Resources

There are changes coming to the MCAT test for 2015. Please take a minute to see how they will affect you.

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National MCA​T Examinations

Visit the MCAT website for a complete list of dates, deadlines, registration information, and scheduling FAQ.

The exam: 2015 Summary

The exam: 2013 & 2014

Verbal Reasoning: The Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT is designed to assess your ability to understand, evaluate, and apply information and arguments presented in prose texts. The test consists of several passages, each 500 to 600 words long, taken from the humanities and social sciences and from areas of the natural sciences not tested on the MCAT Physical and Biological Sciences sections. Each passage is accompanied by 6 to 10 questions based on the information presented in the passage. Test questions do not cover a specific set of topics; all the information needed to answer each question is provided in the accompanying passage.

Physical and Biological Sciences: The MCAT Physical Sciences section is designed to assess reasoning in general chemistry and physics. The MCAT Biological Sciences section is designed to assess reasoning in biology and organic chemistry. Each section contains 10 to 11 problem sets, each about 250 words in length, that describe a situation or problem. Each problem set is followed by 4 to 8 questions. An additional 15 questions are independent of any passage and each other.

Neither the passage-related questions nor the independent questions test the ability to memorize scientific facts. Rather, both types of questions assess knowledge of basic physical and biological science concepts and your facility at problem solving in general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology.

Commercial Review Programs

Required reading for students planning to take the MCAT examinations: [MCAT essentials]

Commercial MCAT Review Programs [Berkeley] [Columbia] [Kaplan Education Centers] [Wikipremed] [Kaplan at Grinnell]

MCAT registration, information and deadlines

AMCAS application, information and deadlines

Course Recommendations

First Semester Recommendations

It is of utmost importance that you get started your first semester by taking either BIO 150 or CHM 129 (or possibly CHM 210 if you have an AP chemistry score of 4 or 5).

Minimum Requirements

  • 1 year Biology (Biology 251, 252) (Note: Bio 150 is a prerequisite for Bio 251)
  • 2 years Chemistry (Chemistry 129, 210, 221, 222)
  • 1 year English (Tutorial counts for one semester; second semester should stress literature)
  • 1 year Physics (Physics 131, 132)
  • Calculus I (Calculus is not required for admission to most medical schools, however Calculus I is required for physics at Grinnell, and Calculus II is recommended)

For admission to medical school in the Fall following college graduation, the medical college admissions test (MCAT) should be taken in the spring of the junior year. All of the material covered in required courses is subject to examination on the MCAT. Therefore, all of the requirements listed above must be completed by the end of the junior year. It is important to note that for incoming students without any advanced placement, this averages two courses in the science division per semester. See potential course scenarios below. A major in science is not required for admission to medical school.

The AAMC book on admissions gives complete information on requirements for all 123 U.S., 3 Puerto Rican, and 16 Canadian medical schools.

Course Scenarios

Each year about half of the Grinnell applicants to medical school have graduated already. Most of them took the MCAT exam as a senior. These students spread the required coursework over 8 semesters and many participated in off-campus study.

The scenarios below are only examples. Grinnell College students should consult regularly with their academic advisors regarding their course selections.

Scenario 1

You have 4 AP credits in chemistry and you plan to take the MCAT in the spring or summer of your junior year. You might do summer research at Grinnell but aren't sure. You plan to major in Biology. About half of Grinnell's applicants majored in Biology.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Tutorial
Biology 150
Calculus I
elective
Chemistry 210
Calculus II
elective
elective
Biology 251
Chemistry 221
elective
elective
Biology 252
Chemistry 222
English
elective
Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Biology
Physics 131
elective
elective
Physics 132
Biology
elective
elective
Biology
Biology
elective
elective
Biology or BCM 262
elective
elective
elective

Note: Chemistry 129 can be taken in the Fall and Biology 150 can be taken in the Spring

Scenario 2

You have no AP credits coming into Grinnell and you plan to take a year or two off before beginning medical school. You want to study abroad too. You plan to take the MCAT in the spring of your senior year. You plan to major in Biological Chemistry. About 25% of our applicants majored in Biological Chemistry.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Tutorial
Biology 150
Math 131
elective
Chemistry 129
Math 133
elective
elective
Biology 251
Chemistry 221
elective
elective
BCM 262
Chemistry 222
elective
elective
Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Off campus
study
Physics 131
Chemistry 210
elective
elective
Physics 132
Chemistry 363
elective
elective
Biology 252
Bio or Chm 3xx
elective
elective

Scenario 3

You have no AP or advanced credits coming into Grinnell and you plan to take the MCAT in the spring of your junior year. You cannot take any courses during summer school. You plan to major in Chemistry.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Tutorial
Chemistry 129
Calculus I
elective
Chemistry 210
Calculus II
elective
elective
Biology 150
Chemistry 221
English
elective
Chemistry 222
Physics 131
elective
elective
Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Chemistry 363
Biology 251
Physics 132
elective
Chemistry
Biology 252
elective
elective
Chemistry
elective
elective
elective
Chemistry
elective
elective
elective

Scenario 4

You have 8 AP calculus and 4 biology credits coming into Grinnell and you plan to take the MCAT in the spring of your junior year. You plan to take organic chemistry during the summer following your first or second year. You plan to major in Psychology.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Tutorial
Chemistry 129
elective
elective
Chemistry 210
Psychology 113
English
elective
Psychology
Physics 131
Statistics (115 or 209)
elective
Biology 150
Psychology 225
Physics 132
elective
Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Psychology
Biology 251
elective
elective
Psychology
Biology 252
elective
elective
Psychology
Psychology
elective
elective
Psychology 495
elective
elective
elective
 

Scenario 5

You have no AP or advanced credits coming into Grinnell and you plan to take the MCAT in the spring of your junior year. You cannot take any courses during summer school. You do not plan to major in a science and want to take the minimum number of courses required for admission to medical school.

Semester 1 Semester 2 Semester 3 Semester 4
Tutorial
Biology 150
Calculus I
elective
Chemistry 129
Calculus II
elective
elective
Biology 251
Chemistry 221
elective
elective
Biology 252
Chemistry 222
English
elective
Semester 5 Semester 6 Semester 7 Semester 8
Chemistry 210
Physics 131
elective
elective
Physics 132
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
elective
Medical Schools

What Medical School am I Most Likely to Attend?

Of the 97 Grinnell students who matriculated in a medical school between 2002-2008, two thirds entered a public medical school in the their state of residence. This ratio is similar to what is observed nationally. Not only is tuition less expensive for instate residents, the acceptance rate is several-fold higher for students applying to a medical school in their state of residence, compared to private schools or to public schools as an out-of-state resident.

Year Total Matriculants In STATE %
2002 10 8 80
2003 8 6 75
2004 15 9 60
2005 13 6 46
2006 18 13 72
2007 15 12 80
2008 18 11 61
AVERAGE 97   68

The other third of Grinnell students between 2002-2008 matriculated at numerous private medical schools, including: Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Duke, The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Chicago, Northwestern and Dartmouth. Private Schools Where Grinnell Students have matriculated (2002-2008)

  • Albany Medical College
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Chicago Medical - Finch U. of HS
  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Drexel University College of Medicine
  • Duke University
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Howard University
  • Jefferson Medical Coll. of Thomas Jefferson University.
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Temple University School of Medicine
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Chicago - Pritzker
  • University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Yale University School of Medicine

Top Criteria for Admission to Medical School

According to Dr. Jim Phillips, Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Pediatrics of Baylor Medical School, admissions boards consider many criteria, GPA and MCAT scores being the most influential. In addition to GPA and MCAT scores, the following criteria (in descending order of importance) influence admission to medical school.

  1. GPA
  2. MCAT scores
  3. letters of recommendation
  4. interview (see comments from students who have gone through the interview process)
  5. extra curricular activities (e.g. shadow a physician multiple times)
  6. health related experiences
  7. other life experiences
  8. academic progression (e.g. have you shown improvement during your career as a student?)

Committee Letter Request

Form 1 & 2 are now electronic and must be filled out in one session. Paper copies will not be accepted.

FORM 1
If you are applying or reapplying to medical (or dental, vet, etc.) school starting in the 2015-2016 academic year (applications submitted Fall 2014), your deadline for submitting Form 1 is 10:00 PM on April 2, 2014.

FORM 2
Students need to submit Form 2 at least four weeks prior to the due date for the first committee letter. Please contact us if you have any questions about the process of requesting a committee letter, 641-269-3172.

If you have any problems with the online forms please contact:

Michelle Sears
Science Division Office #1232
Grinnell College Grinnell IA 50112
641-269-3172
searsmic[at]grinnell[dot]edu

Spring/Summer: Study for and take the MCAT exam given on 22 different testing dates throughout the year. Most students take the MCAT exam on one of the test dates in April through July. Taking the exam in August of the year you are submitting applications may cause a delay in processing your application. However you may have valid reasons for taking the exam at other times of the year. Some students take this exam in the junior year of college, others take it in the senior year or later. Your MCAT scores are valid for a three year period.

Spring: Fill out Form 1 "Request to Prepare a Committee Letter of Recommendation". This form is available on the HPAC web site and should be filled out before the deadline (early April). Again, some students will fill out this form in their junior year, others will fill it out during the senior year. Even if you plan to delay applying to medical school for a year or two after graduation, fill out this form before you graduate so that we can begin collecting information from your professors. Alums that wish to apply or reapply will need to fill out Form 1 (by the deadline).  You do not have to relist your courses, but you may want to let us know about new research positions, course work, or health-related experiences you have had after graduation. Please submit Form 1 before submitting Form 2 so that new information can be included in your committee letter.

May/June: Most medical schools admit students on a rolling admission basis. Therefore, it is important that you begin the application process early.

Fill out AMCAS primary application on-line. AMCAS will send your application to the schools you indicate (students usually apply to six to ten schools.) As part of this process you will need to request from the Registrar that official transcripts be sent from Grinnell. You will also need to indicate that Grinnell College will be submitting a "committee letter" on your behalf. In addition, you will obtain a Letter Request Form pdf file, which you will need to send to Michelle Sears [searsmic[at]grinnell[dot]edu]. Sending this form to Michelle, however, at this point does NOT mean that your committee letter will be sent by us. 

July/August: If a medical school chooses to take further action on your application, you will be sent a secondary application four to six weeks after submitting your primary application to AMCAS. Once you begin receiving secondary applications, only then do you request that a committee letter be sent from Grinnell.

Fill out and submit Form 2 "Authorization to Send Committee Letter of Recommendation". Check with AMCAS to find out if the schools you're applying to are "AMCAS participating schools" (most will be), for these schools, we will send our letter electronically to AMCAS (given that you've provided us with the Letter Request Form) and AMCAS will send it on to the schools. For these AMCAS participating schools, just write AMCAS on your Form 2 under the institution name, you need not list the individual schools. You must, however, list any schools NOT participating with AMCAS plus the schools due dates on your Form 2. It is easier for us if you submit a completed form with all schools indicated. However, if you have not heard from all schools, you can submit Form 2 with the schools you have heard from, then add schools to the list via a letter or email once a copy of Form 2 is on file with the Health Professions Advisory Committee.

It will take approximately four weeks for your letter to be sent out from the time you request it. Please plan ahead.

Each spring we hold a meeting to review the application process. In addition, please feel free to meet with any member of HPAC to discuss any questions about preparing for or applying to medical school.

S.H.O.T.

2013-2014 SHOT Leaders:

Ankita Sarawagi '15

Will Ewing '15

Kayleigh Kresse '15

Tela Ebersole '16

Goals:

  • Provide students with resources to explore health-related fields.
  • Connect with alumni.
  • Facilitate communication between students, HPAC, and CDO.

SHOT members can be contacted at: shot[at]grinnell[dot]edu

Listing of Grinnell College Seminars that might relate to health professions

Biology Department Seminars

Chemistry Department Seminars

Helpful LInks

MCAT registration, information and deadlines

AMCAS application, information and deadlines

Required AAMC reading before you take the MCAT exams: MCAT essentials

Commercial MCAT Review Programs: BerkeleyColumbiaKaplan Education Centers

Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH)

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS)

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Dental Association

American Medical Student Association

American Nursing Association

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry

Journal of the American Medical Association

Post-Baccalaureate Programs

Medical School Directory

Schools of Public Health Application Service