Career Services

Applying to Medical School

Yale-NUS students interested in a pre-health/med track should fill out this survey as the first step:

Applying to medical school can be a complex, demanding, and competitive process. It is also an opportunity to clarify why you want to enter the healthcare industry.

Slightly less than half of all medical school applicants in any given year are accepted. As such, no single pathway guarantees acceptance into medical school. However, there are certain qualities that successful applicants possess:

  • They engage enthusiastically during their undergraduate education
  • They do well in the required premedical courses
  • They demonstrate accomplishment and leadership outside the classroom
  • They have contact with health professionals, hospitals, and clinics
  • They apply for admission a year or two after graduation

The following information provides guidance from the type of courses you must take in order to be considered for medical school, to advice on topics such as what to do during your summers to be a competitive candidate. CIPE is here to help you prepare for a successful application process to medical school and/or  for a career in healthcare.

Academic Preparation
Beyond the Classroom
Timelines to Consider
Application Process



Choose a major, science or non-science, that interests you and pick challenging courses outside the major that also interest you. There is no premedical major at Yale-NUS. You may major in any subject while satisfying the premed requirements as set by the top medical schools and that will prepare you for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

If you decide to major in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics, some of the courses you take as major requirements will also count as premed requirements. Majoring in science would be required if you wanted to go into the field of medical research or enter a PhD programme.

If you decide not to major in science, it’s best to take 1-2 science courses above the minimum requirements and to avoid taking science requirements over the summers to show medical schools that you can do the workload of medical school.

Premedical Requirements

Medical School and MCATs require:

  • Science courses with labs with letter grades above C
  • At least two semesters each of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and English
  • One semester each of Biochemistry, Calculus, Statistics, Psychology, and Sociology

Students who choose not to complete their science pre-requisite courses during their undergraduate years can complete the requirements in a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Programme before applying. These programmes allow students to complete premed requirements after graduation. They are offered by many institutions and can be found on this list provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).



Accomplishments and leadership outside the classroom are of great interest to medical school admissions committees. It is important to have sustained commitment to a few student-led activities, volunteer work, sports, or other areas of interest. Participate in activities for the genuine interest you have in them and not primarily to impress medical schools.

1. Participation in premed society/student group

2. Internships and volunteering: Volunteering and interning in hospitals, laboratories, clinics, or other health-related organisations can not only help you clarify your career decisions but also show your commitment to healthcare. The summer is an excellent time to participate in internships or lab research.

3. Seminars, workshops, and events



Year 3, Semester 1 Start thinking about the MCAT, take free online practice test, make arrangements for formal prep if needed
Year 3, Late Semester 1 (October – December) Register for MCAT
Year 3, Semester 2 Take the test, if you are dissatisfied with score, register for the next exam, start doing research to find schools that are a good fit for you, visit potential schools
Year 3, Late Semester 2 (March – May) Identify and contact potential recommendations. Make sure they know deadlines
Year 3 Summer Break Retake the MCAT if necessary. Decide your chosen schools complete the AMCA application. If applying through early decision, deadline is August 1. Regular deadlines stretch between now and December
Year 4, Semester 1 If med schools like your candidacy, they will send you their own secondary application. You’ll have some essays to write. Give yourself enough time to revise and to allow someone else to read them. Send thank you notes to your recommenders as a gentle reminder to submit recommendations. Prepare for interviews
Year 4, Semester 2 Acceptances and rejections arrive



The Medical College Admission Test

The Medical College Admission Test is an exam given by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and is required by most medical schools. For all of those who would be entering medical school during or after Fall 2016, you will be taking the new MCAT. The MCAT 2015 Exam will have four sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundation of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundation of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundation of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Each section will be individually scored on a scale of 1-15, similar to the one currently in use. The natural and social sciences sections will have approximately 67 items/questions and you will be given 95 minutes for each section. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will have about 60 items and you will have 90 minutes for this section. The new exam will be about 6.5 hours with a total test time of 7 hours. This will be a 2-hour increase of the current test time of 5 hours. The science sections are organised around large, foundational concepts.Students will have to recall information from various disciplines around these concepts and apply scientific reasoning skills. The science sections are each split around the following three dimensions:

  • Foundational Concepts: The “big ideas” in the sciences that provide the foundation for learning in medical school.
  • Content Categories: The topics and subtopics that are needed to understand foundational concepts.
  • Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills: The inquiry and reasoning skills required to solve scientific problems

The Application (AMCAS and Non-AMCAS)

The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) provides a centralised application service to which most medical schools in the U.S. subscribe to. All applications are done online starting in May and should be completed no later than end of June. As part of the application, you will request an official transcript from the Registrar. Most schools will require students to complete a secondary application after the AMCAS with a fee ranging from $50 – $100. Schools not participating in AMCAS have their own forms which  must be requested via the schools’ websites. Writing a personal statement that is interesting, honest, clearly written, and grammatically correct is an important part of the application process. For more information on writing a personal statement, visit this page. It is recommended that you complete your application earlier than the deadline. The earlier you complete your applications, the earlier they will be considered and the better will be your chances of being accepted. Many schools have a rolling admissions process which means that places are filled as they review and interview applicants. Plan to have all applications, including secondary applications, completed no later than September.

Selecting Medical Schools

Due to competitiveness of medical school admissions, you are encouraged to apply to a larger number of well-chosen schools than when you applied for college. The average number of schools to target is around 15 but no more than 20. Schools to apply to should be based on where you have a reasonable chance of acceptance by taking into account grades and MCAT scores in relation to school’s selectivity.


Interviews are generally conducted from September to March. The percentage of students accepted from interview pool can range from 10% to 40%. You are encouraged to practice and participate in mock interviews with your CIPE advisers. Students should be prepared to travel for these interviews which can be both costly and time consuming.

Early Decision

Schools offer admission by Early Decision with a deadline during the summer. You may submit an application to only one school and wait to hear the school’s decision by October 1 before applying to other schools. There is a risk factor associated with this type of plan and students should consult CIPE before making this decision.