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School of Medicine

VCU School of Medicine

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Selection Factors

Selection Factors

Welcome to Selection Factors

Holistic Review

What is the holistic review?

Holistic review is examining an applicant’s full application to determine how the applicant might contribute to Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and as a future physician.

VCU SOM has adapted the AAMC Holistic Review Process E-A-M Model of evaluating Experiences, Attributes and Metrics.  It’s our mission to select diverse class aligned with our mission and promote diversity as an essential element to achieving institutional excellence.

Are grades and test scores important in a holistic review?

Grades and test scores are important predictors of future academic and testing performance. However, academic metrics do not measure all the skills and abilities to be a successful student or physician. By utilizing a holistic review process, we evaluate academic metrics along with experiences and attributes to assess potential for academic and clinical achievement.

How is Holistic Review applied in the VCU SOM Admissions Process?

VCU SOM committee members uses a holistic approach to evaluate an array of applicant attributes, including academic excellence, personal characteristics, leadership, service to others, contribution to diversity (gender, race, ethinicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, geographic origin) and extracurricular activities.

Who's a Good Candidate for VCU SOM?

The decision to send a supplemental is based on AAMC Holistic Review Project E-A-M Model of evaluating Experiences, Attributes and Metrics and the 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical School to determine how the applicant might contribute to VCU School of Medicine learning environment as well as to the medical profession as a future physician.

  • Evidence of academic preparation for a rigorous medical school curriculum
  • Dedication to serving others
  • Ability to work in teams toward a shared goal or mission
  • Excellence in an activity that shows commitment, drive and passion
  • Competence for delivering quality care in a global society
  • Understanding of the medical field and what it takes to be a physician


Academic Factors

While academics is only a portion of what we consider, there are general figures typically expected of competitive applicants. We use a holistic review process to evaluate full application. The average GPA is 3.7 and average MCAT 508.

If your undergraduate GPA is less than 3.6, you may want to consider taking post-baccalaureate courses to establish a higher grade point average and to demonstrate academic potential. This would involve at least 16 or more credits of graduate or post-baccalaureate work, including upper level biology courses and repeating any science courses for which you received a low grade.

Still, applicants with slightly lower GPAs that have shown to trend upward are good signs for the admissions committee to see. Paired with solid non-academic variables, applicants may still find an opportunity to join the incoming class.


Nonacademic Factors

In addition to GPA and MCAT scores, the college evaluates a number of nonacademic factors. These include but are not limited to:

  • Community service/volunteer work – medical/clinical
  • Community service/volunteer work – nonmedical/nonclinical
  • Physician shadowing
  • Research/lab
  • Leadership roles
  • Teamwork
  • Experience with people different from themselves
  • Paid employment
  • Military service
  • Teaching/tutoring
  • Publications/posters

The Committee on Admissions does not prefer one major to another. Many applicants entering class will have earned traditional science degrees, but other students will have earned degrees in engineering, religion, art, music, psychology, political science, business and others areas.