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Three University of Dayton premedical students scored in the 99th percentile of the Medical College Admissions Test

By Ashley Junkunc '21

Witnessing her brothers become successful doctors after graduating from the University of Dayton and going on to medical school, Sarah Adams felt called to serve the common good through health care. Now in her senior year as a premedicine major, Adams is one step closer to her dream of becoming a doctor: She scored in the nation’s 99th percentile on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Two of Adams’ classmates, Aidan Krevis and Grace Scharf, also ranked in the top one percent of all MCAT test takers.

“I’ve been doing this for 11 years and I’ve never had three students score in the 99th percentile,” said Kathleen Scheltens, premedical programs director. “We’ve had a couple of years where there’s been one student, but never three.”

Premedical programs also enjoyed a landmark year for medical school acceptances. During the most recent cycle, 80% of students who applied to start medical school in 2020 received acceptances to one or more schools. The acceptance rate for the previous five years was 72%.

The MCAT is a standardized, multiple choice assessment of problem solving and critical thinking skills, with questions about the principles of medicine and the natural, behavioral and social sciences. The eight-hour exam combines scores from four sections to create a total score ranging from 472 to 528. While 500 is the average, Adams, Krevis and Scharf all scored above 520, which ranked them in the top one percent of test takers.

“I was in disbelief,” said Adams, from Fenton, Michigan. “While I knew it was possible, I was definitely preparing myself to see a lower score. I couldn’t believe that 523 on the screen was actually my score. I felt immense relief that all my hard work and studying was worth it.”

Like her two classmates, Adams studied throughout the six months leading up to taking the exam in June 2020. She spent hours each day taking practice tests and reviewing course content.

Scharf, a senior premedicine major from Cincinnati, said the biggest challenge was staying focused through months of test preparation.

“This is six months of just pushing through,” Scharf said. “I think persevering through that and recognizing why you’re doing it can sometimes be hard when it’s a Friday night and you want to be with your friends, but you know that you have to study. You just have to remember how it will all be worth it in the end.”

The preparatory MCAT program Altius was a helpful study tool for all three students. In the program, Krevis worked online with a personal tutor. Following his MCAT success, he now works as a tutor for Altius to help other medical school hopefuls at the University prepare for the exam.

“I’m really excited, because I think it’s different to have someone who's on your same campus and has had your same professors,” said Krevis, a senior premedicine major from Cleveland. “It’ll be nice and beneficial to tutor my students, because I know the depth of course content at UD.”

Since the MCAT exam focuses on fundamental medical concepts learned during first- and second-year courses, Krevis stresses the importance of understanding class content.

“Learn the material well the first time, because it’ll make it easier to learn it the second time when you’re preparing for the MCAT,” he said.

Krevis plans to attend medical school in fall 2021 and is interested in a pediatric developmental and behavioral medicine specialty. He is passionate about children with mental disabilities and helped found the University’s Special Olympics Club. During summer 2019, Krevis also completed research at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.

Scharf emphasizes how experiential learning opportunities such as research and clinical experiences are not only good ways to be involved in campus and the community, but also provide hands-on experience to practice things that might be covered on the MCAT.

“Doing some kind of patient care helps validate that you are doing what you like to do,” she said.

Scharf has received experiential opportunities as a member of the University’s Emergency Medical Services squad and the University’s Hospital Elderly Life Program, which allows students to gain clinical experience at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. She hopes to specialize in pediatric oncology.

Adams also received valuable patient-care experience during a 2019 medical and dental brigade in St. Mary, Jamaica. She is interested in pursuing a career at a top-rated university medical center and advises younger students to take advantage of extracurricular opportunities early on.

“Start shadowing, volunteering or joining a research lab,” Adams said. “Most importantly, build a plan for how you will stand out to the admissions committee among all other applicants when it comes time to apply for medical school.”

All three students will graduate in May 2021. Until then, they are moving through the application process and scheduling interviews, where their high MCAT scores will stand them out amongst thousands of other medical school hopefuls.

“I congratulate them immensely, because they did the hard work to get that highly respected score,” Scheltens said. “The work ethic that’s required to have that sort of accomplishment is not something that just being smart is going to prepare you for. It is one of those things that you really have to put your mind to. So it’s really on them, they are amazing students and this is an amazing accomplishment for them.”

For more information, visit the premedical programs website.

Top of page, left to right: Sarah Adams, Aidan Krevis and Grace Scharf.

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