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How to Get Into a Veterinary School

by Jen Saunders, studioD

If you have a love and passion for animals and want to dedicate your life to ensuring their care and good health, working as a veterinarian could be your calling. Becoming a veterinarian requires being accepted into veterinary school, and in order to be considered a favorable candidate, a student must have an impressive resume that includes taking the appropriate college courses through a pre-veterinary major, experience with animals and a good score on the GRE.

Middle School and High School

Middle school and high school is a perfect time to start planning your academic goal toward entering veterinary school. Pennsylvania State University advises preparing for veterinary school as early as possible by taking as many middle school and high school classes as possible in subjects like chemistry, math, physics and biology. Penn State says that by taking these classes prior to college, students will find greater career opportunities in college -- veterinary medicine being one of them. Middle and high school students should also join a science club. Some science clubs include animal dissection projects that would be perfect for aspiring veterinarians.

College Major

You will want to attend a college or university that offers a pre-veterinary major. This major is designed to provide educational training to students planning to pursue their educational endeavors in veterinary school. Individual universities have their own requirements and curriculums. For example, University of Massachusetts Amherst requires all incoming freshmen to enter with an animal science major before they can qualify to enter the pre-veterinary major. Once in the program, students take courses that include Introduction to Animal Science, General Chemistry I and II, Introduction to Animal Management, Animal Welfare, Animal Cell and Molecular Biology, Animal Nutrition, Infection/Immunology, Microbiology and various labs.


Before you can get into veterinary school you must take the Graduate Record Examinations test and score satisfactorily according to the admitting school's desired score range. In 2013, Tufts reported that the mean GRE verbal and quantitative scores secured by their most recent class was 160 and 158, respectively, with a 4.5 on the analytical writing portion. Tufts states that these scores reflect the new score scale for the revised GRE. A practical way to gain an accurate expectation is to phone the school you desire attending and find out what its requirements are. If there is no "required GRE score," ask what the average cumulative score was for the previously enrolled class and aim to earn a higher score.

Veterinary and Animal Experience

Many veterinary schools require applicants to have experience with animals that extends beyond routine feeding and care. For example, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine states that prospective students should have a plethora of activities on their resume that demonstrate a passion and understanding of all the responsibilities a veterinarian tackles. UC Davis requires applicants to have at least 180 hours of animal, veterinary and biomedical experience. A perfect way to gain this experience would be to get a job at a veterinarian office during your high school or undergraduate college years. You may have to start out as a receptionist, but you could easily work your way up to assist in veterinary care procedures.

About the Author

Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.

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