5 unusual tips and tricks on getting accepted into medical school

After 7 years of grueling study sessions and sleepless nights, I finally got accepted into medical school, and will officially my medical training in the fall of 2020. It was a tough ride from first deciding I wanted to become a physician as a junior in high school to finally getting accepted into the medical school 7 years later; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In this blog post, I will cover 5 essential tips and tricks I learned over the years that will set you apart from the crowd and get you accepted into the medical school of your dreams!

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1. Build Connections

As an undergrad, this was one of the toughest but most essential lessons I had to learn to get into medical school. I cannot overstate how critical it is that you build connections! Yes, with your peers (that shouldn’t be too hard) but more importantly, with faculty at your university. Faculty will help you the most when it comes to getting accepted into medical school via opportunities to gain experience and letters of recommendation.

To illustrate this point, let me share a story. Heading into my junior year of college, I thought I was ready to apply to med school. I volunteered, I shadowed, I got good grades and I even started studying for the MCAT. But when the time finally came, no one would agree to write me a letter of recommendation! None of my professors knew me well enough to say much about me, even though I got good grades in their classes. Getting good grades and asking the occasional question in class is not enough. The fact that I hadn’t built connections is one of the biggest reasons why I ended up applying to medical school two years later than most of my peers. But it’s also something that could have been easily avoided.

The earlier in college that you start building connections, the better. Go to your professor’s office hours, attend club meetings, or try to gain research experience. These experiences will not only look good on an application but will also help you build relationships with people who will help advance your career. 

2. Look at what your peers aren’t doing

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Everyone shadows. Everyone volunteers. Most people also get decent grades. Sorry, but these things do not make you stand out. Nowadays, shadowing and volunteering are minimum requirements for gaining acceptance into medical school and generally do not elicit more than a smirk from admissions officers. Additionally, only a top 10% GPA will get you any attention, but even that is just a number. You will need to think outside the box to make your application pop out, and looking to your peers may help. After all, these are the people you will be competing with for spots in a couple years. Specifically, look at what they are and aren’t doing.

Are any of them in clubs? What kind of clubs do they attend? Are they officers? If all your pre-med friends are in the same pre-med society, ask yourself if joining will really make your stand out? If you did join, would you have the chance to make an impact? In the same vein, are any of your friends doing research? If so, what kind? what are their roles in the lab? Are they in charge of projects, or just a helping hand? Are all their projects focused on the same topic? Once you discover what most of your peer pre-meds are doing, making a conscious effort to follow the path less traveled will get schools to notice you even when your competing against thousands of others.

3. Follow your passions

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This tip is a direct extension of tip #2. One way to diversify your pre-med experience is to follow your passions. As a freshman in college, I started to develop a passion for photography. I took my camera everywhere I went, and I even found several other students who were passionate camera nerds like me. I wanted to develop my hobby into something that could benefit my career, but I always thought photography was too unrelated to medicine to be useful to me. I didn’t even think about joining a club until my junior year, and even then I only considered it after I became desperate to break away from my pre-med cohort. Eventually, I founded my own photography club and became the president. It turned out to be one of the best experiences I had in college, and it was a talking point in every interview I went to. Don’t be afraid to follow your passions and interests, even if they do not exactly pertain to medicine. They will show that you are a dynamic person rather than a biochem-regurgitating android.

5. Submit your application early

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This is one of the more practical pieces of advice I can give. Submit your application early. Every school will say that it doesn’t make a difference, but it definitely does. Trust me, they do not want someone who submitted their application two minutes before the deadline. And because many schools have rolling admissions, the competition gets stiffer the longer you wait, making it nearly impossible to get accepted towards the end. Additionally, getting accepted (or rejected) earlier allows you more time to either prepare to start medical school or prepare to apply again.

Also keep in mind that everything takes longer than you think it will. That 3-month time window you gave yourself to study for the MCAT? Expand it to 6 months. Want to finish your degree in the Spring? Plan for the possibility that you’ll graduate in the Fall. These things happen, and its ok. But it all builds up, so try to create an application schedule that gives you ample time to apply early.

6. (Bonus) Read a lot

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Keep your mind sharp throughout college, during your breaks, and even after college (if you decide to take time off between undergrad and med school). I was never a good student in high school, but I truly believe that by reading every day I was able to catch up to my peers in college and even surpass them in some aspects. In order to succeed in medical school and beyond, you must develop a passion for learning and improving yourself on a daily basis. As a doctor, you will need to pass boards and continuously hone your skills by learning about about new diseases and new methods to treat diseases. Training your mind is crucial to providing the best care for your future patients.

This could take the form of reading, doing puzzles, or even writing blog posts. I believe, however, that learning to read well is by far one of the most beneficial skills you can develop as an undergrad. If you can learn to read quickly and grasp concepts effectively, you will save a ton of time in college and beyond. Remember that the MCAT involves a substantial amount of reading and reading comprehension, which is why I actually incorporated reading drills into my study plan for the MCAT. I believe those drills greatly reduced the amount of time I spent reading, and allowed me to spend more time actually answering questions.


Those were my top 6 tips and tricks for getting accepted into medical school. Remember to build connections with faculty by attending office hours, participating in research, and going to club meetings. Follow the path less traveled by familiarizing yourself with what your pre-med friends are and aren’t doing to prepare for medical school. Follow your passions, even if they don’t have anything to do with medicine. Submit your application early to avoid stiffer competition later in the application cycle. And finally, learn how to read quickly and effectively in order to gain an edge on the competition. If you can do all these things, you will go from an average applicant that is tossed aside to one that admissions officers yearn to interview.

No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician, please see the disclaimer page

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