Frequently Asked Questions
Standard Pre-Medical Requirements ~ Chem 29 ~ AISS ~ Standard Dental and Veterinary Requirements ~ Majors ~ Grades ~ Off-Campus Study ~ Summer School ~ Volunteer Work ~ Research ~ Taking the MCAT, DAT, GRE, OAT, or PCAT ~ Acceptance Rates
What are the standard pre-medical requirements and recommended courses?
- Introductory Biology: 1 year with lab
Upper Division Biology: It is highly recommended that you demonstrate your ability to take upper level biology courses with lab.
- Genetics: one semester
- Biochemistry: one semester
- Basic Principles of Chemistry: 1 yr (or accelerated Chem 29 plus one semester of upper division chemistry with lab)
- Organic Chemistry: 1 year with lab
- Introductory Physics: 1 year with lab
- Calculus and Statistics: 1 semester (Calculus I or higher) for each
- English: 1 year
Please note that the following courses DO satisfy 1 of the 2 semesters required for English:
- Scripps--Writing 50
- CMC--Literature 10
- Pitzer--Freshman Seminar
- In addition to the courses listed above, you need one English Literature or English Composition based course.
- It is recommended that if students have space in their schedule, they take Introductory Sociology and Introductory Psychology courses in preparation for the MCAT exam..
Reference: Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) 2010-2011 (see www.aamc.org for purchase information).
NOTE: In order to meet the prerequisite requirement for entrance into medical school with this course you must take an additional semester of chemistry with laboratory beyond the Organic Chemistry year long sequence. So a good idea would be to take a semester of Biochemistry with laboratory available at Pomona College or at Harvey Mudd College. If you take a Biochemistry course please have it coded as a chemistry course on your transcript. If you enroll in a Biochemistry course that does not have a lab you should consider taking Advanced Laboratory (JS127) to satisfy the laboratory component of Biochemistry.
Of 15 major medical schools around the country that have been surveyed as the course was developed, 14 said that our recommended arrangement (AISS + 2 upper-div biology) would work well, and some said that they think it is a terrific idea - just the sort of preparation they would like to see in their students. (The outlier school was Emory University, and they prefer their students to have taken the standard intro courses in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.) In fact, a major report recently published by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute strongly supports the contention that an interdisciplinary approach to the sciences is the best preparation for undergraduates intending to go to medical school.
Please note we do NOT recommend AISS if you are interested in Veterinary Medicine or Dental School.
Dental School Admissions Overview.
Those interested in a career in Veterinary Medicine will need to make sure they begin planning early to allow for the additional courses that are required by Veterinary Schools of Medicine. You will want to meet with the Pre-Health Professions Advisor early to make sure you have planned your schedule to allow for the typical coursework, and the additional science courses that are required. Also, be sure you have time to work or volunteer with animals in a veterinarian’s office, animal way station, or local shelter. Additional courses frequently required by Veterinary Schools of Medicine include: Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Physiology, and Animal Nutrition. Please refer to Veterinary School Admissions Requirements.
Lower-than-desirable GPAs in the early semesters in college can be partially mitigated by consistent improvement especially if grades in upper-division science courses are high. The best way to achieve good grades is to invest the time and energy it takes for YOU to do well in your course work. Time management, organization, communication, and studying hard to show consistently strong performance are all important.
Note: Scripps College offers a few summer science courses as part of their Post-Bac Program that are open to undergraduates (Chemistry 14 & 15 and Physics 30 & 31)
Please browse the local volunteer opportunities page to see how you can get involved.
The answer is also YES if you want to go to certain research-oriented medical schools.
The answer is also YES if you want to explore this as an option for your health profession.
The answer is NO if you have no interest in research and you don't plan to make it part of your career.
The Keck Science Department offers several research opportunities and there are outside opportunities to conduct clinical based research in health care settings as well.
Note: It is important to apply EARLY for summer research positions. You should apply during the early spring semester for Keck Science Department summer positions as well as outside summer research opportunities. For more information about research opportunities, please visit the following link.
All U.S. schools of Dentistry require the DAT (Dental Admissions Test). You should plan to take the DAT in the spring before you plan to apply to dental school. It is possible to take the test in the summer, however, taking it in the spring allows for more time to retake the test if necessary.The DAT is also taken on the computer and can be scheduled almost any day of the year. However you must register in advance to take the exam and the testing service will most likely make arrangements for you to take the exam at a local Sylvan Learning Center.
The majority of Veterinary Medicine and other Pre-Health Professions (Physical Therapy, Public Health, etc.) require the general GRE (Graduate Record Exam). You should plan to take the GRE in the spring before you apply to veterinary school or another health profession. It is possible to take the test in the summer, however, taking it in the spring allows for more time to retake the test if necessary. The GRE is taken on computer and can be taken any day of the week. However you must register in advance to take the exam and the testing service will most likely make arrangements for you to take the exam at a local Sylvan Learning Center. Applicants may also take the GRE exam earlier if they feel they are prepared.
All U.S. schools of Optometry require the OAT. The OAT is only offered by computer and can be taken any time throughout the year and may be taken an unlimited number of times. However, you must wait at least ninety days between tests. Only the four most recent tests will be reported.
All U.S. schools offering Doctor of Pharmacy Programs require the PCAT. The PCAT is only offered three times a year, so students should start planning early on when they want to take the test. Also, pharmacy school admissions are extremely competitive and admissions offices put a lot of weight on this test in accessing applicants.
There are many more qualified applicants than positions such that admissions are often arbitrary. There is no way to guarantee admission, so don't worry excessively about what is not entirely under your control. Make sure you submit the MOST competitive application possible. You want to demonstrate readiness to continue studying rigorous Science coursework, have clinical skills, have exposed yourself to Research, and worked in the community or on a team of some kind. Medicine is a team oriented field. You also should have a contingency plan in the event you are not accepted to medical school.
- Physical Therapy
- Physician Assistant
- Public Health
- Veterinary Medicine