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Medical school acceptance rises

Admission officers at 85 of the country’s top medical schools said 44 percent of the schools are expected to increase the number of available seats, some for as early as the incoming fall 2009 class, according to a new survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

But, gaining admittance into top medical schools are becoming increasingly dependent on standardized testing rather than GPA or relevant experience.

“The likelihood that more medical school seats will become imminently available is good news for students considering applying to medical school,” said Amjed Mustafa, director of pre-health programs at Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “This news, combined with a projected deficit of 200,000 doctors by 2020, makes for one of the most optimal times to apply to medical school in recent memory.”

With the increase in seats, the growing concern is the decrease in quality of students. But out of the 42,000 students who apply to medical school every year, 18,000 are accepted.

The average GPA for students who apply is a 3.6, well above the average for most other post graduate programs, Mustafa said.

However, the dynamics for being accepted to medical schools are shifting.

Of the 85 schools surveyed, 44 percent said they relied most heavily on Medical College Admission Test scores, while 29 percent relied on undergraduate GPA, 17 percent relied on the interview and 9 percent relied on relevant work experience.

In a 2007 Kaplan survey, 34 percent reported MCAT scores as the top admissions factor.

The reason for the recent up-tick in MCAT importance is due to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, which reported a strong correlation between students who perform well on the MCAT entrance exams and those who perform well on the United States Medical Licensing Examination – the exit exam, Mustafa said.

Students’ entrance interviews are also increasingly becoming more influential in the admissions process.

“People feel doctors are too cold,” Mustafa said. “There has been a push to train doctors in communications so that they have a softer way to communicate with patients. The interview process has been given more credence, the bulk of the decision making is still centered on quantitative factors like GPAs and MCAT scores.”

Even with the recent documentation concerning the correlation between students’ acceptance into medical schools and their MCAT scores, UNF does not have an official program designed to help improve students’ scores.

“I would recommend [Kaplan Test Prep] to student’s who aren’t self-motivated,” said Micheal Lentz, UNF biology professor. “However, there is no empirical data to suggest that students who take the Kaplan test prep program are more likely to score high on the MCAT.”

E-mail James Cannon II at [email protected].

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