What Are My Chances of Getting Into Med School? (GPA, MCAT Score, & More)

Becoming a doctor is a big responsibility. Doctors frequently make life-or-death decisions based on their knowledge and ability to think critically about a situation. Because of this, most schools are very picky about who they accept into their programs. 

While highly competitive schools like Georgetown University and Stanford have acceptance rates of less than 3%, less-competitive schools like those in the Caribbean have much higher acceptance rates. 

Overall, med school acceptance rates are higher than you might expect. Medical schools in the United States have an acceptance rate of around 41%. While these programs are hard to get into, medical school is an attainable goal for many people. 

When filtering through prospective students, medical schools look at GPA, MCAT scores, healthcare experience, service hours, extracurricular activities, admissions essays, letters of recommendation, and special awards. 

This guide goes into more detail on what factors into medical school admissions, targets to strive for to be accepted, and what your chances of getting into med school are. 

What Factors Into Getting Into Medical Schools & Acceptance Rate for Each

Having excellent grades alone won’t get you into medical school, just like having a low GPA doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be accepted. 

A great MCAT score may make up for a low GPA, and incredible healthcare experience may help you stand out if your academic achievements are lacking. 

There are many different factors that contribute to your chances of being accepted into a med school, but you can estimate your chances based on what types of students are generally accepted. 


GPA is one of the most important factors determining your chances of med-school acceptance. Many medical schools will not even consider a candidate with less than a 3.0 GPA, and competitive schools may require close to a 4.0. 

If you have a low GPA, don’t let that discourage you from trying. A low GPA can be overcome with a good MCAT score, and some medical schools are more likely to accept students with a low GPA. 

Overall GPA
Chances of acceptance
>3.79 61%
3.6-3.78 42%
3.4-3.50 30%
3.2-3.39 23%
3.0-3.19 23%
2.8-2.99 17%
2.6-2.79 12%
2.4-2.59 4.20%
2.2-2.39 4.10%
2-2.29 1.70%
<2.0 0%   

MCAT score

The MCAT is the Medical College Admissions Test and almost medical students are required to take it (there are some med schools that don't require the MCAT but these are special programs). The MCAT is designed to test your critical thinking skills, knowledge of science concepts, and problem-solving abilities which are all essential to practicing medicine. 

Having a good MCAT score is crucial to getting into med school. A bump of just a few points can greatly increase your chances of getting into medical school. It is recommended that you spend 300 to 500 hours studying for your MCAT exam. 

MCAT Score Acceptance Rate
> 517 78%
514-517 68%
510-513 57%
506-509 41%
502-505 30%
498-501 20%
494-497 11%
490-493 3%
486-489 1%
<486 <1%

Clinical Experience

Before you apply to medical school, you should get some hands-on clinical experience. Not only does this look good on your medical school application, but it can also help you decide what type of medicine you want to go into. Clinical experience might help you figure out if medicine really is the right path for you. 

Not all clinical experience for med school is the same. Most medical schools want their applicants to have patient interactions or involvement in high-quality research. 

150 hours of filing medical paperwork is not as impressive as 150 hours of direct patient care, such as if you work as a medical assistant before med school

While every school has different requirements, you’ll need 200-300 hours of clinical experience to be a competitive applicant. One good way to get clinical experience is by working a healthcare job during a med school gap year or while in undergrad.

Other Extracurriculars & Volunteering

Be sure to include extracurricular activities and volunteering in your medical school application. 

Being a competitive college athlete, for example, indicates that you have discipline, are coachable, and can be a good team player. Being a leader in DECA or another school club shows strong leadership skills. 

Volunteer work is a good way to highlight your ability to care for others, show compassion, and take care of people in their time of need. Volunteering in underserved communities can also strengthen your bedside manner for future difficult patient interactions. 

According to the American Medical Association, most medical schools expect students to complete about 100 hours of volunteer work before they apply. 

Med School Interview Performance

If you are invited to a med school interview, you can feel confident that the program directors already think you might be a good fit for the program. Go into your interview with confidence, but make sure you take the time to prepare. 

In 2021, John Hopkins University, one of the most competitive medical schools, had 4820 students apply. Of these, 676 were interviewed and 254 were accepted. Florida State University, another competitive program, had 5866 applicants. 280 were interviewed and 151 were accepted. 

These numbers are similar to other competitive schools, where somewhere around half of students who get an interview are accepted into the medical program.  

Letters of Recommendation

All medical programs will require at least one letter of recommendation. Competitive applicants often submit as many as 6 letters of recommendation

Ideally, your letters of recommendation will come from a practicing physician or another healthcare provider who has seen you work with patients and can vouch for your abilities. 

Try to get a letter from someone who knows you personally. It is better to have someone who knows you well write a letter than to get an impersonal letter from someone you feel is impressive. 

Secondary Essays

A secondary essay is kind of like an invitation to interview. Schools that ask for secondary essays want to know more details about you after looking through your primary application. Secondary essays often ask questions that are specific to the school for which you are applying. 

Secondary essays may contain questions such as, “Why is this specific program a good fit for you?” or “What made you choose to apply to this school?” 

Knowing about your chosen program’s history, background, mission statements, and values will help you give a meaningful answer to these questions. 

Not all schools require secondary essays, but most do. Once you receive a request for a secondary essay, make sure to complete it and send it in as soon as possible. 

How Chances of Getting Accepted Vary by Type of Medical School

Some types of medical schools are harder to get into than others. MD programs generally have lower acceptance rates than DO programs. If you are determined to become a doctor but have a very low GPA, you will probably have better luck applying for a Caribbean med school. 

MD Programs (Allopathic)

MD programs focus on a Western medicine model and are the most competitive types of medical schools. Most United States MD programs require a high GPA, great MCAT scores, excellent letters of recommendation, and good clinical experience. 

  • Acceptance Rate: 3-4%
  • Average GPA: 3.73
  • Average MCAT: 512

DO Program (Osteopathic)

DO programs are slightly less competitive than MD programs. DO programs focus on osteopathic medicine and holistic care. Even though they are less competitive than MD schools, they still have high expectations of the students they admit. 

  • Acceptance Rate: 6-8%
  • Average GPA: 3.56
  • Average MCAT: 504

Canadian Med Schools

Canadian schools do have higher acceptance rates than US schools, but this is only true for in-providence applicants. If you are applying to a Canadian school from the US, keep in mind that most schools only accept 1-2 US students per year. 

  • Acceptance Rate: 15% for in-providence students
  • Average GPA: 3.89
  • Average MCAT: 512

Caribbean Med Schools

Caribbean schools are known for being much easier to get into than other med schools. They typically have lower GPA, MCAT, and experience requirements. If you choose a Caribbean medical school, make sure you choose one with a low attrition rate and where students are matched to residencies. 

  • Acceptance Rate: Over 50%
  • Average GPA: 3.3
  • Average MCAT: 499

How to Give Yourself a Better Chance of Getting Into Med School

Getting into medical school is an admirable and ambitious goal. Since admission is so competitive, make sure you are spending your valuable time and energy doing things that will get you into that top 40% of applicants. 

  • Retake any classes you did poorly in. It is essential that you get any failing or incomplete grades off of your transcript if you can. Even a D grade can have an alarming impact on your overall GPA. It is especially important that you improve any bad grades from science courses, since those are often looked at more closely. 
  • Prepare well for the MCAT. The MCAT is the single most important exam you will take while preparing for medical school. Take advantage of any test prep materials you can find, and make sure you commit plenty of time to study each week. The MCAT is not an exam you can “cram” for in the days before you take it. While you are allowed multiple attempts, the test costs over $300 each time. 
  • Gain as much clinical experience as possible. Required hours of clinical experience listed on a school’s application are an absolute bare minimum. You will need to gain as many meaningful clinical hours as possible if you want to have a competitive application. 
  • Write a great personal statement. Saying things like, “I am a hard worker” or “I have achieved academic excellence.” Will not help you stand out against other applicants. Make your personal statement unique and mention specific obstacles you have overcome. Also, talk about unique ways you have been a leader or provided service in your community. Have several people review your personal statement before you turn it in. 
  • Prep well for med school interviews. The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice. While you might feel silly, ask friends and family members to practice interviewing you. Try to practice interviewing with someone who intimidates you a little. This will help you identify your weaknesses under pressure. 
  • Consider a post-back or special master’s program if you have a low GPA. If you have a low GPA, you may consider additional schooling. This will help boost your GPA while giving you extra time to gain experience and practice for your MCAT exam. 

If you’re worried that you don’t have a great chance to get into med school because of your grades, you can see other ways to get into med school with a low GPA here.

>> Read More: Medical School Application Timeline

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