When viewing your application, medical school admissions officers are actually given three GPAs. Your science and math courses are considered according to what is called the BPCM (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Math) GPA, and your non-science courses (humanities, social sciences, language, etc.) are considered as a separate GPA. The third GPA that schools see is the overall aggregate.
Each medical school has its own average GPA for the incoming class (information for MD programs can be easily found in the Medical School Admission Requirements guidebook and often on the school’s own website), so it’s important to do your research so you know where your own GPA fits in within the school’s range. Are you right on track? Slightly below? Way ahead? Regardless of where you fall, you’ll be able to make a plan for a competitive application with this information.
The national averages for the 52,777 applicants in 2018-2019 were as follows:
- BPCM GPA: 3.47
- Non-science GPA: 3.71
- Overall GPA: 3.57
The national averages for the 21,622 who matriculated in 2018-2019 were:
- BPCM GPA: 3.65
- Non-science GPA: 3.8
- Overall GPA: 3.72
What does this mean for you? As you can see, the average GPAs for those who accepted a seat in medical school is significantly higher than the average of all applicants. This means that your GPA needs to fall much closer to the average for matriculants but more specifically, the average for matriculants to the schools you are applying to.
What can I do if I have a below-average GPA?
Unlike the MCAT, for which everyone starts with a clean slate, your GPA is set during your college career, usually as you’re still figuring out how to succeed in this challenging environment. So what can you do if you’re applying now and your GPA isn’t quite in the ranges above?
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