Improve Your Med School Applications Using These Tips

As the calendar turns from spring to summer, aspiring doctors take the final step of the premed journey by finalizing their medical school applications. This critical task represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. As a result, the competition for those precious med school slots is fierce. With so much on the line, applicants look for every possible edge to make their application stand out. 

As you prepare your application, consider the following tips that can take your candidacy to the next level:

Academics Matter

While good grades may not get you into medical school, bad grades can undoubtedly keep you out. In most cases, medical schools require at least a 3.0 GPA even to consider your application. However, the best applicants have significantly higher GPAs. 

According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, for 2020-2021, the average GPA of admitted med school students breaks down like this:

  • Science GPA: 3.49
  • Non-Science GPA: 3.74
  • Cumulative GPA: 3.60

So, to stand out in front of admission committees, applicants should aim to outperform these GPAs in every category. 

In addition to your undergraduate academics, MCAT scores carry much weight in admission decisions. The same report found that the average total MCAT score for 2020-2021 medical school applicants was 506.4. By contrast, the average total MCAT score for 2019-2020 matriculants was 506.1. 

High marks aren’t all that matter. Schools also seek out candidates with diverse educational experiences. To demonstrate this, highlight research projects you participated in, study abroad opportunities you took advantage of, any TA or tutoring experience, or other activities that demonstrate your ability and eagerness to learn. 

Of course, your undergraduate education doesn’t paint the entire picture. If your grades fall below these averages, or your MCAT scores are a little low, there’s still a path forward to the career of your dreams. As you prepare your application, pay special attention to the other qualities and activities that might make you stand out against the competition. 

Highlight Your Extracurriculars

The best medical schools want to admit people with broad experience. So don’t hesitate to include areas of interest that fall outside of academics and the sciences. Are you a writer or a fine artist? Did you excel in a sport? Did you earn an Eagle Scout badge? Are you an accomplished musician? Whatever your non-academic activities are, consider how they demonstrate your commitment to excellence, ongoing learning, and the long-term pursuit of a goal. If you can articulate that idea to an admissions committee, it will be another sign you’re prepared for the challenges inherent in medical school.

Demonstrate Service and Leadership 

Doctors, by their nature, are altruistic people. They dedicate their careers to helping patients live longer, healthier, and happier lives. As a result, medical schools want to see that their applicants have an interest in serving other people. 

One of the most effective ways of demonstrating your altruism is by serving your community. All it takes is a quick Google search, and you’ll find nearly endless opportunities to give back. Look specifically for roles in community health and wellness, as these may carry more weight with an admission committee. As you’re completing your service, consider how this experience shaped your desire to become a physician, as well as your view of the world at large.

In addition to being altruistic, good doctors are also leaders. Your application should highlight instances where you stepped into positions of greater responsibility and succeeded. Maybe you had a role in student government? Perhaps you served as editor of your student newspaper? Whatever your moment, use it to explain how you’ll bring leadership qualities on your med school journey.

Clinical Experience is Critical

It’s now a fact-of-life that most successful med school candidates have experience in some healthcare setting. After all, medical school is a long and challenging process. That’s why admissions boards frequently choose applicants who’ve seen the environment first-hand and have realistic expectations of what the career will be like. 

One way to gain clinical experience is to work in a healthcare profession before applying to medical school. It’s common for candidates to have experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), or medical scribe. Applicants benefit because they can earn income and gain clinical experience at the same time. If you choose this route, aim to have at least six months of work under your belt before applying. 

Another way to gain clinical experience is by job-shadowing willing doctors. While this approach won’t pay you money, it does offer valuable first-hand experience. Applicants who job-shadow often get a wider variety of clinical experience than applicants who work only one type of job. If you choose this option, make sure to bank at least 100 hours before completing your application. 

Consider Taking a Gap Year

Gap years used to be reserved for students who were burnt-out on school or unsure of their next step. Now, many med school applicants view this year as a prime opportunity to earn extra money, obtain valuable clinical experience, and rest up before the med school sprint begins.

If you do decide to take a gap year, make sure it’s purposeful. Med schools won’t be impressed if you took a year off to play Xbox with your friends. Instead, work in a job that will prepare you for your next step and pursue experiences that add to your character. When your interviews roll around, you’ll have plenty to talk about.

Scribe-X Can Help You Take Your Next Step

If you’re looking for the perfect gap year opportunity before medical school, consider joining the team of medical scribes at Scribe-X. We provide remote and in-person scribe services to providers throughout the country.

The majority of our scribes go on to medical, nursing, or PA school, and the experience they earn while working side-by-side with providers is invaluable. Our providers and the executive team also frequently offer letters of recommendation our scribes can include in their application packets. While you’re working as a scribe, your next step is always a high priority. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you take the next step to medical school, contact us today at You can also view a list of our open positions by tapping the jobs link on our website. 

Getting accepted into medical school is a big challenge. You’ve done so much to get where you are. Let Scribe-X help you get across the finish line.