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Pre-Medicine FAQ's

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Can I major in pre-medicine?

No, but students pursuing pre-medicine may take all their necessary prerequisite courses here. Students must choose a major, and their choice should reflect their interests. It is not necessary for the pre-medical student to major in an area of science, nor does it increase the student's chances of admission to do so. In addition to the required science courses, a broad humanities and liberal arts background is encouraged. The major should be considered as the basis for future career or for graduate study in the event the student is not accepted into medical school.

What does my GPA need to be?

The mean overall GPA for entering medical school students in the last decade has been approximately 3.6 to 3.7 nationwide. Students with significantly lower GPAs will have a more difficult time gaining admission to medical school, although admission committees will take into consideration any extenuating circumstances and will look for other demonstrated characteristics considered desirable for medicine. The student must present a record of consistently high performance; that is, a high GPA, and very few withdrawals, incompletes, or repeated courses. The mean overall GPA for the class entering the University of Washington Medical School is usually around 3.7. **PLEASE NOTE that if you retake courses, while CWU will replace a lower grade with the most recent for GPA calculation, when you apply for medical school, ALL of your classes will be factored into an admission GPA.

When do I take the MCAT and what do I need to score?

Applications to medical schools must be accompanied by Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores. The exam is offered many times throughout the year and is usually taken at the end of the junior year. The mean overall MCAT score for the class entering the University of Washington Medical School is usually 10.5 on a scale of 1-15 and a "Q" in the writing sample. For more information on the MCAT and changes coming for 2015, please click on the menu link (above).

How important are letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are an important part of the selection process. Admission committees consider academic and character recommendations that applicants obtain from faculty members, physicians, and other persons. Letters of recommendation should discuss and critically evaluate the student's academic ability, strengths and weaknesses, motivation for medicine, maturity, difficulty of coursework attempted, and special attributes and assets. Recommendations are usually written between the applicant's third and fourth year of college. It is extremely important for students to develop working relationships with faculty members in order to earn good letters of recommendation.

Are my chances better if I apply to an out of state school?

Normally, state-supported medical schools are required by law to give preference to residents of that state. Many schools, both public and private, also indicate some preference of residents of neighboring states, and some schools participate in interest and regional agreements. Applicants should recognize that their best chances for admission are at medical schools within their own state or at private medical schools.

How important is the medical school interview?

Although applicants are first screened according to academic performance, the final choice is made after the applicants have been interviewed by the medical school. During the interview, the student's motivation, maturity, poise, humanitarianism, and ability in expression are examined. A broad background in biological sciences and humanities, a knowledge of and exposure to the needs of individuals and society, and an awareness of health care delivery systems are desirable. As the final step of evaluation, the interview is very important. Medical schools have repeatedly rejected students who present strong academic records but lack maturity or have only confused motivation for medicine.

Do I need to volunteer or have lab experience?

Absolutely. Volunteer work experience in some type of health care facility is highly recommended. Exposure to health related settings (e.g. hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, etc...) is becoming increasingly important as an admission factor. It is assumed that a qualified applicant will have not only a general understanding of the profession, but also a demonstrated interest and knowledge of what medicine is about. Pre-medical students at CWU need to look for volunteer opportunities (see link at top).


A great way to gain valuable medical experience is to become a scribe. Scribes create real-time charts alongside emergency department physicians.  For more information see and fill out an application.

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