Advice on scheduling

Hey folks. I am looking for some outside advice on how I should structure my classes that I need to take before the MCAT. I am a non-trad as are we all! And am probably only going to be able 2 take 1 class a semester. I need to take the following:

Gen Chem I&II and Lab

O. Chem I&II and Lab

Bio I&II and Lab

Physics I&II and Lab

I am willing to start in the spring. I know most post-bac programs start during the summer. But if I can finish up a semester early and take an MCAT review course that would be the best! Here is what I was thinking

Summer 07 I

Gen Chem I and Lab

Summer 07 II

Gen Chem II andlab

Fall 07

O. Chem I and lab

Spring 08

O. Chem II and Lab

Summer 08 I

Physics I and Lab

Summer 08 II

Physics II and Lab

Fall 08

Bio I and lab

Winter 09


Spring 09

Bio II and lab

What do you think? Anyway to do it better or quicker?

Have you ever taken chemistry before? I’m asking b/c Gen Chem might be a hard class to start with, especially in the summer when the courses are short and fast. But since you’re only taking one class at a time it might be doable!

Good luck with everything.


I have taken chemistry before. It wasn’t general chem though, it was an organic/inorganic chem that was for allied health professionals.

If your algebra is up to snuff, you can probably do okay with the general chemistry. Just remember that there’s a lot of math in gen chem.

I think you’ll be fine with this schedule. I also took a combo organic/gen chem for allied health and it helped me a lot for general chemistry. Its my opinion that your math skills be on the mark, because that is what will get you behind on chemistry. Best of luck


MS-II (until I pass Step 1!!)

Ross University School of Medicine

I’m not confident that one semester of biology will be enough to prepare you for the MCAT.

Also, you might consider taking biochemistry and one semester of calculus to make sure you’ve covered the prerequisites for most schools. (The school I’m going to be attending had several additional prereqs including biochem, calc, and psychology.)

I’m not sure if there is any other way to schedule my courses so that I get 2 semesters of bio in before the MCAT’s other then to take the MCAT in the spring.

Plus I would like to take some sort of MCAT review course as well. So I need to factor that in as well.

Taking the MCAT in the winter vs. spring is not going to give you any advantage in applying unless med schools change the admissions process with the advent of the computerized MCAT. As the admissions process is currently run, either MCAT date you propose will be for an application for the entering class of 2010.

Biochem is definitely becoming a more likely requirement for admission, but you could take both Biochem and Calculus (if necessary) during the year that you are applying. These aren’t necessary for the MCAT, and if a school requires them, you just have to prove that you took them before matriculating.

Suppose I can take Chem I and lab during the spring instead of the summer, which means I can bump chem II and lab during summer session I. do you think most schools offer Orgo I during the summer II session? If they offer Orgo at all?

If I can bump up my schedule by 1 semester that may help with having 2 semesters of bio for the MCATs

It depends on the size of the school you are attending. A smaller school is likely to only offer the first of any series in the fall, a larger one probably offers it every semester. In either case though, its probably unlikely that they will offer the first organic course during a second summer session - those tend to be offered sequentially.

Another option you could look at is taking organic the year you want to take the MCAT. Most of the organic that is on the MCAT is covered in the first semester.

Again, though, taking the MCAT in the winter vs. the spring will give you no advantage in applying - why not wait and take the MCAT in the spring when you will have completed most of the second semester of whatever class you are taking that year?

What’s the general wisdom in regard to taking both O. Chems w/ lab during Summer I & II? No work, just class. Has anyone done it and is it a good idea?

I think concentrating O-chem I&II over the summer is totally doable, especially if you’re not working. O-chem is like a foreign language, so consider it an immersion summer.

I did my general chem that way this summer. The first session was awesome because we had a great teacher. The second session could have gone better, and I don’t think I’ve retained that material well (it is hurting me a little in Organic now). It is completely doable, but make sure the instructor(s) is/are good. You’ll likely not have much of a choice on instructors. You’ll just have to work harder on your own if the instructor isn’t very effective. In any event, try to get together with a group of similarly motivated students with whom you can study. That helped me A LOT!


I took both ochems with lab over the summer. It was pretty intense and I don’t recommend it for everyone. Check out the situation thoroughly before you sign up for it - get input from other students who have taken it where you plan on taking it about profs, TA’s workload, etc. Where I took it, the lecture and lab sections were small (~35 people per prof) and we had 3 TAs per lecture sections. Labs were limited to 20 people with one prof and 2 TAs. So, they made sure there was lots of help available.

I would probably do it again - but I have to admit that I don’t feel like I retained much from it (too much info in too little time - the foreign language immersion analogy is a good one). Fortunately, I took the MCAT the week after I finished ochem so it was fresh and I never had to spend a lot of time reviewing it.

Definitely don’t plan on working if you decide to do it - you will need to devote all your time to ochem.

Thanks for your replies. I might have guessed I’d get such optimistic, can-do feedback from this crowd. My main concern is that it’s a heavy load and I need to retain this stuff for the next two semesters whilst I take physics and before the MCAT. I’ll try and get the scoop on profs at my school, and a study group is a great idea. I often feel somewhat unconnected to the rest of the students being only part-time in the evenings. It may sound crazy, but - O. Chem or not - I’m looking forward to having a singular focus in life!


I am going to disagree with the “crowd”. Personally, I feel this information will prove to be very important to not only your MCAT performance; but also construct the unnderpinnings for your understanding of med school biochem & subsequent to that pharmacology. So, I would not advocate doubling up or rushing through two such heavy subjects. In fact, I would go a step further & discourage you from taking heavy topics such as Ochem during summer period. The stakes are simply too high. If one of life’s unpredictable issues arises and you fall behind - you are probably screwed on your Ochem grade.

Now, how significant is that in the grand scheme? Depends…no, a single bad grade is not a death sentence. However, if you are battling a checkered academic past, as I was, then just one more less-than-desired grade could indeed curtail, if not close off, options.

Another factor is how rigorous Ochem is at your school. If it is known - doubtfully - as a “blow off” at your school & you are 200% confident of doing well…then maybe consider it. However, as I seriously doubt Ochem is a chip-shot, this could potentially be a risk, especially if your primary motivation is to expedite the application process.

I would proffer that the perception that “I am older so I must hurry up before I am too old to get admitted” phenomenon is all too common in non-trads, essentially a myth & totally unfounded. Now, if your are approaching/exceeding 50 - then age can be a factor - not an insurmountable one, clearly evidenced by several OPM members in that age category who are med students &/or residents. But, in their cases, age did pose some additional challenges. For someone as young as yourself, another year or two will not hurt you. Trying to ruch things & subsequently underperforming certainly has profound potential to damage your application. From my perspective, the riskbenefit ratio clearly weighs towards taking your time, doing it right & avoiding overloading yourself if it can be avoided.

  • Maliha Said:
What's the general wisdom in regard to taking both O. Chems w/ lab during Summer I & II? No work, just class. Has anyone done it and is it a good idea?

Hi Dave,

I take it that goes for physics, too? Maybe I should take science electives over the summer and take the meatier courses over full semesters…I’m just afraid of working even part-time while taking organic and I was trying to avoid an entire school year without income. But, I’d rather be poor than not do very well so you may be right…well, on that note, I’m back off to spend this amazing 83-degree gift of a November day in the library!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response.


I agree with the main point of what OMD is saying–there’s no rush. On the other hand if you are not going to work and can really concentrate on the course, and your life is more or less in your control, then summer classes can be great. However, my experience with a summer class was to do Physics II and lab, not both physics classes crammed in. That sounds rough to me.

During the regular school year I worked 16-20 hours/wk taking 2 classes with labs, which I don’t think is atypical–wouldn’t have wanted to work anymore than that though. (I quit the job where I was 20-30 and carried a pager after they paged me 10 minutes before I went in to my chemistry final. I just felt like, you know, this isn’t going to work. Took a less well-paying job with better schedule flexibility.) Do go easy at first epecially when you are just starting out, remembering your math, and so on. But I would see how it goes first semester and then see whether you can either increase your school load or decrease your work load, which would probably be better ways of speeding up the prereq process than jamming too much into summer school.

Good luck!



This posting snatched my attention because I am trying to figure out how to structure my prerequisites as well.

I enrolled in a postbac program where the coordinator recommends taking the core classes during Fall or Spring Semester, however, I would like to follow a different path in order to get a jumpstart on taking classes. I know there are highly competitive postbac programs which offer condensed schedules (12-15 months), normally providing students with support through ancillary services.

Below is the schedule I’d like to follow. Did anyone follow or is anyone currently following a similar path? Is it feasible to follow this course of action and receive excellent grades? Given the time limitations, will it provide substantial preparation and a solid foundation of basics necessary for medical school? Of course, success with this schedule is dependent on factors, such as aptitude for the sciences, work commitments, family commitments and study habits.

Summer 07 I

Gen Chem I and Lab

Summer 07 II

Gen Chem II

Fall 07

O. Chem I and lab

Gen Bio I

Physics I and lab

Spring 08

O. Chem II

Gen Bio II

Physics II and Lab


Summer 08 I

Intro Biochemistry

I had essentially the same schedule starting in summer '06. I took a precalculus in fall '06, and I don’t plan on taking biochem unless it looks like I need a little advanced coursework after this semester. Other than that, your schedule looks prettyr similar to the post-bacc. premedical curriculum where I have been going to school.

It has worked well for several people I have met, so I think it should be okay with just a couple of qualifiers:

  1. The classes are from an appropriately accredited 4-year university. If you have questions about the acceptability of your school, be sure to check with a couple of the medical schools you are interested in attending to see what they think.

  2. A’s in as many of the classes as you can manage.

    A great GPA is pretty important.

  3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew when it comes to course load. Here is a point where I disagree with my advisor somewhat. He asserts that medical schools like to know that you can handle a heavy academic load. I’m sure that is true, but caving-in under a heavy load for which you are unprepared will certainly not impress them. I feel pretty confidant that great grades with a “reasonable” load look much better than mediocre grades under a load you apparently weren’t able to manage. You might have to explain this at your interview, but at least you’ll be at an interview.

    That’s my $.02, but there may be other opinions out there too. Actually, I’m counting on it. :wink: