Medical School Admission and the Need for Good Grades

Have you ever wondered why good grades are so important to get into a medical school?  I know some of you are tired of the constant focus on grades and scores as a part of the prerequisite requirements for your admission into medical school.  Wouldn’t it be nice, you may ask, if all you needed was desire and the drive to serve others to make you eligible for med school?  After all, the caring and compassionate doctor is the model that is held up as the ideal.  And the grade barrier also limits the amount of people eligible to become a physician.  The last I checked, the average GPA for students admitted into medical school was 3.66.  While I understand the frustration with grade requirements, there are actually several solid reasons that medical schools place such a strong emphasis on the grades of their applicants.  Here are a couple of them:

1)     Good grades prove to the world, in an objective way, that you are capable of handling the difficult scientific concepts required in the medical field

2)     Superior grades are a means to differentiate the intellectual ability of the applicants.

3)     Except for the rare few, strong academic performance is a really good indicator of the drive, determination and commitment of the individual candidate.

4)     Requiring a strong GPA acts as a built in filtering system to isolate the best applicants for the medical school admission committee to select from.

5)     Requiring applicants to have a history of strong academic performance provides society with some assurance that their physicians are extremely intelligent and are well qualified to tackle the difficult concepts of medicine.

While life would be easier for prospective med students if good grades weren’t a requirement for admission, the reality is that the high academic standards are a necessary part of the medical school admission process.  And in the long run, strenuous GPA requirements are a good thing for medical students, as well.  Why?  Because the majority of the students who fail to meet the academic requirements for admission wouldn’t be able to handle the academic rigors of medical school.  Most of them would end up dropping out eventually—and they’d have spent tens of thousands of dollars in vain.  The bottom line is this: If you aren’t able to maintain high grades through high school and especially during college, you probably wouldn’t do well in medical school anyway.  You may be caring and dedicated to helping others, but a career in medicine requires an incredible amount of strenuous academic-style learning.

So the next time you’re discouraged by the difficult standards you’re facing in order to be accepted into a medical school, understand that the high standards are helping you out in the long run.  And then, instead of being discouraged about it, rededicate yourself to your studies.  Remember that you’re not simply trying to impress your admissions counselors—you’re proving to the world and to yourself that you have what it takes to begin a career in medicine.


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