The Medical School 32-Hour Rule: What Is This?

Perhaps someone told you that med schools weigh your final semesters of undergrad more heavily and then you stumbled upon the “32-hour rule.” But what is the 32-hour rule?

The 32-hour rule means that some medical schools will only look at your last 32 hours of credits and calculate your GPA based on that. This means if you struggled academically early on but finished strong, you’ll have a pretty good shot of getting in. 

We have done a lot of research on this 32-hour rule and it seems that this first came to light after a particular podcast of Medical School HQ was released. 

Additionally, other students on platforms online like Reddit and SDN have confirmed that some schools follow this rule whether it’s officially or unofficially. 

Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about the 32-hour rule and how it can benefit you. 

Is The 32-Hour Rule For Med School Real?

When I heard about the 32-hour rule, I was very skeptical. The idea that you can basically fail your entire undergrad but then ace the last 32 credits and have a 4.0 seemed ridiculous. 

Despite this, I could see the logic behind it. Students often struggle their first few semesters of college because the transition between high school and premed is drastic. A very strong upward trend can and should help your odds of getting into med school. 

Turns out, the 32-hour rule is real… at least to a certain extent. 

LSU Health School of Medicine New Orleans officially states that they implement this rule on their website:

“The 30-Hour Policy was a policy adopted by the LSU-New Orleans Admissions Committee many years ago. This policy allows for an applicant to obtain 30 or more post-baccalaureate hours of coursework in biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics. The admissions committee would then consider the GPA for those 30 or more hours to be that applicant’s GPA for the medical school application process. This policy allows for those applicants to distance themselves from a weaker undergraduate GPA which may otherwise hinder them from gaining acceptance into our medical school.”

As you can see, LSU’s 32-hour rule applies to post-baccalaureate courses. 

Wayne State University also states something similar on their website, but they even look at fewer credit hours. They say:

“Consider additional coursework in biology, chemistry or physics in a graduate or postbaccalaureate program. Once you have 20 credit hours of those types of courses on your AMCAS application, we will consider those hours instead of your undergraduate coursework.”  

Again, they refer to a post-bacc or graduate program, not an undergrad.

It seems that this 32-hour rule is not as concrete as it sounds. This concept would apply favorably to non-traditional students who went to undergrad a long time ago but then did a post-bacc program when they decided they wanted to go to med school. In this case, I can see how certain med schools will ignore the first attempt at school and only focus on the 32 hours of post-bacc classes. 

Additionally, if you struggle with a low GPA, taking a post-bacc of some sort would help you tremendously for one of these schools that follow the “32-hour.”

However, if you are an undergrad student, I wouldn’t count on schools that follow the 32-hour policy to replace your GPA with the last 32 credits you took. A strong upward trend is going to help you out a lot, but if you want your bad GPA essentially erased, you need to take some kind of post-bacc. 

Medical Schools With The 32-Hour Policy

According to Medical School HQ, these med schools will only look at your last 32 credits to determine your overall GPA:

  • Louisiana State University School of Medicine – New Orleans (This school explicitly states it online)
  • Wayne State University  (This school explicitly states it online)
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Boston University Medical School

At this point, we haven’t determined whether or not this is accurate. It’s based on research from Dr. Gray. Keep an eye out for an update later on as we interview more medical schools regarding this topic!

Do All Medical Schools Look More Favorably At Your Last Two Years?

It all depends on your GPA trend throughout your undergraduate years. What your GPA trend does is tell med schools a story. The story of how you started academically and where you ended up.

All medical schools will look more favorably at your last two years of college if you have demonstrated a strong upward trend. However, this doesn’t mean that they will only look at those last two years. Your entire GPA will be considered but a strong upward trend will help your chances because it demonstrates an ability to perform well academically. 

On the other hand, a downward trend could hurt you. This tells medical schools that you started strong but gradually lost that drive that helped you perform well originally. 

If you are suffering from a downward trend, you need to turn that around as soon as possible! 

Do Med Schools Look Down On Gap Years?

Med schools do not look down on gap years as long as you are taking advantage of them. Taking advantage of a gap year means:

  • Doing a post-bacc program
  • Gaining clinical experience
  • Volunteering
  • Shadowing
  • Doing research
  • Or any other activity that makes you a better med school applicant

Further Reading: Everything you need to know about taking a gap year before medical school

If you spend your gap year doing nothing that enhances your application for med school, you will come across as unmotivated.

What Is The Lowest GPA Medical Schools Will Accept?

Most med schools don’t have a minimum requirement for GPA. Even if they do, it’s far lower than what makes an applicant competitive. 

There isn’t necessarily a “lowest GPA” they will accept. If you think your GPA is too low to get in, I wouldn’t lose hope. Students get into med school with shockingly low GPAs all the time. They are able to get in because of phenomenal extracurriculars and a strong upward GPA trend. 

Further Reading: Can you get into med school with an “F” or “W: on your transcript?

Do Med Schools Look At Your Most Recent MCAT?

Every med school is going to have a different policy when it comes to multiple MCAT attempts. 

Most med schools will only look at, or heavily weigh, the most recent MCAT or your best MCAT. However, every med school can see all of your MCAT attempts and they might base their decision based on all of your scores. 

When schools look at your entire MCAT trend, they are trying to see what kind of improvement you made. Retaking the MCAT 1 time and improving by 10 or more points is a lot more impressive than taking the MCAT 7 times with a gradual increase in your score.

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