I recently discussed the college classes that are required by medical schools for admissions. But how does it work with AP classes and medical school admissions?
You have been told for years how wonderful AP credits are and that you should get as many as you can handle while still getting good grades. While this advice can work for some things, medical schools do not like it when college students use AP credits in place of one or more of the required classes for medical school admissions. Why?
There are two problems with the use of AP credits in college for a required class. First, AP courses in high school almost never cover all of the material that is actually covered in a course in college, particularly at highly selective colleges. The MCAT is designed to test your understanding of these basic concepts and if you don’t know, or really understand, the concept, you will not do as well on the MCAT. The second problem is that when you need to understand some basic chemistry, biology, physics or other subject in medical school, you might not understand what is going on because you never studied that concept.
Because of these problems most medical schools have specific requirements that say they will not take an AP credit in place of an introductory course in college. Which means if you have used the AP credit for a basic science course in college, you may not meet the requirements to apply to a particular medical school. You could resolve this problem by taking the basic science course but the knowledge of this restriction often occurs as the student is working on the medical school application. That often results in students missing a year in the application cycle while they take an introductory science course.
Some medical schools will consider the requirement for a basic science course met if the student has a higher level course in the same subject. For instance, if you used AP credit for into to biology, but were a biology major, taking several years of higher level biology, the medical school may not require the basic biology course. But some medical schools will consider you to have not met their basic requirements even in this circumstance. To avoid this problem, don’t use AP credits in place of the courses required by medical schools.
The additional advantage to you in not taking the credit is that the introductory course should be fairly easy for the most part which means you can get a good grade and bolster your GPA. And as you know, strong GPA’s in college are critical to medical school admissions.
If you want to take the AP credit for courses like history and economics that are not required courses for medical schools, no problem. But I strongly discourage you from using those AP credits for courses required by the medical schools.