Skip the MCAT and/or application and just go to a Special Masters Program

As I study for the MCAT, I am also working on my medical school application for next spring. Seeing all the mediocre science grades (from undergrad and post-bacc) is depressing. It has also made me realize that my chances of getting into a U.S. med school is probably impossible, even if I score high on the MCAT. While I am sure that I could probably get into some offshore/Caribbean foreign medical school, doing so would probably make it impossible for me to get into the residencies in which I am interested. So, I am wondering if I should just skip the application cycle, and apply to some SMP’s. I will still have to take the MCAT for some of those programs, but going the SMP route may the only hope I have of getting a U.S. med school spot. Does this sound like a good idea?

Or should I apply to med school anyway and see what happens? Or should I simultaneously apply to SMP’s and medical schools, and see how I fare?

I have great letters of rec and decades of long-term health care experience with the medically underserved, just not a competitive (science) GPA. And given the number of credits I have (several hundred), any improvements in my science GPA by taking more classes would be incremental.

Any ideas or feedback would be welcome.

Hard to say without seeing all your numbers and EC’s.

When were you planning on taking the MCAT? And, what are you doing to work on your application?

datsa -

I know this has been a long road for you. My advice would be to apply (next spring after MCAT). Work really hard on MCAT prep. I’d also say apply DO and MD.

Don’t talk yourself out of applying - you may look into some SMP’s in the meantime as a fallback. There would not be much negative impact to having applied once before. Apply early, apply widely and utilize your great LOR’s and extracurriculars. Pick schools that you are enthusiastic about because they match your passions - maybe they will be enthusiastic about you right back.

That’s my 2 cents, anyway. One reason I’m 55 in med school is that when I was premed as an undergrad, I talked myself out of taking MCAT’s and applying because my GPA was not what I thought I needed. Idjit. But, older and wiser now (and in med school!).

Best of luck! – Kate

While I typically believe that you should apply when you are the strongest candidate, there is something to be said about reapplying with a vastly improved application.

Following Kate429 idea, you apply in parallel to MD/DO/SMP. If you dont get into MD/DO, ur reapplication could potentially show a year of strong work/GPA, an improved MCAT score, and commitment to becoming a physician. There is also something to be said of psychological/morale-boos ting mind-set that this can give you. Take the attitude, I may not make it but I am gonna give my best shot and I am gonna keep trying until I do! In other words, you’re not in medical school now. The worst that could happen next year is u still wont be in.

You gotta have heart

You’ve gotta have heart

All you really need is heart

When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win

That’s when the grin should start

You’ve gotta have hope

Mustn’t sit around and mope

Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear

Wait’ll next year and hope

When your luck is battin’ zero

Get your chin up off the floor

Mister you can be a hero

You can open any door, there’s nothin’ to it but to do it

You’ve gotta have heart

Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart

Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course

But keep that old horse

Before the cart

First you’ve gotta have heart

Rich (gonnif): You are suggesting to apply DO/MD and also to SMP’s at the same time? When you say “a year of strong work/GPA”, I assume you are referring to the GPA during the SMP or to other coursework or both? I am not taking any science courses right now, just working a bit and studying for the dreaded MCAT. Next semester, I may take one or two science courses, but only after I have put in significant MCAT study time this semester.

I guess one of my biggest concerns is that – no matter how hard I work – I will never be able to overcome the mistakes and missteps of my past, and that med schools will only see that as proof that I am not “med school material.”

Go to the archives and read Dave Kelley’s bio. :slight_smile:



If you already believe you can not achieve something, then you have failed. The reality and path is very simple.

You cant change your past GPA

You can only try to improve with SMP

I promise you that sitting there feeling pity and never apply you will NEVER get in.

If you do well in an SMP, get a good score on the MCAT, have some wonder LORs, write a smashing PS, and have a great interview, you might (I said MIGHT) get in.

SLAP! SLAP! Snap out of it!

Judy: Thanks. Can you(or anyone) provide a link to Dave Kelley’s biography? I was unable to find it via a search.

Rich: So you are suggesting that I still apply to schools even though I believe that I do not have any chance this round? My science GPA (barely above a 3.0) is not competitive. The upper division coursework in my second bachelor’s degree killed it.

I am studying for the MCAT now as I know that some SMPs want to see MCAT scores. I am also working on improving my reading speed (I read too slow which would kill any MCAT attempt) and test-taking strategies (so that I won’t second guess myself on multiple choice tests, a common mistake of mine).

Rich: Just to clarify: I am questioning why I should apply DO/MD when it appears that the SMP is probably my only hope. Should I just take the MCAT, skip the med school applications, and apply SMP directly?