I was planning to take the April MCAT but with my course load this semester (physics, developmental bio), I don't think I will have the time I need to put into studying for it. And I really don't want to take it unless I am prepared. So, it looks like I will need to take it in August. I was just wondering, will this set me back in terms of the admissions process even if I put in my application in early July and take the MCAT in August? I am just afraid that August will be too late to take the MCAT and I will be wasting my time and money trying to get in.
Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.
Yes, it is better to take it in April as you can have your application complete at your schools sooner. Many schools do not send secondaries until your application is complete - and that means with MCAT scores, which you will not receive until October.
However, you should not take it until you are ready, as you really only want to take it once and you want to OWN the test.
Many people suffer no ill effects from an August MCAT and get in just fine - our own njbmd if I recall correctly.
So it is far from a waste of time to be an August MCATer and late applicant. You just have to be very very fast with all the secondaries.
so - if you can plan your schedule to be ready to take it in April - GREAT - if not, take it when you can adequately prepare - even if that means August.
Thanks Lisa for the above post. Yea, I agree with everything you said. I will definitely start studying for it like I will take it in April, but I will most likely take it in August.
Like Lisa said it is probably better to take it in April some schools even encourage this if your look in the MSAR, but that said, it will not prevent you from gaining acceptance if you do take it in Augus. Many people do and they get in. The bottom line is to take it when you are ready period. If that is in August so be it. Just submit your applications in June/July as soon as you can. That way your application is complete except for the MCAT score and schools will just be waiting for that. Good luck!
Best time to take it? When you think you’re ready. Be sure to plan many full-length practice exams in the weeks leading up to the MCAT. You should see steady progress in each of them - that’ll help give you the confidence to know that you are ready.
There are schools that won’t do a thing with your application until they get your MCAT scores. Obviously schools that ‘screen’ prior to sending out secondaries are in this group. I don’t know if anyone has a reliable list of the schools that screen vs. the schools that don’t. My impression has been that more schools do NOT screen - that is, they send a secondary to everyone. The cynic in me is forced to note that, therefore, they request a check from everyone
There was a guy on OPM a few years ago who got lots of secondaries during the summer (he sent his application in at the earliest possible date), took the August MCATs, and was getting interview invites, I swear, within a week of finding out his MCAT scores. This leads me to speculate (definitely without enough information) that some schools give an application a pretty good look pre-MCAT, so that if the MCAT then is within an “acceptable” range, they’re ready to send the interview invite right away. But again, my only basis for this supposition is this one guy’s experience.
I think you can definitely do fine with an August date IF you send in your application fairly early and get your secondaries back quickly. You probably are stacking the deck against yourself if you both apply late and take the August MCAT, but there’s no reason to do that, right? Good luck!
Yes, there is a small statistical advantage to landing interview invitations for folks who take the April MCAT. However, that “advantage” is not any where nearly sufficient to justify taking the MCAT earlier than you are ready for it!!!
I would strongly suggest that you relax and prepare for the MCAT when your schedule allows. From what you have said, preparing for the April MCAT would conflict with some substantial coursework. You do not want to place yourself into the catch 22 of having to choose b/t doing well in your courses or on the MCAT.
If you feel that the April test is a sufficiently large advantage, then I would suggest that you put off applying for a year, take next April’s test and apply next fall in lieu of this fall. Otherwise, I would not worry about having taken the fall exam – a load of us, myself included, got in with an August MCAT.
Best of luck & success to you!!
Thanks everybody for the advice and support! You are guys are the best!
I want to emphasize one of Dave's excellent comments:
always always put coursework first!
You only get one shot at getting the good grade. You have a variety of ways to ensure that you get a good MCAT - you can decide when to take it, and, if absolutely necessary, you can take it again. But you won't get a do-over on a grade.
Is it harder to get a higher score in Aug than in April?
If the test is curved and everyone is studying like mad through the summer for the Aug test, then I would think that more people are prepared for Aug than they are in April, since in April people are still studying for their classes. Thoughts?
But then wouldn’t you also be studying harder for the August exam? I don’t think there is any difference in the difficulty of getting a particular score between different examination times. The statistics are performed and the scores given out so that you can compare anyone with, for example, a 9 on the verbal reasoning section with any other person with a 9 even on different exam administrations from April to August or from year to year. Do not make your decision on which exam to take based on the thought that it is easier to score higher on a certain administration. As the previous posters have noted, the best time to take the exam is when you feel well prepared to take. It is probably impossible to ever feel that you are “ready” for the exam (it is a monster), but when you feel that more studying will result in diminishing returns, then it might be time to take the exam regardless of whether that be in April or August. The main drawback to the August exam is that your application might be looked at later in the cycle at certain schools if you were to apply that same application cycle as when you took the test.
For what it’s worth, last week the JHU post-bacc director said he’s seen no difference in interview/acceptance rates for his students that took the August MCAT as opposed to the April MCAT.
Disclaimer: His program has only been in existence for two years. But, he was the dean of admissions at the JHU SOM, so he’d know if it put you at a disadvantage.
Take it when you’re ready for it, and the rest will work itself out. Just be ready to hump it on the secondaries!
I'm making the same decision. The only overwhelming reason I could see to take the MCAT in April is that one school I am interested in (UNM) will only consider out-of-state applicants if they apply through Early Decision. But I looked at their acceptance rate - it's so low for out-of-staters that it's hard to justify an April MCAT just for that.