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Preparing for medical school is a daunting task, but the best way to alleviate anxiety and reduce stress is to start planning ahead of time. Undergraduate degrees aren’t just a pre-requisite for med school; habits that one develops during their bachelor’s program can set them up for success or failure later in life, especially when it comes to adapting to the rigors of med school.

For all pre-med students with their eyes set on an M.D. or D.O., these tips will help instill good study habits and promote a positive work ethic that can serve them through the rest of their education and beyond.

Start Studying As Early As You Can

High school students who want to become doctors should begin bolstering their SAT scores ASAP. Taking AP-level classes in subjects such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy can give them a headstart when they have to take the same courses as undergraduates.

Do Not Avoid Studying

One of the worst things a pre-med student can do is the bare minimum. Intelligence and high grades alone will not get a student through med school. The ability to set personal boundaries, adhere to a schedule and practice self-discipline are core qualities that make a good student and future physician.

Explore Specializations

While pre-med students are a long way off from their residency or fellowship, it can be useful to study possible areas of specialization now. By defining their interests and career ambitions early on, prospective pre-med students will be more adept at choosing the right courses in college and making themselves attractive candidates to med school.

Work With A Pre-Med Advisor

Most colleges have pre-med advisors that can provide valuable insight and suggestions to students as they embark on their educational journey. Coming up with a balanced class schedule and participating in extracurriculars will not only benefit students in the present, but it will also allow them to develop a strong academic record that will increase their chances of being accepted into a good med school.

Pre-med is math and science-heavy, so acquiring a tutor even before classes begin is a good way to develop foundational skills necessary to keep up with a heavy course load in the coming years.