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Frequently Asked Questions

Many questions that HPA advisors are receiving are covered in the For Students section on the CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 website. Visit the link for more FAQs.

In addition to these university-wide responses, here are FAQs we have received that are specific to pre-health students. We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Should I use Credit/No Credit grades for required pre-health courses?

Health Professions Advising does not recommend the use of Credit/No Credit grading for required pre-health courses. Should you have any questions about your particular situation, please reach out to your assigned advisor. Questions regarding the use of the C/NC option for courses that are not required for application to pre-health programs should be directed to your college or major advisor.

Will medical schools and other health professions programs accept P/NP grades for pre-requisite courses?

The National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (NAAHP) has started recording medical schools' and other health professions programs' grade policies. These documents will continue to be updated as schools release this information.

I was planning to use spring quarter science classes to boost my science GPA. Should I still take those classes?

If the courses you have planned to take are medical school requirements, we recommended continuing with them as planned, unless you have the flexibility to delay them and prefer to take them at a time you can receive a letter grade. If the planned courses are not requirements, it is up to you whether or not you still want to take those or replace them with other courses. Consult with your advisor if you are not sure what to do.

Should I take a fifth class for the spring quarter?

There is no advantage to overloading your course schedule for the spring quarter, and we encourage students to continue with the schedule they had planned while adjusting to remote courses.

How will medical schools look at my GPA?

Medical schools will look at applicant's cumulative GPA and cumulative science GPA. These are elements of their larger holistic review process. Your GPA is not the only thing they are looking at in your application. We are keeping a close eye on updates to the NAAHP document logging how individual medical schools are dealing with the P/NP option trending across the country. Here at Northwestern, the P/NP grading policy applies to all undergraduate courses this spring.

Will there be anything on my academic transcript to show only P/NP grades were available in spring?


My MCAT date has been cancelled. What do I do now?

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and its testing partners have cancelled all April MCAT exams. Students are being advised to reschedule to future dates, and the AAMC has indicated it is planning to offer additional exam dates to accommodate all students. This situation is evolving, and we encourage you to check the AAMC's Coronavirus and The MCAT Exam updates page regularly.

How will the pandemic and MCAT cancellations impact the application process?

Thus far, the application process remains mostly unchanged. All application services (including AMCAS, AACOMAS, and AADSAS) are expected to open on their originally scheduled dates, and submission of primary applications is expected to continue without changes. 

However, AMCAS has announced it will delay transmission of primary applications to medical schools by two weeks. AMCAS will now send verified primary applications to medical schools on July 10. What this means: You now have more time to complete your primary, and medical schools will not receive your application materials until July 10. Accordingly, school will not begin sending secondary applications until that time or later. For more information, visit the Coronavirus and AMCAS page.

What support is available if my ability to pay for medical school application has been impacted?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on many individuals and families, the AAMC has adjusted the eligibility criteria for the its Fee Assistance Program (FAP), which eliminates certain application fees and reduces the cost of application (including secondary application costs for most medical schools. For more information on the expanded eligibility criteria, visit the Coronavirus and the Fee Assistance Program page. (If you previously applied and did not receive FAP benefits but are now eligible, AAMC has sent communication to you; if you have not received this you can contact AAMC directly)

How can I find volunteering experiences over spring?

Due to safety concerns, it is highly unlikely clinical opportunities will be available to students without formal healthcare qualifications (e.g. CNA, EMT, etc.). Instead, we would encourage you to look at online volunteering opportunities. To stay engaged in some kind of service to others, consider volunteering with some of the following organizations:

Resources From Explore Health Careers

This month, Explore Health Careers is highlighting the changes higher education institutions are making as a result of the novel Coronavirus. Whether you’re making the adjustment to online schooling or navigating the admissions process during the pandemic, these articles are here to help you continue on your healthcare career path.

How Medical Students Can Stay Safe on the Frontlines of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) OutbreakThis article explores the CDC’s recommendations for health care professionals who are working on the frontlines of the Coronavirus outbreak, and it offers first-hand advice from medical professionals currently treating patients.

Common Questions about Applying to Grad School During the CoronavirusLearn more about admissions applications, online classes and standardized testing in the age of Coronavirus by reading answers to questions that have been asked by real students.

4 Ways for Students to Stay Productive During the PandemicYou can make the most out of being under a shelter-in-place order! It’s possible to stay on track to achieve your goals during this time, and this article explores how to do so.