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Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I have to be a science major to go to medical school?

No. Your major is not important as long as you complete the pre-requisite course work to satisfy the admissions requirements and prepare for the standardized admissions test in your field of interest.

Will majoring in science give me an advantage in applying to medical school?

Not necessarily. Most medical schools are looking for well rounded students who have an aptitude for science. They do not give preference to science majors. Taking additional science courses may be beneficial in preparing for standardized exams, but the questions in standardized exams are based on knowledge found in introductory level science courses. The additional science background may also be especially helpful for preparation for the first two years of classes in medical school.

Should I minor or take a double major?

Only if you are truly interested in another field of study. There is no evidence that those students who have a second major or minor have a better chance of acceptance into medical school than those who do not.

Should I take a commercial prep course before taking the MCATs?

There is no hard evidence that commercial courses produce significant gains in test scores. These courses may benefit students who need the extra motivation to buckle down and study. They do provide the opportunity to take multiple full length practice test in real time situations. However, motivated students can do the same on their own or in a study group. There are plenty of practice materials available and practice exams are even offered by the AAMC. The Director of the Center for Student Learning here at C of C works with students to prepare for standardized tests, both individually and in groups.

Can I take required courses in the summer and/or at another institution?

In general, it is best to take your required courses at your primary academic institution and during the regular school session. Professional schools want to know that a student can handle science courses while taking a normal academic load. If you have a compelling reason, for taking a course during the summer, for example to be able to get the proper course sequence, then do so. You should try, at least, to take the course at your primary institution or one with equivalent academic rigor. Taking your science courses in a piecemeal fashion and at a two-year institution may be looked on with suspicion by health professions schools. You should also check with the appropriate department to see that the credits from another institution will transfer.

Can I get into medical school in less than 4 years?

Yes, however, this is not the norm and is not recommended for most students. The two medical schools in South Carolina require a minimum of three years of undergraduate work or 90 hours to matriculate into their programs. However, this requires students to squeeze all their required courses and take the MCAT exam by the end of their sophomore year. Four years of undergraduate preparation allows time for students to explore, grow, mature, and have experiences that enrich their lives and make them better medical school candidates.