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How to Get Accepted to a Direct Medical Program

Medical school acceptance is competitive, so many students decide to apply to BS/MD programs. Here's advice for students to stand out in their applications.

Direct medical programs (BS/MD) are one of the most competitive types of undergraduate programs to get into. Designed for students who are 100% committed to medicine, these programs tend to accept a minimal number of students each year, with some programs admitting as few as six students for each class. Despite the lengthy preparation and application process, direct medical programs remain popular because they guarantee the student a spot in a partnered medical school. Once accepted into the program, students no longer have to go through the lengthy, expensive, and stressful medical school application process.

While the application process for BS/MD programs is more intense than for traditional undergraduate programs, the pros often outweigh the cons. Because of the advantages, BS/MD programs are competitive, and students need to take extra time building their résumé to stand out from the competition. Here’s insider advice on how to get accepted to a direct medical program.

Maximize your time

Students accepted into BS/MD programs have similar stats: near-perfect GPAs, great SAT Subject Test and SAT/ACT scores, 5s on AP exams, etc. Just being a student on the honor roll isn’t enough to get you into a direct medical program. To be competitive, students must take the time to develop their passions, preferably in a science or medical field. You should spend months—even years—dedicated to one activity and excel at it. Dedicating your time to just a few extracurriculars over time will look more impressive to the admission committee than if you spread yourself thin by doing 10 or more activities in a short span.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to College Applications: How to Stand Out From the Crowd

Concentrate on science

Your academic transcript will be one of the first things looked at by admission officers. GPA, rigor of courses, course selection, class rank, and standardized test scores are all carefully scrutinized. Therefore, students should create a résumé that will attract the notice of the BS/MD admission office. Students can do that by:

  • Limiting the number of AP courses you take. There’s no need to take every AP course available at your school. Instead, focus on the ones that are science focused. By reducing the number of AP courses you take, you can spend more time on your extracurricular activities.
  • Avoiding grade inflation. Don’t take “easy” AP courses just to increase your GPA.
  • Focusing your coursework around science-based classes. Again, you should enroll in advanced AP courses in science-related fields in particular.  

Spend time crafting a stellar personal statement

The college application essay is your chance to come alive and help establish you as a real person outside of the numbers. A direct medical program is a massive commitment; therefore, you must convey your conviction to this career path. To write a persuasive essay, you should:

  • Write with emotion and purpose. We focus on the narrative form of writing because it allows you to express yourself memorably.
  • Refrain from repeating extracurricular activities and other information that can easily be found in the application. The essay is your chance to showcase your personality.
  • Consider your response to “Why medicine?” This prompt should showcase your maturity and desire to become a physician. This is where you can expand on the activities you’ve completed in your preparation for such a competitive program, such as research, volunteering, and job shadowing.
  • Not procrastinate. It will most likely take you longer than you think to write a compelling admission essay.

Related: Engaging Ways to Open Your Personal Statement

With thousands of students applying to intense direct medical programs, you need to make sure every aspect of your application—from the essay to your academics to your activities—revolves around medicine and science. Show that you’re prepared and have put serious consideration into your selected career path to make sure you stand out from the other applications. You can beat the odds!

Haven't found the right medical program for your goals yet? Use our College Search tool to expand your research!

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