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Frequently Asked Questions for Pre-health Students

In these times of uncertainty, it is important that you focus first and foremost on your health and safety. The University of Tennessee pre-health advisors recognize that the ever evolving and fluid nature of COVID-19 is creating many questions for pre-health students. These are new and constantly evolving times and health programs are also adapting to circumstances, just like we are. Together, we will figure out what all this looks like moving forward.  We wanted to provide one central location for students, advisors, and faculty to read up-to-date information and guidance from our office as it applies to pre-health students.

Please also continue to use the University COVID-19 Information & Support website and the Online Academic Success Guide.

  • MCAT – AAMC and Pearson VUE, who runs the testing sites, are updating their information about test dates.  As of April 1st, rescheduling fees will be automatically waived until further notice. You can find up to date information on the AAMC page.
  • PCAT – As of April 13th, Pearson is suspending test delivery at all U.S. and Canada-based Pearson VUE-owned test centers until April 30, PCAT registration will open to students on May 4, 2020. PHARMCAS and PCAT websites.
  • DAT – see “Important Updates . . . “ sectio.
  • OAT – All Prometric testing centers where the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) exam is given are closed in the US and Canada. Candidates may continue to schedule appointments. Prometric will be monitoring the situation closely, and will provide updates accordingly. More information can be found at
  • GRE – ETS is expanding the availability of at home testing for the GRE and they are waiving rescheduling fees during this time. The most up-to-date information can be found on their website.

It is important to remember that there is no agreement among medical or other health professions schools regarding how to handle alternative grading scales (S/CR/NC). Several of the centralized application systems have begun gathering information for professional schools regarding their stance on S/CR/NC grading options for prerequisites, you can find those links below.

We encourage you to consult with your instructors before you decide to switch the grading scale in one of your classes. Additionally, you will want to talk to your academic advisor and One Stop to make sure you are well informed of the ramifications before the April 22, 2020 deadline to change your grading option. 

Remember admissions committees are looking at the whole picture, not just one grade or one set of grades. If you are concerned about earning a B or a C this semester, remember admissions committees will keep grades from this semester in context. Bs are perfectly fine grades, and we would recommend not switching to the S/CR/NC grading option just because you are worried about getting a few Bs this semester. A C by itself won’t keep you out of medical school or other health professions schools. We encourage you to invest yourself fully in all of your courses, but if you have to prioritize your time and attention at this challenging time, consider focusing on your science classes.

Since there is no agreement regarding how to view alternative grading scales, you might opt to take a non-prerequisite course as S/CR/NC instead of a prerequisite. This could allow for more time to focus on your science prerequisites.

  • Medicine
    • A google doc has been created with information for MD programs (this is unofficial and the most up-to-date information is on the individual institutions websites).
    • AACOM has created several resources on their website regarding the application cycle, S/NC grading for prerequisites, etc.
    • Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) compiled information from each of their institutions on this website and will continue to update it as needed.
  • Dentistry – A google doc has been created with information for Dental programs (this is unofficial and the most up-to-date information is on the individual institutions websites).
  • Physician Assistant – A google doc has been created with information for Physician’s Assistant programs (this is unofficial and the most up-to-date information is on the individual institutions websites) – the PAEA is working to update their online directory.
  • Physical Therapy – While each Physical Therapy program will ultimately make their own decisions regarding policies, the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service has made recommendations.
  • Optometry – A google doc has been created with information for Optometry program (this is unofficial, and the most up-to-date information is on the individual institutions websites).
  • Pharmacy – PHARMCAS has complied admissions and prerequisite information for several institutions. You will need to check with specific institutions not listed.
  • Podiatry – all schools and colleges will accept spring 2020 prerequisites with an alternative grading scale as well as that are delivered via online or distance learning. Contact information for each college can be found here.
  • Veterinary medicine – AAVMC is working on compiling information from Veterinary Schools and will post it on their website.

Changes in the acceptance protocols are made by individual institutions, so you will want to check with them. But there are several institutions that are still conducting interviews virtually. Below are links for the centralized application systems.

Several application systems (or secondary applications) are providing applicants the opportunity to describe how COVOD-19 impacted their path to professional school.

Most application systems are indicating that they are not making any changes to the application cycles at this point. They are continuing to monitor and evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 and will make changes as needed. Below are the links to the centralized application systems where you can find the most up to date information.

  • Dental school – ADEA still plan to open May 12, 2020.
  • MD – AAMC the application will open on May 4th.
  • Pharmacy – they are offering a 2020-2021 application webinar on July 29 – register here.
  • Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) – From website: TMDSAS application for the 2021 application cycle will still open on May 1, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. CT; however, we are monitoring the situation and working with our TMDSAS member institutions to determine any future impact. You can find the most up to date information here.
  • Physician Assistant – most up-to-date information can be found on the Physician Assistant Education Association website.
  • Veterinary – 2020-2021 Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is open. You can find up-to-date information on the application cycle on the VMCAS webpage.
  • Physical Therapy – PTCAS is still scheduled to open on June 17, 2020. Check PTCAS COVID-19 website for updates

We want you to be as prepared as you can be when you apply to your health profession.  Currently, we are unaware of any exceptions or leniencies that professional schools are granting in response of the pandemic.  As always, we encourage you to evaluate your own candidacy based on what health professions are looking for. Depending on the outcome of your self-evaluation, you may feel that you are not able to submit your strongest application at this point and consider postponing your application.  The most up-to-date information regarding exceptions can be found on the individual institution’s websites.

Now is a great time to be creative.

  • Use the time to help others. Think about what you can be doing now in terms of volunteering. Are there areas where you can volunteer from your home?
    • Use org or to seek other local options, but be ready for slow responses.
    • Volunteer East Tennessee – a regional center that connects nonprofits and volunteers
    • Operation Warm has a list of 25 ways to volunteer virtually.
    • invites volunteers to provide online tutoring to “bridge gaps in language, higher education, and professional skills training for conflict-affected individuals.”
    •’s  nine places to volunteer online and make a real impact.
  • Engage in free online learning opportunities

The National Pre-Health Advisor Association has created a page dedicated to health professions COVID-19 related resources.