How to Choose a Pre-Med Major

Not sure what the right major for a pre-med is. We’ll break it down on which pre-med majors you should consider choosing.

Choosing a pre-med major—it’s one of the biggest decisions any student has to make. There’s a lot to consider. Of course, you have to cover the prerequisite courses and be prepared to take the MCAT. But what if history, not hematology, stirs your soul? Should you still stick to the sciences?

Biology and chemistry majors cover a lot of the prerequisite courses. But the MCAT also includes subjects like psychology, sociology, and critical analysis and reasoning skills.1 Majors beyond the sciences offer opportunities to develop skills important to a career in medicine as well. So, with all that in mind, the choice of a pre-med major is clear…as mud.

For a little perspective, let’s take a look at the pre-med majors of past medical students. According to data from the AAMC for the 2022-2023 academic year2, there were 31,540 applicants who majored in the biological sciences. Of these applicants, 12,865 matriculated. That works out to a rate of about 41%. 

On the other hand, there were 1,775 applicants with a humanities major, of which 897 matriculated, for a rate of about 51%. The rates for applicant matriculation in the physical sciences and math and statistics were 46% (4,636; 2,151) and 45% (381; 172), respectively.

What do all these numbers mean for selecting a pre-med major? Well, it's important to highlight that the difference in these acceptance rates isn't really due to GPA. In fact, GPAs are pretty consistent between these majors. It seems the real determining factor here is MCAT scores. For instance, while a math or physical sciences major might not necessarily be more naturally attuned to medical school, they might have a knack for scoring higher on the MCAT on average.

So how about humanities majors? Well, since they represent a smaller fraction of medical school applicants, this rarity brings a fresh, diverse perspective to the table. Their undergraduate studies might also provide them with enhanced verbal reasoning and exceptional writing abilities, giving them an edge in the most soul-crushing parts of the MCAT, like CARS and *shudder* writing personal statements. And don't forget, a humanities major might have a deeply personal and unique reason for wanting to pursue medicine, making their journey all the more compelling.

Nevertheless, it seems you can choose the pre-med major that best suits you and still be a competitive applicant with a strong GPA and MCAT score. So, what sparks your curiosity? What subjects do you find most engaging?    

As you consider which undergraduate studies to pursue on your journey to becoming a doctor, it’s helpful to talk with advisors, mentors, and pre-health committee members at your school. They have a breadth of experience helping students meet medical admission requirements while still pursuing an array of unique interests. Older peers, current medical students, and physicians can also be a great resource. 

But if you aren’t sure what your major will be right away, don’t worry. You have time. Take different courses, explore different majors, see which ones you find the most compelling. Maybe you’re thinking about a double major, or a minor, or a concentration in an entirely different field. Your passion and dedication to whatever you choose will make you a standout applicant, even if that passion is for bio and chem—and often, that's more revealing than the subject of your undergraduate studies.

Whatever your pre-med major is, whether it’s biochemistry or philosophy, studying for pre-med courses and preparing for the MCAT is a lot of work. Having the best resources to support you along the way is critical. At Sketchy, we’re here to make learning fun and unforgettable. We’ve even developed a unique approach to help you practice for the CARS section on the MCAT. Try out Sketchy for free today!    


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