Admission to medical school is very competitive, as you are probably aware. An excellent academic record is a prerequisite for applying. The following information is based on figures from OHSU, but are representative of medical schools throughout the nation.
Nature of the Competition
Entry to medical schools is very competitive; most schools are similar.
Between 2007 and 2009 there were 4521 applicants for 120 positions at OHSU for the class; 406 applicants were Oregonians.
At OHSU, priority goes to minority applicants, WICHE program applicants, Oregon residents, MD-PhD program and superior out-of-state students (3.8 GPA and 32 on MCAT). Other state schools have similar priorities for their own residents.
Average applicant 3.4-3.5; Average entering GPA is around 3.6.
Below 3.0, not reasonable; If 3.2, where, why low? Which courses pull it down? What else were you doing? If 3.4-3.5, know that most applicants are in the same position. What sets you apart?
If grades are low, take courses to get them up. Consider a Masters program, but complete the degree. Graduate school is not a holding pattern. Must show commitment or completion.
Nonscience majors are good, e.g., literature, philosophy, but you should demonstrate that you can do upper division science. Nursing is OK if you have practiced it. Want well-rounded person.
Average entering scores at OHSU: "10s across".
If scores are 8, 9, applicant must have some other distinctive point, e.g. superior health care experience, other significant work or volunteer experience (long duration). Again, most applicants are in this range, why should they select you?
Studying for the MCAT is essential because the competition is studying for the MCAT. Intensive review courses are one option. No courses are offered in Ashland, but short courses are available in Eugene and Portland and in major cities in California. A self-directed study lasting 4-8 weeks, 20-40 hours per week using commercially available study guides is possible, if uncommon. Get a stack of practice tests and study guides 10-12 inches thick. Take tests weekly. Review what you don't know and firm up what you do know.
If you are taking the MCATs while still in school, think about how you can ease your courseload during the time you will be studying for and taking the test, as well as making sure that relevant courses do not wait until spring your senior year after you have taken the test.
For more detailed statistics on academic standards for medical school admissions: