I am in short, a clueless ninth grader, with a substantial dream. I really want to study medicine in the US, hopefully in Ivy League schools like Harvard and Johns Hopkins. I am a U.S. citizen currently living in India. I am a student in the CBSE board of education.

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    Tom O'Keefe
  • thomas.joseph.okeefe@gmail.com

Tom O'Keefe Answered a year ago

Congratulations on having a sense of what you might want for yourself, and being brave enough to acknowledge you don’t know how to go about pursuing it. Of course, it goes without saying that you will need excellent grades – especially in math and sciences – and strong standardized test scores to have a shot at elite schools in the US (note: while Johns Hopkins is an excellent school, it is not part of the Ivy League); however, what is most likely to differentiate you from other applicants is what you do outside the classroom. Given that you seem to have the courage to ask yourself hard questions and push your own limits, perhaps now would be a good time to start further exploring your passions. You might begin by asking yourself some questions: Why do I want to study medicine? Why do I want to be a doctor, and do I have any idea what type of doctor I would like to be? Are there ways for me to learn more about what it’s like to study medicine, and what it’s like being a doctor? If you can start to answer these questions, I’m guessing it will lead you to resources – books, movies, websites, blogs, and especially, people! – that can help lead you forward. Next thing you know, you’ll be doing summer internships and independent research projects about topics you actually care about. At that point, you will know you are on track to accomplish the goal you’ve set out.


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    Lisa Buchwalter
  • lisabuchwalter@gmail.com

Lisa Buchwalter Answered a year ago

It’s great that you are starting to prepare this early for your dream. In order to have the best chance at getting a seat as a pre-med student at a top U.S. university, you will have to consider the following factors: Grades, Difficulty of Curriculum, Test Scores, Extracurricular Activities, Letters of Recommendation, Statement of Purpose and Supplementary Questions, and a possible Interview. 

You will want to take the most difficult course of studies that you can handle well. Try to maximize your sciences and math courses. Be sure to take Biology, Physics and Chemistry, in addition to as much Calculus as you can. In addition to top test scores and grades, you will be expected to have taken the hardest possible curriculum, and to have shown intellectual curiosity by doing something in your chosen field that is above and beyond your school curriculum. For instance, if you have the chance to take an online course not offered at your school, or to participate in activities outside of school, you should do so. Your extracurricular activities are very important US colleges. They want to see that you are so excited about your major that you engage with your subject outside of school. For instance, if you plan to major in math, tutoring local kids in math, or engaging in math competitions, will show that you have demonstrated initiative above and beyond what is required, which shows the spark you have for the subject.

You may want to start preparing now for your standardized tests by signing up for the SAT Question of the Day.

To go in more depth for each of these factors, you can view our webinar about How to Maximize Your Chances of Admission webinar.

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