Prepare for Medical School
The School of Science office for Pre-Professional & Career Preparation (PREPs) will support you throughout the process of preparing for medical school.
From advising you on pre-requisite courses and professional development activities to helping you through the application process, PREPs can assist you in every step.
Admission to medical school is very competitive. You need to plan thoroughly from the start to be successful.
First some basics, depending on your interests, there are a number of medical school programs you can apply for. Some of the options are as follows:
M.D. Allopathic Medicine
The M.D. (Medical Doctor) is a four year degree administered by medical schools. After medical school, most doctors continue in a residency program where they receive more specialized training for an additional three to eight years, depending on the specialty.
D.O. Osteopathic Medicine
The D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) is a four year degree program administered by osteopathic medical schools. Training for a D.O. is quite similar to that of an M.D. as degree recipients are also licensed to practice medicine. Osteopathic medicine includes additional training in the musculoskeletal system and has a holistic focus on the person as a whole. D.O. school is often followed by a three to eight year residency program, depending on the specialty.
Combining a PhD with an M.D. or D.O. degree prepares students for careers in academic medicine such as biomedical researcher or medical school professor. Adding a PhD generally adds three to four years to a medical school program; thus you finish after seven or eight years rather than four. You can then choose to complete a medical specialty, if desired, just like other M.D or D.O. graduates.Schedule an advising appointment
What are medical schools looking for?
- Medical schools are looking for strong aptitude in science demonstrated by excelling in the required prerequisite courses and doing well on the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)
- Humanistic and leadership qualities such as long term commitment to helping people as demonstrated through community service activities
- Evidence that your decision to become a physician has been tested in reality as demonstrated by experience working with patients, exposure to the patient/doctor relationship through shadowing and self-assessment of how your personal qualities are a good fit for the career of a physician
Choosing a Major
Being a pre-med student at IUPUI is a career interest not a major. Pre-med is a set of prerequisite courses in science and social science that prepare you for success on the MCAT and as a medical school student.
Medical schools are looking for well-rounded students with broad academic interests. There is no correct or best major. You should choose your major based on your academic interests while incorporating the pre-med pre-requisites into your degree requirements. Since medical schools are very competitive, your goal is to get the best grades possible in whatever major you choose.
Part of your choice of major should include some parallel planning. Be engaging in parallel planning, you essentially plan for two career goals simultaneously rather than sequentially. This way, you are prepared for either career goal at the end of your degree program should you need to change direction. Parallel planning requires careful preparation to be successful. Please consult with the PREPs office for assistance.
Adding a Minor
Adding a minor to your degree program can be a very effective tool used to set yourself apart from other applicants and make your credentials unique. For instance, you may choose a major in Biology, Chemistry or Psychology and a minor in Spanish or Communications. A minor adds to your medical school application by showing you are a well-rounded student.
The following IUPUI courses satisfy the basic medical school admissions requirements and prepare you for the MCAT. It is important that you check with each medical school you are applying to for their specific requirements.
- BIOL-K101 Concepts of Biology I (5 cr.)
- BIOL-K103 Concepts of Biology II (5 cr.)
- BIOL-K384 Biological Chemistry or CHEM-C384 (3 cr.)
- CHEM-C105 / CHEM-C125 Principles of Chemistry I/Lab (3 cr./2cr.)
- CHEM-C106 / CHEM-C126 Principles of Chemistry II/Lab (3 cr./2cr.)
- CHEM-C341 / CHEM-C343 Organic Chemistry I/Lab (3 cr./2 cr.)
- CHEM-C342 Organic Chemistry II (3 cr.)
- PHYS-P201 General Physics I (5 cr.)
- PHYS-P202 General Physics II (5 cr.)
- PSY-B110 Intro to Psychology (3 cr.)
- SOC-R100 Intro to Sociology (3 cr.)
- ENG-W131 English (3 cr.)
Download a Pre-med Timeline to help you stay on track for medical school!Become a Science student
In order to apply to medical school, you need to take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test. You can find upcoming test dates and additional information HERE.
The average acceptance score on the MCAT for Indiana University School of Medicine is currently a 510. For more information on your score or how to prepare for your MCAT, contact PREPs.
For general information on entrance exams, click HERE.
Gaining Relevant Experience
Professional shadowing, or job shadowing, is another means of career exploration in which you observe a professional at work. With a professional shadow, you can learn more about a profession before you invest too much time preparing for a career that may not be right for you.
Research, Internship and Leadership Opportunities
One of the biggest benefits to studying science at IUPUI is the accessibility of our world-class professors, and the ability to participate in research and internships.
The School of Science at IUPUI offers various programs for students to become involved with both research and other leadership opportunities throughout their undergraduate experience.
One of those programs is the Life Health Sciences Internship. This one-year program provides students the opportunity to participate in both clinical and scientific research opportunities throughout IUPUI's campus and the surrounding hospitals and labs.
- Internship Opportunities
- Research Opportunities
- Involvement Opportunities
- SCI-I-390: Health Professions Shadowing course is a 0 or 1 credit hour Satisfactory/Fail class that exposes students to the healthcare field through shadowing and being mentored by a healthcare professionals. Students gain hands on experience, basic knowledge and insights into the career of healthcare professionals.
Overview of the Application Process
You initiate the process of applying to medical school by submitting one, centralized "primary" application that can be sent to multiple institutions of your choice. For allopathic (MD) schools you'll complete an "AMCAS"- American Medical College Application Service application; for osteopathic (DO) schools you'll complete the "AACOMAS" - American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine application. Nearly all schools participate in these application services, although there are a few that do not.
Applying to medical school is a two-step process: you submit the primary application first, and secondary applications second. After you submit the primary, you should wait for instructions from each individual medical school on how to submit the secondary application materials.
Parts of the Primary Application
The primary application will be made up of the following materials:
- Your transcripts and your grades also manually typed into the site
- Your MCAT score
- Your personal statement
- Your letters of recommendation
- 15 additional activity narratives that demonstrate your aptitude for medicine
Application Timeline (for the year you intend to apply)
JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH
Begin writing your personal statement - Visit PREPs for samples and writing tips
Request letters of recommendation and follow up with letter writers, if necessary
Continue with professional development activities such as volunteering, shadowing, research, student organizations, and internships.
Study for the MCAT!
Assemble materials in preparation for completing your application (spring transcript from IUPUI, transcripts from all other universities attended, list of activities or resume).
Continue writing personal statement. Keep a journal throughout the application process, and use it for ideas for your personal statement and secondary applications
Research medical schools.
Study for the MCAT and study some more!
Recommended time to take the MCAT is by May or June of the year you are applying.
If you have already taken the MCAT, begin working on the AMCAS/AACOMAS application as soon as it becomes available, generally in early June.
Order transcripts from every school attended to be sent to AMCAS/AACOMAS.
Take the MCAT, if you have not already.
Follow-up on the status of your recommendations.
If you have already taken the MCAT, begin working on your AMCAS/AACOMAS application.
Submit your primary application as early as possible. Your letter of recommendation files and MCAT score do not have to be complete before you submit your primary application.
After you submit your AMCAS/AACOMAS application you should periodically log in and monitor the status of your application. You should call and check with AMCAS/AACOMAS regarding any transcripts that are listed as not having been received and then check with the Registrar's office to see if there was a problem with the order.
JULY and AUGUST
As you begin to receive secondary application materials, follow their instructions and submit secondary applications as quickly as possible, to keep your application moving into the next stage of the process. At most schools your application will not be reviewed until all materials are received; bottom line: if you have not submitted all secondary materials you have not applied.
Send recommendations as requested by the medical schools.
Double check on everything. Be sure that secondary applications and recommendations have been received by each school. Check everything by phone or on the school website if there is one provided for you to check your application status.
Prepare to re-take the MCAT exam, if appropriate in your case.
Research the programs and characteristics of the schools to which you have applied.
Prepare for interviews. Continue to keep your journal, and review it for ideas to emphasize to an admissions committee. Consult the "Sample Medical School Interview Questions" handout from the PREPs office and prepare for questions you may be asked. Then come in for a mock interview to practice your interviewing skills.
SEPTEMBER - MARCH
Visit with the representative of any medical school to which you have applied who visits campus.
Most schools will allow you to send additional recommendations in December or January from professors from your fall classes if you have not received an acceptance yet and would like to try to strengthen your application. Check with the schools about their policies.
Many schools request that you submit updated transcripts at the end of the fall semester directly to them if your application is still under consideration. Check the instructions in the secondary application materials from each individual school. You should not send updated transcripts to AMCAS after your application has been processed. Update your coursework in AACOMAS with any new coursework completed after your AACOMAS application was processed.
Remain in contact with schools if you have submitted applications and have not heard back. A polite email or phone call to inquire about your status is generally acceptable.
Do some contingency planning and prepare alternate plans with a PREPs advisor if your admission to medical school is in doubt. Remember that there are many possibilities for a career in healthcare if that is what you desire.
Always keep in mind that schools are assessing your professionalism through the manner in which you conduct yourself while applying. Make sure that your e-mail address is working and reachable at all times and respond in a timely manner and appropriately to mailings from the schools. Be mature, polite, and professional at all times with the professors writing recommendation letters for you, the staff handling your application file, and any representatives of medical schools you contact.
Medical School Interview Questions
If you are unsure how to answer any of these questions, check out Step 2 of our Interviewing resources for detailed tips on how to correctly answer tricky interview questions.
Questions About You
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your two best points?
- What are your two weakest points?
- What are three things you want to change about yourself?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Explain your leadership/research/volunteer experiences.
- What extracurricular activities are you engaged in?
- Which of your college courses interested you the most?
- What interests you outside of medicine and getting into medical school?
- Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- Why did you choose the undergraduate school you went to, and if you could, would you do anything differently?
- What do you do to relieve stress?
- What course was most academically challenging for you?
- If you could pick any three people to have dinner with, who would they be and why did you pick them?
- Who are the three most influential people in your life?
Questions About Your Medical School Goals
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- When did you decide medicine was a good career choice for you?
- What steps have you taken to confirm that you want to be a doctor?
- What do you think being a doctor entails, apart from treating patients?
- What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good doctor?
- What will you be doing in medicine 10 years from now?
- What did you do to prepare for the MCAT?
- What medical procedures have you seen?
- How will you handle the stress of medical school?
- What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing medical school?
- Why do you believe you have the ability to undertake the study and work involved in medical school?
- What branch of medicine do you think would interest you? Why?
- Does your family support your decision to become a doctor?
- What did you like/dislike about the medical offices you have observed?
- What would you like to do if you are not accepted into medical school?
- What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what a physician does?
- How do you think your role as a physician fits in with your role as a member of the community?
- Is medicine a rewarding experience?
- What aspects of your life experiences do you think makes you a good candidate for medical school?
- If you are accepted into two medical schools of your top choice, what would you do to make up your mind?
- Can compassion be taught and do you need it to be a successful doctor?
Questions About the Medical School
- Why do you want to attend [Medical School Name]? How are you a match for [Medical School Name]?
- Describe your method of learning. How does this fit with the [Medical School Name]?
- What schools did you apply to and why?
- What do you look for in a good medical school?
- Why do you want to go to school here?
- Why should [Medical School Name] choose you over other candidates?
Current Issue/Scenario Questions
- What do you think about the specialization of medicine?
- What do you think is the most pressing issue in medicine today?
- One day, a medical school classmate gives you a sheet containing questions for an upcoming exam. How would you handle the situation and what issues would you consider important in coming to a decision about what to do?
- Name a situation where you had to make an ethical decision. What did you do?
- Tell me a time when you witnessed dishonesty and what did you do?
- What are the responsibilities of a doctor to a patient?
- What do you think about the health care system and which way should it go?
- What do you think are the biggest problems with health care in the United States today?
- You inadvertently administer the wrong medication to a patient being treated in the hospital. Although the situation is not life threatening, how would you respond to the situation?
- What is your view on abortion/ euthanasia/stem cell research/cloning?
- What would you do to solve the current misdistribution of doctors in the U.S.?