With the chances of being accepted into med school dwindling year by year, many aspiring doctors are wondering if their application has the right competitive edge. For those students who are unsure of where they stand in this sea of scholars, we can help. Here at Tutor the People, we strive to simplify the daunting transition to med school and ensure that you are on your perfect path to becoming a doctor. For those aspiring med students who don’t know where to start, we plan on easing concern by discussing two very important options that are frequently overlooked: the details of taking and re-taking the MCAT and whether to become an MD or a DO.

As everyone knows, a high MCAT score is the most crucial component of any application, since admissions councils look to a student’s MCAT scores to prove that they are capable of comprehending the material at hand and being a competent doctor. A score in the 80th percentile or higher can be invaluable to med school acceptance. However, there is no need to fret over a non-competitive MCAT score, as the test can be taken multiple times. Current rules of the Association of American Medical Colleges dictate that the MCAT can be taken 3 times in the first year of the first attempt, four times within that year and the following year, and seven times in total. Some schools only consider the average of all the attempts and not simply the most recent score, therefore it’s important to set aside at least two months of daily study for your MCAT prep. Plan to study often and intensely, as if you’re a soldier strategizing for battle and the stakes are high. As MCAT preparation is an all-consuming task, it can be helpful to utilize visualization techniques: remember the reasons you want to be a doctor and picture yourself performing medicine, happy and fulfilled. Another option is to use a personalized MCAT tutoring service, such as Tutor the People, whose tutors have scored in the 94th percentile or higher. There is no greater resource than guidance from an experienced and knowledgeable professional.

As we discussed, the chief indicator of a strong application is the combination of an MCAT score that is at least in the 80th percentile, and a cumulative and science GPA above a 3.5. Since this is the first facet of an application that most admissions teams will review, the question of whether to pursue a MD or DO for medical school becomes pertinent, primarily because DO schools put less emphasis on the MCAT score. As of today, there are three times more MD schools than DO schools and most “top tier” schools teach MD medicine, which can equate to more prestige for those practicing MD medicine. An important distinction is that DO schools place a higher emphasis on patient- doctor interactions, holistic medicine, and preventative medicine. DO’s usually gravitate towards fields of medicine where they spend more time with patients. The MD degree, on the other hand, places a higher emphasis on science and the more technical aspects of medicine. DO can be a great fit for someone with high emotional quotients who is more concerned with the social impact of medicine than the purely intellectual. It is an equal degree in all crucial manners. As DO doctors are fully licensed in all states, this may be the answer for a student who is struggling with meeting the crucial 80th percentile on the MCAT.

Very few people have come this far in their education to be preparing a med school application. This application marks the beginning of a monumental journey in a uniquely exceptional student’s life. Medical school is for those with grit and determination, where only the best persevere on to become doctors. Medical school can either be an excited time in a student’s life, where they center themselves in their identity as scholars and future doctors, or an incredibly stressful time filled with unanswered questions and uncertainty. Tutor the People wants you to be as prepared and knowledgeable about your options and choices as possible.