Often a passion for medicine can come about in high school. If this is the case, you might be worried if med schools pay attention to your high school grades.
But the answer is no. Medical schools do not look at your high school grades. When you enter college, you start out with a clean slate. All of your academic performance is evaluated from then on.
Based on our research, some med schools have asked for high school grades in the past. Even in these cases, the grades were used for internal statistics only. They were not used as an evaluation process.
This isn’t to say high school is not important. The grades you get in high school will dictate what universities you can get into.
Higher-tier colleges do provide better resources and opportunities for getting into med school. In our post on the percentage of premeds that drop out, we found evidence that Ivy League schools put a higher percentage of their premeds into med schools.
Can You Get Into Med School With Bad High School Grades?
As long as you can get into college, you can get into med schools with bad high school grades.
As mentioned previously, med schools couldn’t care less how you did in high school. They focus on how you do in college from start to finish.
When you transition into college, you are essentially seeing true responsibilities for the first time. In college, you don’t have anyone telling you to study, play sports, or attend extracurriculars. Everything you do is through your own will.
Therefore, your performance in college is so much more important.
Do Med Schools Look At Your SAT or ACT Scores?
Some med schools will ask for your SAT or ACT scores. I remember this happening to me when I applied because it was very difficult to find my score.
Who keeps track of those things?
But your SAT or ACT is never used as an evaluation tool. Some schools use them for internal tracking statistics.
The only standardized test they care about is the MCAT. I highly recommend you check out our ultimate guide to the MCAT if you plan on taking it soon!
Do Med Schools Care About High School Extracurriculars?
It depends on what the activity is. If it’s some one-off volunteering event or something similar that you only did in high school, the impact won’t be as much. However, if it’s an activity that you started in high school and then continued through college, it will look very favorable towards med schools.
I knew a premed student who was an eagle scout through grade school and high school. Because he continued this through college as well, this actually had an impact on his med school application in a good way.
Another student started training as an EMT in high school. Because they had multiple years of experience by the time they were in college, they were able to join a paramedic program before applying to med school. This was a huge differentiator in their application.
Sports are another great example. If you have been committed to a particular sport for a long time and are eligible to compete in college, this could look very favorably to med schools.
Some schools might even ask you about leadership and extracurriculars in high school as part of their evaluation process. Your extracurriculars in high school will not be as important as what you do in college, but they can account for something.
What If You Were Expelled Or Suspended From High School?
Again, when you enter college you start out with a clean slate. You won’t be asked about expulsions or suspensions from high school.
The only time an expulsion or suspension in high school matters is if there is some kind of criminal activity associated with it.
Any misdemeanor or felony must be listed on the med school applications.
How Can You Prepare For Applying To Med School As A High School Student?
If you know you want to be a doctor and you are a high school student, your focus should not be applying to med school. Instead, focus on getting good grades in high school so that you can get into a good college.
Although Ivy League schools have the best acceptance rates into med schools, don’t stress about whether or not you get into one. Honestly, it’s more important you get a good scholarship/full ride at an average school than get into an Ivy League paying full price.
The route to becoming a physician is costly and you want to cut costs wherever you can. You might think that a $300K + salary will make paying off college and med school loans a piece of cake, but in reality, it’s much more challenging.
Ivy League schools have high acceptance rates because of the overachievers they attract, not necessarily the program itself. As long as you work hard and do plenty of high-quality extracurriculars, you can get into med school by attending any college.