majority, if not all, of your prerequisite courses should be completed at the time of starting the application. Completing one to two courses during the application process is allowable, provided you inform the schools of your future coursework in your applications.

Important Notes about Fulfilling Prehealth Requirements

Pass/No Record and Pass/Fail:
Freshman pass/no record premed/health courses are accepted by health profession schools. MIT does not release grades for these courses and medical/health profession schools do not require the release of these grades. Outside of fall freshman year, all other premed/health requirements must be taken on grades, not pass/fail.

Chemistry Requirements:

  • Students are encouraged to take both 5.12 and 5.13 at MIT, preferably having completed 5.12 in the spring semester of freshman or sophomore year.
  • If seeking to take Organic Chemistry courses elsewhere, it is highly recommended that the Orgo I & II sequence not be broken up between two different schools. Students are expected to take Orgo I & II as a pair at the same college/university.
  • If seeking transfer credit for Organic Chemistry taken at Harvard University, Chemistry 20 & 30 may be eligible for transfer credit, but it is not guaranteed. Please speak directly with the MIT Chemistry department prior to registering for these courses. Please know that although Chemistry 17 & Chemistry 27/HAA.5978 are acceptable for use toward premed requirements, these courses are not eligible for transfer credit at MIT.
  • Completion of an Inorganic Chemistry lab (5.310 or 5.35) at MIT is required in addition to any Organic lab courses completed at another college/university. Ex. Completing Harvard's Chemistry 20 & 30 which includes organic lab experience will not substitute for taking 5.310 or 5.35 at MIT.

Resources

  • Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR)
    Review the guide to learn about application procedures and deadlines, selection factors such as MCAT and GPA data, and costs and financial aid packages and much more. A hardcopy is available in E39.
  • MIT’s Prehealth Recommended Course List
    The MIT Prehealth Recommended Course list is based on feedback from medical and health profession schools, information in admission requirements books, and guidance from MIT academic departments. This suggested list fulfills academic requirements for most schools and will help you determine which courses you must take prior to taking the MCAT, DAT, or other standardized test. The most accurate academic requirements for a school of your choice can be found in the MSAR guide or by contacting that school’s admissions office directly. Refer to the MIT Course Bulletin to chalk out when you will take these courses and visit us in E39 to discuss your academic planning.
  • MIT's Prehealth Course Planning Guide
    The MIT Prehealth Course Planning Guide provides suggests first year course schedules for freshmen who are interested in completing the prerequisite courses required for medical and other health profession schools.  This document offers suggestions for the first year, but remember that each student's situation is different and varies based on AP credit as well as learning preferences, so be sure to consult with your Freshmen Advisor about your scheduling strategy and review the different course options listed on MIT's Premedical Recommended Course List.

 

GPA

Your GPA is a critical admission criterion. You should aim to maintain a 4.5/5.0 or greater GPA to be considered for the most competitive schools. However, other factors are also considered when reviewing GPA, such as—the school you attended, difficulty of the classes you took, grade inflation at your institution, and any extenuating circumstances that you may have encountered during your course of study. On the MIT prehealth data and the National Data website, you will see that a range of GPAs is accepted. Admissions committees consider all aspects of an application when making selection decisions, but a strong GPA is necessary to prove yoru academic readiness for graduate study. Courses taken pass/no record during the first semester of your freshman year cannot be released to medical or other health profession schools under MIT policy. Contact Prehealth Advising for questions about your first year hidden grades.

Timeline
Maintain a manageable course load so that you can maintain a good GPA. At the time of application, you will need to submit an official transcript directly to the application service (AMCAS, ADSAS, etc.). Official transcript request should be directed to the MIT Office of the Registrar.

Resources

  • MIT Applicant Data
    Review MIT data from the last several years of application cycles.
  • U.S. Medical School Applicant Data
    Visit the American Association of Medical Colleges website for comprehensive data on U.S. medical school applicants, matriculants, enrollment, graduates, Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) applicants, and MD-PhD students.

Standardized tests

Standardized tests such as the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and the Dental Admission Test (DAT) provide admissions committees with an objective way to compare you with other applicants. While these tests do not predict how good a doctor, dentist, or a health professional you will be, they do tell admission committees the strength of your academic knowledge on topics needed for a strong foundation in a health professional school. 

MCAT

MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. There are five and three-quarter hours of testing divided into four sections:

  • Verbal Reasoning (VR)
  • Physical Sciences (PS)
  • Biological Sciences (BS), and

These sections have multiple-choice questions and two essays. Each section has its own score and the scores in VR, PS, and BS sections range from 1 to 15.

NOTE: The MCAT exam will be restructured in the spring of 2015 to include four new test sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

For an explanation on each section and more information about the new MCAT visit the AAMC MCAT 2015 website and consult the MCAT 2015 Preview Guide.

Timeline
The MCAT exam is administered multiple times from late January through early September, and offered at hundreds of test sites in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Registering 60 days or more in advance is recommended for obtaining the best exam date for your schedule.  Scores will be available ~30 days after the testing date. Plan to take the MCAT by June of the application year to avoid unnecessary delay in the review of your application. However, you should also consider taking the MCAT as early as August the summer before the application year for two reasons: first, during the summer of the application year you can focus on completing the application rather. Second, you would have built in sufficient time should you need to retake the exam. 

Steps for preparing for the MCAT:

  1. Complete the courses noted for MCAT preparation on the Prehealth Recommended Course List prior to taking the exam.
  2. Register through the AAMC for the MCAT.
  3. Create a study plan and take practice exams.
  4. If the exam did not go as well as expected, make an appointment with prehealth advising to determine whether you should retake the MCAT.

Resources

DAT

DAT is administered by the American Dental Association (ADA) on computer nearly any day of the year. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. Prior to the exam, you must complete at least one year of college education, which includes courses in biology and general and organic chemistry. Advanced-level biology and physics are not required. Most applicants complete two or more years of college before taking the DAT. The four hour and fifteen minutes test consists of the following four parts:

  • Survey of natural sciences (biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry)
  • Perceptual ability (two- and three-dimensional problem-solving)
  • Reading comprehension (dental and basic sciences)
  • Quantitative reasoning

Test scores are developed in relationship to all candidates participating in the DAT and are based on the number of correct answers. You will not be penalized for guessing. The results are reported to dental schools as standard scores rather than raw scores. Through the use of standard scores it is possible to compare your performance with the performance of all other applicants. Scores range from 1 to 30 and the standard score of 17 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.

Timeline
You should take the DAT one year prior to the intended dental school enrollment.

Resources

Study Abroad Considerations

Your plan to pursue the health professions should not deter you from taking advantage of MIT’s many global programs. In fact, living in another culture will provide you with broadened cultural awareness, a quality that many health professional schools value in applicants. Please make an appointment with a member of the Prehealth Advising staff for assistance with course selection, selecting exam dates and planning for your semester or year abroad.

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