Application Process (Somewhat long).

I have fretting about this for a long time, and maybe people that have been through the experience can shed a little light on my situation.
I am done with all of my prereqs except for Org Chem II, and will be taking the MCAT in August. I would have loved to take Org Chem II in Spring, but I could not get it in with my work schedule. I live in Jacksonville, and neither FCCJ, UNF or any of the other colleges have offered the class at a time when I can take it. Anyways, this is not the issue, just the reason I am taking the MCAT without Org C II.
Anyway, my strategy is this: I am going to get my application ready to go, and when I get my scores back from the August exam, I will either submit the application, or wait until April – depending on that score.
My questions are these:
1) I have not started pursuing LORs yet – how does that work? Do the schools directly contact your profs? Or do we get the LOR from the prof, and then forward them onto the school with the secondary application?
This is a piece I am missing – I have procrastinated on it, focusing more on my school/work, but this is something that I need to look at more.
It seems like a teacher submitting a LOR to 5-10 schools might get really annoyed to do that, so it seems like it doesn’t work like that.
2) For the statement, is it worthwhile to have on on-line company help you with it?
3) Does this strategy seem like a good one? My undergrad is OK(3+), my science GPA is OK(~3.5), so I feel that the MCAT will really make/break my application. Additionally I have a Master’s Degree (3.9 GPA) in Computer Science, which may also help.
The other thing is, if I wait, I can get some more volunteer experience which I am slightly lacking in right now (since starting to work full time for 10 years).
Anyways, lots of text, but I wouldn’t mind hearing if I am off-base on any of this, or the LOR advice part.

Waiting to submit the application until your august mcat score comes back is kind of late. You will NOT get the august mcat scores until october then amcas may take up to 8 weeks or so to process your application be aware of this caveat. Then once amcas has processed your application and it is submitted to medical schools it can take up to another month before the schools send secondaries then once that is done your professors send in lor etc… that can take another couple of weeks…sum it all up and you see that your stuff will not be complete all the way until what january? this is worst case scenario but it does happen. Remember that amcas will be processing 1000’s of application and it does take a looooong time (sometimes not all the time) …submit amcas BEFORE you get your august mcat. If you are not confident that your scores will be okay then maybe you are not ready for the august mcat? specially w/o orgo II? just beware the burden of proof big time on non-trads is gpa and mcat…

Thanks for the response…
My Org Chem II has been the bain of my existence the last few semesters, I just can’t find it anywhere at night/weekend, or even during the day sometime where I can work around my schedule. In the end, it may set me back a year for applying . Getting Org Chem I was not a problem. I can’t quit my job, although I wish I could right now.
Anyways, the reason I would take it without is from the Exam Krackers material – they say that there is not much Org II on the MCAT, and the stuff that you do need is in their material. Obviously, it would be the weakest part of my prepartion, but I feel if I know the basics and study hard, I can score fairly well. Also, if the MCAT is based less of of Org than before, I feel that this is all an acceptable risk… but that is based off my strength in other areas.
Your point on timing is very good one, perhaps I should submit it earlier, and then await my MCATs. It had NOT occured to me before on how late that actually is (Usually simple things confuse me ).

Well, although not a lot of organic is on the mcat most that is on it will be from organic II. Again it is best to wait one year and be very competitive than not wait one year and not be so competitive. It will all work out fine if you kick arse on the MCAT but what if you do not? then adcoms will see your mcat score and question why did you take it w/o organic II? you see…it all comes back…I would suggest getting your hands on a practice exam take it and see for yourself. I like what Joe said about OPM’ers they tend to rush and sometimes miss the acceptance range due to rushing through and not presenting themselves in the best light. Only you can decide what is best but make sure that you think of ALL possible outcomes and how you will answer the questions from adcoms…


1. You will need to go to your profs and ask them to write your LOR. Make sure you can get one from someone that really knows you and is not going to just write that you were a good student and earned an A. You need something better than that. Give them your personal statement so they can know why you want to go to med school. You also need to sstart volunteering so you can get a LOR from where you are volunteering.

Does your school have a pre-med or pre-health advisor? They are the ones that usually handle your letters. The writer will send them the letters and then they will forward them on to the schools that offer you a secondary. You will have to sign a waiver stating that you have not seen the letter. If your school doesn’t have a pre-med advisor, I would suggest you ask your regular advisor or a prof that likes you if they would handle things for you. If you still can’t find someone, they do have services that you can pay to handle the letters for you.

Each school usually has their own LOR form, but I never used any of them. My undergrad school had a standard form that I gave to all my letter writers and it was this form that went to every school. Schools don’t mind if you use a different form from the one they offer. If your school doesn’t have a form, I would suggest looking at the ones med schools send out and drafting one of your own that is similar to those . Make sure you put in the waiver.

Also if your profs or advisor handles your letters, make sure they make copies so they will have one for each school that requests one and a few extras.

2. I would suggest any company to be paid to review your PS. There are people on OPM and SDN that are willing to read your statement and offer suggestions. I have helped a number of folks with theirs and would be willing to help you out. I will warn you, I won’t mince words and am very honest. You can also let friends, relatives and the english department at your school read it.

3. Taking the MCAT without Organic II can prove fatal to your application strength. I would think twice about that. I guess you could try to prepare on your own by reading the Kaplan big comprehensive book and cracking the MCAT by Princeton review. Both can be purchased at any book store or ordered online through I would suggest you take some full length practice tests and see how well you can score. That way you could determine the reality of taking it without Organic II.

The volunteer experiences are very important and should be started ASAP.

Your college may also have a career planning or placement office that will handle blind reference letters for you.

As far as waiting a year, it is something that I don’t want to do (obviously) but I think that it’s probably in my best interest. When I laid out my prereqs to finish 2 years ago, this was going to be the year I applied, so I wanted to stick to it. Org 2 was going to be in Spring, and I was going to take the MCAT in April.
It ended up that I took a Kaplan MCAT class instead (because I couldn’t fit Org 2 into my schedule anywhere ), so I could take the MCAT in Spring, and then Org 2 in summer. Then, Org 2 didn’t work out for summer.
So now, it is just a matter of probably waiting another year… arg… not the worst situation because I have a good job, it’s just that I want to move on.
I am still going to shoot for the August MCAT though. On the Kaplan tests, it was probably my best subject (believe it or not). Bio was my worst, I am retaking a Bio II class that I hoped I wouldn’t have to this summer to try to boggle the brain a bit and get some of that stuff back. PhySci was OK, I felt at the end of the MCAT class I had a reasonable chance at 10-11 on the real thing. Bio was weak though, and verbal was all over the map, so I decided to retake Bio this summer.
Anyways, thanks for the feedback, your viewpoints are definitely what I needed to hear.

Hi Amy,
Thanks so much for the thoughtful response!!
The sharing the personal statement is an absolutely great idea, that is something that I will definitely do. I had not thought of that, and I have a teacher in mind that personally likes me, but may not understand why it is that I want to go back to school.
I don’t really have a “home school”, because my undergrad is completed in MN, and I am working full time in FLA now. I live close to UNF and FCCJ (Community College), I could potentially ask them to handle those. There, I am considered a “visiting student”. I could also potentially ask my undergrad institution – it’s just not very convenient!!
Hehe, for the personal statement, I will definitely pass it by you since you offered.
I probably did not give enough background on my MCAT situation, I have certainly thought out my gameplan and taken a ton of tests (scoring usually 22-26), mostly weak on Biology material. I felt if I took the Bio II class again this summer, in combination with the Kaplan/EK material, it would push me over the hump.
Your point on volunteering is spot on, and well taken. It is an obvious area of improvement that can potentially help me if I apply in 2005. I will get on that ASAP as well…
With everything taken in consideration, it sure seems like waiting a year is the right thing to do. Not to my liking, but such is life.

Hi there,
Even if you got your application in early, by checking the box that says you are taking the August MCAT, you have delayed completion of your application until around October 15th. If you end up not doing well on the MCAT, you would end up re-applying for the next year in order to re-take the MCAT in April.
Waiting the extra time and taking the second semester of Organic chemistry is probably your best option. By following that strategy, you will have your application in early and if you do very well on the August MCAT, you won’t have to worry about taking the April MCAT.
The question that you have to answer is if you want to risk taking the MCAT this August without having the second semester of Organic Chemistry. The MCAT is not an exam to take for practice. If you are not prepared, you probably should not take the August exam. A mediocre grade on MCAT even if you ace it in April is not going to enhance your application overall. Just keep this in mind.
It might be a better strategy to take your Organic Chemistry, keep practicing and studying the rest of your MCAT material and have your application ready to go for next year after preparing for, taking and doing well on the April MCAT.
As for letters of recommendation: You are responsible for contacting the people who will write your letters. Do beware that some medical schools will require you to have a letter from your pre-medical committee. The pre-medical committee will require that you have all of your letter writers submit their letters directly to them. You need to get on the ball if this is the case. Your pre-med committee may also require that you meet with them before they write a composite letter so you need to investigate this possiblity.
The personal statement is an integral part of your application. You need to be sure that you do not make any mistakes in your composition of this part of your application. The personal statement should make an admissions committee want to meet you and admit you to their class. You PS should not be a rehash of your application and it should not be used to explain one or two bad grades. If you started off with a poor GPA and improved greatly then you do not need to explain this in your personal statement. You PS should be very readable. You need to use language that a medical school professor would be able to understand. You need to outline your goals and interests in pursuing medicine. I would avoid trying things like: I will cure the common cold or I want to be the best family practictioner in the country. I would also avoid that I want to study medicine because I like to help people. You can help people by working in a soup kitchen. Put some thought and care into your PS. If you are a very poor writer, you may seek help from an on-line company but buyer beware!
You will be considered for admission to medical school based on your total application. Your undergraduate grades, especially your pre-medical science grades will be important determinants. In addition, your MCAT score will be an important consideration. You masters degree in computer science will be less of a determinant for medicine. In addition, you need to have good volunteer experiences and you need to have a good personal statement and solid letters of recommendation from people who know you well. The application has to be a complete packege that shows you in the best possible light.
Good luck!