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Medical School Admission Interview

Below are the highlights of a medical school admission interview chat transcript with Ramin Rafie, MD of AdmissionsConsultants. Dr. Rafie graduated from UCLA Geffen School of Medicine with a degree in neuroscience and then attended University of California Irvine College of Medicine. Perhaps most importantly to our readers, he also served on the admissions committee at UCI-COM. These medical school admission interview chat highlights are provided courtesy of medschoolchat.com.
Which is more important in the admissions process: the MCAT or the GPA (or both)?
I would say both.
Are there set standards that schools look at?
Each medical school really has its own formula/admissions committee and hence what they ultimately decide on as a committee but usually, the GPA and MCAT scores are punched in a formula. People above the cutoff score will receive a secondary and have passed the first rounds of elimination so to speak.
Is not having research experience fatal to one’s application, especially if one is clinically oriented?
I don’t think not having research is fatal at all. Having done research and actually being published goes to prove to admissions committees you are rather scientifically inclined and understand the rigors of research and publication. I think publications go to show true dedication as much research does not eventually get published. However, research is only one category of many admissions committees examine. They also look at clinical experience for example.
Some applicants have very little or no clinical volunteer work. How is that viewed?
Clinical experience is essential as the medical school admissions committees want to know what you really know and have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into and that you know what it’s like to work around sick people and a clinical environment for much of the time.
What kinds of letters of recommendations stand out the most and do you have any advice for undergrads who need to know how to ask their prospective recommenders for a letter?
LORs are important if they are very genuine, meaning if it’s written by someone who really knows you as an individual and can describe your character and work ethic, especially in comparison to their experience with prior people. Most people have generic LORs they can give to people they don’t genuinely know. These are obvious. It is better to have a genuine LOR than a generic one from a Noble Laureate. You can not demonstrate your work ethic in an academic course. Of course as far as work ethic, I meant clinical LORs or work experience. The military is one example.
How does one know if a professor will write a good LOR?
It depends on your repoire with that professor. Do you know and trust that person well?