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PA School Admission Help

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Hello All!

I am a Pre-PA Student attending a UC school in SoCal. I hope to become a physician assistant and wanted some guidance on how good of shape I am to apply.


My sGPA is a 3.4 and my cGPA is a 3.60 as a Biology B.S Student

I am taking the GRE in January and expect to score around a 310

I have about 2000 Patient Contact Hours working as a Therapy Technician/Aide at a Skilled Nursing Care Facility

I plan on getting 80 hours PA shadowing hours and 40 hours of Physician shadowing hours before applying.

I plan on getting 5 letters of recommendation: Therapy Director, Physician Assistant, Physician, Biology Professor, Genetics Professor

I have volunteer experience working at health clinics in Mexico (40 hours) and working as a science ambassador/tutor at elementary schools (80 hours), as well as doing a health project in an undeserved community. 

I also have extensive research experience: Ecology Lab (460 Hours) and Genetics Lab (400 Hours) as a paid researcher

However, some things that are concerning me:

I have received 3 C+ grades in Ochem 2, Ochem 3, and Biochem due to taking on too many responsibilities and not making enough time for studies (my fault completely). 

I plan on retaking both Ochem's as a postbac course this Spring, however I cannot do so for Biochemistry.

I have also received a grade 'B' in both my lower-division Biology courses, and 1 B in Chem 2.

However, I plan to finish both quarters (20+ units each) of upper division biology coursework with a 4.0 GPA, hopefully demonstrating an upward trend. 


If I do not get accepted this cycle, I do plan on fixing some parts of my application and reapplying the following cycle. I do not feel as if I am competitive enough, should I even apply this cycle or is it a lost cause? Please let me know!


Some questions I have"

What can I do to make my application stand out?

How can I overcome my low GPA?

What are some things that I need to finish to make myself a competitive applicant?

Any general advise?

How did you get into PA School with a low GPA, and which one?


Thanks so much! I hope to become a PA in the future!

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Hi! I'm assuming based on context that you're thinking of applying next year when the new cycle opens (since it's really late into the current cycle) and I definitely think you should! (I applied this year in May and will start PA school next Fall).


1) What can I do to make my application stand out?

  • Have a great personal statement. It's your chance to discuss your personality traits and past experiences and how they make you a unique and qualified future PA. Also its a good way to address and explain any shortcomings in your application that were otherwise unaddressed. 
  • PA school admissions committees really enjoy when applicants have been on medical mission trips. It makes applicants stand out in a very positive way from what I've been told.

2) How can I overcome my low GPA?

  • I wouldn't consider your cGPA low, your sGPA is pretty average. Regardless, the best way to overcome a lower GPA in my opinion is to have either a high GRE score, an upward trending GPA or both (if possible).

3) What are some things that I need to finish to make myself a competitive applicant?

  • I would recommend trying to get more volunteer hours in a healthcare setting if you can, but it is not extremely necessary. 
  • Continue gaining direct patient care hours if you can. The more you have, the more competitive your application will be. 

4) Any general advise?

  • Start working on your personal statement early (I started in January) so that you can have others review it and give you feedback before the cycle begins in April.
  • If your university conducts mock interviews, I recommend getting involved with that. I found them to be very beneficial.
  • Start doing research on the schools you'd like to apply to (the sooner the better). The PAEA Program Directory is very helpful with this.
  • A lot of schools have rolling admissions so apply early and try to have everything ready before CASPA opens if possible (GRE scores, transcripts, LORs, personal statement etc.).
  • I would recommend saving up money before applying. The application process is very expensive (I think I spent almost $1,000 just applying and over $1,500 on interview expenses plus $1,000 on acceptance deposit).

5) How did you get into PA School with a low GPA, and which one?

  • I had over 600 hours of volunteer experience and a dramatically upward trending GPA. Also I've been told that my personal statement was quite good, I had 4 outstanding LORs and I applied very early. I also addressed and explained my lower GPA during interviews.
  • My GPA was lower than yours and I received 6 interview invitations and 2 acceptances (so far) on the first attempt so anything is possible. You're in good shape though I think you'll be ready, keep up the good work and good luck!
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