Purchase the Damn MSAR

The first step is purchasing the AMCAS's Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) and getting the most recent data about admission statistics. It costs $29 which isn't completely unreasonable, given it's gotta cost something to get manage data collection from all of the schools. Could be cheaper though.

Cast a Wide Net to Start

The next step is going through the MSAR and using the "Favorite" functionality to pick a "semi-finalist" group. Go wild here and select up to 50-70 schools--we're going to be whittling this list down soon enough.

MSAR Favorites

Create a Spreadsheet of Metrics from Your MSAR's Favorites

The MSAR's web application is terrible. You can't group, aggregate, sort, or do any type of comparative analysis. Go through your MSAR's favorites and transcribe the information to a spreadsheet, where you can actually do something with the data.

Use Data-Crunching Software to Visualize School Requirements

So, this is a hard step to explain given the technology running under the hood (I used a paid software I already had access to, Qlikview), but you could use MS Excel's charting functionality or free visualization software (maybe google spreadsheets?) The idea generally goes like this:

Use a spreadsheet/analytics software to compare your scores against your 50 to 70 semi-finalists' key metrics like median MCAT, median sGPA, Public-vs-Private, normalized LizzyM Score1 and others.

Qlikview School Semi-Finalists

Choose Your Finalists Wisely

Some key things you want to keep in mind:

  1. Recognize your "reach" schools. The LizzyM normalizes median MCAT/sGPA expectations from schools, but also keep in mind the 10%-percentile limits--stay above them.
  2. Public vs Private is an important distinction for out-of-state applicants (hint: private schools are easier on out-of-state applicants.)
  3. Stay close to the school's LizzyM score. Even for "safety" schools. Remember, a school that you're over-qualified for is going to recognize you're over-qualified and may be skeptical about your willingness to attend the school.

Qlikview School Finalists

  1. If you've taken the new MCAT, you'll need to convert your new score to the old score in order for the LizzyM normalization to work (it equally weights sGPA/MCAT.) Use this chart:

Convert new MCAT score to old score format