General Requirements for Professional Schools
All professional schools require applicants to have competitive GPA's (generally 3.4 or better), a high score on the entrance test, demonstrated care for others, and experience in the profession (through internships, shadowing, work, or volunteer service).
Though many students major in Biology, Sports Medicine, and Chemistry, there is no single best major to be competitive for professional school. Students should find a major they love and do well in it.
- 1 year each of Biology (with lab)
- General Chemistry (with lab)
- Organic Chemistry (with lab)
- Physics (with lab)
Other courses may be required by specific schools; check their web sites for additional prerequisites. Recommended courses are Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Genetics, Histology, Embryology, and Microbiology.
Additionally, courses in other departments on campus (Psychology, Sociology, English) may not offer specific information that will aid in preparation for the MCAT or other admissions test, but do offer additional perspectives that will not only help you grow academically, but allow you to become more attractive to professional schools. Students are encouraged to read as much as they can – in all disciplines – to increase their competitiveness for professional school.
Medical Colleges Admissions Testing (MCAT): http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/start.htm
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardized, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to the examinee's knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine.
Scores are reported in each of the following areas: Verbal Reasoning, Physical Sciences, and Biological Sciences. Fifteen points are possible in each category. A writing sample is also obtained during the test and is scored on a letter scale.
Dental Admissions Test (DAT): http://www.ada.org/prof/ed/testing/dat/index.asp
The Dental Admission Test (DAT) is conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) and has been in operation on a national basis since 1950. The Dental Admission Test is administered on computer on almost any day of the year. The testing program is designed to measure general academic ability, comprehension of scientific information, and perceptual ability. The test consists of four sections: a survey of natural sciences (90 minutes), perceptual ability (60 minutes), reading comprehension (60 minutes), and quantitative reasoning (45 minutes). Scores used in the testing program range from 1 to 30. There are no passing or failing scores; the standard score of 17 typically signifies average performance on a national basis.
Optometry Admission Test (OAT): http://www.opted.org/info_oat.cfm
The Optometry Admission Test (OAT) is a standardized examination designed to measure general academic ability and comprehension of scientific information. The OAT consists of four tests: Survey of the Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry), Reading Comprehension, Physics and Quantitative Reasoning. Scores range from 200 to 400 with 300 the national average.
The GRE General Test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that have been acquired over a long period of time and that are not related to any specific field of study. Three scores are reported on the General Test: a verbal reasoning score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments, a quantitative reasoning score reported on a 200-800 score scale, in 10-point increments, and an analytical writing score reported on a 0-6 score scale, in half-point increments.
The GRE Subject Tests gauge undergraduate achievement in eight specific fields of study and can help forecast a candidate's potential for success in graduate school. Each Subject Test is intended for students who have majored in or have extensive background in that specific area. One total score is reported on a 200-990 score scale, in 10-point increments, although the score range for any particular Subject Test is usually smaller. Subscores are reported for the Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology Tests on a 20-99 score scale, in 1-point increments, although the range for any particular Subject Test subscore is usually smaller.
The General Test is the more commonly accepted test for veterinary schools.
It is important to stay well rounded in spite of your difficult load of classes. Become involved in organizations on-campus and in the community. Students should especially volunteer for service activities through campus and church organizations and keep records of activities (dates, number of hours, responsibilities, etc.).
Professional schools also require clinical and/or research experiences. Below are a few opportunities at and around Samford.
Research Opportunities: http://www.samford.edu/schools/artsci/ugradresearch.html
Volunteer clinical programs at local Birmingham hospitals:
- St. Vincent's Hospital: http://www.stv.org/volunteer/positions.asp
- Brookwood Medical Center: http://www.bwmc.com/cwscontent/brookwood-medical/ourservices/communityservices/volunteerservices%20.htm
- Baptist Health System: http://www.baptistmedical.org/foundation/volunteering.asp
- UAB Health System: http://www.health.uab.edu/Default.aspx?pid=3972
- Children's Health System: http://volunteer.chsys.org/