planning out pre-med classes--please help!!

Hi everyone,

I am seriously contemplating switching careers into medicine/pediatrics from Engineering/business and looking for some information and help. I was looking for some advice on pre-med courses and how to possibly plan the start…

Unfortunately I did quite dysmal on my first two years of college (1998-2000) with the following GPA in the science courses:

Chemistry I - 2.5

Chemistry I-Lab 4.0

Calculus I - 2.0

Chemistry II - 1.5 (This one really hurt!!!)

Chemistry II-Lab 3.5

Calculus II - 2.5

Biology I - 3.0

Physics I - 2.5

Calculus III - 2.0

Physics II - 3.5

Calculus IV - 4.0

I finally got my act together the last 2.5 years of college and managed to raise up my overall gpa to a 3.0 at graduation. I am now wondering which undergrad courses are requirements for medical school?? As far as I understand it is as follows:

Chemistry I, Physics I, Biology I, Chemistry II, Physics II, Biology II, Organic Chemistry I, Organic Chemistry II.

Are there any other courses above that I missed, and are Calculus courses required by medical schools also??

Also, due to the abysmal grades, I am assuming I will have to re-take most of these. Would/Should I also re-take the Physics II course (which I received a 3.5 in???)

Lastly, if I quit my job, is it possible to do finish all these courses in 1-1.5 years and take the MCAT 1.5 years after I started??

I would sincerely appreciate any help. Thank you!!

Hi skysurf,

I am kind of doing the same. I have a masters in engineering and have been working in R&D since I graduated almost 20 yrs. I found this website from Vanderbilt Univ. … which posts which are std requirements for undergrad courses if one is going into medicine. This is the only site i’ve found with such detail. Maybe we can help each other. Also check out this site for info on the MCAT. For the looks of it, this change in careers is going to take time. I wouldn’t quit if I were you. I would take courses at night making sure the school you like accepts transfers and from which schools do they accept transfers.

Regards, ssmed

Yes you could do this is if you can find someone that offers the below during the semesters you need to take them in. I would do it over 2 years so you can maximize your studying for the MCAT

Calculus is not required at every medical school you need to contact the schools you are interested in and ask.

Here is my suggestion for full time course work:

Sem I

Chem I & lab

Physics I

Bio I

Sem II

Chem II & lab

Physics II

Bio II


OChem I & Lab

Study for MCAT

Sem IV

OChem II & lab

Study for MCAT

Rachel Yealy, DO

Emergency Medicine

Hi guys,

thanks for the advice. I am planning on working full-time (still have car payments to finish off until next summer) and taking part-time courses starting Jan 2009 at Oakland Univeristy to re-take my pre-reqs. Here is my planned schedule so far:

Spring 2009 (1/6/2009 - 4/28/2009)

Chemistry I & Lab

Summer 2009

Biology I

Biology II

Fall 2009

Chemistry II & Lab

Physics I

Spring 2010

Organic Chem I & Lab

Summer I 2010

Organic Chem II & Lab

Fall 2010



Spring 2011

Study for MCAT and apply to Med School

April 2011, plan on taking the MCAT and apply to

Hoping to Start Med School September 2012.

As I am only re-taking these pre-requisities that I already took in 1998-2000 at another university, would the Med Schools look at the fact that I am re-taking these courses part-time as a negative (in other words to they prefer these courses taken full-time, or does it not matter)???

Also, ssmed, I did not fully understand what you meant by ‘making sure the school you like accepts transfers and from which schools do they accept transfers.’ Are you referring to Medical Schools, or the univeristy where I am doing the post-bacc for the pre-requisities?? I thought as long as I take the pre-reqs at a decent university and do well in them, they would/should be accepted by Medical schools???



Make sure that that the schedule you outlined will work; some colleges/ universities only offer intro classes in the fall (Phys I, Chem I, Org I etc), and continuation courses in the Spring (Phys II, Chem II etc). Usually most schools offer Org I and II over the summer; taking Org I in the spring, and Org II in the summer seems odd to me. But if you decide to take it over the summer, you’d have to work half-time. Would be hard to work full time and squeeze 2-semesters-worth of Orgo into 8 weeks. When I took Orgo over the summer we had 3-hours of lecture 3 times a week, and 3 labs per week (on average 2-3 hours).

When I was doing my prerequisites, I met people who managed to take all the required classes in one year (Biol, Chem and Phys in the spring and fall, and Organics in the summer). But it’s lots of work, you wouldn’t be able to work at all, and on top of that I don’t think you’d have enough time to prepare for the MCAT; it would mean you’d have to take MCAT the following year, to be able to apply early in the application cycle. That being said, you’d be better off taking all the classes over a 2-years-period.

If we work full time, I guess it’s usually a ‘good enough’ excuse for taking only one class at a time, but in general, especially taking your poor undergrad science grades, it’s better to show them you’re capable to handle more intensive studying regimen.

If you think you won’t be able to take 3 classes per semester like RWankum offered (which is more like a ‘full-time student’ schedule), think about this:

Fall 1: Bio 1 and Chem 1

Spring 1: Bio 2 and Chem 2

Summer: Org 1 and 2

Fall 2: Phys 1 (and maybe one other prerequisite that may be required specifically by the schools you want to apply to, or biochem or genetics; while the last two classes are not required by most med schools and are not required for the MCAT, you might find them helpful in a long run)

Spring 2: Phys 2 and MCAT preparation (usually material covered in Phys 2 is not extensively tested on the MCAT so if you decide to take MCAT before you’re done with Physics it shouldn’t be an issue).

Hope it helps.

Good luck,



You sure are retaking a lot of previous coursework. There are some on this site who advocate retaking premedical coursework you’ve already done well in after a certain time period has elapsed. There are others, like myself, who advocate not doing this because in addtion to the unnecessary costs, it’s kind of assumed that you’ll get an easy “A” retaking remedial coursework. Regardless of whichever route you take, you should take upper-level premedical coursework (like biochemistry, neuroanatomy, molecular biology, etc.) that build upon lower-division premedical coursework. Achieving in these courses not only proves that you’ve mastered the lower-level premedical coursework, but also helps to prove that you can handle similar, graduate-level medical school coursework.

While working on the above, you should also try to find a physician who’d be willing to let you shadow him or her. Not only will you get an idea on what being a physician is really like, but this would also give you a chance to ask questions on the challenges of becoming a physician (medical school workload, time demands, residency hell, etc.) and hopefully gain some good advice.

Additionally, I know there have been at least three recent posters on this site (dtrainer, colby24TN, and Val Cagle) who received multiple medical schools acceptances without having to repeat prerequisites from long ago.

So, in your case, I’d say in addition to gaining clinical experience to prove that you know what you’re getting yourself into, do well in some upper-level science courses, and rock the MCAT. If you have the money and time, you could consider a premed-completed, post-bacc enhancement program where you take certain upper-division and/or graduate-level biomedical science courses over a year to help prove your academic prowess to med schools.

Hi guys,

thanks again for your replies. As I listed in my above post, my GPA in the pre-req science courses from 8-10 years ago (Chemistry, Biology, etc.) were quite bad, so I am assuming it is a good idea to re-take these courses. However I read this on the Oakland University Pre-medical Society web-site:

“If you retake a class, AMCAS averages your retake grade with your initial grade so if you receive a grade that is better than 2.0 in a class, it is better to take other higher level classes in that same subject area rather than to retake the same class.”

So I am wondering whether re-taking the pre-requisite courses that I took 9-10 years ago is actually worthwhile and will it make any difference in medical school admissions?? For example, as you can see in my post above I received a 1.5 GPA in Chemistry II 9 years ago. That means even if I re-take Chemistry II now, and receive a 4.0, the average will only come out to a 2.75 (and similarly with other courses.)

So if the Med Schools decide to still AVERAGE out my GPA for the pre-reqs that I re-take, is it even worth for me to re-take these, or should I just focus on upper-level courses now and try to ACE the MCAT??? I would seriously appreciate any help!! Thank you!!

Skysurf, AMCAS averages ALL of your science courses together, and separately averages all of your grades together. If you got a 1.5 in Chemistry II, I think you should retake it. Getting a 4.0 in Chemistry II vs. something else will not make a difference in your GPA and you need a solid grounding in chemistry to do well on the MCAT.

If you had a C+ or B- average AND you understand clearly what went wrong and how to fix it, I would agree that taking higher sciences instead of retaking might be a fine idea. But if there are grades in old courses that are really kind of bad, retaking seems like the way to go.

Your mileage may vary.