Pre-medical (often shortened to pre-med) is a term used to describe a track an undergraduate student in the United States pursues prior to becoming a medical student. It refers to the activities that prepare an undergraduate student for medical school, such as pre-med coursework, volunteer activities, clinical experience, research, and the application process.

Pre-med timeline

Typical pre-med students will structure their coursework in their first year at college to accommodate the required courses. After a semester, many pursue extracurricular activities that demonstrate a commitment to medicine. Once junior year arrives, students register for and take the MCAT, the required standardized exam that medical schools use to identify qualified candidates. Once the test is taken, students apply to various schools using the automated AMCAS system, or using a non-AMCAS-using school's own application. AMCAS primary applications are verified by AMCAS staff, a process that often takes four weeks. The application process consists of a review of GPA, MCAT scores, coursework, activities, work experience, and a personal statement. Applicants can expect to hear from schools within 1-2 months, at which point they may receive "secondary applications". Different schools have different policies on sending secondary applications to students; many send secondary applications to all students, others "screen" applications prior to inviting an applicant to submit a secondary application. These applications are generated by each individual school. They generally contain essay questions that the applicant must answer related to dedication to medicine, stressful situations encountered, leadership experience, etc. A qualified applicant can next expect to receive an invitation to interview schools. Such an invitation is generally considered an accomplishment with regards to the amount of time and work one puts into building her or his candidacy. Upon completion of the interview, the application process is considered "complete," and the student can then wait for letters from schools.

Increasingly, more experienced applicants are pursuing admittance to medical school, often through a "post-baccalaureate" program. These programs may be formal, such as the programs offered through Columbia, John Hopkins, Georgetown or Loyola, but often consist of a student informally enrolling in a college to complete science coursework prior to sitting for the MCAT.


The Association of American Medical Colleges has created standard required courses that every pre-med student must take. Each school is allowed to place its own further requirements.

The pre-medical coursework is offered at many American colleges and universities; however, it is considered to be a "track" that follows a certain curriculum. Most pre-medical students major in the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry, or physics, though this is not a requirement. Approximately 25% of matriculants major in a field other than the natural and physical sciences, such as anthropology, philosophy, or other humanities. [ [ AAMC: FACTS - Applicants, Matriculants and Graduates] ]

The typical courses that must be taken to meet the pre-medical requirement are:Fact|date=October 2007
* General Chemistry 2 semesters/3 quarters (with laboratories)
* General Biology 2 semesters/3 quarters (with laboratories) (some schools allow zoology in place of second semester)
* Organic Chemistry 2 semesters/3 quarters (with laboratories) (some schools allow biochemistry in place of second semester)
* General Physics 2 semesters/3 quarters (with laboratories)
* Often additional quarters/semesters of math are required. calculus 1 and either calculus 2 or a course in statistics are preferential.
* Additional English and Writing courses beyond those needed for undergraduate degree may be required depending on the school.

Pre-medical students may be advised or required to take upper level biology and chemistry electives, such as cellular biology, physical chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, etc. Specific requirements for these courses vary by institution.

Schools may also have requirements for non-science classes. Some schools require a certain number of general humanities credits, while others have specific requirements for courses in English, Psychology, or other disciplines.

Other countries

In Australia, a number of universities offer a three or four year Bachelor of Medical Science or Biomedical Science degree, which is similar in content and aim to pre-med courses in the US, as the majority of graduates attempt to gain entry to a graduate medical school. However, it is possible to gain entry to medical school following the completion of secondary school, as an undergraduate.

ee also

* Pre-health sciences


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