UAB's Urgent Care Clinic.

Talk to Your Advisors

Make an appointment now with your pre-health advisor. You advisor will keep you on track with what courses to take when, what seminars and events to attend, career advice, and help you get your portfolio together when you apply. Even as a freshman, it is important to talk with your pre-health advisor.

Make an appointment with Jamie Grimes, your academic advisor in the Chemistry department. Meet with him at least twice a year to stay up to date about opportunities and to create an individualized course plan. You can call him at (205) 934-7529 or send him an email:

Think About Your Portfolio Early, Not Late

Carefully schedule each piece of your portfolio throughout the four or more years of your undergraduate life. This includes:
  • courses that are right for you
  • who will write your letters of recommendation
  • when you will engage in significant shadowing, internship, and/or volunteering activities
  • when you will take your admissions test

Get Experience

Arrange for volunteer work or shadow a health provider. This is very important and cannot be left to junior or senior year. Your first shadowing experiences should be broad. Eventually you will choose an extended, in-depth internship-type experience and can then enroll in CH 297: Clinical Medical Observation for 1 hour of pass/fail credit. To arrange for volunteer work or shadowing, contact your pre-health advisor.

Make Connections

Attend meetings of Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), the Health Preprofessional Honor Society.
AED initiates students with an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.20 and in the sciences — biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics; as well evidence of service activities in the middle of their sophomore year. You can read more about membership on their website. However, all interested students are encouraged to attend the program meetings where much valuable information is offered.

Learn about the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Talk with Dr. Nikles about AMSA — a national professional organization, not an honor society — and visit their website.

Get to know at least two professors each year, not necessarily in science. Show interest in the subject, meet the professor in their office, do extra work, and show enthusiasm. Most professors welcome student interest, especially when the interest is genuine. As a result, at the end of three years when you are preparing your portfolio for your pre-health advisor to forward to the professional schools, you can choose from at least six professors who are willing and able to write strong letters on your behalf.

Prepare for Admissions Tests

Visit the right website.
The AAMC student manual contains all the information you will need in order to understand the Medical Colleges Admissions Test (MCAT). This test is taken more than one year before your intended medical school admissions data and covers the basic sciences and reasoning. It is not a subject test. It is a critical reasoning test. However, you must know your subject. You will need a reasonably high score on the MCAT, OAT, or DAT in order to earn an interview with the school.

Buy a MCAT, DAT or OAT Preparation Book. Yo can find them at university bookstores and most other retail bookstores. You should study the sections that refer to the material covered in courses as you take courses or finish them. This is the material you must know and understand in order to answer the problem, investigation, and description questions that follow the passages on these exams.

Practice your reasoning skills. "Verbal Reasoning" comprises 1/3 of your MCAT score. Start practicing reading fast for comprehension; read essays and high-level non-science material. Some people recommend reading the New York Times every day, and others recommend journals on natural history and other topics. Practice meaningful marking when you read. Take core courses that require critical thinking and a lot of reading. Philosophy 220: Introduction to Symbolic Logic is a recommended course.

Enroll in Chemistry 307 the semester before you plan to take the MCAT, DAT or OAT. This course is an overview of what to expect on these exams, including:
  • what subject science topics are included on the exams
  • what strategies to use in taking the exams
  • how to prepare

Go to CAS Advising Sessions and Seminars

The Pre-Health program offers many helpful sessions and seminars. They give hints, tips, and tools to assist you as you prepare for professional school. Check out the schedule and keep in contact with your advisor so you don't miss one.

Don't Neglect Your Classroom Experiences

Keep your GPA high. This should be a top priority. During the first week of each semester, assess what it will require in each course for you to earn an A. If you believe it will be impossible for you to earn an A, drop the course and add one that is within your range to excel. In some cases, although you strive for an A, you may earn a B. That is okay a little less than half the time. Learn what “study” means if you do not know. Join study groups in chemistry, biology and physics.

Sign up to teach. Plan to apply for a TA position, recitation position, or study group leadership for Chemistry 115-118 or Chemistry 235-238 after you take these courses. You will be teaching. This is the best way to review for the general and organic chemistry sections of the MCAT and other admissions tests.