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Many applicants do not succeed the first year they apply. In fact, a fairly large percentage of students in each class are successful re-applicants. Generally, admissions offices look at re-application favorably since it shows commitment and persistence on the applicant's part. It strengthens the applicants position that and shows the commitment and interest to become a physician.

There are three main reasons why you may have to re-apply:
1. You weren't prepared sufficiently or your overall application was not strong enough.
2. You applied to too few schools - maybe only the one or two medical schools in your state.
3. You applied only to top schools or the wrong set of schools.

If your application needs improvement

There are some very important considerations before re-applying. If you have done nothing to improve your overall application since the previous year, re-applying to the same schools will most likely do nothing for you. You have to show improvements in your application, by increasing your MCAT score, doing more research, shadowing, etc. You don't have to show improvement in each area, but overall your application should become stronger.

Spend some additional time in a medically related job or volunteer opportunity and do some serious research, for example. Also, if your MCAT was particularly weak, that may warrant some new preparation and retaking the MCAT.

You can read more about retaking the MCAT in our GPA & MCAT discussion.
Also, read more about extra-curricular activities in the pre-med requirements section.

If you applied to too few schools or the wrong schools

Some applicants only apply to 1 or 2 schools. That's a mistake. Although a few applicants still get into medical school by applying to only one or two schools, most applicants are putting themselves at a serious disadvantage if they do this. An average applicant should be applying to at least a dozen schools. Read more about this in our regular application discussion.

Just as it is essential to apply to enough medical schools, it's also important to apply to the right medical schools. If your MCAT, GPA and other parts of your application (extra-curriculars, research, etc) are extremely good, applying mostly to top medical schools will probably be fine. However, most applicants, whether very competitive or not, should have a good mix of schools they are applying to, including some of the less competitive schools.

So, if you're MCAT is a little lower, don't expect to easily get into the top medical schools in the country - although you still might be able to. Apply and re-apply accordingly. You can still include some top medical schools in the mix - and may well have a chance - but be sure to include mostly medical schools that take more average applicants and not just the most elite applicants.

Also, consider applying to more osteopathic (DO) schools if you haven't already. These typically have lower MCAT and GPA requirements, among other things. A good alternative can also be Podiatry schools if you're interested in that. Caribbean schools and other international schools are also an alternative to US medical schools, but be sure to read more about Caribbean and international medical schools and some of the cautions before considering this option.

Check out the different options available in the school considerations section.

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