There are lots of premed students out there who suffer from low GPAs. The premed curriculum is very rigorous and for someone unprepared, it’s not out of the ordinary to perform poorly your first few semesters.
Some students even continue to struggle throughout all their years of college.
Maybe your priorities aren’t straight and you spend too much time socializing instead of studying. Or maybe you just get bad advice on how to study (If this is the case, I highly recommend you check out our premed studying guide).
Regardless of the reason, if you are still passionate about becoming a physician, you can still do it. I personally started off with a 2.6 GPA and didn’t improve that number too much before graduating. But I got into med school and I’m here to tell you that you can too!
Can You Get Into Med School With A Low 2.6 GPA?
Yes, if at some point in college, you had a 2.6 GPA you can still get into med school. However, this doesn’t mean you should expect to get in by applying with a 2.6 GPA without showing any actionable steps to improve that GPA.
We wrote a complete guide on how to get into med school with a low GPA and I highly recommend you check it out.
If you have a low GPA, you will need to show improvement grade-wise to some capacity. If you already graduated undergrad, this means doing some form of a post-bac program.
This can be a do-it-yourself kind of post-bacc at a community college or an official post-bacc with a master’s degree (Also called Special Master’s Programs).
If you started as a premed with a sub 3.0 GPA and continued without much change, you aren’t demonstrating to med schools that you have learned from your mistakes. The key is showing improvement and leveraging other aspects of your application such as extracurriculars (More on this later).
My Story: From 2.6 Premed GPA To Med School Acceptance
To prove that getting into med school with a low GPA, I’m going to tell you about my med school acceptance story.
During my first semester as a premed student, I started with a 2.6 GPA. Don’t believe me? Here is a screenshot of my transcript:
And after that, my grades did not improve much.
My problem was that I was not motivated to do school. I came from a tiny high school in the middle of nowhere, so my goals were more focused on socializing and having fun.
But when junior/senior year rolled around, I began to set my priorities straight. I still wanted to become a doctor. It was a huge passion of mine reinforced by an awesome shadowing experience.
It was difficult for me to find the motivation I needed to succeed because there wasn’t a lot of support out there for students like me. The common consensus was that I should look into a different career.
But through the power of grit and some help from other students that were in the same boat, I picked things up and managed to get over that 3.0 mark. MCAT score though was not so great.
My application wasn’t competitive enough in my first application cycle, so I didn’t even hear back for an interview.
I decided that my best course of action would be going through a Special Master’s Program. This is a premed post-bacc program that essentially puts you through year 1 of med school giving you a master’s degree at the end of the program.
This post-bacc program was also great for me because it offered an MCAT course, lots of extracurricular opportunities, and excellent med school advisement.
By this point, my brain was laser focused on getting into med school so I ended up kicking butt during that post-bacc program. I ended it with a 3.9 (All A’s and one B).
In addition, I found a new way to study for the MCAT and improved my score by 12 raw points!
The results were multiple interviews and an acceptance into med school.
The moral of this story is that no matter how poorly you performed as a premed student initially, there is always a chance to turn things around. Keep working hard and stay motivated. Eventually, you will get in.
Your Extracurriculars Matter: The Holistic Med School Approach
When your GPA is low, you’ll need to make up that weakness in your med school application with something else. It’s critical that your extracurriculars really shine.
We have all heard about the concept that medical schools are taking a more holistic approach to evaluate applicants. There is truth in this.
More and more students are getting in with lower GPAs but strong extracurriculars.
What should you do exactly? Here’s a guide on finding the best extracurricular activities for you, but here is what you should do in a nutshell:
- Do something unique and you are passionate about: Your extracurricular should not just be about checking a box and clocking in hours. If you are passionate about the particular activity you are doing, it will show on your application. This looks really good for med school.
- Focus on one or two activities: Rather than doing a bunch of short activities, focus on one or two that you can devote a lot of time on. Doing this makes you more involved in that activity. You’ll have more interesting things to write about that will leave a lasting impression on med schools.
- Start early: The sooner you start the better. Don’t be that student who crams his/her extracurricular activities into the month before med school applications start. Med schools know when students are just doing stuff to check off some boxes, they are looking for students who are actually passionate about the activities they do.
Other Low GPA Medical School Success Stories From Premed’s
Just in case you are still looking for motivation, I thought I would include more low GPA med school success stories here!
From one Reddit user:
This individual graduated with a 2.6 GPA. What he/she did is built up stellar extracurriculars and kept taking classes to raise that GPA. Not to mention they rocked the MCAT!
Here’s another story from a different student:
This student had a very similar story to mine. Poor GPA with an upward trend.
There are so many more stories like this! A quick google search for success stories with low GPAs can give you a lot of motivation.
Remember, anything is possible when you are dedicated to getting in!
What’s The Lowest GPA Med Schools Will Accept?
Lots of med schools have cutoffs for grades. However, some don’t. You can do your research online but not every med school is going to advertise that they look at any GPA or focus on your last 30-120 credits.
If you are applying with a low GPA, I recommend you start calling med schools to plead your case. See if they will accept students with a low GPA but a very strong application extracurricular-wise.
Here’s an example from a real student:
This individual knew that their application was raising red flags, but he didn’t simply sit back and wait to be rejected. Instead, he called every med school and pleaded his case.
Because of this, he was able to get eyes on his application and even got some valuable advice. For example, would you have known to “email a med school officially requesting they look at your last 120 hours”?
This is not information you discover by looking through a website. You will be surprised by what a phone call can do.
Can A High MCAT Offset A Low GPA?
In our article on “What’s more important GPA or MCAT?” we covered this topic somewhat.
In a nutshell, MCAT alone can only offset a low GPA to a certain extent. It really depends on the circumstance.
For example, let’s say you had a poor GPA and showed no signs of improvement but you had a solid MCAT score. Although this demonstrates to med schools that you have a pretty good grasp of the sciences (As seen in the good MCAT score) your work ethic is questionable and med schools will be concerned about whether or not you can handle the med school workload.
Another example, let’s say you are a student with a pretty low GPA but showed strong improvements in the second half of college and you have a good MCAT score. In this scenario, the high MCAT score carries more weight because you have convinced med schools you can have a good work ethic and the good MCAT score confirms the good grades didn’t come from taking super easy classes.
Obviously, it would be best if you got as high of an MCAT score as possible when your GPA is low. However, don’t count on that MCAT giving you a free pass. You will still need to show an upward trend in your GPA and partake in some great extracurriculars.
Be Stubborn About Getting Into Med School
I’ll leave you with this thought:
Be stubborn about getting into med school.
Other premeds, forums, and even advisors may tell you that you can’t get in. That is complete bull ****. Anybody can get into med school no matter how much they failed at first.
The key is to overcome your failures and show improvement. You might have to put in a lot more effort than the average premed student. However, if you stay committed you will get in.
And after you eventually get in, you’ll be more prepared for the next step: getting through med school. Remember, med school is the first step. You want to excel in med school so that you can get into a good residency program.
Hope that helps! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or anything to add.