The prerequisite proposal has passed! Final approval has been reached and we can confirm that starting with the 2016/2017 application cycle, the science prerequisites will be strongly recommended rather than required. A full year of English will still be required. This change will not affect applicants currently invited to interview. All applicants currently eligible for entry into the program this year need to complete their prerequisite courses by the end of April 2016.
What does this mean? It means that we are still encouraging applicants to take the prerequisite courses. However, since we are not requiring specific courses anymore, applicants can apply even if they have not taken all of the prerequisite courses. Hopefully this will give applicants more flexibility in the courses they take and will remove a barrier for prospective applicants who find it difficult to complete the entire prerequisite sequence.
What does this mean in terms of my application? As before, applicants will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and ability in science, particularly in biology and chemistry (including organic chemistry and biochemistry). Performing well in the prerequisite courses is an excellent way to demonstrate this. MCAT scores are also an indication of knowledge and ability in these areas. However, relying on the MCAT alone puts a lot of emphasis on MCAT scores; it’s kind of like putting all of your eggs in one basket. Some applicants might feel ok letting their MCAT scores represent their scientific capabilities, but others will want or need some prerequisite grades to support or balance their MCAT scores.
Unfortunately, we cannot give an MCAT score threshold or a specific number/combination of prerequisite courses that will definitively prove one has the knowledge and ability in science required by the admissions committee, other than the full sequence of courses posted on our website. Taking no science courses and doing poorly (or mediocrely) on the MCAT will cause the committee concern. Doing well in all of the prerequisite courses and on the MCAT will not. However, lots of applicants will be in between these two scenarios. It’s up to you to decide which courses to take.
What does this mean in terms of your evaluation criteria? We will no longer calculate a prerequisite GPA. Since the prerequisite GPA is not a factor in who is invited to interview, the pre-interview scoring is not affected by this change and will remain the same. As before, there is a holistic review post-interview, the specifics of which are confidential. MCAT minimums are the same. AP/IB scores that meet our minimum requirements will still “count” as the applicable prerequisite (and the additional chemistry course for AP Chemistry is no longer required). In the future you will be able to decide whether or not to submit your AP or IB transcripts. If you do, this will add value to your file, but it will not be mandatory.
If I take different courses than the prerequisites listed, will they still “count”? In general, there will be more flexibility around which courses can demonstrate the foundational knowledge we are looking for; however, if you are uncertain or want clear direction, take a number of courses in general biology, chemistry, biochemistry and organic chemistry. Also, taking at least one lab course before medical school will give you a sense of what that is like, which will also benefit you.
I’m kind of mad that I spent so much money and time on the prerequisites. I wouldn’t have taken them if I didn’t have to. You are not alone! Others have shared similar feedback. Just to reiterate, the prerequisites will only help you. Courses are expensive but we hope you learned something, too. And remember, since you took all of the prerequisites, the admissions committee can easily assess your foundational knowledge in science.