Premed Tips

Premed Tips
Shot of a team of doctors having a meeting

Pre-med requirements are only part of the journey. Stay on track to submit a fantastic medical school application with our advice on everything from grades and course selection to choosing internships and extracurricular activities.

Medical Student Perspective: What’s Your Advice for Pre-Med Students?

We asked current medical students to give us their best advice for any aspiring physician.

New section

New section

As a pre-med student, you’re probably used to getting advice from many different people and sources, and sometimes it can be a lot of information. But hearing directly from students who have gone through the medical school application process recently can be especially helpful.

We asked current medical students to give us their best advice, and you might be surprised at what they had to say:


“There is no recipe for a perfect applicant. Don’t do something for the sake of checking off a box on an application. Be sincere and well intentioned in everything that you do. Invest your time in activities that challenge and question your own biases, stereotypes, preconceptions, and assumptions of what you know to be true; develop new modes of thinking as a result. In an effort to achieve that 4.0 or ideal MCAT score, we lose sight of our original humanistic and altruistic motivations that gravitated us toward this profession in the first place.”

-Luis E. Seija, Texas A&M College of Medicine, 2019


“If you really want to be a physician, go for it. There may be a million reasons to quit, and it is definitely a challenging path, but the ability to touch lives is an absolute privilege worth all the effort.”

-Christina Tull, University of Washington School of Medicine, 2019


“Be honest with yourself about the reasons you want to become a physician. I feel that if I love what I do, then it’s really not a job. I want to be able to wake up every day and love my career. If you feel strongly that medicine is your calling, then volunteer in health care settings and shadow doctors to get a feel for the profession. If you still feel that medicine is your life and passion, then hit the books and don’t look back. Look forward to your future, focus, and prepare yourself to be a competitive applicant.”

-Ana Jimenez, The University of Kansas School of Medicine, 2017


“Shadow. Shadow a lot and as much as you can, because there is so much to learn about medicine; there are trials and joys, but the only way to know about either is by seeing it for yourself. Also, seek out mentors for yourself; other people have stood in your shoes and they can be incredibly supportive. Finally, be stubborn about your success. Don’t assume that this path will be easy and don’t give up because it is hard.”

-Ogochukwu Marietta Ezeoke, SUNY Upstate Medical University, 2019


“Do it. If you are like me and have a mountain of things ahead of you before applying, take it one step at a time. Make sure you really love what you are doing, and then do more of it. In the end, you will find yourself in one of the most rewarding career fields out there, and you will meet some pretty amazing people along the way. Don’t make it one huge decision, but enjoy the process.”

-Clay Downey, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, 2017

You can read more about all of these medical students and others in AAMC’s Inspiring Stories interviews .

7 Smart Tips for Pre-Med Students

Pre-med requirements are only part of the journey. Stay on track to submit a fantastic medical school application with our advice on everything from grades and course selection to choosing internships and extracurricular activities.

pre-med requirements

1. You don’t have to follow a pre-med playbook.

Back in the day, almost every undergraduate who wanted to go to med school majored in biology, chemistry, or physics. This is changing though as med schools realize the value of a liberal arts education, and there will be a variety of pre-med majors in the applicant pool. So, study what you love. You’ll still need solid MCAT scores along with good grades and stellar extracurriculars.

2. Make a plan for finishing pre-med requirements.

Bear in mind that each medical school has its own pre-med course requirements. Depending on where you plan to apply, courses in the following subjects may be required or recommended.

  • Biology (with Lab)
  • General Chemistry (with Lab)
  • Organic Chemistry (with Lab)
  • Physics (with Lab)
  • English
  • Biochemistry
  • Calculus
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Statistics/Biostatistics
  • Genetics
  • Humanities
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Social sciences

By the time you have finished your prerequisites, you have already been exposed to most of the concepts and research principles tested on the MCAT .

Free MCAT Practice Tests & Events

Evaluate and improve your MCAT score.

3. Don’t procrastinate.

By knocking out your medical school requirements in the first two years, pre-meds can use the last two years of college to take electives, study abroad, or pursue a non-science major or minor.

4. Invest your time wisely.

While you’re still an undergrad, begin exploring various medical specialties. Considering pediatrics? You may want to take courses in development, child psychology, or family dynamics. If you’re interested in becoming an obstetrician/gynecologist, enroll in human sexuality or gender studies courses. By demonstrating a long-term interest in a medical specialty you can enhance your chance of winning a competitive residency later.

5. Focus on your grades.

Your grades ultimately matter more than your transcript. GPA is one of the most important criteria for medical school admission. Med schools will consider both your science GPA and your overall GPA. And while your science GPA is more important, both hold weight and both are heavily considered.

6. Get outside the classroom.

Most med schools expect applicants to have some medical experience , either as a volunteer or paid worker. Primary care experience is particularly valuable. Many hospitals and clinics have volunteer positions that allow you to interact with patients. You can also consider finding a position at a hospice or a chronic-care facility, or assisting disabled children or nursing home residents.

7. Be professional.

If you want to learn at a more depth level you can set up a preceptorship. In a preceptorship, you’ll shadow a knowledgeable physician as an observer over an extended period of time. The best preceptors are doctors with great people skills, patience, and a passion for education.

Medical research is another worthwhile extracurricular to pursue. A number of well-known universities, labs, and private companies run summer internship programs for undergraduates.

Don’t dismiss other volunteer experiences, even if they’re not directly related to health care. Teaching, tutoring, peer counseling, or any activity that demonstrates your compassion, communication or leadership skills will be impressive to admissions committees.

Get your maximum score with expert MCAT prep

Learn More

The Staff of The Princeton Review

For more than 40 years, students and families have trusted The Princeton Review to help them get into their dream schools. We help students succeed in high school and beyond by giving them resources for better grades, better test scores, and stronger college applications. Follow us on Twitter: @ThePrincetonRev.

Maddie Otto

By Maddie Otto

Maddie is a second-year medical student at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney and one of Level Medicine’s workshop project managers. Prior to studying medicine, she worked and studied as a musician in Melbourne. She has a background in community arts, which combined her love for both the arts and disability support. She is an advocate for intersectional gender equity, and is passionate about accessibility and inclusive practice within the healthcare system.