The following information is prepared primarily as a planning guide for the first year premedical student.
Most medical schools specify prerequisite courses that students must complete before starting medical school, and even the medical schools that have no formal prerequisites often recommend particular undergraduate courses to their applicants. Note that many medical schools are currently reconsidering their prerequisite courses, and that the 2016 application cycle, which begins in May 2015, may see particularly large changes. For this reason, students should pay close attention to the websites of the medical schools that interest them. Briefly, in order to be prepared to apply to the Virginia medical schools, a William and Mary student should plan to take all of the courses needed for the 2015 MCAT plus two semesters of calculus, two semesters of English, and BIOL 310: Molecular Cell Biology.
Recommended Courses at William and Mary
The William and Mary courses that cover the science and social science concepts to be tested on the new version of the MCAT are the following courses, in which linked lecture and lab courses are designated as lecture/lab:
Introductory biology: BIOL 220/BIOL 221 and BIOL 225/BIOL 226; BIOL 302 covers the physiology concepts that will be tested on the new exam; so does KINE 304.
General chemistry: CHEM 103/CHEM 103L and either CHEM 308/354 or CHEM 305/356
Organic chemistry: CHEM 206/206L and either CHEM 209/353 or CHEM 307/353
Biochemistry: CHEM 414 (this can also be taken as the cross-listed BIOL 414)
Introductory physics: PHYS 101/101L and 102/102L or PHYS 107/107L and 108/108L (Note that Chemistry and Physics majors must take Physics 101/101L and 102/102L)
Introductory sociology: SOCL 250
Introductory social psychology: PSYC 202
Statistics: according to the AAMC, the statistics content that is usually covered in the introductory biology, chemistry and physics courses will be tested by the new MCAT. Students who want to be certain that their statistics background is strong should take a statistics course before taking the exam. Either MATH 106, PSYC 301, KINE 394, or BIOL 425 would be fine.
PLEASE NOTE: All courses taken to satisfy admissions prerequisites must be passed with a grade of C or better. Pass/fail grades cannot be used.
The Undergraduate Major:
Feel free to develop any major area of interest, while recognizing that medical schools are most concerned with the quality of work accomplished. All premedical students must take the courses that are required by the individual medical schools to which they will apply, and in addition, all premedical students must master the material that is tested on the MCAT. One should keep in mind, however, that medicine is taught as a scientific discipline, and prospective medical students must prove that they have ability in science, especially the life sciences. Therefore, students who major in a discipline outside of the sciences will face fewer challenges in their medical school basic science courses if they take additional advanced biology or chemistry courses (please consult the premed advisor about appropriate strategies).
The AAMC is conducting a review of the MCAT and has announced major changes to the exam that will be implemented after January 2015. Some premeds in the Class of 2014, many premeds in the Class of 2015, most premeds in the Class of 2016, and all premeds in the Class of 2017 will end up taking the new version of the exam.
Even the students who will not be taking the new version of the exam should strongly consider taking the courses listed below: given that the medical schools have identified the concepts covered by the new exam as important, mastering these concepts before starting medical school would be wise.
The AAMC has indicated that the new version of the exam will have four sections:
1. Molecular, Cellular and Organismal Properties of Living Systems
2. Physical, Chemical and Biochemical Properties of Living Systems
3. Social and Behavioral Sciences Principles
4. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
Applicants to medical school must take the MCAT, the nationally administered admissions test. This is normally done at the end of the third academic year. Because biology, chemistry, and physics serve as the backbone of this exam, students should complete (or be currently enrolled in the final semester of) all of the required biology, chemistry and physics by that time.
You are urged to schedule an appointment with the undersigned sometime during your first semester. This meeting will allow you and your premed advisor to review your career goals and academic interests. You should also plan to visit the Career Services Library (Sherman & Gloria H. Cohen Career Center) to review the extensive career information found there, including information on summer internships and Williamsburg area medical externships.
[[btsher, Dr. Beverly Sher]]
Health Professions Advisor
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology
Handouts for pre-medical students are available here.