I will be taking all of the pre-med science courses over the next year or so and was wondering whether taking those courses will well prepare me for the MCATS or if I will still require extensive amounts of MCAT study time? (trying to figure out when to shoot for taking the exam )
You’ll still need to allocate plenty of time for studying. In particular, you need to learn test-taking strategy specific to the MCAT, and you will need to fill in a few areas that probably won’t be covered in intro-level prereq courses (specifically, some bits of anatomy and physiology).
The courses will provide a great foundation, but you will need to master specific concepts and principles and forget about others, and then have them at your fingertips when the exam comes around.
If you will have a full course load in the spring, I strongly recommend waiting until August to take the MCAT (unless you are very, very unusual and brilliant).
Thanks for the input! This brings up another question…I planned on taking Human Anatomy & Physiology instead of the basic BIO course…will that cover much of the MCAT Biology info or will I need to take basic BIO as well?
You absolutely, positively need the introductory Biology sequence not just human anatomy. Critically important: cell biology; to a lesser extent, genetics. You mentioned in another post that you’re in northern Virginia - where are you looking to take your prereqs? I don’t know NVCC’s course selection but at George Mason the first bio course everyone has to take is cell bio and it’s a very good course, or at least it was when I took it, uh, several years ago now.
Another thing to watch: at Mason, anyway, anat/phys is a 100-level course that is geared for nursing students, and it probably would not count toward the biology prerequisite for medical school. This varies HUGELY from school to school so you need to look into this carefully. A good rule of thumb: check what courses are required for a major in that subject; if a course wouldn’t fulfill a major requirement it probably won’t fill a prerequisite requirement either.
I meant to say, on the MCAT question, I did treat my prerequisite studying as part of my MCAT preparation. My first year of prereqs I took gen-chem and one bio course; the second year of prereqs I did o-chem, physics, more bio and then MCAT prep. I took the MCAT shortly before completing the second semester of o-chem and physics, which is a question that’s batted around here from time to time - it worked out okay for me but people’s experiences vary.
You need to treat MCAT preparation as a four-credit course in the months leading up to the test. As meowmix said, it’s a very different sort of test and you need to prepare for it in a way that you’ve never prepared for a test before. I haven’t taken GREs, but my husband has, and comparing notes I can tell you that the MCAT is a totally different kind o’ animal and a nasty one at that.
In the spring semester when I took the MCAT, I took o-chem and physics and nothing else - with kids at home besides, that was PLENTY on my plate and I would’ve really been floundering had I tried to do more. I always made my coursework my first priority, and I’ve said this so many times over the years on this board that I’m sure people are sick of hearing it: you can always postpone or retake the MCAT, but you can’t redo a grade, so coursework should ALWAYS come first.
Well…rats! I was hoping to get the CHEM and BIO courses done at NVCC to save both time (I live right by campus) and money (I could squeak NVCC courses past my husband without too much problem - Mason is another story).
NVCC offers cell biology but you have to have 1 year of college bio before you even take it and then it looks as though I’d still have to take a full year at Mason.
They do offer CHEM w/lab at a 100 level and O-Chem at the 200 level. Mason has Chem at the 200 level and O-Chem at the 300 level.
YUK! Now I have to start replanning!
Thanks for the info!! I’m glad I didn’t take courses that won’t be accepted.
Tammy, first of all: you need to know that community college courses often aren’t well-regarded by medical schools. This isn’t necessarily fair, but it’s the way it is (do a search for community college courses and you’ll find LOTS of old discussion on this subject). Some schools go as far as to actually SAY they won’t accept CC credits. Many others don’t explicitly say it, but it will hurt your application.
Secondly, if a community college is what you need to do, then you need to ask, would these credits transfer into a four-year degree program and would they “count” toward a major in that subject?
For example, my son majored in business at Virginia Tech. In order to avoid having to do a whole extra semester there, he took some accounting courses one summer at NVCC. He knew going in that these courses were OK with Tech and that they’d satisfy his major requirements.
If you really need to go the NVCC route, you need to know if the courses you’ll take at NVCC would satisfy major requirements at GMU, UVA or VT. Don’t take them otherwise.
I’m taking my prequisites in GMU now. And 1) it’s much harder than NOVA, but 2) I feel I’m learning much more. I’m taking the cell biology (mentioned by Mary) and this class is awsome, but really really demanding. I think that in GMU you can take this class without one year of lower level biology before, if only you feel you can manage it.
I’ve just taken out my schedule of classes for next semester at GMU and am reworking my plan. The really difficult things (aside from sliding it by the husband) is that it’s going to take a bit longer.
In an earlier post you all mentioned taking it slower despite wanting to jump in quickly. That’s definately me! I want to jump in and get started. I don’t want to add another semester or two to the whole thing because I’m getting started at an old enough age as it is.
But really…what is an extra semester or two besides extra time to prepare and excellent app, study more for the MCATs so I don’t have to do it twice and time to get some volunteer time in at a local hospital? It certainly won’t be wasted time.
Thanks for the input!!
You’re at GMU too! For Cell Bio I have a choice of Christensen or Crocker next semester. Any recommendations? Is it so demanding that it should be the only course I take to get started? Have you done any of the other premed courses yet?
Tammy - I sent you a private message .
Don’t forget that in addition to doing your coursework, you need to have plenty of time to do practice questions in a similiar manner to the way your course material is tested on MCAT. Many people make the HUGE mistake of trying to memorize the facts in a review book but do not have any practice with application of knowledge which is what the MCAT is all about. Do make sure that you do plenty of practice exams and that you can differential between lack of knowledge and lack of ability to apply that knowledge.