Medical schools are becoming more and more competitive to get into as people become increasingly interested in this profession. It is, after all, an excellent investment into your future.
Because competition is increasing, the average GPA of med school applicants is increasing as well.
The general consensus is that a GPA of 3.5 or higher is considered a “good GPA” for getting into med school. If the rest of your application is strong, you should have a pretty good chance of getting into med school.
But applying to med school is not as simple as getting a 3.5 or higher.
There are many aspects that go into a good application for med school and GPA is only one part. GPA tends to get the most attention from the pre-med community because getting good grades takes up the vast majority of your their.
Keep reading to find out why GPA is important, what GPA is highly competitive in the current application pool, and what you can do if your GPA is not so competitive.
How Important Is GPA for Med School?
Your GPA (And MCAT) are very important for getting into medical school. The first thing a med school needs to confirm is that you can get through their program.
Med school curriculums are jam-packed with exams, labs, classes, and homework. To do well, you need to be efficient in studying and prepared to put in the hours. Therefore, med schools look into your academics to make sure you can handle the workload.
If you can’t get through their program, the rest of your application doesn’t matter.
That being said, getting a low GPA does not prevent you from entering. Lots of premeds get into med schools with low GPAs every year. It just requires other aspects of your application to be very impressive and you’ll still need to find a way to prove that you can handle a difficult workload.
Which GPAs Do Med Schools Look At?
When you apply through either the AMCAS for MD schools or the AACOMAS for DO schools, your application is going to calculate your GPA into 3 categories. These are the GPAs that medical schools are going to look at.
- Your overall GPA (This includes every class you ever took)
- Your Science GPA (Only life and physical science classes that fall under the guidelines of each application service respectively)
- Your Non-science GPA (All classes that don’t fall under the science GPA category)
As you can imagine, med schools are going to place more emphasis on your science GPA. You are primarily only taking science courses in med school after all.
Finally, it’s worth noting how med schools calculate your post-bacc GPA. Basically, your post-bacc grades get calculated into your undergrad overall GPA. There is also a separate post-bacc GPA. Post-bacc includes any courses you took after college such as a master’s program.
What Is A Competitive GPA For Applying To Med School?
To understand what a competitive GPA for med school is, we should first look at the national averages.
Based on students who were accepted and matriculated into med school, here are the U.S. national averages for GPAs:
- Overall GPA: 3.74
- GPA Science: 3.67
- GPA Non-Science: 3.83
As you can see, these averages are higher than what we said earlier was a “good GPA.” This is because 3.5 is an accepted standard for a good GPA that should get you in as long as everything on your application is strong. Below 3.5 is when you are considered a “low GPA” and should look into ways of improving that.
These GPAs are averages which means that students with LOWER GPAs can and do get in. No matter how low you think your GPA is, there is always a shot of getting into med school with the right guidance (Read the section below on how to get into med school with a low GPA).
The closer you are to the national GPA average for matriculated med students, the more competitive your GPA is. The more competitive your GPA is the less emphasis that needs to be placed on other aspects of your application.
However, no matter how good your GPA is, you will not get into med school without putting effort into extracurriculars that demonstrate a desire for medicine and helping others. Med schools are looking at students more and more holistically as the years go by.
Finally, make sure you are looking at the average for every school you are applying to. There can be large discrepancies between low-tier and top-tier schools.
List Of Average GPA and MCAT For Every MD and DO Medical School
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to look at the average GPA for every med school you plan on applying to instead of simply looking at the national average.
Some med schools are less competitive than others and you might be able to get in with lower stats. Shemmassian Consulting compiled a list of every single medical school and its average GPA.
I recommend looking through this list in order to get a better idea of what a good GPA is for you.
How To Get Into Medical School With Less Competitive Grades
Now that we have a better understanding of what a good GPA is, let’s talk about the student who doesn’t have competitive grades.
This is far more common than you think. Lots of premeds made academic mistakes somewhere early on in their college years resulting in a low GPA. Happened to me as well.
The good news is that you can always recover from a bad GPA. The bad news is that the recovery process is an uphill battle. But if you are committed to becoming a doctor, you will be able to overcome this obstacle.
Here are 5 steps you can take to get in with less competitive grades:
- Demonstrate an upward trend in your GPA. If you develop strong study habits and turn your grades around, an upward trend in your GPA can look very good to med schools.
- Invest a lot of time and effort into extracurriculars. Med schools will look at all aspects of your application. If you have a lot of impressive experiences outside of academics, this can make up for less competitive grades.
- Score higher on the MCAT. Your GPA and the MCAT go hand in hand when it comes to evaluating your academic abilities. Therefore, a higher MCAT can pick up some slack for a lower GPA. Check out our 1-month MCAT study guide that helped me increase my MCAT score significantly.
- Apply to a lot of med schools including DO schools. We normally recommend applying to about 10-12 med schools. However, with less competitive stats, you should apply to at least 16 med schools and include D.O. schools in that mix. D.O. med schools tend to have lower academic requirements.
- Consider a post-bacc program. A post bacc can mean any kind of schooling you do after your undergrad. Typically students will apply to an academic enhancer post-bacc or a special master’s program. The special master’s programs are designed for students who need a serious competitive edge. It basically mimics the first year of med school and provides a bunch of other application-enhancing opportunities.
That’s the abbreviated version, check out our complete guide on getting into med school with a low GPA!
Should You Take A Gap Year?
If your GPA is holding you back from getting into med school the first time around, you can always take a gap year. Plenty of other students do it. In fact, the average age of incoming med students is around 25 years old!
Your gap year is an opportunity to invest loads of time into clinical work, study for the MCAT, volunteer, and even attend a post-bacc.
Check out our post on everything you should consider before taking a gap year.
Is a 3.8 GPA good for medical school?
Yes, a 3.8 GPA is very competitive for med school. Just make sure the rest of your application is packed with great extracurriculars and a competitive MCAT.
You should have no problem getting into med school.
Is GPA or MCAT more important?
There is a lot of debate around this question. On the one hand, GPA represents an ability to perform well academically over a long period of time. On the other hand, the MCAT is standardized which eliminates the discrepancies between easy and more difficult colleges.
The answer is that both are equally important. If your GPA is higher than your MCAT or vice versa, that’s fine. If there is a huge difference between the two, that can be a red flag.
How many C’s are acceptable for med school?
Several Cs are not going to stop you from getting into med school. If you are getting lots of C’s over the course of your entire undergrad, then we have a problem. If this is the case, you’ll have to get serious about improving your grades through a post-bacc.
Can you get into med school with an F?
Yes, you can, plenty of students have in the past. If the F was in a prerequisite, you’ll have to retake it. Other than that, you will need to prove to medical schools that the F is no longer an issue and you are capable of performing well in school.
Further Reading: Can you get into med school with an F or W on your transcript?
Can post-bacc increase your GPA?
Yes, it can! A post bacc’s grade will be factored into your overall cumulative GPA on the AMCAS and AACOMAS. If you do awesome, this can increase your overall GPA.
Does a 4.0 GPA guarantee me getting into med school?
The answer is no. Although a 4.0 GPA is very impressive, your overall application is very important.
If you had hardly any extracurricular activities such as volunteering, shadowing, or clinical work, then that 4.0 GPA can’t get you in. It would be better to spend more time tending to other parts of your overall application and let your GPA drop a bit.
It’s also very important to apply early. Waiting a month or two to submit your primary or secondary application can limit your chances of getting in even with a 4.0.