Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I am nervous about my grade in a course, and am considering Withdrawing. What should I do?

A: Before making any decision, students are encouraged to speak with their professor regarding their grade in the course. It is only recommended that you Withdraw from a course if you are receiving below a passing (“C”) grade. Oftentimes the “W” on a transcript can be more unfavorable as health professional schools may assume you were failing (“D” or “F”). While you may be concerned with how this will impact your GPA and success in future courses, if you are earning higher than a “C” you are encouraged to stick with the course. Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

Q: If I retake a course, will it replace the original grade on my transcript?

A: Health professional programs requires all attempts of repeated courses in GPA calculations (with original grades given for those attempts), even if they are not included in Northeastern’s GPA calculations. We do not recommend re-taking a course for which you earned a passing grade (“C” or higher). Students can mitigate a lower grade by focusing on improved performance in future coursework.

Q: Do I need to take two English courses to fulfill the Writing Requirement for my health professional program?

A: Students should check the prerequisite requirements for the individual schools they are interested to determine the courses they will need to take before applying. That said, often, any humanities or social science courses involving substantial expository writing will satisfy the writing requirement for health professional schools, even if the course is not with the English Department.

Q: Can I take my PreMed/PreHealth Prerequisite courses abroad?

A: Not all health professional schools will accept core science (Biology, Chemistry, Math or Physics) prerequisite coursework taken outside of the U.S. or Canada.

If you are planning to take core science prerequisite coursework abroad, it is recommended you enroll in an American college overseas (i.e. American College of Thessaloniki, John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, etc.). Despite the fact these institutions are physically located outside of the U.S. these schools have received accreditation from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and are treated like any other U.S. or Canadian school.

If you are considering attending a foreign institution outside of the U.S. or Canada, please contact the schools you are interested in applying to before going overseas to ensure that your coursework will be accepted.

Q: What is my BCMP GPA and how can I calculate it?

A: Centralized application services for health professional programs typically calculate one or more science GPA’s that may include courses in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics (BCMP). To calculate your science vs. non-science GPA select “Pre-Med” from the Program drop-down menu when running your degree audit.

For some students, the courses you use in your science GPA calculations may come from other departments that teach classes that are science heavy. Here is a list of NU courses that we’ve identified as meeting these criteria, that you may elect to manually calculate into your BCMP GPA. Please refer to the guidelines of your particular application service and professional program, as requirements may vary.

Q: I am considering a reduced course load to prepare for the MCAT. Is this ok?

A: We would not recommend a reduced course load in order to prepare for the MCAT unless it is your final semester and you only have a few courses remaining to graduate. Schools seek students who exercise good time management and are fully engaging in a rigorous course of study. Rather than take a reduced course load, consider a more manageable course selection.

Q: When is the best time to take the MCAT?

A: The MCAT should be scheduled only after all pre-requisite courses are successfully completed and the applicant has had 4-6 months to study. If the resulting date would be later than May, then deferral to the next year is highly recommended. Students study for the MCAT any various times during their pre-med years, including during co-op, while in classes, during school breaks, or after graduation. The biggest mistake we see students make is to take the MCAT before they are ready, so it is important not to rush the process.

Q: I uploaded my Self-Assessment and/or application to MAP, but I cannot view it. Is this normal?

A: Yes, MAP unfortunately does not allow students to view documents once they have been uploaded.

Q: I am having difficulty securing a letter of evaluation. Can I get an extension?

A: We are strict about our requirements and deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you may still qualify for a Letter Packet.

Q: My evaluators agreed to write my letter by the March 15 deadline, but it is still not submitted. What do I do?

A: If they’ve agreed to write you a letter of recommendation, evaluators are very good about meeting our submission deadlines. Many letters do come in the week they are due, and that is ok! You can send a couple of well-spaced reminders, but please be respectful. We do not grant extensions unless there are extenuating circumstances and must speak directly with your evaluator to make such determinations.

Q: I started the Committee Letter process this year, but have decided to wait another year before applying. How does this effect my Committee Letter eligibility for the next application cycle?

A: When you defer your application, we will hold on to all of your documentation on file in MAP. When you do apply, you will still be responsible for meeting all Committee Letter deadlines and requirements, but it will be much easier. We do require a Committee Letter Agreement and Self-Assessment on January 31. However, you only need to update, not redo, your Self-Assessment. Required Letters are still due March 15. If any of your required letters have been submitted to MAP, note that you do not need to update faculty letters. For your external letters it is recommended to get updated letters from your previous writers or letters from new evaluators. Your clinical letter will need to reflect experience within 18 months, so you may need to reconnect with your letter writer for additional experience.

Q: There have been several changes to my application since I have applied. How do I inform schools of this?

A: Applicants many choose to send update letters to schools as long as they are substantial and offer a new perspective on you as an applicant. Admissions committees are quite busy, so you would not want to overwhelm them with messages. You’ll only want to update schools where you have not yet interviewed, if they accept updates (this can usually be found on their admissions website). Schools where you have already interviewed, or are scheduled to interview, have already shown a strong interest in you, and it is the interview itself that largely determines the admissions decision. Therefore an update letter would not be recommended.

Q: I’ve been waitlisted at a medical school. Is there anything I can do to help my chances of acceptance?

A: If you are wait-listed, applicants may send a letter of intent to one school, to let them know that if they offer you a spot from the wait-list, you will accept it.  That is important to the schools because they want to know that the people who they accept off the wait-list will attend, they will not have to go to the next person. This letter is most compelling after all acceptance decisions are sent and schools have moved on to their waitlists.  You may be fully committed to the school, but enough people send letters of intent without being fully committed that they will question it if you send it too early.


This is an evolving list and is updated frequently. If your question has not been answered here, please schedule an appointment or email your individual PreMed/PreHealth Advisor.