Can the MCAT make-up for a low GPA? It depends, but in some cases, you can be like Aladdin and go from street rat to prince with a little help from the MCAT genie!
If you’ve spent 4 years goofing around, or you worked hard but couldn’t get the right strategies together to get those A’s, then you might be forced to rummage through the med school garbage for admissions scraps. Many students think that taking more classes is the key to getting off the streets and into the palace. Not so fast! GPA stands for grade point average, keyword being average. It took you 4 years to create your current crappy GPA and it’s not going to improve overnight after a few classes. If you GPA is really bad, it could take 4 years or longer to make it competitive. You might also think that a post-baccalaureate program is a great option, which it can be, but it will cost you upwards of $50,000 and 2 years of your life in most cases.
You may be better off spending your time and effort on studying for the MCAT. Rub the heck out of that MCAT prep lamp, and hope that magical 90th percentile MCAT pops out to grant your med school wishes. (My course can help: “How To Dominate The MCAT Without An Expensive Prep Class”).
Admissions committees evaluate you on multiple criteria, one of which is what I call “Academic Aptitude”. This consists of your GPA and your MCAT score. As such, one can compensate for the other one... to a point. If your GPA is 2.1, then the greatest MCAT in the world won’t be able to get you into medical school. But, that 3.0 GPA looks a lot better with a sweet MCAT score. This brings me to the exceptions. These are the times when you should take more classes:
1) When your GPA is borderline and a few more classes could put you over a threshold. For example, if you have a 2.9 GPA that could be brought to a 3.0, or you have a 3.4 that could be bumped to a 3.5.
2) When you have multiple D’s and F’s on your transcript. Take the time to retake these classes because it will improve your GPA and make your transcript more appealing.
3) When you have a really low GPA, like the aforementioned 2.1. In this case, you need to do a post-baccalaureate which can serve as a pseudo-replacement for your undergraduate grades (Should You Do A Post-bacc?)
So. If you are looking for ways to boost your GPA, check out my article “How To Efficiently & Cheaply Improve Your Pre-med GPA"
Dr. Andre Pinesett, a Stanford Medical School graduate, is best known by his moniker “The Pre-med Productivity Expert.” He is an award-winning educator, highly sought-after speaker, and noted authority on pre-med personal and professional development. He has helped high school, college and graduate students improve their academic performance, while reducing their work time, allowing them to maximize their potential and ultimately achieve their dreams.