Advanced Placement (AP) Credit & the Pre-Med Student
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For most medical schools, Advanced Placement (AP) credit cannot be used to fulfill the pre-medical requirements. If you have AP credit in courses required for medical school (Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, and Physics) you need to take additional courses in those areas to complete the medical school admission requirements.
To find out about requirements for all of the medical schools in the United States
, check the Association of American Medical Colleges' Medical School Admission Requirements and the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. Both are updated annually, and are available for your review in Career Services, and at Van Pelt library. They include general information about preparing for medical school as well as information about the specific requirements of each
U.S. medical school.
medical schools are flexible about AP credit for Mathematics and Physics. Nonetheless, if you have AP credit in the sciences, you ideally should take an additional course for each semester of AP credit you have earned in that area. The goal is to help you move beyond the introductory course and to make sure that you do formal coursework in each science as an undergraduate. If you have AP credit, you need not repeat information that you already know or retake the introductory courses, unless you are sure that your AP score placed you too high. Instead, use the AP credit as an opportunity to gain more depth in that area of study. Supplement your introductory knowledge with more advanced courses.
Note that, for example,Harvard will accept one semester of AP credit in Physics and Chemistry for those applying to their New Pathway Program. Johns Hopkins will also accept AP credit in Physics, and for one semester of Chemistry. By and large, though, it is best to follow the safest path, and take the additional courses, as outlined below. After all, some medical schools require some additional science courses for all candidates. For example, some of the
University of California
University of Texas schools require all applicants to complete four semesters of Biology.
Also, note that through the AP program you can earn credit for the lecture components of science courses but not for the laboratory components, required by most medical schools
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Those who have AP credit for Bio 91 should start with Bio 121 (The Molecular Biology of Life) with the accompanying Bio 123 lab. To finish the two semesters of Biology lecture and lab required by medical schools, students should then take Bio 124, a .5 credit unit lab course that covers topics in vertebrate physiology, diversity and anatomy as well as other whole organism and population level topics. Additionally, students should take any 200-level lecture course. We especially recommend Bio 202 (Cell Biology and Biochemistry) or Bio 215 (Vertebrate Physiology), as these cover topics important for MCAT and medical school preparation.
If a student receives credit for Bio 101 and 102 by passing the department placement exams, they should take any two intermediate or advanced lecture courses and either the stand alone introductory labs, Bio 123 and 124, or a one credut unit lab course.
One credit unit Biology lab courses that may be of interest to Pre-Meds include:
Bio 306 Histology (CGS); Prerequisites: Bio 101 and 102 or 121 and 202 preferred.
Bio 330 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Evolution; Prerequisite: Bio 101 and 102 or 121 .
Bio 425 Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics Superlab; Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
Bio 399 Independent Study provided that the Biology Department faculty sponsor certifies it as a suitable lab experience.
Pre-med students who plan to count a Bio 399/499 for a lab course might want to get a letter certifying that the course fulfills the Biology lab pre-med requirement.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT SOME MEDICAL SCHOOLS REQUIRE THREE OR EVEN FOUR SEMESTERS OF BIOLOGY. In order to see if any of the medical schools you are interested in require more than the traditional two semesters of introductory Biology, consult the Medical School Admissions Requirements. Copies of MSAR are available at Career Services. For more information about Biology courses offered at Penn, and about the policies concerning AP credit for Biology, contact the Undergraduate Biology Office, 898-7121 or visit their web site.
If you are a pre-med with AP credit for Chem 91, you should take the departmental exam when you arrive on campus as a freshman or transfer student.
If you do not receive credit for Chem 101 and 102, you should take those courses along with their corresponding labs (Chem 53 and 54). Students who receive departmental credit for both Chem 101 and 102 should take additional Chemistry courses to supplement that credit. This can be done by taking the Chem 115 and 116 Honors Chemistry sequence. They can also take Chem 251 (Biological Chemistry), sometime after freshman year; note though that one course cannot be used to fulfill two requirements (e.g. general chemistry and biochemistry). Of course, students majoring in either Chemistry or Biochemistry can fulfill the chemistry pre-medical requirement by taking any two upper level chemistry courses within their major. Since ALL med school applicants take Organic Chemistry, those with AP Chemistry credit cannot satisfy the additional course requirement with Organic Chemistry.
For more information, consult the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, 573-8311 and view their web site.
Students who receive AP credit of Physics 5/6 may convert the AP credit into credit for Physics 101/102 or Physics 150/151. To get the credit converted, students must either have their AP Physics notebooks reviewed by the Physics Department, or complete the lab portion of the appropriate Penn courses. Most students upgrade their AP credit by taking the Physics lab courses at Penn. For instructions on completing the physics laboratory courses, contact Karen Walter, DRL 2E5, 898-3125.
Students can also elect to take Physics 101/102 or 150/151 for a grade. We encourage students to take at least one Physics course at Penn, and not rely on AP credit alone.
Those who have a strong physics background, are eager science students, and earned a 5 on the Physics C exam, could consider Honors Physics (170 and 171) for a very challenging introductory sequence.
For Physics course suggestions, contact the Undergraduate Physics Department at 898-8141, or view their web site.
If you are a pre-med with AP credit in Mathematics (Math 104), you should take an additional Math course for the semester of AP credit you have earned. Since only one semester of Math credit is given, students will need to take either Math 115 or 114 (to determine which is better for you, see the Mathematics Department web page). You need not take Math 240, but instead can take a course in statistics to supplement your AP credit. Medical schools allow you to take one calculus course and one statistics course (some even plan to make statistics a requirement). Statistics provides a good foundation for medical study and practice, which requires the interpretation of research reports and data.
If you are a pre-med with AP credit in English, you should select additional courses to strengthen your skills in analyzing literature and in writing. We recommend completing the requirement through taking a Writing course together with a course in English or Comparative Literature. Note that the medical school requirement differs from the
University of Pennsylvania
's Writing Requirement and the Arts and Letters Sector Requirement. For more information about English courses, see the English Department's web site. For information on Writing courses, see the Critical Writing web site.