Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Medical School Admissions Officers Advise Aspiring Doctors to Score High on the MCAT®, Apply Early, and Avoid Discussing Politics

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanMCATPrep


New York, NY (November 27, 2017) — Getting into medical school is about as difficult as it’s been in recent memory. Just 39.7 percent of MD applicants earned a seat in the 2016 cycle, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, marking it the second consecutive cycle where the admit rate fell below 40 percent. Kaplan Test Prep recently conducted its 12th annual survey of medical school admissions officers across North America to find out what most helps and hurts aspiring medical students*. Among the findings:

  • MCAT Score Remains Top Factor: More than half of medical school admissions officers (54 percent) say a low MCAT score is “the biggest application dealbreaker,” up from 46 percent in Kaplan’s 2016 survey. A low undergraduate GPA trailed at 36 percent. Many admissions officers surveyed stressed their admissions approach was “holistic,” meaning they look at everything a candidate submits.
  • Apply Early: Seventy percent of admissions officers say that students who apply early in the admissions cycle (June or July) have an admissions advantage over those who don’t, with 41 percent characterizing that advantage as “significant.” As one admissions officer shared, “People who apply earlier are usually stronger candidates because they have their stuff together.” Tip: To make sure you’re ready to apply early, take the MCAT by May, as it takes approximately 30 days after each test date before scores are released.
  • Politics-Free Zone: A majority (53 percent) of medical school admissions officers say it’s better overall for applicants to avoid discussing politics in their personal statements and interviews. “It’s good to be outspoken, but you have to realize that you’re dealing with subjective views of the interviewer too. It’s risky,” noted one admissions officer.
  • Social Media Matters: Nearly one in three (29 percent) admissions officers say they’ve visited applicants’ social media profiles to learn more about them. Of that 29 percent, a majority found something that negatively impacted an applicant’s admissions chances, citing “lewd images” and “unprofessional behavior” as examples.

“Kaplan Test Prep has been surveying medical schools across North America every year for over 10 years. The information we gather directly from admissions officers has helped hundreds of thousands of prospective doctors navigate the application process,” said Eric Chiu, executive director of pre-health programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “In what remains a hypercompetitive admissions landscape, pre-meds should work diligently on putting together the strongest application possible, starting with a strong MCAT score, high GPA, a compelling personal statement, and persuasive letters of recommendation. And by all means, if you can apply early, do so, as admissions officers say it can provide you a boost.”

For a one-minute video on the study, please click here.

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*The survey was conducted by phone between September and October 2017 of 66 accredited medical schools across the United States and Canada.

MCAT® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The trademark holders are neither endorsed by nor affiliated with Kaplan or this study. 

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

                                                                                             # # #