Before Applying to Med School

The following provides a general guideline as you start to explore or plan your application to medical schools.

Your years at Oxy are a time of discovery and growth. Take time to clarify your academic and career goals. Take full advantage of the opportunities that are available both on and off campus while planning for your future career. We encourage you to stay flexible and open-minded when evaluating your goals and selecting your academic and career paths. Meet with your academic advisors and the pre-health advisor on a regular basis to develop your own individualized plans.

Preparation for medical school application: The First Two Years at Oxy

  • Familiarize yourself with Oxy's core and degree requirements.
  • Learn the specific course requirements for admission into the medical schools for which you are interested. Compare the information to the Oxy courses we recommend.

Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) on

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Admission Requirements on

  • Work closely with your academic advisors to discover your academic options, select appropriate courses, and balance your workload. 
  • Develop a strategy to complete both Oxy degree requirements and those for medical school or health science program admission.
  • Do not overload your schedule.
  • Develop good study habits and time-management skills.
  • Start building good relationships with your professors and advisors in and out of the classroom or lab.
  • Investigate research opportunities and identify potential research mentors.
  • Meet with the pre-health advisor.
Explore and clarify career goals:
  • Get exposure to medicine or health sciences by volunteering and shadowing in those workplace environments.
  • Identify a medical or health sciences field that is right for you by speaking with professionals. 
  • Meet with the pre-health advisor and discuss options.
  • Visit:
Explore self and community:
  • Assess your motivation by engaging in self-reflection and analysis to determine whether the field of medicine or health sciences is right for you.
  • Evaluate your goals based on personal strengths, values, and interests.
  • Participate in volunteer and service activities.
  • Join student organizations, clubs or teams, and seek leadership opportunities. 

The Last Two Years at Oxy

  • Continue monitoring your academic progress. Keep your grades up and assess your competitiveness for admission.
  • Ensure that you are meeting academic requirements for your major and the professional program of your choice. In addition to meeting the basic (minimum) requirements, we highly recommend Biochemistry courses and upper division Biology courses, especially if you are not a biology major.
  • Identify your academic strengths and weaknesses. If necessary, seek help from faculty, tutoring services, or the Writing Center.
  • Check graduation requirements and make sure that you are on track.
  • Continue engaging in research activities.
Explore professional and graduate schools:
  • Research in-depth to identify the right schools for you.
  • Check the MSAR, or other official admissions guides, and school web sites for mission statements, unique programs, curriculum requirements, and deadlines of each program.
  • Visit local schools if possible.
  • Contact Oxy alumni at professional and graduate schools to learn more about their programs.
Co-curricular activities:
  • Plan ahead if you wish to study broad. Investigate options and plan your academic courses accordingly by consulting with your academic department and advisors. Experiences you gain while studying and traveling abroad will have a positive impact on you. If necessary, you may want to delay your application for a year or two in order to fulfill your Oxy major and the medical school or graduate school admission requirements.
  • Stay actively engaged in shadowing or volunteer activities.
  • Investigate fellowship opportunities for your gap year. *
If you plan to apply the summer after your junior year, please start the following process during the fall term of your junior year.
  • Visit the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) web site to familiarize yourself with the whole application process to allopathic medical schools. Refer to our web page with Useful Links, if you will be applying to osteopathic, dental, pharmacy, or veterinary schools. 
  • Visit our web page for Applying to Medical School.
  • Meet with the pre-health advisor to discuss your plans and to develop your personal strategy. 
  • Start preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), if you are applying to allopathic or osteopathic schools. The other standardized tests are: DAT for dental schools, PCAT for pharmacy schools, GRE, VAT or MCAT for veterinary schools. Please check specific requirements for each program to which you plan to apply.
  • Register and take the applicable standardized test, after taking multiple practice tests and thoroughly reviewing the material.
  • Pace yourself when studying for the stardardized test. Start reviewing months before the real test. If you are taking the MCAT, all of your MCAT scores are reported to medical schools so take it only when you are ready.
  • Start drafting your personal statement (essay). 
  • Identify your potential letters of recommendation writers both at Oxy and elsewhere. Provide writers with necessary information, such as your resume, so that they can write meaningful letters that will provide insight into your abilities, potential, and personal qualities that are desirable for a future medical or health science professional.
  • Continue participating in clinical shadowing or volunteer opportunities.
Gap year(s)

Please note that you can take the time off between Oxy and medical or professional school. Some individuals choose to attend a graduate program (special master's or postbaccalaureate program), travel abroad on a fellowship, teach, work, research, or perform humanitarian work. The average age of incoming medical students is about 25. Use the time between college and professional school to learn more about yourself and the world, to clarify your short- and long-term goals, and to strengthen your candidacy to medical or professional programs.