Pre-Health FAQs

The Pre-Health Office

Where is the Pre-Health Office? 

We are located in Furst 107A in the Advising Office.    

Why should I meet with a Pre-Health Advisor?

As with the other General Advisors, the goal of the Pre-Health Advisor is to help you succeed in your future career. The Office is available to answer your questions at any point in your YU experience, from selecting courses as a freshman to submitting your application in your junior year.

How do I arrange an appointment with the Pre-Health Advisor?

You can schedule an appointment online with the Pre-Health Advisor (or any other advisor) at https://yuacad.mywconline.com/. Be sure to select L. Wood-Hill Pre-Professional Advising from the pull-down menu.

How often should I see the Pre-Health advisor? 

At least once a semester and of course anytime you feel you need guidance or support.    

My classes schedule is very tight. Will someone be able to see me late in the day? 

Yes. The advisor can see students up until 4:30 PM on Mondays through Thursdays, but you can also send an email if you are pressed for time. 

The First Steps

What should I be doing as an underclassman to ensure the strongest application to medical or dental school?

The key to the whole process is to START EARLY! In your freshman and sophomore years, you should be taking the required courses for medical and dental schools, as well as volunteering or shadowing. As you approach your junior and senior years, medical students should be conducting either bench or clinical research as well. More information is available on this website in “Starting Your Pre-Health Career.”

What is a science GPA?

Medical and dental schools look at both your overall GPA and your science GPA (BCPM) which consists of all your grades in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math. (Dental schools do not include math in their science GPAs.) You can calculate your science GPA using https://www.yu.edu/registrar/students

What GPA do I need to be competitive for medical or dental school? 

The average BCPM GPA for MD medical schools in the tri-state area has been 3.7 for accepted students.  For DO schools in the Northeast, the average BCPM has been 3.5 for accepted students

The average BCPM GPA for dental schools 3.3 or higher.

Individual medical and dental programs list their minimum requirements on their school’s website.

How Do You Get That A- or B+ Average?
Science Grades below "A-" for Students Admitted to US Medical Schools over the Past Four Years   
Successful Matriculated Medical Student Profile  

What scores do I need on my MCAT/DAT?

MEDICAL: If you are applying to medical school the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is the test you will take. The average MCAT score for accepted students in 2018 was a 509 with at least 125 in every section. However, schools in the tri-state region have significantly higher scores for accepted students (512 and above with 128 in each section). There is a chart published by the AAMC that gives acceptance rates based on GPA and MCAT scores. The average for Einstein is 516.

DENTAL: Students applying to dental school take the Dental Admissions Test (DAT). The DAT tests your knowledge of Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading, and Math. Physics is required to enter dental school, but it is not tested on the DAT. For 2015 the accepted student scores had an average of 20 on the DAT (with no less than 18 on any individual section). Top schools such as Columbia and UPenn had significantly higher scores for accepted students. 

Besides coursework, what other factors to medical and dental schools look at?

When you apply, your numbers (GPA and MCAT/DAT scores) are considered very closely by the programs. However, medical and dental schools also look for a host of other traits such as responsibility, integrity, teamwork, and cultural competence which can be show through your outside activities such as extra-curriculars and volunteering. Please consult the link for “What Medical and Dental Schools are Looking For” for more information.

I am not sure I want to be a doctor. What other doctoral programs in the health field are available to me? 

Medical and dental schools aren’t for everyone. You can be an optometrist, a podiatrist, a physical therapist or a pharmacist. These are all doctoral level programs. The Pre-Health Office can discuss your other options, or you can find more information on alternative health care careers explorehealthcareers.org/en/home or Your Options.

Coursework

What are the courses I need to focus on for pre-medical or pre-dental track?

No matter which major you chose, there are many courses in both the medical and dental track that you need to take in order to pass the MCAT/DAT and to meet the program’s requirements. Click for medical or dental for specific courses.

Should I take biology and chemistry together? 

If you were a strong student in science and have AP credits for biology and chemistry, you should be able to manage both of these courses at the same time. However, you should be sure that you have the time needed to complete both courses with excellent grades 

I want to take some of my science courses in the summer. Is this advisable? 

It is not advisable to do more than one science course in a summer for the length of your college career. One reason is that you will find it difficult to retain the information you’ve studied over the summer as the time period of the classes is truncated. A more important reason is how schools view these courses. Health professions schools will judge your application based on how competitive your schedule is and how well you’ve done in science courses. If you are a B+ student in your sciences and get two A’s in summer school, schools will assume you are only capable of B+ work. 

What course should I begin with if I don’t speak English well? 

The first thing is to contact the ESL advisor, Professor Silbermintz at silbermi@yu.edu. Your first courses should allow you to practice reading and writing extensively as these skills will be needed in order to successfully manage the standardized exams required of ALL health professions schools. Math courses tend to be easier to manage while learning a new language so completing your one year of math would be a good use of your time.   

Letters of Recommendation

Why do I need letters of recommendation for medical and dental schools?

After reviewing your GPA and MCAT/DAT scores, medical and dental schools like to see the “person behind the numbers.” The recommendations provide an objective view of your strengths in a variety of academic or non-academic settings. Talk to your professors!

How many letters do I need?

Basically, medical school applicants require seven letters and dental school applicants require four. (Please consult the chapter on Letters of Recommendation for more details.) But these are the MINIMUM number of letters. More is better. You should request letters from ALL your volunteering and extracurricular activities are well.

Where are the letters sent?

The letters should be sent to the Pre-Health Office either by regular mail or as a pdf attachment via email to beaudrea@yu.edu. The letters must be SIGNED and on LETTERHEAD.

When should I ask for these letters?

When you begin an activity or class, you should mention to your professor or supervisor that you are in the Pre-Health track and would like a letter of recommendation. You do NOT have to wait until your junior year to request letters. You can have them sent to the Pre-Health Office at any point and we will keep them until you are ready to apply.

Always plan ahead and ask for letters early since professors may retire, move on to other jobs, be on sabbatical, or otherwise be difficult to reach when you are ready to apply.

Who should I ask for letters?

For faculty, you should ask from professors whom you know well and have developed a relationship with. Please note that many professors request a background essay or face-to-face meeting before they write this letter. Others only write for students who have taken more than one class with them. You must abide by whatever rules the professors set.

For outside activities and extra-curriculars, you should ask from someone you worked closely with who can speak to the issues the medical and dental schools are looking for such as reliability, dependability, and teamwork.

I don’t have a lot of professors that know me well enough for a letter of recommendation. Can I just ask for letters from other people? 

You MUST have at least three letters of recommendation from science and/or math faculty. Take your resume and transcripts to them and ask for a one to one meeting so you can give them information they need to write a letter on your behalf. 

You should plan ahead so that you are not searching for recommenders as you approach the application cycle.

How do I know when a letter has arrived at the Pre-Health Office?

During your underclassman years, you can email Ms. Beaudreau (beaudrea@yu.edu) at any point to check to see if a letter has arrived. As you enter the application cycle, she will send weekly updates.

Preparing for the MCAT or DAT 

When should I take the MCAT/DAT?

Most applicants take the MCAT or DAT in January, March, April, May or June of the year they apply in their junior year. Naturally taking the test earlier is better. If you find you will not be able to take the test until late summer or fall of the year you apply, you should consult with the Pre-Health Advisor to discuss your options.

Should I take a test prep course? 

Test prep courses are expensive and often require classroom time you may be unable to spare. However, if you are someone who needs outside pressure to get your work done a test prep program may be worth the money.  It is a personal decision that each applicant must consider.

Why do I have to release my scores to the Pre-Health Advisor? 

Your test scores are an important part of your application. The Pre-Health advisor is not being nosy! By releasing your scores to our office, you afford us an opportunity to help you make an informed decision about what you should be doing. We do not share the scores with others. We do not use the scores to rate you or compare you to other YU students. However, if a health professions school contacts us about your application we need to know what your scores are so we might address any concerns the schools may have. 

My test scores are bad. Should I apply anyway? 

Your test scores are the biggest factor in the admissions process. If you have bad or even marginal scores your chances of success are greatly diminished. Before spending a lot of money on an application you should try and retake the exam and improve upon your performance. There is no substitute for a poor score. 

The Application Process

When do I apply to medical or dental school programs?

You apply to medical and dental schools during the spring of your junior year or, if you are considering take a year off, you can apply the summer you graduate from YC.

How long is the application process?

It is an 18-month process from the time the online applications open in June until you matriculate to the program the following fall. This includes submitting your application, completing secondary applications, interviewing, and making your final decisions.

What are AMCAS and AADSAS?

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS),  AADSAS (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service) and ACCOMAS (The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) are the clearinghouses which administer the online applications. Foreign and Israeli schools have individual applications and may require additional fees.

 What are the various parts of the application?

The actual online application is only one part of the complete application. It also includes transcripts from each post-secondary school you’ve attended, the Committee Letter, as well as every MCAT or DAT score.

What is the verification process?

Once you submit your online application, it does not go directly to the medical or dental programs. AMCAS, AADSAS and ACCOMAS take approximately six weeks to confirm all your grades and process your test scores and committee letter. They only send COMPLTETED applications to the medical or dental schools.

Why must I get copies of all transcripts when transfer courses are listed on my YU transcript? 

Students must have on file any transcripts for schools they have attended other than YU. These courses may be listed on your transcript but your professional schools will want each individual transcript from every American or Canadian school you’ve attended. We need them as well in the event there is a problem or discrepancy that needs to be addressed. Your Israeli transcripts are not needed

What should I do to avoid the stresses that I see others going through when they apply? 

The key to reducing the stress of the applying is to prepare ahead of time.

  • Students should begin preparing their files at least a year before they take their professional school exams. 
  • Make sure you’ve kept up with asking about letters of recommendation or evaluations. Check your file once a semester to see if your requests have actually arrived in our office.    
  • Collect reading/study material you will need to prepare you for these tests. Update your resume every semester.   
  • File for your Committee letter well before the stated deadline; we will assign people on a first come, first served basis. If you wait too long and we are unable to provide a letter for you schools will ask WHY! Letting schools know that you missed important deadlines that impacted on your ability to get a letter from us will certainly harm your application.  

I noticed that most medical schools have application deadlines in the fall, but HPA tells us that we should apply in June. Why is this?
(Question and answer provided by Princeton University.)

A: With less than 40% of applicants getting into medical school nationally, it isn’t as simple as taking the classes, applying, and being accepted. We try to set you up for the best shot at getting in the first time because it’s stressful, time-intensive, and expensive to go through the application process. We will support anyone whenever they choose to apply, but we feel that you’re best served by going through the application process once, when you feel confident that you can meet your goals and move forward.

Of course, we can’t 100% predict who’s going to get into medical school in any given year. There are way too many schools and way too many factors at play. But, based on data and our own experience, we do know that there are certain actions that applicants can take to optimize their chances and one is to apply earlier rather than later in the application year. The application can be submitted on or around June 5 and our advice is to aim to submit within around two weeks of that opening date. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. There is a significant lag time between the time that you submit your common application and the time that arrives at schools (due to processing time that you can’t control). Applying earlier will reduce that lag time and give you the chance to get evaluated, interviewed, and accepted earlier.
  2. Many schools operate on rolling admissions policies. This means that they will start letting students in early and will continue to do so until they have filled their class. The earlier you’re in the applicant pool, the more shots you have at getting one of those acceptances.
  3. Schools that don’t operate on rolling admissions still offer interviews over a set range of dates with the bulk of interviews in early September through early January. Based on our data from recent years, about 50% of interview invitations went out in August and September, and only about 20% in December and later. So if you submit your application in November, you’re vying for fewer interview slots than those who had applied earlier.
  4. Applying early reflects well on your professionalism: it can give the impression that you were well organized, punctual, managing your time well, and committed to the application process. Applying right at the deadline could give the impression, whether it’s true or not, that you were unsure of your candidacy or your interest in medicine, or otherwise unprepared to apply.
  5. Knowing you’ve done everything you can do to apply early can give you a sense of control in a process where you often don’t feel in control.

The Committee Letter

What is the Committee letter? 

Your Committee letter is an extensive letter from the Pre-Health Advisor comprised of comments made by faculty, lab instructors and recitation instructors here at YU when they write a letter on your behalf. Your letter will also contain any letters of recommendations you may receive from outside of the school. This is in ADDITION to the mandatory 1-hour meeting with the Pre-Health Advisor in which the applicant’s background, motivations and experience are discussed in depth. The comments made in all of these letters are the “meat and potatoes” of your Committee letter. Too few comments will make your letter weak and ineffective. This is turn will translate into no interviews! You are responsible for gathering these letters together! 

How many letters do I need for a Committee letter? 

See section on Letters of Recommendation.

I have several letters that are going to be coming in from a variety of places. I am worried that they will be lost or delayed. Are there any services I can use that will store and send these letters to your office? 

See section on Letters of Recommendation.

Why do I have to have an interview with the Pre-health advisor? 

The more personalized the Committee letter, the more useful it is to the Admissions Offices at medical and dental schools. The Pre-Health Advisor meets with you to gain information not learned from the autobiographical packet and to provide you with practice on answering questions in an interview setting and to complete a highly personalized Committee Letter which basically introduces the applicant to the Admissions Committee of the schools they select.

What happens once I’ve completed all of the above? 

Once we have your autobiographical packet and you’ve met with the Pre-Health advisor, a letter is written and transmitted after you have submitted your online application. The letter is then finalized and ready to be sent via mail or electronically. 

How soon will my letter be ready after the interview with the advisor? 

It will take several weeks to finish your letter. It has to be written, discussed, and then final revisions are made. Once the letter comes back to our office in its final stage we will upload the letter to the appropriate service. 

Is there a fee for sending my letters? 

No, Yeshiva does not charge you a fee for the letter service. 

General

What is the Pre-Health Listserv?

The Pre-Health Listserv is an important source of information for both medical and dental students to keep up-to-date on events, volunteer opportunities and other information. You should join the listserv early in your freshman year by emailing beaudrea@yu.edu.

I want to do my volunteer work in Israel. Is this acceptable? 

While volunteer work in any other country is valid, American medical schools would like to see prolonged service (at least 150 hours) in an American institution. Remember, in order to get into the schools of your choice you have to be a “unique” individual, someone whom medical schools will want to diversify their class. Experiences that are done by everyone else at YU will not give you an opportunity to “shine.”    

With the dual curriculum my grades are not as strong as they could be. Will my health professions schools take this into account? 

It is a buyer’s market! Schools have many students they can choose from. If your grades are subpar you are likely to be rejected. You should work on getting a solid “A” average in your science/math courses for at least one complete year at YU. And you should be sure to take several upper division courses in biology or chemistry to show you are capable of the workload you will have as a medical/dental student. 

I just decided that I’d like to go to medical school and I am a senior. What are my options?

You can stay at YU and complete the required courses needed. (More information on the required courses is available on this website in “Starting Your Pre-Health Career.”) Or you can apply to formal post-baccalaureate programs.    

What is required from a post baccalaureate program and where are they located? 

Postbacc programs allow you to complete all of the science and math requirements you need for your health professions career. They will provide you with academic guidance, course selection and scheduling information as well as write a letter on your behalf when you apply. Completing the work at YU will allow you to stay in an area you are familiar with, but some of the postbacc programs may be better suited to your personal circumstances. Each has its own set of admission criteria and deadline dates.  In NYC there are four major programs:

  • Columbia
  • NYU
  • City College
  • Hunter
  • New York Medical College
  • NY COM
  • Lehman 
  • Adelphi

 

Updated: September 2019