Genetics vs. Physiology?

I’m currently preparing for the April '05 MCAT (princeton review), and I’m considering taking a basic science class while preparing to bolster my undergraduate academic record. The extension program at UCLA offers two classes I’m considering:
1. Genetics
2. Fundamentals of Human Physiology
With this in mind, I’m seeking advice on the following:
1. Should I take one of these classes while I prepare for the MCAT (I also work full-time)? If yes, which one?
2. Should I focus exclusively on the MCAT, and then take one or both of these classes during the Spring term before I submit my medical school applications?
I need to make a decision quickly, so please respond to this post ASAP. Thanks.

I would NOT take a class if you are also working full-time while prepping for the MCAT. The MINIMUM amount of time you should allocate to MCAT prep is the equivalent of a four-credit lab course, and many folks put in much more time than that.
You don’t say exactly what sort of damage control you need to do. Presumably you realize that if it’s a significant amount of “damage,” one course more or less isn’t actually going to make a big difference.
Good luck!

Some Med Schools require you to have genetics. If you are not planning on applying to one of them, then this is a mute point. I would choose the higher numbered course, if you are confident you can get a good grade in it. Some schools will look to see if you have done more than just 100/200 level courses recently. My strategy would be to take the course that was rated a higher level. If both are the same and you don’t need Genetics then pick your favorite or opt out this semester to study more for the MCAT.
Best Regards,

  1. I agree with Mary: the MCAT is the priority.
    2. After that, take what interests you the most.

And remember that as you fill out your AMCAS or TMDSAS application, you can indicate what, if any, future classes you plan to take–so the med schools will see that, although of course you will have no grades registered. So if perchance some school requires a class you don’t have yet, you have 2 semesters to pick it up after you apply in June 2005.

I remember from studying for the MCAT that it is super easy to let other things take priority. Such as a graded class! Or a job. I would say keep your schedule as light as possible these next couple months if you can. The MCAT will come and go faster than you can ever believe, and you want to feel like you prepared well for it.

Thanks for all the great feedback. Based on the guidance I’ve received from this forum, I’ve decided to focus exclusively on preparing for the MCAT. During the Spring term, which begins in early April, I’ll take one or two courses for which I’ll have grades prior to applying. Then, I’ll also plan on taking one or two courses during the summer term, which I’ll note in my med school applications.
Based on recent conversations with admissions officers, I need to a few courses simply to demonstrate that I still possess the necessary academic discipline and an aptitude for the basic sciences. Presumably, my performance in those courses will also bolster my undergraduate academic record, which is decent, but not stellar (due largely to a poor performance during my Sophomore year).
Thanks again for the guidance and support.


I remember from studying for the MCAT that it is super easy to let other things take priority. Such as a graded class!

When it comes down to it, a graded class ABSOLUTELY should take priority over MCAT prep, simply because you only have one shot at the grade but you can always defer the MCAT or retake it. Mind you I’m not advocating retaking the MCAT but if necessary it can be done. Or if you find yourself up to your eyeballs in coursework, you can defer the MCAT to August without a financial penalty (I think) whereas you are stuck with the class. Always, always, always, make sure you are devoting sufficient time to your coursework to get stellar grades.

I agree that the MCAT should be given priority if you are also going to work. When you apply to your schools, you can indicate that you are taking additional classes, and then have those transcripts sent later.
As far as Genetics versus Physiology: I talked to my sister-in-law, who is finishing med school in Arizona. She feels that the Physiology would be of better help than the genetics, but that taking both would not hurt. Her best advice to me was to take Anatomy. In her med school class, those students who took Anatomy before med school did much better in their first year, for much of the Anatomy that is taught in med school is physiologically and clinically-based. While her classmates could concentrate on learing the clinical and physiological significance of human anatomy, my sister-in-law also had to deal with just plain memorizing the parts – a big use of her precious time.