HOW IMPORTANT ARE GPA AND MCAT SCORES?
Premed classes and medical experiences help students prepare for the MCAT, a standardized,
multiple-choice exam administered by the AAMC. [Students outside the United States and
Canada may take the MCAT, the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), the National Eligibility
cum Entrance Test (NEET), or the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).]
The MCAT, generally taken a year prior to applying for Caribbean medical school, is required for students wanting to enter a four-year medical school—such as the American University of Anguilla School of Medicine (AUA). Students should take time to study MCAT preparation guides and take MCAT prep courses and MCAT practice tests. High MCAT scores are another crucial med school requirement that is a determining factor in your acceptance to Caribbean medical school. The test has Three sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS)
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS)
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB)
MCAT scores are less subjective than GPA, but below average scores can still lead to matriculation
if the student is above average in other areas of the application. To achieve higher scores, many
students take the MCAT more than once—up to three times in one year, four times in two years,
or seven times in a lifetime.
With a high GPA, medical experience, and excellent MCAT scores, students must decide which type of Caribbean medical school they want to attend—schools that offer a traditional Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, or schools that offer a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree. DO’s and MD’s take the same medical courses, but DO’s also learn osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) of the musculoskeletal system as a diagnostic and treatment tool. Most Caribbean medical schools, including AUA, have MD programs.
WHAT IS THE MED SCHOOL APPLICATION PROCESS?
Students then prepare applications to multiple medical schools, a costly and time-consuming
process. The AAMC reports each student applies to an average of 17 medical schools.
Applications are done in stages, with primary applications, secondary applications, and
interviews all coming before acceptance.
The average acceptance rate of 41.9 percent goes up accordingly with higher med school GPAs and MCAT scores, but the rate shows that more than half of all applicants—no matter how many schools they apply to—are left out in the cold. Students who fail to get into Caribbean medical school may find something else to do with their lives, but many refuse to give up and reapply to Caribbean medical school after strengthening their qualifications.
Some universities offer combined baccalaureate-MD programs, which are partnerships between an undergraduate institution and the medical school at the same university or a nearby university. These highly competitive programs can bypass the difficult application process.
For university graduates who want to pause a while or add to their undergraduate education before applying to Caribbean medical schools, a “gap year” may include working in a medical field or attending a health care master’s program or postbaccalaureate premedical program. A gap year is often more than one calendar year.
Other Caribbean medical school requirements include letters of recommendation, usually one from a professor and one from a physician or other medical professional. Applicants must also write a personal statement—a concise description of a student’s background and experience that also explains the student’s reason for wanting to become a physician.
Many Caribbean medical schools also want to see work experience in a resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV). Speaking English is a med school requirement in the United States and Canada, as well as at AUA, where classes are taught in English despite the school’s location on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Anguilla. Non-native English speakers must demonstrate their English proficiency by scoring well on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Students must also pay application fees and meet all Caribbean medical school application deadlines.