5 years out from undergrad, how much time to budget for studying?


This is my first post. Medicine has been in the back of my mind for a while and I recently began exploring a career change. Quick background on me - I’m currently 27 and graduated from undergrad 5 years ago with a degree in Physics. I’ve been working at a tech company the past 4 years and am presently working as a Software Developer. The job has been rewarding, but I don’t take pride in my work in a way that I would like to. I’m attracted to medicine because of the meaningful nature of the work, patient interaction, and lifelong learning of the human body. Ideally over the next year I’d take night classes to finish up the premed requirements I did not take (Orgo, Biochem, and 2nd sem of Bio) and take the MCAT. This would allow me to apply in 2017 for a 2018 start time. During the year in between applying and starting I could take more classes that aren’t strictly required but helpful such as antro, sociology, genetics, etc.

Does this sound possible to do while working full time (40 hrs/wk)? Has anyone been in a similar situation? The biggest unknown to me is how much time I’ll need to prepare for the MCAT given that I’ll need to relearn ~50% of the material and learn ~50% for the first time. I know everyone is different with how fast/well they study, but I could get some ballpark estimates or anecdotes from anyone who has been through this that would be greatly appreciated!



I believe most pre-med advisors will recommend studying for the MCAT at least 3 mos. prior to your projected exam date, with 4-6 mos. being the ideal. This of course varies depending on how fresh the material is in your mind, and how many hrs/day or week you’ll be able to commit to studying the material. The best resources I’ve found so far are the AAMC MCAT prep materials, which include outlines of concepts that you need to know, practice exams, etc. The practice exams, in particular, are vital. They will give you an idea of not only what the tests contain, but how the questions are structured. Concerning the classes you’ve already taken, I would start by getting the MCAT prep guidebook and integrating concepts that you should have already covered from Gen Chem1/2, Physics, Bio 1, and Psych, just to get a head start.

Regarding your remaining classes, I would check with your local undergrad institution to see if they’ll allow you to take Bio 2, Orgo, and BioChem concurrently, as the former two are typically prereqs to the third. Generally, for post-bacc students, advisors are willing to make an exception, but definitely do your research first. Additionally, Sociology has been integrated into the new MCAT, so I would take that before taking the test (it may even be a prereq for some med schools).

Finally, taking classes in the off year will most likely benefit you personally more than anything, as I don’t believe it’s possible to make adjustments reflecting this choice on your AMCAS apps, once they’ve been submitted. However, you may be able to talk about it during your interviews, and a desire for continuing your education independently can only reflect well on you as an applicant. Hope this helps!