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The Ins and Outs of Getting Letters of Recommendation for Medical School

For a free 20 minute consult, please call 1-888-839-9997 or email us at info@admissionshelpers.com One of the most important elements of a successful medical school application is the letter of recommendation. Recommendation letters provide extensive insight about you and help medical schools gauge your ability to excel in medical school as well as your preparedness for becoming a physician.  Below we address some of the key issues relevant to obtaining and sending your letters of recommendation: Who to get letters of recommendation from: There are many individuals from whom you could request a letter of recommendation.  In general, your letter writer should know you well and be able to comment in a substantial way about your ability and aptitude for medical school and the medical profession. Most medical schools require 3-4 letters of recommendation and generally expect two of these to be from professors with whom you have taken science courses.  We recommend getting letters from the following: Science professors: This should preferably be with science professors in challenging upper division courses that are related to the medical field.  A letter of recommendation from a microbiology or medical genetics professors will help more than a letter from an entomology professor.  Also get your letters from professors with whom you took courses at a four-year institution. Physicians: It is always a good idea to get a letter of recommendation from physicians who you have shadowed or volunteered with. Research faculty: If you have done substantial research with a faculty member, that faculty member can be a good source for letters of recommendations. Others: Other individuals who can comment on your intellect, compassion, curiosity, work ethic, maturity, or responsibility are valuable.  For example, if you have participated in a community service or leadership activity,... read more

Healthcare Reform for the Medical School Interview

Introduction and General Points Medical schools love to assess an applicant’s knowledge and views of the healthcare system during the medical school interview. Both traditional medical school interviews and multiple mini interviews may include questions or scenarios about the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) and its impact on how we deliver healthcare.  In fact, medical schools are not the only ones asking about the ACA. PA schools, pharmacy schools, and sometimes even dental schools, like to discuss the possible implications of the new law on their profession with prospective students. Applicants frequently want to know what’s important to understand about the new healthcare law.  Before we get into discussing the law and covering its main components, its important to point out the following: Do not drive yourself crazy trying to learn all the details of the law: As it turns out the ACA is a very long bill with thousands of pages of regulations and there is no way you are going to know all of it.  Admissions committees don’t expect you to know all the details but rather to have a basic grasp and to have a position. Learn the basics and spend some time thinking about it: Instead of trying to learn all the details, try to grasp the basics of the act and spend some time thinking about the act, formulating an opinion about it, and considering its implications. Before you go into your interview, read current events related to the Affordable Care Act: Interviewers may ask you to state your opinion about a recent event in the news that pertains to the Affordable Care Act.... read more

How to Ace the PAT Section of the DAT

How to Ace the Perceptual Ability Test on the DAT – A Student to Student Guide By Jason Steiner When initially studying for my PAT section, I did everything wrong. Thankfully, I was able to learn from my mistakes before my exam and recovered enough to score a 26 on the PAT. My hope in writing this blog post is that I will save the reader from making the same mistakes I did, as well as some panic and time. I will start with what I did wrong, move on to what I did right, including some section-by-section advice, and conclude with what I would do differently. It is also important to note that I never scored above a 23 on any practice exam. Do not get discouraged by low scores. Use them as motivation to do better. On my very first PAT section I scored a 15. Scoring low initially only means that you have a high ceiling! What I did wrong: Where to begin? The first wrong thing I did was initially use one source to study from. After reading a few dated reviews, I purchased Crack DAT PAT, thinking it would be all I would need. I do not regret making this purchase, but it was misleading for the hole punching and top, front, end (TFE) sections of the PAT. The hole punching section was only misleading because it was much easier than the real DAT. The Crack DAT TFE problems are seriously dated. Almost all of the questions on the Crack DAT TFE sections of each practice test can be solved using the line-counting method.... read more

Completing the Secondary Application for Medical School, Dental School and PA School

Secondary Application Tutorial Part 1     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 2     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 3     Secondary Application Tutorial Part 4   Need help with your secondaries to medical, dental, PA, or pharmacy school?  Check out Admissions Helpers’ Secondary Application Editing Service! Helpful Tips for Completing the Secondary Application There are so many layers to the application processes to medical, dental, PA and pharmacy school that its easy to get confused. There is the primary application processed through centralized application services like the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) or the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and common to all programs. Then there is the individual school application which is frequently referred to as the secondary or supplemental application. Applicants often get stressed out because the supplemental applications to medical school, dental school or PA school have their own essay prompts and can be tricky to answer. Here we would like to offer a few basic tips to help you navigate the secondary application process: Tip Number 1: Timing — The first point to keep in mind with the secondary application is timing! After you submit your primary application, you will get inundated with secondaries and its easy to sit on them or to get too caught up trying to make sure they are perfect. With secondaries you do not have to be as meticulous as with the personal statement. Its still important to pay attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence structure but do not go through 10 iterations of each secondary essay you draft. We suggest getting each secondary out... read more

Instructions for Completing the AADSAS Application

How to Complete the AADSAS Application If you are in the process of applying to dental school, you probably know there is more to the primary application than just the personal statement. The Associated American Dental School Application Service (AADSAS) application has many different sections that ask you all sorts of questions from personal biographic information to your manual dexterity skills to your professional experiences. Most dental school applicants spend a great deal of time on the AADSAS personal statement, but sometimes, they underestimate the importance of the other components of the AADSAS application. How you complete the other sections of the AADSAS application is a lot like what you wear to the interview. It says a lot about your professionalism and attention to detail. So here, we will provide some tips and pointers to help you put together a clean, professional, and well-presented AADSAS application. We will start with some general pointers and then review how to complete the different sections of the application. 1) General Point: One important point that cannot be overemphasized is to pay attention to grammar, capitalization, and punctuation! Grammar: Following rules of grammar in this section is very important and poor grammar will count against you. Make sure you pay attention to your grammar the same way you would in your personal statement. Punctuation: Applicants sometimes forget to pay attention to the importance of punctuation. In sections where you are writing in full sentences, you want to use periods to separate ideas the same way you would in any other writing. In sections where you are listing, you may either number ideas or... read more

5 Steps to Ensure Acceptance to PA School

What you should do to ensure that you can get into a PA program In the last several years as the demand for physician assistants has increased, so has competition for entry into PA programs. Many PA programs are now faced with the daunting task of choosing a handful among many qualified applicants. In this competitive landscape, how do you ensure that you are competitive enough? Below we outline a list of five key steps you should take to make sure that you are considered competitive in the eye of PA school admissions committees: 1) Do well in academics: Because PA school is academically challenging and competition is intense, getting accepted requires doing well academically. This means achieving a good science GPA as well as a good overall GPA. It is especially important to perform well in the prerequisite courses for PA school. Although these prerequisites vary from school to school, most schools require 1-2 courses in biology (often genetics and microbiology), 1 year of chemistry, 1 semester of biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. Many schools also require additional courses in mathematics and the humanities such as psychology and English. To get an academic edge among applicants, it may help to take additional science/medical courses such as pharmacology, pathology, or medical terminology. Although minimum GPA requirements for schools may be as low as 2.5 – 2.75, competitive applicants generally have higher GPAs (3.3 or above). 2) Gain hands-on clinical experience: PA schools emphasize hands on clinical experience and many schools require it. This includes any experience in which you are involved in patient care and playing an active role in... read more

Premedical, Predental, and Pre-PA Shadowing Experiences Abroad

Pre-Med Shadowing Experience Overseas Medical school admissions are more competitive than ever, and students are expected to go above and beyond in the pursuit of their future careers. Many pre-med students maintain a hefty list of extracurricular and volunteer activities, both within and outside of the healthcare environment, in order to satisfy increasingly selective admissions committees. A crucial method by which pre-med students augment their applications and interviews is by participating in a practice known as “shadowing.“ What is pre-medical shadowing? Shadowing involves observing health professionals performing their day-to-day duties within the clinical environment. Doctors mentor students as they perform their rounds on the wards. In some instances, students are able to observe procedures in the operating room. Local pre-med shadowing opportunities are sometimes available, but they are often dependent upon students having personal connections to the health community. While some students have family members in healthcare or have a foot in the door through volunteer work at a nearby facility, other students struggle to find relevant shadowing experience. To fill the gap, many companies have begun looking further afield, pairing global health education with clinical shadowing experience. Gap Medics, which offers overseas shadowing internships to aspiring doctors, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, and midwives, is one of such companies and has bases in Africa and Asia. It is constantly adding to its list of destinations for clinical observation. The Benefits of Shadowing Overseas Clinical Experience At its core, shadowing allows students to get up-close and personal to the clinical environment. By observing, asking questions, and speaking with patients and doctors, students gain a level of understanding and familiarity that... read more

How to Study for the MCAT Strategically

For most of us, studying for standardized tests is stressful – perhaps very stressful.  But the MCAT is particularly nerve racking; one of MyGuru’s senior tutors describes the MCAT as “a beast of an exam.”  Unlike the ACT, SAT, GRE, or GMAT, the MCAT goes beyond testing core academic skills like reading comprehension, verbal reasoning, critical thinking, mathematics, and writing.  In addition, it tests factual and conceptual knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics.  So, you don’t have to just build your core skills, have knowledge of the test, and employ solid test-taking strategy with a high degree of confidence – you also have to literally know and recall a lot of information under time pressure. More MCAT prep is always better than no MCAT prep, but it’s not always better than less MCAT prep. How can this be? We all have limited time and resources, and your MCAT score is only one element of your medical school application.  Overinvesting in MCAT prep, or in preparing for one part of the MCA, can and will lead to underinvesting in other areas that either brings down your overall MCA score or overall med school resume. By preparing for the MCAT strategically, which essentially means stepping back and applying some perspective and structure to the MCAT prep process, you’ll maximize not just your MCAT score, but the quality of your medical school application 4 Steps to Preparing for the MCAT strategically #1 Start by setting a goal: identify target school(s) and associated MCAT scores It’s tempting to say “I just want to get the best MCAT score possible, and then I’ll figure... read more

Post-Baccalaureate Program Record Enhancer Part 2

Institution: Worcester State University Certificate in Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Minimum GPA Required for Admission: 2.75 Standardized Test Required: No test required Application Requirements: – Questionnaire (check pre-med website) – Personal Statement – Transcripts – Application or current resume – Letters of recommendation Admission Deadline: April 1st, November 1st Start Date: Fall Semester, Spring Semester Email Address / Phone Number: mkerr@worcester.edu / 508-929-8723 Website: http://ow.ly/xKQMZ ——————————————————————————————————————— Institution: Johns Hopkins University Post-Baccalaureate Health Science Intensive Program Minimum GPA Required for Admission: 3.0 Standardized Test Required: ACT/SAT/GRE/MCAT Application Requirements: – AAP Application – $75 non-refundable application fee – Current resume – 500-word statement of purpose – Official transcripts – Course-by-course credential evaluation for all coursework completed outside of the US. – TOEFL (international applicants) – 2 letters of recommendation (one recommendation be a science academic recommendation) – Listing of all medically relevant experience – Listing of all science and math courses taken. – Copy of standardized test score – 500-word Declaration of “Different This Time” (Describe the circumstances that led to your prior academic performance.) Prerequisite Courses: General Biology with labs (1 year), General Chemistry with labs, Organic Chemistry with labs, General Physics with labs Start Date: June 3rd Email Address / Phone Number: hsiinfo@jhu.edu / 202-452-1940 Website: http://ow.ly/xKR1D ——————————————————————————————————————— Institution: Washington University in St. Louis Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program Minimum GPA Required for Admission: 3.2 Application Requirements: – 500-word essay – Current Resume – 2 letters of recommendation – Official Transcripts (Deadline: May 15th for July 1 application; February 15th for April 1 application) – $35 non-refundable application fee Prerequisite Courses: One college-level course of English Composition (min. grade B), One college-level course of... read more

Post-Baccalaureate Programs Record Enhancer Part 1

Record Enhancer Post-Baccalaureate Programs:  Record enhancer post-bacc programs are listed below in this section.  These post-baccaluareate programs are tailored towards applicants who have already taken the pre-requisite courses as part of their undergraduate education and are looking to take additional courses to improve their academic performance before applying to medical, pharmacy, physician assistant or other health professional schools. To learn more about which post-bacc program is the ideal fit for you, contact us today at 1(888) 839 – 9997 or info@admissionshelpers.com for a free 20 minute consultation! Institution: California State University – Los Angeles Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program for Pre-Health Professionals Minimum GPA Required for Admission: 3.0 Success Rate: 48% Standardized Test Required: No test required Application Requirements: – 2 sets of Official Transcript – Personal Statement – 2 letters of recommendation/evaluation (at least one letter must be from a faculty person) – Official copy of standardized test score (MCAT, DAT, OAT, GRE, etc) – if applicable – Letter of rejection – if applicable – Letter of waiting list status – if applicable – Expanding Opportunities for Pre-health Professionals program cover page – if applicable Prerequisite Courses: General Biology with Lab (1 year); General Chemistry with Lab (1 year); Organic Chemistry with Lab (1 year); General Physics with Lab (1 year); College Mathematics (1 quarter/semester); General Genetics with Lab (1 quarter/semester); Cell Biology with Lab (1 quarter/semester) Linkage Program: Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine. Admission Deadline: May 15th Email Address / Phone Number: healthcareers@calstatela.edu / 323-343-2050 Website: http://ow.ly/xHEXu ——————————————————————————————————————— Institution: California State University, East Bay Pre-Health Sciences Professional Certificate Program Minimum GPA Required for Admission: 2.8... read more