For Re-Applicants and those contemplating the possibility that they might become one

Grades and MCAT Scores | Personal Statement | Extracurricular Activities |
Letters of Recommendation | Personal Interview | Summary |

This page is intended for individuals who were not accepted and who are thinking about reapplying, as well as those who want to prepare for the possibility of non-acceptance.

However, it also has a lot of good information for first-time applicants. People on the Acceptable List might also benefit from reading this section because it addresses possible issues as to why someone on The List with good grades and MCAT scores has not yet been offered admission. Remember ... good grades and MCAT scores are never enough.

Background

For several years, re-applicants have made up between 25 and 30 percent of each incoming class. In fact, the percentage of re-applicants who get admitted is almost the same for first-time applicants.

The average science and total GPA for successful applicants has ranged from 3.6 to 3.7, and the average MCAT score in each of the numerically scored categories is a 9. With few exceptions, all have completed undergraduate degrees, and most majored in one of the biological sciences.

Simple questions often have simple answers:

Why was I rejected?
How can I improve my application for next year?

Question ... The first thing to do when you know you have to reapply is? (pick one)

  1. Make an appointment with the Dean.
  2. Apply to a school in the Caribbean.
  3. Resubmit as soon as possible.
  4. Think about things.

(Correct answer is d.)

If you have to reapply, first sit down and re-evaluate objectively all parts of your application. Begin with the obvious, the numbers. Then revisit your Personal Statement. Next, think about your extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation. Lastly, if you were interviewed, reflect on your personal interview.

After such an evaluation and looking objectively at all aspects of your application, chances are you will see the problem immediately.

Grades and MCAT Scores

This part of your re-evaluation should be done in comparison to the credentials of students recently admitted to our school.

Realistically and objectively evaluate the grades and MCAT scores submitted with your AMCAS application. It is very important to remember that a strength in one does not offset a deficiency in the other.

Grades: A grade deficiency is addressed by .... Making A's in additional upper level science courses.

MCAT's: An MCAT deficiency is addressed by .... Retaking the MCAT.

Grades - With grades, realize that averages tell only part of the story. Course loads, course difficulty, and especially trends, i.e., noticeable improvement or decline in performance, can be more important than the average itself. Grades are also reviewed in light of outside realities, such as the need to work, worthwhile commitments such as leadership, and hardships of various types.

What is the average gpa at your school?

In recent years incoming freshmen have averaged 3.7 in science and 3.7 overall.

What kind of courses should I take?

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.

Whether you take courses in a post-baccalaureate program or embark on a graduate degree program to improve your GPA probably makes little difference to the Admissions Committee. Which path you follow depends on your personal circumstances and most admissions officers do not know enough about you and/or various programs 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 the Admissions Committee is looking at the whole picture. If your GPA is 3.4, but has declined more recently, or if you have performed steadily at a 3.2, it is impossible to compensate with a few hours of A. Bottom line ... if you have a grade issue, you are likely looking at a 2 year plan.

MCAT's - Knowing that 29-30 is the average MCAT total for students accepted to our school, it is easy to see that lower scores are never going to help you. How much they harm you can only be guessed. The 1-15 numeric scores are shorthand for the actual percentile rankings which you should look at.

Note, too, that all sections of the exam are important, and Yes ... we are interested in your Verbal Reasoning score. In the same way that grades and MCAT's do not offset each another, a high score in one MCAT section does not offset a low score in another.

Grades are often regarded as what you are willing to do, MCAT's as what you are able to do.

Should I take it again? - Probably.

Yes. If you are asking this question, your scores are probably below average, and if so then you should. The Admissions Committee often regards standing pat on below-average scores as a sign of diminished motivation, the ill-favored response of someone who believes that below-average is the best they can do.

No. However, if your scores are above average and you are trying to offset a low GPA, the answer is No. MCAT's and grades do not offset each other.

If I go down, will it hurt me? - Probably not.

Most people go up a little, and dropping a point or two in your total is often better than standing pat on a below-average score on a single attempt. Your "true score" is probably in the middle.

What is the MCAT average at LSUHSC Shreveport?

Scores have averaged 9-11 in each category in recent years.

Do you look only/more at the most recent score? - No.

We look at them all.

Should I release my scores when I take the test? - Yes!!!

Not releasing can only hurt you by causing a delay.

Nota bene, though easily compared and unmistakably very important, by themselves good grades and MCAT's are never enough.

Personal Statement/Essays

Your personal statement is your introduction to strangers, something often overlooked. Besides helping decide who get interviewed, interviewers get it the day before an interview. It should present a unified and genuine picture of you as a person, why you want to study medicine, and what personal experiences your decision is based on. The bottom line to strive for is that the reader says after reading it: "Wow! I want to meet this person".

Do the following at your own peril:

  1. Attempt humor (unless you are Dave Barry or Tina Fey).
  2. Include quotations unless you are prepared to discuss the book or the person it came from in the interview.
  3. Describe your research project in great detail (readers lose interest when they have no idea what you are talking about).
  4. Submit it without heaving it spoil chicked and roof pred.

Extracurricular Activities

Remember that these activities are important, but they do not substitute for other credentials, especially good grades and MCAT scores. But our committee has expectations, and one of the biggest of them is that your decision to study medicine is founded on meaningful personal experiences. Gaining meaningful patient contact experiences (not working in the pharmacy or delivering films to radiology, and not doing research or merely observing) can improve your application significantly.

Letters of Recommendation

If you didn't the last time, then, use the premed committee. Use the premed committee. Use the premed committee. Except in rare instances, not doing so creates a deficiency which you should explain. If you are a first-time re-applicant you can and should resubmit last year's Committee letter once, but you might want to get letters from three more people, as well. Your advisory committee can submit fresh evaluations as often as they like, but we will accept re-submission of the same Committee evaluation only once. After that, you need to get letters from three professors.

The best letters come from people who know you well and can put your accomplishments into perspective, someone willing to take an hour of their time. "She got an A in my tough course," we can see on a transcript. Telling us why they care enough to write would be more compelling.

In the "Are-You-Serious? Category": Who would ever think that a letter from a parent, spouse, girlfriend, etc., could ever be regarded as being discriminating or objective? Momma can write you a letter, and her faith and heartfelt support may be well placed, but don't expect it to count as one of your required letters, and don't think that it will be given anywhere near the same weight by the Admissions Committee. Ditto's even if Momma's a teacher, you were her student, and you really, really were the best student in the school. A variation on a theme ...

Love letters? "His daddy and granddaddy were doctors, and he ought'a be one, too."
"He has been an incredible pair of hands on my infinitely important research project on Yadda, Yadda, Yadda ............(snooooooooz)"
"Her momma and daddy are fine people, and so is she."
~~ Enough said? Yes!

More about recommendation letters? ... Click here for the basics -- and here for FAQ's.

Personal Interview

How does one say: "You failed the interview"? With great difficulty. But, is it necessary? If you interviewed, but didn't make it to the Waiting List, think: "I got the interview, so my grades, MCAT's, recommendations and personal statement must have been at least OK. What does that leave?" If you were on the Waiting List, but were not admitted, ask yourself the same question. Probably more discouraging is the answer to the first than to the second.

Either way, you might go to the library and check out a couple of books on evaluation interviews (or read them for free over coffee at Barnes and Noble). 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.

Summary

High grades and/or MCAT scores alone are never enough. For those interviewed, impressions from the personal interview are exceedingly important. Other factors that are weighed in selecting applicants for admission include letters of recommendation, the personal statement, difficulty of courses and course loads, trends in grades, extracurricular activities, leadership, volunteer work, care-giving and health-related experience, research, hardship, evidence of motivation for a career in medicine and other non-cognitive attributes.

Good Luck!