Finishing prereqs before MCAT

Hi there,

I am hoping for some advice about completing my prereqs and studying/taking the MCAT. I am planning to apply to medical school during the summer of next year (2011) for entry in fall 2012. My problem is that I will not be completely finished with my o-chem sequence until about a month before I take the MCAT (I will finish my last o-chem in the beginning of June and do not want to take the MCAT any later than the middle of July). I would like to start studying for the MCAT at the end of March. Would I be able to sufficiently prepare for the test without finishing my o-chem sequence until a month before I take the test? I’d really appreciate any advice! Thanks in advance!!

On one hand, since the importance of organic chemistry has lessened in the past few years, most of what is on the exam is first semester stuff. Indeed several med schools will now take a single semester of organic chem with a semester of biochem in place of Ochem II.

On the the other hand, I do not think that Organic Chem knowledge will be your limiting factor but rather prep time. Second term Organic is difficult mostly in terms of how stuff is thrown out you. Trying to finish and do well in that course, especially if you are doing lab at the same time, and preparing for MCAT may be a tall order indeed, especially if you taking other courses, have a job, have a family, have a life, etc.

There has been some surveys recently that MCAT score is considered by adcoms has important as your entire GPA. (Link MCAT Importance Survey Posting) So, I cannot stress enough that sufficient time and focus be placed upon it.

And what I often ask students who have a rigid timetable, is your goal to get into medical school or to too get into medical school quickly?

Remember also that while you are finishing your organic, studying for your MCAT, you’re also trying to get your application done, transcripts sent, LOR’s followed up, essay written, and you are trying to get them done as early as possible. This may be biting off more that you can chew and do it an an excellent level. It risks doing it in a mediocre way, being rejected, having to deal with that and having the very large red-flag of being an re-applicant on the next cycle.

You may want to reconsider your schedule by a year, put your energy into finishing OChem with high grades, take an MCAT course next fall, take an MCAT in early spring, perhaps take an additional advanced bio course or two, maybe additional volunteering, bolster your application, and get your apps in next year early, with great grades, a high MCAT, and a polished application.


Thank you so much for the helpful information! I would only be taking o-chem II and the lab in addition to studying for the MCAT - no other classes, jobs, or real family responsibilities. I have a strong science background (M.S. in nutrition, science GPA 3.9, overall undergrad GPA 3.85, grad GPA 4.0), very good studying habits, and I am very disciplined. I would really like to matriculate in 2012.

My other option is to go to a semester school (finish the beginning of May instead of June) and have an extra month to study. The catch with going this route is that I will be taking O-chem, physics, and bio (and their respective labs) during my last semester instead of just o-chem, which I’m thinking may make preparing my application, personal statement, etc. more difficult than if I just had to focus on one course?

Another thing that I am trying to consider is the schools themselves (where I finish my pre-reqs). The school that is on quarters (where I would take only o-chem my last quarter and finish in the beginning of June) is my undergrad alma mater and has a good medical school, which I am planning on applying to (Ohio State University). The semester school that I could also attend (finish in May and take 3 courses during the last semester) is still a 4-year institution and would save me money in living expenses, but I do not believe that it is as strong of a school. Does it really matter where I finish my pre-reqs? Will I have a better chance at getting into OSU if I finish my pre-reqs there?

Sorry for all of my questions, I’m just a little stuck on which way to go. Thanks so much!!

It sounds like not have only been a good student in the past, with a strong science background, but that you are currently a student so I think Ochem and MCAT timing with little else is very doable for you. I would stick with the quarter system as you pointed out otherwise you would be trying to digesting too much in too short time.

I have suggested the below tactic to other students who usually have too many responsibilities and little time but I think this may be something that you could consider. Assuming that you are going to take an MCAT prep course (which I strongly suggest for all but the most disciplined self-motivators) some of the test companies offer a 16-20 week version that meets once a week, instead of the 10-12 twice a week programs. I think it gives more people time to digest material. For you, I could see something like that which might end say in May, and then you have that last month or so on your own to churn our practice test after practice test. Personally I think the main value in the test prep course is access to good online practice exams.

  • In reply to:
Does it really matter where I finish my pre-reqs? Will I have a better chance at getting into OSU if I finish my pre-reqs there?

If you are indeed interested in OSU, then I think that taking pre-reqs at OSU is a good idea. Around 20% of the med school class has their undergrad degree from OSU ( OSU Class Profile), and there are usually several more people in the class who did undergrad elsewhere, but took the pre-reqs or advanced coursework at OSU. I took most of my pre-reqs at OSU except for taking organic chem at Capital, and I'm sure that helped my application at OSU as they are familiar with the rigor of those courses.

I think your timeline is pretty doable.

BTW, Sam Matheny, Director of Financial Aid at the College of Medicine of Ohio State University will be presenting again at this year’s conference in Chicago

Thank you both for your advice! I am planning on attending OSU and taking a prep course for the MCAT next spring. Thanks again!

Well, as a pre-med myself who has yet to take the MCAT I cannot answer your question. However, I hope to apply to med school next year too, so I just wanted to say, let’s hope we both are in the class of 2012! good luck!

Pre-med never ends it seems like