Low GPA Allopathic Success Story

Back in 2007 when I was debating how to go about completing my dream of becoming a Physician, I stumbled upon oldpremeds. I was at the ripe age of 28 at the time. I asked for advice. I received it. I acted upon it.


This year I submitted my AMCAS. My GPA was 2.34 in 2007. 30 Credit hours later and a 31T (9PS 11BS 11VR) on the MCAT it was 2.64. I applied with some excellent recommendation letters (it took a few years to get them). I prayed a lot and asked God for direction and wisdom. My prayers were answered.

I applied to 6 schools (very targeted). I received 3 interview invites. I received my first acceptance to an allopathic school. I believe a second acceptance is on the way. I spent under $1000 for the entire process.

Of course, there is more to the story than that… but I need to keep it short.

I’m writing this to encourage those who come here with low grades thinking it can’t be done. It can.

I’m also writing to thank the individuals who took the time to give me some advice on how to accomplish my dream. Pretty much everything in the thread quoted above is spot on.

A sincere thank you. In August I will no longer be an oldpremed but an oldms1.


CONGRATS! Whoo hoo!!

Thank you for being one of the few that comes back to chime in. It truly helps all of us with abysmal ugrad to see, it can be done:




Again, grats!!

How Cow?! That’s amazing!!

Yes, thank you for coming back and sharing your story. I, for one, would very much like to hear the extended edition. It really does give the rest of us that motivation to “press on toward the goal…”

Again, Thankx!

Congratulations! What an inspiration you are! We need to put your picture and stats on a T-shirt… You literally embody so much of what this forum is about.

I’m so excited to hear about your journey as you continue walking forward!

Hat off to you.

This is a great story. Perhaps you could secure a speaker spot during an upcoming conference or something.

Thanks for sharing. Congratulations. Enjoy the ride.

Awesome. You are a true inspiration!

Just received my 2nd acceptance!

Thanks for the kudos everyone. I feel very undeserving of it as I really and truly believe that my success so far is really due to:

  1. Divine providence

  2. A great and supporting spouse

  3. Great advice from this board (as a silent follower), another board that shall remain unnamed (once all the garbage is filtered) and my colleagues at work.

    Here is the long story (abbreviated). Sorry for the typos and grammar.

    After deciding to go into medicine, I thought that, if I wanted to become a doctor, it would help to surround myself with them. I also realized that school was not going to be cheap and that I would need to pay for my ug courses. So I applied for several jobs at my state medical school. I got many rejections but finally I was able to leave the business world and apply my skills in academia. (increase in pay also helped my decision).

    While in academia, I was able to be the “go to” guy on some key research problems. I developed an application that helped several faculty do their work and never said no to helping someone. Eventually built some rep that caught the division head’s attention. He got promoted to an associate dean later on so that helped since he rubs shoulders with the dean of admissions. This led to me getting on several papers. I don’t have an exact number of papers… one interviewer commented on the fact that I didn’t know how many… It’s over 10 I think but that’s plenty for me. JAMA, Cardiovascular Genetics, Nature. Top notch papers with my name on it. Of course, none are first or last author but that put me in a different category from an admissions standpoint.

    After working hard for the first year and a half, I started taking courses. I called a school after that post back in 2007. Their advice was to take the courses slowly. No rush. One person actually said, “All we see are 5 rows with GPAs: freshman-senior and then postbacc. We most likely won’t look at how long your postbacc work took. Do it slowly.”. So I adopted my postbacc GPA and treated it like it was my own child. I protected it at ALL costs… including dropping a course if there was a HINT that it may be problematic. I ended up with a 4.0 post bacc GPA.

    Keeping in touch: Once a year since 2007 (or may be less than once a year) I kept in touch with the main admissions person at my top choice. Just sent updates “just to let you know, I have… Thank you for your advice, looking forward to submitting a competitive application soon”. She knew me and was familiar with my story way before she even saw my app. I didn’t bug her (maybe 2 times in 3 years). But I let her know I was taking her advice and that she’ll see me soon. I think it added to the “persistence” narrative which is what you need in med students.

    MCAT: Well… I did home-study for the MCAT. I stuck with examkrackers audio osmosis and 1001 questions and lecture books. Then I took 5 practice exams throughout my studying. I took it in April of 2011 and needed about a 4 months to study. On the day of the exam, a good friend called right before the exam for prayer as he and his family just got foreclosed on… this is while I’m outside the testing facility. I prayed with him but it got me off my game a bit. The very first section, PS killed me (I eventually got a 9) even though it was my strongest section. Why? Because I tried to get EVERY question right and ran out of time. I guessed on almost 13 questions (both passage questions and gimmes). Think Ravens last Sunday. After that section, I felt like just giving up. But I prayed, received strength, killed everything else. My mouse hovered for a long time over the section that would have voided the results. Very glad I didn’t. I wasn’t ecstatic about the score but it wasn’t bad… particularly the T in writing.


    One quote I think I saw here while a silent lurker said something like this: Your chance of getting in if you don’t apply is 0%. So I applied not expecting many bites. I like to write and so I went through a few drafts of my personal statement… settled on something that THOROUGHLY addressed my UG failures and pivoted to the future and my current drive/determination.

    I spent some extra time on the ECs. This is where us non-trads should really shine. If you live a life and are passionate about helping people, this is your moment. We have stories and kids and experiences that make us great candidates.

    LORs: I kept in touch with several of my professors. I’m a nerd so I read techie and popular science magazines for fun. Whenever I saw something cool or thought it made a good teaching example, I shared with my former Physics profs. That reminds me, I ordered my physics text from a used bookstore online and got the teacher’s edition… with all the answers… the one that should not be sold online. Well, since there were no refunds and class was upon me, I did the right thing and went to both profs. The first one said it was fine but thanks for telling him. the second one (Physics II) said thanks and gave me a student book while he kept mine for the semester since he assigned problems from the book. That left a good impression. Yes. I have a brown nose… and 2 acceptances. They wrote stellar letters for me.

    I got a letter from an associated Dean at my job… he’s also my boss. I asked him, and he said yes… the worst thing he could have said is “no” (and you’re fired… but that didn’t happen). That has to carry some weight, particularly at the school where I am employed. I think that got me an interview at a top 30 school. He (and a few other colleagues) even asked them to look out for me. Sometimes it’s who you know… for the record, I have no affiliation with my two acceptances.

    My final AMCAS GPA was 2.65. Yep. That was it. Yep. Yes. Really. Some interesting conclusions I was able to gain (of course, my opinion):

  4. One colleauge, a well respected nephrologist who didn’t get in to med school on his first try explained it to me this way: Schools/majors/instructor s vary in academic difficulty. 4.0 at no name university is not equal to a 4.0 at top university. GPA is good but he didn’t think it was the end all be all. It is just an metric that they use to try and judge something that only medical school can flesh out which is intellectual capacity and determination. Think about WHY schools are looking for a specific GPA and you’ll start to see what they are REALLY looking for… then explain that to them in other areas of your app.

  5. The great equalizer is the MCAT. There is no rocks for jocks on the MCAT so that score is important.

  6. Moving my GPA from a 2.34 to 3.0 or 3.5 would have taken me about 2-3 undergraduate degrees (300+ CH) with a 4.0 GPA in each degree. Not gonna happen. So at some point I would have to stop. If it wasn’t for my wife I would have stopped at 50 or so. But… she told me to apply.

  7. Most importantly, I believe in God. I believe He called me to be a physician with a specific mission. If He called me to do it, no admissions committee can stop me. With God all things are possible.

  8. My wife made me apply because she had had it with me spending money on the books and fees with no tangible “progress”. God put her in my life for a reason.

    Targeted Applying:

    I invested in (not purchased) a copy of the MSAR. The MSAR is an investment. It will save you money and money saved is money earned. I’m not independently wealthy so I needed to do this the cheap guy’s way. I looked carefully at the ranges for acceptable grades. I read the descriptions paying close attention to “Selection Factors” section. Some schools had a cut off. Others explicitly didn’t. I even called some up and asked them specifically about the “cut off” question. With the exception of Vanderbilt (for which I received a prompt but greatly appreciated pre-secondary rejection) I applied to schools that would give me a fair shake. In-state. Religious affiliations, etc. Narrowed down to 7. Then 6 once I saw that Tulane’s secondary was $125 (My wife is currently a SAHM so we were on a strict budget).

    Anyway, that’s part of the long story.

    What I think I did right:

  • Faith and Trust in God.

  • Married an awesome woman.

  • Find and land a strategic job at a medical school where I was paid to pursue my dream and gain valuable contacts.

  • Took my time with my pre-reqs and upgrades.

  • Slowed down and saw my kids grow up.

  • Not afraid to ask colleagues and mentors.

  • Protected my post bacc GPA like it was one of my children (B’s aren’t suicidal but I’d rather write that than have to experienced it).

  • More faith and trust in God.

    Things I wouldn’t do again:

  • Try to study for the MCAT while working full-time and having other responsibilities. I had no choice but it wasn’t ideal.

  • Discovering Khan academy 3 weeks before the MCAT. Please find that website NOW… give yourself time to let it absorb.

  • Do more practice MCAT’s. They are an investment too… They are worthless if not done under timed conditions.

  • Lazy about getting a first author paper. I am going to try and get one now before matriculation (in ANY journal… doesn’t have to be prestigious). It will improve every other publication I have.

  • Apply late. (I applied EDP to my top choice… didn’t get in then submitted to the others… I know… risky… don’t do it). I applied to 5 schools on Oct 15th. Don’t do it. Whenever tempted to do EDP, SLAP yourself enough times so that you will be convinced it’s a crazy idea … unless you have a stellar GPA of course… something like a 5.0 Apply as early as possible. The secondary prompts are on SDN so you can prepare for the essays WAY in advance. This is important.

    I’ve written too much. Gonna get back to work.

    This chart was very important to me:

    https://www.aamc.org/…/table24-mcatgpagridall20 08-10.pdf.pdf

    As the chart shows there are a lot of folks that get into medical school with low GPAs. I don’t think it’s entirely random which ones got in… They must have applied to the right school, had stellar MCATs, great EC’s and great LORs. I would also bet that they are more likely to be older applicants too. Anyway, I’ve written too much. Thanks again folks… and thanks for what you do. Please keep it up.


Wow. Congrats on the acceptances. Amazing perseverance!

First of all congratulations! There are several lessons contained in your story. I personally hope that reflecting upon them in the days and months to come I’ll be able to rectify, promote and better my path towards the goal. Congratulations again, I am happy that yet another great physician emerges from the ranks of this forum. I also hope that at your discretion you might let us know about your experience during your interviews and why not? the name of the schools that accepted you.

qtippMD -

Thanks so much for sharing your story. Really illustrates the maxim (the reverse of “when you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action”), which is “When you desire a particular consequence, you darn well better choose the actions that lead to that consequence!”

Sounds like you did that in spades!!

I’m sure a lot of folks will benefit from your experience and example!

Congrats on the acceptances!!!


Thanks again everyone:

Sorry, here is the GPA/MCAT Grid from AAMC. It is a really important chart to consider while planning. Please note that the data is aggregated over 3-4 years or so.

Cesar, sent a private topic with details. I will post them here after my last interview in early Feb. (wish I applied earlier to all schools instead of EDP but you live and learn… and I’m still eternally grateful).


Wow … congrats!

Since my husband is a pilot, he is slightly obsessed with the tv show, “Flying Wild Alaska.”

I frequently sit next to him, reading my organic books, while he watches–and I’m pleasantly surprised by things I hear declared by the Tweto family. (The main people on the show.)

One of them said this the other night, and I literally put my book down and stared at the TV.

She said, “You’re going to become only what you’re willing to work for.”

You are a shining example of this bit of wisdom, and an inspiration to so many on this forum!

First, congratulations! This is a great accomplishment, I hope you enjoy the amazing feeling.

And second, thanks for sharing. People like you on OPM offer such valuable insight to people who aren’t as far along in the process. It’s very generous of people who have been there to share their experiences.

Nice going! Your story is an inspiration for those of us with low overall GPAs.

This is one of the greatest posts I’ve seen in the 3+ years I’ve been on OPM. Congratulations!

i’ve read your complete story. wow! totally inspiring!

because of your note about khan academy, i went through the website earlier this morning and wrote up a 2 hour per day study plan, and i estimate 14 weeks from today I can finish the khan videos.

thanks for posting.


You said that you kept in contact with the admissions officer at your top choice. How did you first find this person? Was it a cold-drop email? Did you call? Did you have someone introduce you?

I like the idea of keeping in touch…but I figure there has to be an initial introduction of some type.

  • In reply to:

You said that you kept in contact with the admissions officer at your top choice. How did you first find this person? Was it a cold-drop email? Did you call? Did you have someone introduce you?

I like the idea of keeping in touch...but I figure there has to be an initial introduction of some type.

That's a good question... one I don't really have a perfect answer to. We are all guessing here because many of us have never been in "the room" where all the decisions are made. We get glimpses of how things work by feeding applications and statistics into multiple black boxes across the country, seeing what happens and then making educated guesses about what the right inputs are for our desired outcome.

I called a few admissions offices. Some were approachable. Others seemed like they were jaded by so many phone calls. What did I do?

1. I e-mailed the admissions office and explained my situation (word count was kept low).

2. At the end of my e-mail I acknowledged that i knew they were extremely busy. I then intimated that I would like to talk by phone.

Here's a sample e-mail I found in my inbox (from 2007!!!).

  • In reply to:
I am a non-traditional pre-med interested in attending [TOPCHOICE SOM] in the next 3-4 years. I am in the planning stage for completing my requirements and, because of my unique situation, would love to have the opportunity to find out how I could be as competitive as possible. Most of my questions have been answered by reading the wealth of information on the SOM website.

Would it be possible to have a SHORT phone conversation with someone from the admissions committee course of action that would make me the most competitive? I understand that any information provided to me would not be a guarantee of anything but I am in desperate need of your advice.

Thanks for your consideration of my request. I can be reached at [EMAIL] or [CELL]. I understand also that this may be a busy time in the admissions season and if a future time for this conversation is more appropriate I would be very grateful.

I currently reside in [MY STATE].

Thank You,


I got a response to call their office. I called. After I called I sent an e-mail to thank them for the info and let them know I was acting on it.

I don't know if any of this helped... It may have been unnecessary but that's what I did. One other school just referred me to their website again [interestingly that school accepted me too]. Another asked me to contact them by phone.

The worst thing they can say is "GET LOST!". In the grand scheme of things, that's not so bad... especially when you are going to be a medical student (I used to be a job search coach a long time ago).

For those of you who are people of faith, I would say that prayer was KEY. I asked for direction on a lot of my decisions (and still continue to do so). I acknowledge that this would not have happened but for God and there's nothing anyone can do to convince me otherwise. I pray that I become the best Christian physician possible.

For those of you with Low GPAs, someone will get in with a low GPA... let it be you.

I hope this helps.

P.S. I had to turn down an interview invite last week... I'm still flabbergasted.
  • In reply to:
because of your note about khan academy, i went through the website earlier this morning and wrote up a 2 hour per day study plan, and i estimate 14 weeks from today I can finish the khan videos.

Cool. If that works for you that's awesome. If I could have done it again I would have still done my reading and concentrate on practice tests... then use the Khan Videos to brush up on topics that I wasn't that great one (like electrochemistry... I really hate that topic).

Another great resource for me were the practice exams from AMCAS. (I hear ya: "Big Deal... everyone knows they are a great resource"). Well, something I don't hear people talking about enough are the diagnostics available for the practice exams. I went back through every question I got wrong, looked at the reason I got it wrong and then chose the appropriate dropdown. After doing that, I was able to see what my deficiencies were... then studied to my deficiency.

A great book once stated that, when most people rehearse or practice, they like to play or perform their best pieces. Practice and rehearsal is for you to play the weakest thing over and over again... it's painful but it makes you improve. That's the approach I would take to MCAT studying and the diagnostics help you to identify that. "Not enough time", "changed from right answer", "not familiar with the concept", whatever it may be you can identify and fix it.

Anyway, I'm a bit too longwinded and you all probably know all this bunk.... so I'll end it here.

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement! Hoping to take it and build on it into medical school this summer!