APPLYING TO PAKISTAN MEDICAL COLLEGES? READ THIS FIRST!!!

Are you applying for Medical Colleges in Pakistan?

Welcome!

If you’re interested in applying to medical school in Pakistan you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding the admissions process for the medical college in Pakistan.

Hopefully, these will help you make sense of what you need to apply, how to apply, and what medical education in Pakistan is really all about.

If you have any questions that this thread doesn’t answer for you, please create a new thread and ask your question here in the forum and one of the many helpful forum members will try their best to answer it for you.

Good luck in all your educational endeavors!

A list of the questions in this thread:

  1. Who can apply to a medical school in Pakistan?
  2. What do I need to apply?
  3. How old must I be to apply?
  4. How long does the admissions process take? When should I begin applying?
  5. How long does it take to get a degree?
  6. Is it possible to complete a degree in less time?
  7. What is an MBBS degree? Is it the same as an MD degree?
  8. Which medical schools are recognized, and by who?
  9. I’ve heard that if you graduate from Pakistan you cannot practice in the US — is this true?
  10. What is the IBCC Equivalence Certificate and do I really need one?
  11. How long does the IBCC process take?
  12. Can IBCC really verify if I am showing them official or unofficial documents?
  13. Which schools require SAT scores?
  14. What scores do I need on IBCC/SAT’s/SAT II’s to be accepted?
  15. How do the application process and admission requirements differ between government and private medical colleges in Pakistan?
  16. What are the PTAP and the Self-Finance application process and what is the difference between them?
  17. How much does school in Pakistan cost?
  18. Is there any sort of ranking system for schools in Pakistan?
  19. Can I transfer between medical schools in Pakistan?
  20. What is the structure of the curriculum? When do I begin seeing patients?
  21. Am I allowed to do my clinical rotations somewhere outside of Pakistan?
  22. If I’ve already completed some or all of a college degree abroad do I still need to show my high school grades?
  23. I never took physics/chemistry/biology in high school! Can I still get into a medical school in Pakistan?
  24. What is the difference between government-run and private run medical colleges?
  25. What is an entrance test for medical colleges and who has to take it?
  26. If I’ve done some college after high school, or have done part of medical school elsewhere, can I finish medical school sooner in Pakistan than if I hadn’t?
  27. I’ve heard that you can bribe people there and easily pass — is this true?
  28. What is the USMLE exam and what does it mean to me?
  29. On average, how hard do you have to work and how many hours a day do you have to study to pass in a medical school in Pakistan?
  30. This one auntie told my mom something different from what you have written here — what do you have to say about that?
  31. Who can apply to a medical school in Pakistan?

Any person who has completed the minimum requirements as detailed below may apply for admission into a medical college in Pakistan. There was previously a rule which stated that candidates younger than 17 or older than 25 at the time of admission are prohibited from applying but this was repealed completely in May 2007 by the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council. Being a citizen of Pakistan is not a prerequisite for admission.

  1. What do I need to apply?

In order to apply, you must have completed your secondary school education. For American students, this means four years of high school and a high school diploma. For those following the UK system, this means successfully passing your ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level exams. Unless you show proof of graduation your application will not be processed by the Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC), the Pakistani government agency responsible for converting the grades/marks of foreign schools into the Pakistani educational system.

 

Additionally, you must have successfully completed one full year of each of the following during your secondary education: biology with lab, chemistry with lab, physics with lab, and four years of English in your secondary education. Because all Pakistani medical colleges carry out instruction in English you are required to have passed English in your secondary education. If you have not fulfilled all of these requirements, you will not be eligible to apply to any medical college in Pakistan.

  1. How old must I be to apply?

There are no age limit restrictions for applying to any medical college in Pakistan. There was previously a rule which stated that candidates younger than 17 or older than 25 at the time of admission are prohibited from applying but this was repealed completely in May 2007 by the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council.

  1. How long does the admissions process take? When should I begin applying?

The length of the admissions process for a medical college in Pakistan is dependent on a multitude of factors, with two being the most profound determinants of how long it will actually take. The first and most important is the processing of the Equivalence Certificate by the Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen, the Pakistani government agency responsible for converting the grades/marks of foreign schools into the Pakistani educational system.

 

You can only apply however for the Equivalence Certificate once you have your secondary education diploma so in the meantime let us consider the second factor: the school you wish to apply to. If you are applying to a private medical college (i.e. Aga Khan or Shifa College of Medicine) you will have to take the SAT-II Subject Test exams in biology, chemistry, and physics. These tests are not offered usually for a four-month period during the summer so you must begin preparing for and taking these exams earlier on in the year. Many applicants have been forced to delay applying for admissions for one year because they were unable to take their SAT-II tests in time. So, plan ahead!

 

If you are applying to a college run by the Government of Pakistan (i.e. King Edward Medical College or Fatimah Jinnah Medical College) then you should start applying as soon as you have received your secondary school diploma. You must get your Equivalence Certificate as soon as possible. Also, contact the nearest Embassy of Pakistan in your home country and ask them for details about applying to a government college. Also, don’t forget this forum has amassed a ton of invaluable information that you won’t find elsewhere — use the Search tool!

  1. How long does it take to get a degree?

All medical colleges in Pakistan irrespective of whether they are run by the Government of Pakistan or by private institutions impart the same medical degree to all graduates (M.B.B.S) which requires completion of a five-year program. Every year we receive questions from foreign students interested in applying for the existence of a four-year program. No such program exists. All medical programs are five years along with the first two years being mainly classroom teaching and the latter three years being primarily clinical with patient interaction.

  1. Is it possible to complete a degree in less time?

It is not possible to complete a degree in less than five years. All M.B.B.S. degrees require the completion of a five-year period of study.

  1. What is an M.B.B.S. degree? Is it the same as an M.D. degree?

An M.B.B.S. degree stands for Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and is equivalent to an M.D. degree awarded in the United States to a graduating physician.

  1. Which medical schools are certified/recognized, and by who?

All medical colleges in Pakistan which are operating within the guidelines of the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education carry the certification of the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC). In order to check whether the school that you are wishing to apply to is licensed to produce medical graduates please check the Registration Required.

 

In order to practice abroad (i.e. USA or UK) the medical school must be officially recognized by the World Health Organization. Click here to see a Registration Required.

  1. I’ve heard that if you graduate from Pakistan you cannot practice in the US — is this true?

If you graduate from a medical college which is on the Registration required then you are allowed to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and upon successfully passing it, allowed to apply for a residency and begin practicing in the United States.

 

Some states in the US do have specific requirements, however. Please consult the Medical Board of your specific state in order to determine if you will be allowed state licensure upon graduation.

  1. What is the IBCC Equivalence Certificate and do I really need one?

The IBCC Equivalence Certificate is a document granted by the Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) which converts your transcripts from foreign schools (those in the USA, UK, etc) to those of the Pakistani standard. If you are a foreign student (or a local Pakistani who has completed his/her O/A Levels) you are required to have an IBCC Equivalence Certificate in the Pre-Medical category with at least a score of 660 out of 1100 total.

 

Without this, you will not be granted admission in any medical college in Pakistan, public or private. Some private colleges will grant you admission based off of your foreign transcripts without having seen any Equivalence Certificate. Do not believe them. They will later require you to show proof of the certificate and if your grades are unable to earn a 660 score on conversion you will have wasted time and money. Be 100% sure about this: even if a school grants you admission, you will not graduate as a physician in Pakistan without an IBCC Equivalence Certificate in Pre-Medical with a score of at least 660.

  1. How long does the IBCC process take?

The IBCC process can span anywhere from 7 business days to as long as a couple of months depending on whether or not you have all the proper documentation. IBCC requires you to have one year of biology with lab, physics with lab, and chemistry with lab along with four years of English in order for you to be eligible for a Pre-Medical certification. They will sometimes be unwilling to accept courses such as “Literature” or “Composition” as an English class but usually talking to them for a while about it and demanding it be counted as an English class works out ok.

 

For your IBCC certificate application, you must bring at least two original versions of your secondary school transcripts each in its own sealed envelope along with your original diploma and any other scores you wish to submit (AP test scores — also original and sealed). Also, have two or three passport size photos of yourself. Although they only require one transcript, it is better to have multiples of everything just in case. If you’re in Pakistan the last thing you want to have to do is get in touch with your school back home to get new transcripts.

  1. Can IBCC really verify if I am showing them official or unofficial documents?

Simply put: yes they can! When you submit your transcripts for conversion, IBCC will after their 7 day processing period give you a letter stating your provisional score but they will not give you a real Equivalence Certificate. However, you can use this letter they provide to apply and gain admission at any medical college. In the meanwhile, IBCC will send a letter to your secondary school and request verification of the transcripts that you provided them in order to make sure that no grades/marks have been changed on the papers that you submitted. Do not try to fool the IBCC — they do follow up on everything and if they find that you have forged a transcript they can easily block you from ever gaining admission into any medical college in Pakistan.

  1. Which schools require SAT scores?

As a general rule, medical colleges run by the Government of Pakistan do not currently require SAT-I or SAT-II Subject Test scores from foreign applicants. This may change at some point in the future but at present only private colleges in Pakistan require any SAT scores to be submitted for admissions consideration.

 

Currently, Aga Khan University is the only medical college requiring the SAT-I test, whereas most other private colleges only require the SAT-II Subject Tests. If you are applying to a private college we suggest you check the forums for the specific college you are applying to but generally be expected to take the SAT-II Subject Tests in biology, chemistry, and physics.

  1. What scores do I need on my Equivalence Certificate/SAT-I/SAT-II to be accepted?

For the IBCC Equivalence Certificate, you must have a score not lower than 660 in the Pre-Medical classification. A 660 does not guarantee that you will gain admission in a medical college, it simply means you are eligible to gain admission. The actual score that you need in order to be accepted is variable and depends on the college you’re applying to and the scores other applicants have that year. Ask the school what the average score was for the previous year.

 

For the SAT-I (where it is required), usually, 1250 is the minimum score required to be eligible. For SAT-II exams, ask the college you are applying to; however, most have requirements around 650 for the subjects of biology, chemistry, and physics.

  1. How do the application processes and admission requirements differ between government and private medical colleges in Pakistan?

The two application processes are completely different. However, they both begin with obtaining an IBCC Equivalence Certificate first.

 

After that, if you are applying to a government college and are outside of Pakistan, you will get an application form from the nearest Pakistani Embassy/Consulate in your area and submit all forms to them. If you are in Pakistan and applying for a seat on the Self-Finance Program you will submit your application materials to the Higher Education Commission. If you are applying for the Pakistan Technical Assistance Program, submit your application to the Economic Affairs Division.

 

If you apply to a government college and are a foreigner, you will not have to give an entrance examination. You simply submit your Equivalence Certificate along with the rest of your application.

 

For private medical colleges, you will deal with the Student Affairs/Admissions department of that college directly after having obtained your Equivalence Certificate. Follow their application requirements and obtain a prospectus and then submit your application directly to them. The entrance requirements are different — you will most likely either have to submit SAT-II Subject Tests scores along with your high school transcripts and the Equivalence Certificate or take the college’s entrance test. Foreigners are strongly suggested to take the SAT-II Subject Tests rather than try to compete with the local applicants on the entrance examination.

 

  1. What are the PTAP and the Self-Finance application process and what is the difference between them?

To apply under the Pakistan Technical Assistance Program (commonly referred to as PTAP), You have to visit the Economic Affairs Division (a.k.a. EAD) website and download the application form for foreign students who wish to study in Pakistan. The form is taken down and reposted every year. You will need to print and fill out five copies of this form. You also need to attach the following to each copy of the application:

Certificates/Marks Sheet of HSSC/equivalent examination (high school diploma, high school and/or community college transcripts, AP Student Score Report)

Equivalence Certificate from the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) Islamabad where applicable i.e. in case of foreign qualification.

Recent Photograph (4 copies per copy of the application)

Copy of foreign Passport of the applicant

Proof of Pakistani Origin i.e. Pakistani Passport/National Identity Card/Registration Form etc.

Once you have all the copies of the application with all the necessary items for each form, you have two options. You can either submit it all to your local Pakistan Consulate or Embassy, or you can go to Islamabad (or send it to a relative or someone you know in Pakistan) to submit it by hand at the Economic Affairs Division office. They should give you some sort of receipt as confirmation. The deadline for submission of the application is usually August 31 or September 1.

 

To apply under the Self-Finance Scheme (a.k.a. SFS), you have to visit the Higher Education Commission?s website, download the application for students who wish to apply under the self-finance scheme, fill it out and make five copies as required on the form, and attach the appropriate documents/items to each copy of the application. These items are as follow:

A copy of a foreign passport of the applicants and parents

Copies of all educational documents (high school diploma, high school and/or community college transcripts, AP Student Score Report)

Equivalence Certificate from the IBCC

Proof of Pakistani Origin (if applicable)

Medical certificate from a government physician or a registered medical practitioner that the applicant is not suffering from any disease and is fit for study abroad

A No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the home country for studying in Pakistan (not applicable to those who are Pakistani or whose parents are/were Pakistani citizens)

Once you have all copies of your application complete, you have two options to submit it. You can either submit the applications to your local Pakistan Consulate or Embassy or go to Islamabad (or sent it to someone you know there) to submit it by hand to the Higher Education Commission?s office. They should give you some sort of receipt as confirmation. The deadline for submission of the application is usually August 31 or September 1.

 

The applications, required documents, and application deadlines for admissions under both these schemes are subject to change from year to year, so it?s best to visit the Economic Affairs Division and Higher Education Commission website from time to time during the year in which you wish to apply to keep up with such changes and to get a hold of the latest application.

 

The differences between these two programs are practically minimal except when it comes down to financial cost and which sector of the Pakistani government will be processing your application. The Economic Affairs Division processes PTAP applications while the Higher Education Commission processes SFS applications. The yearly tuition for a student admitted under PTAP is approximately $200 (U.S.) versus anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 (the U.S., dependant on which city the medical college is located in) for a student admitted under the SFS. There is no difference in the type or quality of education one will receive in one program versus the other. All educational facilities will be the same. In theory, the goal of PTAP, as defined by an EAD publication, is to earn the goodwill of friendly countries to project the image of Pakistan, share knowledge and expertise, renew the contacts of expatriate Pakistanis with Pakistan through education of their children in Pakistan. The main purpose of the SFS, as defined by the same publication, is to earn foreign exchange for the country as these students pay substantially high fees. The application requirements for both schemes vary only slightly, and most who are eligible to apply under one can apply under the other, with those attaining the highest IBCC marks receiving first preference under PTAP (as the yearly tuition is less for the same educational benefits), if they have applied under both schemes.

  1. How much does school in Pakistan cost?

The cost of tuition at medical schools in Pakistan varies depending on whether you choose to attend a government college or a private college. Most private colleges charge foreigners between $8000-$12,500 per year just for tuition. Local students usually pay approximately half of that.

 

Government colleges charge foreigners who have been admitted under the Self-Finance program approximately $5,000-$10,000 per year (depending on which city you study in) however students from abroad who have been admitted under the Pakistan Technical Assistance Program pay the same tuition fees that local students do (around $300-$400 per year!).

  1. Is there any sort of ranking system for schools in Pakistan?

There is no formally recognized central ranking system of the medical colleges in Pakistan. Any ranking that you hear regarding a college being #1 in all of Pakistan is most likely without merit.

  1. Can I transfer between medical schools in Pakistan?

Transferring between medical colleges in Pakistan, or migration as it is called here, does happen but it is usually a very burdensome and long process and must be approved by both the college you are leaving and the college you are transferring to.

  1. What is the structure of the curriculum? When do I begin seeing patients?

Medical college in Pakistan is a 5-year long program with the first two years only having classroom instruction, anatomy dissections, and lab experiments. The subjects studied are gross anatomy, embryology, histology, physiology, and biochemistry.

 

Clinical rotations (patient interaction) begins in the third year of study along with the subjects of pharmacology, general pathology, and forensic medicine. In the fourth year, students study otolaryngology, ophthalmology, community medicine, and special pathology. The final year is completely clinical with students seeing patients a majority of the time and studying surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and medicine.

  1. Am I allowed to do my clinical rotations somewhere outside of Pakistan?

No, your core clinical rotations must be completed at the hospital(s) affiliated with your medical college in Pakistan. Pakistan medical colleges differ from the Caribbean system where students do their first two years of study at their medical school and then go to the US or other countries for their clinical rotations.

  1. If I’ve already completed some or all of a college degree abroad do I still need to show my high school grades?

Yes, you do. Irrespective of the fact that you may have already completed your undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree, you must still show your high school/secondary school transcript to the IBCC in order to obtain an Equivalence Certificate. Your score will depend on your high school/secondary school grades, not your college ones.

  1. I never took physics/chemistry/biology! Can I still get into a medical school in Pakistan?

No, you cannot. You must have completed one year of all three subjects prior to entering medical school in Pakistan. If you have not taken these courses you will have to take those first.

  1. What is the difference between government-run and private run medical colleges?

This is a very broad question but to sum it up, government colleges usually offer much more patient contact/interaction but facilities of a lesser quality as compared to private medical colleges. They also provide very little direct teacher-student interaction (class sizes are usually 250 students/class). Government colleges are also much cheaper for local students and sometimes also cheaper than some private colleges for foreign students. Government colleges have a strong alumni base in Pakistan and abroad due to the number of years that they have been in operation.

 

Private colleges are generally more expensive and offer less patient interaction than government colleges (although many still do offer adequate amounts) but have nicer facilities, smaller class sizes (50-100/class) and more technology involved in teaching. Most private colleges are less than 20 years old and do not have a large alumni base in Pakistan or abroad.

  1. What is an entrance test for medical colleges and who has to take it?

If you are applying to a private medical college in Pakistan you will most likely have to take an entrance exam unless you take another exam which the college deems acceptable. Many private colleges will allow you to instead of taking the entrance exam submit scores from the SAT Subject Tests in biology, physics, and chemistry.

 

Government schools, on the other hand, require an entrance test from all local students and do not require any entrance examination or SAT Subject Test scores from foreign applicants.

 

The entrance exams usually cover biology, physics, and chemistry in equal portions and then attribute a small section to English and mathematics. Books are available in bookshops all around Pakistan that have previous exam questions in them along with study guides. Also in the past students have told us that they found the F.Sc textbooks for biology, chemistry, and physics to be the most helpful. These two are available at local bookstores.

  1. If I’ve done some college after high school, or have done part of medical school elsewhere, can I finish medical school sooner in Pakistan than if I hadn’t?

Even if you have completed a 4-year degree after your high school or secondary school education, you will still be required to complete the full MBBS 5 year course. You cannot receive any advanced standing or course credits, no matter where you studied or what degree you received.

 

If you have completed part of a medical school curriculum elsewhere you are advised to get in touch with the medical college in Pakistan that you are interested in and request information from them regarding international migration.

  1. I’ve heard that you can bribe people there and easily pass — is this true?

It is absolutely not true. Foreigners are notorious for imagining Pakistan to be a country still stuck in the Dark Ages and usually arrive with a very inaccurate set of preconceived notions regarding the Pakistani educational system.

 

Anyone believing that obtaining a medical degree in Pakistan is an easy task is setting themselves up for disappointment.

  1. What is the USMLE and what does it mean to me?

The USMLE or the United States Medical Licensing Exam is a test given by all medical graduates (American or foreign) before they are allowed to apply for a residency position and practice medicine anywhere in the United States.

 

Pakistani graduates will take the very same examination that American medical graduates are required to take. Most US graduates give Step 1 of the USMLE near the end of their second year of med school and Step 2 close to graduation whereas most Pakistani graduates give Step 1 and Step 2 after graduation.

 

It is important to attend a medical school in Pakistan which is approved by the WHO so that upon graduation you will be eligible to take the USMLE.

  1. On average, how hard do you have to work, and how many hours a day do you have to study to pass in a medical school in Pakistan?

This question has no generalized answer as it is highly dependent upon the individual. The best advice is to realize the study schedule which works best for you and to be consistent in following it.

 

Some students do better cramming at the last minute whereas others need to study weeks before to do well. From our experience, those who study consistently and pay attention in class consistently perform better than those who wait until the last minute.

  1. But this one auntie told my mom something different from what you have written here — what do you have to say about that?

We’ve always suspected that that auntie had it out for you. Don’t listen to her. #wink

 

All jokes aside, however, there are tons of false rumors circulating about regarding Pakistan medical schools and the method of applying, hostel life, school quality, accreditation information, etc, etc. We continuously hear the most bizarre rumors from people who have been misled by family and friends who mean well but honestly do not know the facts. One of the most common ones is that a certain school allows you to graduate from Pakistan in 4 years rather than 5. All we can say is that if such a place exists, we’d love to go there.

2 responses on "APPLYING TO PAKISTAN MEDICAL COLLEGES? READ THIS FIRST!!!"

  1. I HAVE TAKEN MCAT 2016 *& HAVE ALLHUMDULILLAH 87% AGG. so just onething bound to books only & give importance to vacab. 843 words they are

  2. I am shoaib Ahmad from kpk swat

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