Short FAQ for high school students thinking pre-med, college / dual enrollment courses, and AP and IB courses / tests

Q: As a high school student considering doing pre-med in college, what should I know about taking college (including dual enrollment) courses while in high school and AP and IB courses and tests?

A: When considering choices of college (including dual enrollment) courses while in high school and AP and IB courses and tests, high school students who want to do pre-med in college should consider the following to avoid hurting their medical school admission chances before they graduate from high school:

  • All college courses (including while in high school) and grades will count toward GPA for medical school applications. Due to competitiveness of medical school, grades lower than A in college courses will hurt your chances.
  • AP and IB courses and grades in high school do not matter for medical school applications. However, AP and IB scores that are accepted by your undergraduate college as credit equivalent to entry-level courses can matter.
  • Many medical schools do not accept or do not like to see pre-med course requirements (commonly biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English; some medical schools may have others) fulfilled only with community college courses or credit from AP or IB scores.
  • Taking a college course that repeats material from previously taken college courses or credit from AP or IB scores must be reported as a “repeat” on medical school applications, and looks bad to medical school application readers (looks like grade grubbing).
  • Therefore, expect to need to take more advanced course work in the same subject area at a four year college for any pre-med course requirement that you may appear to fulfill with community college courses or credit from AP or IB scores. (Even then, some medical schools may have limitations on applicants doing this.)
  • Physics for biology majors (or their AP or IB credit if accepted by the college) often does not have any more advanced physics courses available, so taking more advanced physics courses may require starting over in physics for physics majors. (For biology, chemistry, math, and English, more advanced courses typically are available.)

A more detailed description of the various issues touched on above can be found at FAQ Pre-med courses, AP/IB/etc. credit and college/DE courses, etc. .


This is a great post!

I want to add my $0.02.

I think most ADCOMS look to see when introductory courses were taken. If these were taken prior to starting 4-yr college then they are not a big issue. In fact, it is often noted as a strength. This also means that the student is now expected to show growth and take more advanced level coursework as an undergrad. However, taking weedout courses at CC is a big no no.

Also, don’t freak out if you get a few Bs or even a C or two. Best to avoid them but it’s ok and not the end of the world. It is best not to repeat those and instead take higher level courses to prove yourself. It is absolutely fine to get a B in Bio 101 and then get As in genetics, biochem and micro. Truth is after you hit the GPA/MCAT threshold then the rest of the evaluation is very holistic.

I am not completely sure how this fits into your list, but I have a couple of observations from daughters whose university majors included many courses which were also premed classes, and who therefore had multiple friends who were premed (some of whom are currently in medical school). Both of these might be summarized as “do not rush to take classes too soon”.

One observation is that students usually become stronger students when they get older. I have for example heard of students struggling quite badly when they get to organic chemistry, particularly if they get to it early in their university studies. Postponing the hardest classes to at least your sophomore year in university or possibly later (junior or senior years) might help a student to do better in the hardest classes. It makes sense to plan out when a student will take specific classes, do not rush to take the hardest classes early, and make sure that you have a solid foundation in the prerequisites before you take any class.

Also, some universities are fussy about required classes that were taken in high school. My older daughter took an English class on “how to write an academic paper” as an AP class in high school. This was a required class for some of the DVM programs that she applied to. One university would not accept the class because it was taken in high school rather than at a college or university. They wanted to require that she take the class again at a community college. Since this was her 10th choice among 10 DVM programs, she just withdrew this particular application instead. This might be another warning about taking required classes early.

My S is also DVM not MD program but the same issues relate. Several of his schools said the courses must be taken at the 4 year university or a higher level course must be taken. Due to this he chose not to submit his physics AP scores and just take it in college. There was no way he wanted to take a higher level physics class, same with calculus. Due to his school’s requirements he also didn’t submit his biology or chemistry AP scores for credit just to be sure there were no issues. Just be very careful to look at what you are taking and what the schools you are considering require.

When the above poster mentioned that you get better as you mature it is very true. S hated physics, barely got his A in hs AP physics and chose not to do the test. In college he was top of his physics class both semesters and ended up as an LA (an undergrad TA at his school) for the course labs.

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