Help selecting classes for Pre-Med

I intend on entering the medical field when I get to college. I am going to be a senior, and I have already taken and will take many advanced classes, mostly for pre med. I’ve already taken the following courses:

-Honors Alg 1 through Honors Pre Calc

Honors Biology and Chemistry
AP Chemistry
Honors Physics
Gerontology (Dual enrollment)

Honors English 9 and 10
AP Language (11th grade)

Social Studies:
US History
Honors World History

French and Arabic simultaneously (9th grade)
Honors Arabic (10th grade)

Currently I’m having a difficult time picking between AP Calculus AB or BC and AP Statistics.

While I’m actually quite good at math and consistently achieve As in the subject, I don’t particularly enjoy the subject and Calculus or Statistics is going to be a big step up in comparison to what I’ve already taken.

Additionally, I’m definitely going to be taking AP Biology and AP Psychology next year, but do you think that I should also take AP Literature and/or AP Government with them as well?

These may seem like silly questions but I just transferred from an IB school and the process there is different and much simpler.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

AP Psychology wouldn’t be much of a problem. Calculus is a core Math course and Stat is generally considered an elective. BC Calc is quite involved, so would suggest AB based on what you stated. However, Calculus is not mandatory for Premeds as the MCAT Physics is Algebra based but shows strength on your college apps. Since you already have AP Lang in your bucket, perhaps AP Gov makes more sense from College Credit perspective but the decision also depends on your interest and aptitude.

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The prestige of the undergrad school does matter in the selection process for med school. So I would really think of the decision as how to get in to the best undergrad you can get into. AP Calc BC is the most impressive math course, so I would take that if you can handle it. (AP Calc AB would be an okay substitute. AP Stats definitely not) Also would definitely take AP Lit over AP Gov since it is important to have an English course and you already have a soc science course with AP Psych.

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Thank you so much for the input! But would AP Literature be necessary seeing that I’ve already taken an English course in AP Language?

Yes. You should take an English class every year. In general, you should take a course in science, foreign language, English, Soc studies, and math every year. The rigor of the curriculum is looked at, so the more challenging courses that you can do well in are what you should shoot for. Really do not look ahead to med school but concentrate on getting into undergrad.

@itsallgood123 could you please site the source for this sweeping generalization.

@MrDitkovich21 you will need calculus…


I am a faculty member at a top ten med school and have been a peripheral part of the admissions process some years. For example, someone with a 3.3 from Yale still has a chance of getting in whereas you pretty much have to have almost a 4.0 if you are coming from a midlevel state flagship such as Iowa to have a chance. This is despite the fact that it is likely harder to get the same GPA at a big state school due to less grade inflation.

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That is likely true for your top 10 med schools…but it’s not necessarily true at other medical schools.



Med school admissions has become so competitive across the board. There are no med schools that are easy to get into. By and large, the admissions committees are staffed by physicians who are a very status conscious people as a group.


We’re sort of putting the cart before the horse. The best thing you can do is focus on a school you can afford, and that’s generally flexible. If you like prestige, that’s fine…but if it’s going to require large amounts of co-signed debt, then it’s not affordable, especially when medical school is going to cost you another $300k or more on top of your undergraduate debt.

Also, not all high school graduates with doctor ambitions choose medical school. College is a maturation process, and college is where you find your hidden passions. The average college student changes their major at least twice. I changed mine more times than I can count. That’s why you want to focus on affordable. If you choose a career in business (for instance), $100,000 in student loans will cripple you most of your career.

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What major are you looking to do in college? (Pre-med is not a major) You should be picking your senior year classes with your major in mind foremost.

In general, if math isn’t your strongest topic (due to love or whatever) stick with AP Calc AB. It will give you a good introduction to Calculus - then take Calc again at your undergrad. This will give you a stronger foundation and help your transition from high school to college go easier. That’s important for your GPA - which will be important for med school.

AP Stats can be good pending what major interests you. A good knowledge of statistics is actually valuable for life anyway - moreso than Calc (but Calc is needed for other things). You could do both. It doesn’t have to be Calc or Stats. They are different types of math.

AP Bio is a definite to have if looking for a medical future. AP Psych is good too - and both are also useful for understanding life in general.

AP Lit/Gov’t are up to you, but you will need some English class. Is Public Speaking an option (sometimes called Speech or other names)? That’s super valuable at teaching you how to do presentations or even giving you confidence for interviews. It’s a class I always recommend for students looking to go on in medical or other higher level fields. Several students have thanked me for the recommendation as it wasn’t on their radar.

I’ve been around enough to know students get into med schools from all sorts of undergrads. I’ve seen it happen from small religious schools to Top Whatever schools. There may be a handful of med schools who care - but most seem not to TBH. What will matter is having a high MCAT score, a high GPA, tons of EC’s showing you know about the medical field and are an interesting person, and any major you choose.


Agree with keeping eye on costs. Med school is very expensive, and you certainly do not want to be saddled with lots of debt from undergrad. That said, it is about increasing your chances, and one’s undergrad is a significant factor in the selection process for all med schools. The least selective med school in the country has an acceptance rate below 30% and the vast majority have acceptance rates below 15%. More selective undergraduate schools often have more money and can actually be cheaper to attend overall and people can graduate with less debt. So I stand by what I said that it is important to go to the most selective undergraduate school one can.

In 2019, 53,371 students applied to medical schools. However, only 21,869 of those applicants were accepted into at least one medical school. In other words, 54% of applicants got rejected to every medical school they applied to. Think of the amount of effort lost by these kids. You really want to maximize your chances.


How many medical schools actually weigh the name of your undergrad school in admission (beside the Ivies…we know Ivy grads tend to go to Ivy or similar medical schools).

And except for NYU and Kaiser where there is no tuition cost…where is it cheaper to attend medical school at a top 20 medical school

AP Bio , AP Gov, AP Psych, Arabic 4 (or 3? 3 is a minimum for competitive colleges, 4 is expected for Top schools), Calc AB (as long as you have calc after precalc, you’re good), an English class. For your elective, you can take AP Stats but it’d make for a very demanding schedule, especially since you’re expected to keep up with your ECs which I hope include volunteering.
Apply as a Psych major (not biology, there are too many of them applying, it’s not necessary for med school, and that major has poor ROI.)

I have not seen this at all. I see oodles of students graduate each year from high school going back to 1999 (except this year when I’ve chosen not to work). The students who have been most successful at getting into med school have been those who have gone to schools where their stats (both ACT/SAT and GPA) put them comfortably in the Top 25% of their school. The only exceptions to this are those where “everybody” is in the upper echelon, but most students aren’t in that category.

My theory as to why this happens is because of the foundation differences of students going to college. The entry level classes at different calibers of schools have differing expectations for what students should know coming in. Pre-med is so competitive that “average” students at School X look at their peers, see those who are better prepared, then assume they, themselves, aren’t as “smart.” They may very well be, but that’s not their perception. Put the same student in a class where they are among the most prepared and they often continue to be at the top.

@itsallgood123 You’re looking at things from a different perspective. You’re seeing kids who have done well and are applying to a Top Whatever med school. Most students - even future doctors - aren’t in that group. Roughly 40% do make it in somewhere, and those who do are most often those in the top of their undergrad class. A student ought to go to a school where they can realistically have a chance to be in that top, not where they will be weeded out freshman year simply by comparing themselves to their classmates. For some that will be top schools (as decided by a magazine or label). For others it will be really good schools. And some who go to really good schools can still make it into a Top Whatever med school, but even if it’s “just*” their state med school, they will still come out as a doctor. I’ve seen students get about a 27 ACT or 1200 ish SAT make it into med school. They didn’t have to go to a Top 100 undergrad.

  • This hardly means a “bad” med school. All med schools turn out doctors and graduates will go on to residencies for their training, etc.

I think that there is very little difference between med schools. The curriculum is largely the same. An MD is an MD. Very different from law schools where it makes a huge difference where you go. My point is that all med schools are very hard to get into. If only 40% get into med schools (likely worse now since more people are doing premed in the COVID era), what happens to the 60% who do not? They have spent 4+ years of hard work for no benefit. I have seen this happen to some kids I know, and it can be devastating. That is why it’s important to present the best application one can, and one’s undergraduate institution is an important factor. Grades and MCAT are more important as well as demonstrated interest/service in medicine. However, where one went to undergrad is very important, both in terms of prestige (doctors, who are heavily involved on admission committees, are former pre-meds and influenced by prestige) and institutional support for research opportunities and premed counseling.

Take AP Stat, for sure. It’s much easier than Calc BC. It is NOT a step up from honors precalc. It’s easier. Calc AB is good, but an admissions committee at highly selective colleges would consider that a step below Calc BC. I’m a physician, and to this day I regret not having taken college statistics.

AP Bio and AP Psych are a great idea. AP Bio is a lot of work, but it will make it easier for you to get an A in Bio in college. I’d take the AP Lit just for the joy of it - for enrichment, and writing. You’re going to have to have a year of college English to apply to med school. Either the two AP English courses will fulfill that, or you’ll have become a better writer (important) and be better able to get an A in a college English class. I’m assuming that you have to take a mandatory Gov class - might as well be AP to learn more, and to look better on your college application. Even with an early action application, colleges consider the rigor of what you’re taking as a senior. So go ahead - AP Gov, AP Lit, AP Bio, AP Psych, AP Stat, and if you can continue the Arabic, you definitely should.

Oh, and continue the Arabic, even if you have to take it at a nearby college. It will WOW admissions committees for both college and med school, unless you’re someone who immigrated at an older age from an Arabic speaking country, in which case they’d see it for what it is - getting credit for taking your native language as a foreign language. Believe it or not, if you keep up the Arabic, it will help you get into medical school, too. Med school admissions committees like people who are NOT the usual Bio and Biochem majors that they see tons of applications from. If you were to major in Middle Eastern languages, and have straight A’s in your premeds, a high GPA, and a great MCAT, you’d be a very attractive med school applicant.

Getting into med school is challenging. It does help to be applying from a prestigious college. They’ll take someone with a 3.5 from an Ivy, but from a third tier school, you need a higher GPA. So your best step toward med school, or anything else you might want to do, is to get into the best college you can.

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Every pre-med student needs a Plan B - no exception. This is due to the low acceptance rate to med school. Having the Caribbean as Plan B is a bad idea. My lad’s in the residency process now and there’s an informal site keeping track of interviews, selections, and more for his specialty (I think all specialties have one). Those coming from non-US schools are having a much rougher go at even getting interviews. He feels sorry for them.

Choosing one’s major based upon Plan B is a good idea most of the time - the only time it isn’t is if it would lead to a lower GPA. A big key is picking something you like.

I’d have a tough time recommending any pre-med student encounter Calculus for the first time freshman year of college. Transitioning to college can be tough enough by itself, much less adding what’s likely to be a hard math class. Every student who has come back and shared with me (not just pre-meds) has said that seeing Calc in high school before having the class in college was very worthwhile. Most of our students do AB or DE (which is easier at our school), only a couple - usually engineer wannabies - choose BC. If you’re aiming for a Top 20 undergrad, going AB might hurt - but it might not too. We’ve had students successfully get into U Penn and Cornell with “just” AB.

I’ll go ahead and post the University of Rochester’s Class Profile again. It shows the undergrad schools their students come from and it’s a template so one can change the year or search for other years and see the changes/similarities over the years. It’s a pretty wide range. I expect most med schools are similar allowing for regional differences (similar level schools at most med schools).

Both my lad and one of his best friends went the pre-med route. My guy went to a Top 30 national U. His friend went to a Top 30 regional U. Both got into med school on their first try. My guy liked his undergrad experience better because his school offered tons of research opportunities among other things, but his friend’s school was free for him due to scholarships, so no debt and a lot of savings. Both were comfortably in the Top 25% (probably 10%) at their undergrad (my guy had better scores from high school). Regardless both made it into med school and both will be doctors. Go where you fit (scores, finances, etc) and do well. Be someone the school would want to write about in their profile if they wrote one.

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I truly appreciate your response :smiley:

I actually have already completed a “Fundamentals Of Public Speaking” class this fall semester and am currently taking a communications studies class this semester at a nearby community college.

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Thank you so much for your in-depth response! I’ve decided on taking AP Calculus AB, AP Psychology, AP Biology, and AP Government just to make room for extracurricular activities.

I’ve always had a passion for History (along with Biology) but as of now I’m planning on majoring in History seeing that I’m already going to be taking a lot of Biology. Not only that, but I believe that it will help me stand out from other Medical School applicants.

Again, thank you so much for the input and I’m going to check out the PDFs that you graciously provided now.

One more thing, if you don’t mind me asking; what did your son and his friend major in?

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