Assoc. Dean for Admissions Richard S. Weisman
This page is intended for individuals who were not accepted to medical school and who are thinking about reapplying.
Roughly 20% of the students who apply to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in any given year are reapplicants. Data that we have collected indicate they have a lower acceptance rate than do first time applicants. The most frequently asked question that these students ask of admissions offices is Why was I rejected? The second most frequently asked question is How can I improve my application for next year? The answers to both of these questions can be quite complex. But the best advice that can be given to individuals who were not accepted as first time applicants is:
Do not reapply until you have significantly improved your application!
The first thing that applicants should do when faced with the reality of reapplying is to sit down and objectively evaluate all parts of their application, including information submitted with their secondary application (You would be surprised at how many applicants do not keep a copy of their secondary). The re-evaluation should be done in comparison to the credentials of students admitted to a particular medical school (see our latest class profile elsewhere at this site). When you do such an evaluation and look objectively at how your application portrays you, chances are that you will immediately see the problem.
Often, the most insightful information about improving your application will come from your premed advisor who knows you and your personal circumstances better than the medical school admissions office.
Realistically and objectively evaluate the number credentials submitted with your AMCAS application. It is very important to remember that GPAs and MCAT scores do not offset one another. You need to have done well in both to be a solid candidate for medical school.
Whether you take courses in a post-bac program or embark on an MS degree program to improve your GPA probably makes little difference to an admissions committee. Whether you should take a post-bac program or enroll in graduate studies depends on your personal circumstances and most admissions offices do not know enough about you to give you an absolute answer. Just remember, how you do in your courses is far more important than the framework in which you take them. Also remember that admissions committees are looking for a track history and it is impossible to compensate for a 2.9 GPA earned over a four year period by taking one 3-hour course in microbiology, for example, and getting an A.
Knowing that 505-515 is the MCAT composite average for most students accepted to medical school, then it is easy to see that lower scores are not really going to distinguish you to a committee. Also remember that all parts of the exam are important and we are going to be very interested in your verbal reasoning score. Just as GPAs and MCATs do not offset one another, high scores in the science sections of the MCAT do not generally compensate for a low score in critical analysis and reasoning skills section.
Your personal statement should be grammatically correct and present a unified and genuine picture of you as a person, why you want to study medicine, and what personal experiences is your decision based on.
Personal statements should not contain attempted humor (humor does not translate well in written form unless you are Samuel Clemens or Dave Barry). They should not contain quotes from famous (or anonymous) authors, no matter how germane (you are not applying to enroll in an English course so use the space more wisely), and they should not contain a detailed description of your latest hi-tech research project (committee members lose interest when they have no idea what you are talking about).
Remember that these activities are icing on the cake and they do not substitute for other credentials, especially GPAs and MCAT scores. But committees have expectations and one of the biggest of them is that your decision to study medicine is founded on meaningful personal experiences in the arena of patient contact. Without meaningful patient contact experiences your application to medical school is practically dead in the water even before you submit it.
Letters of Recommendation
The best letters are those from people who know you well and can put your accomplishments into perspective. They must go beyond just stating that you got an A in their course. They should tell us about you and the writer should put his/her remarks into a context that is easy for an admissions committee to understand (e.g., he/she is one of the top 10 premeds I have taught in the last 15 years at Yadda Yadda University).
Admissions offices find it very difficult to tell an applicant that the reason for their rejection was their poor interview performance. If you believe (or someone tells you) that you do not interview well, try to improve your interviewing skills. Mock interviews are sometimes helpful but sometimes they are far more demanding that the real thing. Go to the library and check out a couple of books on evaluation interviews and interviewing techniques. You may find some interesting information about interview structure, purpose, and content. Secondly, do your homework. Interviewers are generally impressed if you know something about the school you are visiting?beyond what is published at their web site. Finally, go to any number of pre-med web sites for information about interviews.
It is probably a good idea to contact all the schools at which you were rejected, not just one. If you get a consensus of opinion then your job is clear. If they tell you different things then your job is going to be a little more difficult.