Pre-Medical Program

The Almighty GPA

Some students have the misconception that it is essential to have a GPA (grade point average) of 4.0 or nearly 4.0 to have any chance of being accepted into a medical school. In fact the average GPA of those accepted into the Loma Linda University School of Medicine has been around 3.6 for several years. (Many medical schools have similar data.) Since this is an average, it is obvious that many applicants are accepted in the 3.5 range, and some even lower. Medical schools are looking for people with above-average academic ability. (The average grade given in most college classes is a "B" or "B-".) It is essential that a pre-medical student establish a good academic record so the Medical School Admission Committee has some confidence that the applicant is qualified academically. They are not at all anxious to accept an academically marginal student and subject him or her to the rigors and intense competition found in medical school.

On the other hand, even a 4.0 GPA is no assurance that a student will be successful in medical school and competent as a physician. Usually the overall and science GPAs are computed separately. Both of these should be above average. (Remember the average college grade is closer to a "B" than a "C.") It is important that a student's record be consistent. The "roller coaster" effect (grades which are high one term and low the next) does not favorably impress an admissions committee; neither does all "A's" in chemistry, biology, and physics and "C's" in social and behavioral sciences, or vice versa.

If a student has a poor freshman and/or sophomore year, it may be impossible to reach a competitive GPA, even with excellent junior and senior years. Most medical schools will consider such an applicant, but he/she will be competing with many others with three years of good records. (Acceptances are made during the senior year, so the Admissions Committee usually sees only three-year transcripts.)