Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan School of Medicine

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan School of Medicine

Congratulations!  You’ve landed the interview!  What’s the best way to prepare for a medical school interview? You should practice. At the very least, you should review common questions and think about how you would answer them. Then you should PRACTICE answering them and do a mock interview with someone who understands the interview process. You should be comfortable discussing your experiences and your motivation for a career in medicine.

Medical schools offer a range of interview types:  traditional (one on one), group interviews (panels of either applicants or interviewers, and sometimes both), or multiple-mini interviews in which hypothetical scenarios are posed.

Here are the most common questions for the traditional interview. Review these to get a good idea as to the types of questions you might be asked: Continue reading

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Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is an interview format spreading with increasing frequency in US medical schools. Started in 2001 at McMaster University in Canada, the MMI has caught on due to studies which have validated its use in predicting medical school students’ performance. Since the MMI seems to be more effective in assessing students’ non-cognitive factors and their future success in medical school, the technique is being adopted at more schools.

The MMI format usually entails a number of stations (usually 6-8) which applicants visit one after the other. The applicant is typically given a few minutes to read a written scenario; she would then enter the room and describe how she would handle the situation. Each station normally takes about 8 minutes to complete; two minutes to read the scenario and 6 minutes to respond to it. The interviewers rate applicants on their handling of the situation. In some cases, “traditional” interview questions may be posed in a few of the scenarios.

What is the best way to prepare for the MMI format?  The following skills are usually assessed during MMI; knowing what’s assessed can help you prepare effectively. Continue reading

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For those interested in global health, there is an upcoming Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale (April 4-5, 2020), which promises to be outstanding. This is one of the largest global health conferences, with many different topics and speakers.

This conference has been held for a number of years and the speakers are engaged in global projects that are compelling. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more and to speak with like-minded individuals about challenges in global health. Visit this website for more information and to register.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

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Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times








Does studying art enhance your observation skills as a physician, thereby allowing you to pick up subtle signs of illness? In recent years, there has been a general acknowledgment that studying art–and fine-tuning the art of seeing–helps medical students hone their skills. More medical schools are incorporating gallery visits and art classes into their curricula in an effort to sharpen students’ observational acuity.

Arts Practica was founded by Alexa Miller to help medical professionals gain more skill in what they see. Arts Practica offers training programs, gallery visits, and classes which encourage med students to “learn to see.”  An article in the New York Times describes a forum that took place at the Museum of Modern Art which convened educators and doctors to discuss teaching strategies in programs melding art with medical education.

An additional article in the Times describes “What Doctors Can Learn From Looking at Art.” A study which found that studying the arts and humanities in medical school promotes empathy was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and referenced in an article on incorporating the arts into medical education. In addition, a study was done at Columbia and Cornell to assess the effect of an observational art course on medical students’ ability to reflect, tolerate ambiguity, and other traits.

Finally, in an article titled “The Art Museum and Medical Education” the author writes about the benefits of having medical students and medical professionals see art and reflect.

More medical schools are adding an arts component to their curriculum, and some examples are below:

Having the opportunity to participate in such classes may help medical students reflect and see more clearly, perhaps providing better care for your future patients. The Association of American Medical Colleges recently had a forum to discuss the arts and humanities in medical education, and the benefits they bring. Another article extols the benefits of art in medical education. And finally, medical educators at Johns Hopkins are developing an app that prompts medical students, residents to look at art to hone their empathy with patients.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Post updated June 19, 2019 and July 11, 2019

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As a premedical advisor and medical school admissions consultant I encourage prospective medical students to read books that will expand their view of the medical profession. Reading literature allows us to better understand the human condition which, in turn, makes doctors better practitioners. In addition, during medical school interviews applicants are sometimes asked about books they have read about the medical profession; interviewers want to know whether the applicant has been curious enough to read about his or her chosen profession.

The books I have selected cover different aspects of the medical profession, from practicing medicine to understanding global health challenges to navigating the complexities of cultural competency. I have compiled a list of helpful books for premed and med students. Out of that list of 38 books, I have chosen 10 as essential reading material:

  1. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  2. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  3. How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
  4. Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande
  5. My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese
  6. Caring for Patients from Different Cultures by Geri-Ann Galanti
  7. Strong at the Broken Places by Richard Cohen
  8. On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  9. The Citadel by A.J. Cronin
  10. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Continue reading

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Gaining admission to medical school in the United States is challenging for non-US citizens, as described in another blog post. Not all schools admit international applicants. As of this writing, these MD schools admit non-citizens:

Boston University School of Medicine

Brown (Alpert School of Medicine)

Case Western School of Medicine

Columbia (Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons)

Duke School of Medicine

Emory School of Medicine

Dartmouth (Geisel School of Medicine)

Georgetown School of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Howard University College of Medicine

Jefferson (Sidney Kimmel Medical College)

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Morehouse School of Medicine

Mt. Sinai (Icahn School of Medicine)

Northwestern (Feinberg School of Medicine)

Penn State College of Medicine

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

St. Louis University School of Medicine

Stanford University School of Medicine

Stony Brook (Renaissance School of Medicine) 

SUNY Upstate

Tufts University School of Medicine

Tulane University School of Medicine

U of California, Davis School of Medicine

UCLA (Geffen School of Medicine)

UCSD School of Medicine

U of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

U of Colorado School of Medicine

U of Connecticut School of Medicine

U of Hawaii School of Medicine

U of Illinois College of Medicine

U of Louisville School of Medicine

U of North Carolina School of Medicine

U of Pennsylvania (Perelman School of Medicine)

U of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

U of Southern California (Keck School of Medicine)

U of Utah School of Medicine

U of Virginia School of Medicine

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Washington University School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine

West Virginia University School of Medicine

Yale School of Medicine

I have extensive experience guiding international applicants through the application process to US medical schools.  Please send me an email at if you have questions about your particular situation.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is a test that is increasingly being used in the medical school admissions process. It is an online exam that assesses an applicant’s situational judgment in various scenarios. According to the organization that administers the CASPer, it “increases fairness in applicant evaluation by providing admissions and selection committees with a reliable measure of traits like professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy.” For more information about why admissions committees find it helpful, read this blog post from the company that administers the CASPer.

Here is the most recent list of MD schools requiring CASPer as part of the admissions process. Please check the CASPer website frequently, as the list of schools changes:


Central Michigan


East Tennessee State (Quillen)

Florida Atlantic



Indiana University

Kaiser Permanente

Medical College of Georgia (Augusta)

Medical College of Wisconsin



Michigan State

New York Medical College

New York University

Northeast Ohio

Rosalind Franklin

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson

SUNY Upstate

Stony Brook (Renaissance)

Temple (Katz)

Texas A&M

Texas Tech


U of Colorado

U of Illinois

U of Miami (Miller)

U of Michigan

U of Mississippi

U of Nevada, Reno

U of North Carolina

U of North Dakota

U of Rochester

U of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

U of Texas, San Antonio (Long)

U of Vermont (Larner)

U of Washington

Virginia Commonwealth

West Virginia U

To get ready for the CASPer, read about the format of the exam and what to expect. Here are tips to help you prepare for the exam, provided by Altus, the company that administers the test. A webinar for those taking the CASPer was held in June 2018. Samples of CASPer scenarios are provided here.  To discuss how best to prepare for the CASPer please contact me via email at

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

Post updated May 22, 2019

Post updated June 7, 2019

Post updated June 14, 2019

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Secondary applications arrive fast and furious soon after the primary AMCAS application is transmitted to the medical schools. It’s important to return secondary applications quickly since an application is not considered complete until the secondary has been received. The suggested time window for returning a secondary application is within two weeks of receiving it. Do the math—if an applicant applies to 20 schools, that’s 20 applications to complete within two weeks, all with several essays to write. Let’s say the average secondary application has three to four essays–that’s 60-80 essays. Writing that many essays in a short period of time obviously creates a tremendous amount of work.

The secondary applications are as important as the primary application; they should be completed carefully and with great care. To streamline the process. many applicants pre-write secondary applications, putting the finishing touches on them when the secondaries are actually released. Bear in mind, as well, that secondary application prompts can change from year to year—so sometimes prewriting a secondary can result in wasted time if an applicant writes an essay that is no longer relevant. But on the whole, secondary prompts do not change from year to year; most usually stay the same.

There are several ways to approach pre-writing secondaries:

  • Look for common themes amongst secondary applications and focus on fleshing out ideas for those topics and prewriting a paragraph or two on each. You can then focus those essays for particular schools, tailoring them to the exact prompt, when you receive secondaries. Common themes can be found in my blog post on common secondary prompts.
  • Do a quick Google search for secondary application prompts and you will easily find them for particular schools. Start writing.
  • Be mindful that some essays can be recycled from one school to another but ONLY WITH GREAT CARE. Always read the prompt for each school carefully—and tailor your response specifically for that school, answering it precisely. Keep in mind each school’s mission and focus is, and tailor your essay accordingly.

If you have questions about secondary applications feel free to reach out to me via email at

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting

Originally posted June 6, 2017 and updated in 2019

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An inescapable fact: medical school is expensive. But for talented students, merit scholarships provide a way to go to medical school for free or for significantly less money. Most medical schools do not provide merit scholarships; most financial aid is need-based. But there are some schools which do provide generous merit scholarships to students who stand above the crowd and will—in the school’s estimation—provide enrichment to both the student body and the school itself. Having advised many students in the past who were awarded such scholarships, I have distilled the traits of these extraordinary students into the following list:

Academic excellence:  Without exception, these students had extraordinary academic records and showed a sustained level of outstanding achievement throughout their education. In other words, they had very high GPAs in both science and non-science coursework (3.7+) and good MCAT scores (generally the 95th percentile or above). They usually had been recognized regionally or nationally through election to organizations such as Phi Beta Kappa.

Humanistic qualities:  These candidates showed, through community service and other volunteer experiences, their deep-seated dedication to others; their dedication to humanity and to serving others was palpable and readily evident in their application materials by the activities in which they had engaged.

Outstanding personal traits: Students awarded merit scholarships were kind, caring, humble, and possessed innate leadership qualities. These traits were echoed repeatedly in the letters of evaluation submitted on their behalf; in other words, these traits resonated across a range of involvements and activities and were cited by those who had either supervised or taught the applicants.

A vision for the future: Applicants awarded merit scholarships had prior experience which informed their future goals. In other words, they envisioned what they would accomplish in the medical profession through their previous medical experiences; as a result, they could articulate in their application materials how they might contribute to the profession in the future. Their goals were inspiring for admissions committees to read about; as a result, committees wanted to draw the students to their schools. Offering a merit scholarship helped them achieve the goal of getting these top candidates to enroll. Continue reading

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The Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai has announced a new initiative which will limit its medical students’ debt to $75K.  The Enhanced Scholarship Initiative will begin with the 2019 entering class. Nationally the median medical student debt is $200K. Listen to details about the program in this informative video.  This comes on the heels of NYU‘s big announcement that it will be tuition free beginning this year.

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consultant

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