What’s the Average GPA for Medical School Matriculants?
November 30, 2016
A previous version of this article was originally published by Alex MacNow.
While we’ve tackled the topic of medical school admissions by the numbers in the past, we turn our attention today to the average GPA for medical school. It’s stressful to think that a few bad grades in your undergraduate career can impact your chances of getting into medical school; however, it’s important to know that a low GPA can be overcome.
Remember, the AAMC keeps GPA information public through their FACTS tables. In addition to what we’ve covered here, there is a lot more information you can glean from these resources. In the world of medical school admissions, knowledge is power!
Breaking down the average GPA for medical school
Medical schools are actually given three GPAs when they look at your application. Your science and math courses are considered according to what is called the BPCM (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Math) GPA, and your non-science courses (humanities, social sciences, language, etc.) are considered as a separate GPA. The third GPA that schools see is the overall aggregate.
While each medical school has its own average GPA for the incoming class (information for MD programs can be easily found in the Medical School Admission Requirements guidebook), the national averages for 2015–2016 were as follows:
- BPCM GPA: applicants 3.45, matriculants 3.64
- Non-science GPA: applicants 3.68, matriculants 3.77
- Overall GPA: applicants 3.55, matriculants 3.70
What can I do if I have a below average GPA?
Unlike the MCAT, for which many of you still have a clean slate, GPA is set during your college career. So what can you do if you’re applying and your GPA isn’t quite in the range above?
1. Explain the GPA tactfully
You have the opportunity to bring up any blips in your GPA on both the primary application (as part of the Personal Statement) and your secondary applications (in one of the essays or as an addendum to the application). Some secondary applications even provide a space for pieces of your application that you’d like to explain.
When talking about a problem in your GPA, explain the reason behind the drop, but don’t make excuses! Medical schools want mature applicants who can take ownership of the problem, and—perhaps more importantly—can explain how it served as a learning experience. Did getting a not-so-great grade in Organic Chemistry I teach you how to study better, utilize office hours, or find new ways to learn so that you knocked Organic Chemistry II out of the park? These skills will help you become a better medical student. Explain that to the medical schools.
2. Become an MCAT rockstar
According to Kaplan’s latest medical school admissions officer survey, two of the most important factors in admission are the GPA and MCAT score. Thus, falling below the average GPA for medical school matriculants can be significantly abated with a stellar MCAT score. Prepare wisely and work towards your target MCAT score.
3. Retake courses or consider post-bacc work
There are a number of post-baccalaureate programs in the country that can be optimal for a student who needs to boost their GPA (especially the BPCM GPA). Masters and post-bacc programs may also afford you opportunities to become involved in research or shadowing, thus helping your application portfolio that much more.
Support your GPA with a winning MCAT score. Check out our free prep options to build your confidence for Test Day.