Mistakes I've made

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but now that I have one acceptance under my belt and a few upcoming interviews, it’s probably a good time to review my mistakes and maybe you can learn from them. Hope this helps.

  1. Understanding the application process

    I did not understand the application process very well. So when I went to take my pre-reqs, I never went in thinking that I would need this professor to write me a recommendation. I went in thinking how not to fail this particular class. When it came town to apply, I struggled to find science faculty professors to write me recommendations.

  2. Community College Courses

    I chose community college courses because they were offered in the evening, cheap, and fit my work schedule. If I had to do it over again, I would try to fit in a course or two from the local 4 year college. This is because a lot of medical schools require 2 letters from science faculty, which your instructor at your community college course may not be. My biology course instructor over the summer was a teacher at the local high school. I couldn’t use her letter of recommendation.

  3. Number of Schools

    I applied to 30 medical schools. Although the initial application wasn’t bad, after 10 secondaries, I was pretty much burned out. Plus, I felt like I was putting on a fascade (fake front). Why do I want to go to your school? Because I want to be a doctor!

  4. Test Prep

    Overall, I believe Kaplan helped me. Especially their online resources and study materials. But even though my teacher was good, the in class lectures weren’t that helpful. It’s just too much material to cover in a couple months. I would have been better off spending that time in class going over the material myself. Honestly, the best prep I did was constantly doing problems, which made the online resources awesome. I didn’t focus any time on their strategies. Once you do enough problems, the speed at which you solve them decreases exponentially.

  5. MCAT

    I underestimated the amount of organic there was going to be on my test. Although I got a decent score, if I had to do it over again, I would focus equally on all sections of the MCAT. I might have even pushed the date back a bit to study more.

  6. Shadowing

    I had a doctor agree to let me shadow him beginning in June. Once June rolled around, he wanted to push it back to July. When July rolled around, well you guess it. He was too busy. Luckily, a friend of a friend hooked me up and let me shadow her. Although I had volunteer experience, I think it would have helped my application a bit if I could put down that I shadowed a doctor earlier.

  7. Courses

    I started taking my pre-reqs with Bio I. It’s a class I should have gotten an A in. Instead I got a B+. Why? Because I assumed it was going to be an easy course and didn’t budget the amount of time I should have to studying. After that, I got my butt in shape and started reading the textbook a lot more. You can’t learn it if you don’t read it.

Thanks for this! It’s so important to pass your experience and insights on to others who may benefit from it.

Congrats on that acceptance. Must be an excellent feeling!



I agree with you on many points, especially regarding community college courses. I also took some classes at a junior college for cost and scheduling reasons. However, courses taken at community colleges are highly discriminated. Although I was able to compensate by taking some upper level classes at a 4-year university and received a strong LOR, I would choose to take all of my courses at a 4-year university. I could not help but think that I would have received more interview invites if I had taken all of my courses at a 4-year university.

Valuable, valuable stuff…thank you so much!! Syr…you said “state school”. I am presuming in New York? PT me and let me know which school…I will be focusing primarily on NYS schools when I apply…

Wow!! This here is golden advice!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

It is by the experience and many times the mistakes of those that have gone before us that help tremendously in what to do and what not to do as a premed.

Kudos to you!!

Great advice. Thank you for sharing with your peers.

I totally agree with your findings. I made similar mistakes during my first application cycle. Now I am trying again.

So what did you do to overcome them and get your acceptance?

Thanks for sharing this…very valuable!

I’m a reapplicant; last cycle I didn’t receive any interview invitations. This cycle I received seven invites, and so far four acceptances, one wait-list, and two I’m still waiting to hear from.

The biggest difference this cycle was timing. I didn’t change much in my application (rewrote essays, but didn’t change the substance of the essays). I sent my stuff in way too late last cycle. This time, I submitted my AMCAS in June and was complete in June. For those planning to apply, I know you hear it from everyone, but here it is again: get your stuff in as early as is humanly possible!

Just my $0.02 worth, if that, even.

I love the generosity in the original poster’s comments, sharing his/her experience for the benefit of others. A few reflections based on the points raised:

No matter what they say to the contrary, med schools prefer courses from 4-year institutions.

Understanding the application process and what is required is really important to be able to master it. If you don’t understand it or are confused ask questions of those who have gone through the med school admissions process or seek out a knowledgeable advisor.

Don’t underestimate the time and effort the secondary applications take; that is perhaps the #1 element of the med school admissions process that applicants don’t plan well for. Secondaries take a tremendous amount of time to do well–and they are enormously important.

Doing problems to prepare for the MCAT and taking as many practice tests as possible reaps rewards.

Shadowing is not enough; get more involved and have multiple experiences to taste the variety in the medical profession and to show your commitment.

Premed classes are not easy; plan to give your full focus to all of them!

Thanks to the original poster for sharing his/her insight for the benefit of all.