How can I get into medical school with bad grades?

Do you have a low GPA and are you afraid that this could affect your admission to med school? Well, don’t give up.

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’How can I get into medical school with bad grades?’’ We will determine the importance of the GPA in your admission process to the med school. Investigating other factors that could complement your application.

How can I get into medical school with bad grades?

Becoming a practicing physician is a long and difficult process. The first step is to enter medical school. Begin the admissions process by learning about the MCAT GPA requirements.

If you hope to secure a place in one of the 140 medical schools in the US, it’s necessary that you know the importance of your GPA and MCAT and how those numbers could determine your acceptance into medical school.

What do I need to get into medical school?

To complete the academic preparation of a doctor in the United States, first of all you must study an undergraduate degree in some applied science. These undergraduate programs must be within the areas of Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics.

The GPA is the average score that is calculated from the grades obtained in the courses during your bachelor’s degree. Although usually medical schools require a minimum GPA of 2.70 (this varies by school) your chances of entering with this average is extremely low. So what is the average you need for medical school?

Multiple authors agree that a competitive academic index for most medical schools is 3.50 and up. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, only 40% of students with an academic index between 3.40 to 3.60 who apply are accepted in medicine.

This means that 60% of students who have an academic index between 3.40 to 3.60 are not accepted to any medical school. On the other hand, with an average above 3.80, your chances are doubled.

It’s important to clarify that even with an academic index of 4.00 it doesn’t guarantee entry to medical school. This is because medical schools take several factors into consideration when evaluating your application.

These factors include shadowing, community or volunteer work within and outside of the medical environment, leadership positions, prior experience in scientific research, letters of reference, personal essay (“personal statement ”) and the Medical College Admission Test, also known as the MCAT.

The MCAT is an even more important factor than the average, especially if you have a low average or academic index. In other words, if you have a low average, if you want to enter medical school, it’s extremely important that you obtain a good score on the MCAT.


The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a fundamental requirement to be admitted in most medical schools. It’s computer-based and tests the candidate’s knowledge of physical and biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing skills.

In 2015, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) added a new section called Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; where the ability to understand sociocultural, biological and psychological influences on behavior and social interactions, as well as the way people use to process emotion and stress, is tested.

If you have a low GPA, prepare as thoroughly as possible.

Each individual section is scored using a range between 118 and 132 points, with an average of 125. Total scores will focus on 500, with ranges from 472 to 528.

How do medical schools interpret your MCAT?

Having a high score on the MCAT is one of the first and usually the most important measures used by the admissions office in medical schools when evaluating an applicant. Although the MCAT does not tell medical schools whether you will become a good or an excellent doctor.

If it has been shown that the MCAT generally predicts the applicant’s probability of succeeding in the United States Medical Licensing Examinations Step 1 and 2 (USMLE STEP 1 & 2) that one takes as a student of Medicine.

The American Medical Association (AMA) in a recent publication indicates that for medical students who enrolled in the 2018-2019 academic year they obtained a 511.2 average score on the MCAT.

According to the AMA, students who had scored in the average range (510-513) had a 98% chance of advancing from first year to second year of medicine. This probability drops slightly, from 98% to 94% for those students who scored in the range of 498 to 501.

In other words, medical schools will be using the score obtained on the MCAT in conjunction with the academic index (average), to know if the applicant student is prepared to enter medical school and be successful in the same

Why is GPA important?

Your grade point average (GPA) plays an important role in your admission to medical school. Many schools use the GPA as a first step in screening candidates. This can prevent your application from being highly rated based on all of its components.

It’s suggested by StudentDoc, a resource guide for medical students, to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher to be competitive. This is especially true if you go to a school that is characterized by grade inflation.

Another reason your GPA is so important is that not only do medical schools look at it but they also calculate a science average from it. Your science GPA is all of your course grades in biology, chemistry, physics, and math on average as your original grade point average.

In some schools, this GPA matters more than your overall grade point average, since the admissions committees know these courses are difficult and they want to see if you can handle the difficult subjects that you will have to pass in medical school. Therefore, it is very important that you do your best in these courses.

What to do if your GPA in medical school is low?

So before you go ahead and give up, read our tips on what to do next and our list of medical schools that accept a low GPA.

1. Deal with your low GPA

This is where you have to get the most out of your MCAT. You need a high MCAT score. This will show that you do have the will and the talent to stand out in medical school.

For students who initially apply to medical school, at the end of their junior year, but are not accepted, senior year offers more opportunities to get good grades and increase their GPA before reapplying.

However, if a single year of good grades is not enough to deal with the competitive rank, or if you have already finished college, taking courses after graduation as a post-baccalaureate or graduate student may be necessary.

SMP Special Master’s Programs allow students the opportunity to strengthen their science foundations by taking graduate classes. However, a thesis is not required in this type of special program.

This program allows students the opportunity to strengthen their science foundations by taking graduate classes. However, a thesis is not required in this type of special program.

The SMP is aimed at students who want to enter the medical profession. Its syllabus is similar to what you would find in medical school. The SMP can take between 1 and 2 years to complete.

Now keep in mind that the SMP results will not be included in your undergraduate GPA, the grades are separate. But without a doubt, a good performance in your graduate school will complement your low GPA.

2. Write a personal statement

If applicants can provide a compelling explanation for a lower score, medical schools can consider the reason as they review the application.

Acceptable reasons may include medical problems, family problems, or personal crisis. The personal statement, required by all medical schools, represents an ideal place to explain the difficulties that led to a low score.

An applicant must address the subject of their low GPA and highlight other areas of competence, such as the MCAT or experience in the medical field.

What do I need if I want to study medicine?

The objective of Medicine as an academic career is the study of everything inherent to the human being. Due to its humanistic nature, the selection of applicants is very rigorous and those who wish to study medicine must possess a series of very important attributes to guarantee success in their studies.

These are some of the qualities that you must have if you want to study medicine:


It seems obvious, but it’s one of the main attributes that anyone who wants to study medicine must have. I’is not just a taste for the career, but also a vocation to serve others. The career of medicine is based on serving and helping those most in need.

Ability to work under pressure

The life of a patient can depend on how quickly you make a decision. During your professional practice, you will be faced with high pressure and stress situations, which you will have to handle in the best possible way to solve problems and avoid major inconveniences for the life of a patient.

You must develop and strengthen that ability to work under pressure from the moment you enter the classroom and cultivate patience and serenity, to learn to handle the tough cases that may arise in the hospital. 

Sociability and empathy

Doctors are invested with a serious, sophisticated and profound air. But when they’re alone with the patient, they must approach them as a friend would and inspire them with enough confidence so that the patient opens up with the specialist, with the aim not only of finding the cure for their ailment, but also of empathizing and improving their living conditions.

Emotional maturity

Whoever wants to study medicine or who becomes a doctor, has to develop an emotional maturity that allows them to face complex and painful situations with a “cool head”, not ceasing to feel pain or concern for their patients, but preventing them from feelings cloud your judgment as a professional.

If you meet these requirements, do not hesitate to apply for admission to medical school!

So, how can I get into medical school with bad grades?

We know that grades play an essential role, but it is not 100% decisive, if you know that you have bad grades, do your best to pass the MCAT with an excellent score.

If they don’t admit you, don’t give up either.

First of all, it’s important that you evaluate your process and identify where you went wrong, because if you don’t have the grades you expected, the first thing you should resort to is not despair but self-criticism. 

Remember that the cut-off marks are not defined by the universities, but are defined in some way by the students themselves, so if you don’t reach the established minimum it only means that you may have made a mistake in your study process.

It’s difficult, we know it, MCAT Test can take many months to prepare and puts too many things at stake, so it’s extremely important to prepare it correctly.

Review your summaries, adjust your study techniques and improve what you consider necessary, because it’s not the last test you will give in your life and before using your time to get sad you should think about the future and how much it will serve you to improve your study process for the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

Second, we must tell you that feeling lonely is a very bad idea. At the time of taking all students are clear: obtaining a high grade doesn’t ensure entry into the desired career, this will depend on the universities and the grades of the other students. Therefore, you’re not the only person who must give up on your plans and start shuffling again.

FAQS: How can I get into medical school with bad grades?

Can you get into medical school with a bad GPA?

Yes, having a low GPA does not mean that you cannot enter med school. There are other factors that may capture their interest.

Can I get into med school with a 2.5 GPA?

Really, you would be at a 0.1% chance of being admitted. More than 90% of admitted students have a GPA higher than 3.20.

Can I get into med school with a 2.9 GPA?

You have a chance, yes, a very little. According to AAMC data, 17% of students with a GPA between 2.8 and 3.0 were admitted, but with good results on the MCAT (500+).

Is a 3.5 GPA too low for medical school?

No, 3.5 It is the minimum recommended average. That means you are among the competition, and you must stand out in other fields to have a secure admission.

Is a 3.7 GPA good for medical school?

Yes, a 3.7 is a good GPA for med school. A 3.7 means that you have worked hard in your undergraduate studies, you probably got A’s in more than 50% of your classes.

In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’How can I get into medical school with bad grades?’’ We determined the importance of the GPA in your admission process to the med school. Investigating other factors that could complement your application.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Lotfi, A. (2019). How to Discuss Poor Academics on Medical School Applications. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from US News & World Report website:

4 Ways to Get Accepted With a Low GPA • Student Doctor Network. (2016, May 12). Retrieved October 12, 2020, from Student Doctor Network website:

Julian, E. R. (2005). Validity of the Medical College Admission Test for predicting medical school performance. Academic Medicine, 80(10), 910-917.

Lievens, F. (2013). Adjusting medical school admission: assessing interpersonal skills using situational judgement tests. Medical education, 47(2), 182-189.