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What Do You Need to Get into Harvard Med School?

by Van Thompson

Harvard Medical School is one of the best medical schools in the country. In 2013, U.S. News and World Report ranked it No. 1 for research, No. 1 in women's health and No. 2 in pediatrics. It ranks near the top of the list for a variety of other specialties, including geriatrics and drug and alcohol abuse. There's no grade-point average of MCAT score that will guarantee you admission, but above-average scores can increase your odds of admission.

College Prerequisites

Harvard University doesn't offer remedial classes. Instead, you'll already have to have a strong science and English background. The American Association of Medical Colleges recommends one year each of English, physics and biology. You'll also need two years of chemistry courses, including a course in organic chemistry. All of your science classes should have a laboratory component.

Stellar Grades

A high grade-point average shows that you're intelligent and a hard worker -- two key traits the Harvard admissions committee seeks. In 2013, the new Harvard Medical School class had an average GPA of 3.8. Your GPA will be even more impressive if you gain high grades in your science classes and take a wide variety of challenging courses during your undergraduate career.

High MCAT Scores

The Medical College Admissions Test plays a major role in Harvard's admissions decisions. Students with a high score demonstrate that they're able to compete in the challenging Harvard environment, and high science scores are particularly important. In 2013, the average MCAT scores at Harvard were 11.2 on the verbal section, 12.55 on the physical science section and 12.61 on the biological science section.

A Compelling Application Packet

Although your grades and MCAT scores are the most important consideration, an application packet that stands out can help compensate for lower-than-average scores -- and can make you even more competitive with excellent scores. You'll need at least two recommendations. Choose people who know your work and can speak to your competence. A science professor or medical internship supervisor are ideal choices. You'll also have to write a personal statement that encapsulates your experience and skills, so highlight anything that's not included elsewhere in your packet. You may also be asked to attend an interview, and being personable, articulate and professional can give you an advantage over your competition.

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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