MCAT Prep and Summer Courses

I am trying to plan my course selection over the next three semesters. I am lucky in that I will not need to work until next February or March. So I am thinking that I might take two summer courses - Physics I and Physics II - so that I can finish my course work by December and spend January, February and March studying for the MCAT full time until I have to work. However, this plan would mean losing support from my school’s “premed committee”, which typically writes a letter rather than having two professors write a letter (not all the school’s I am applying to accept committee letters, and all schools accept professor references). My premed advisor has said that some med school look down on summer courses, but somehow my gut tells me that this is not important at all schools.

Should I be concerned about taking summer courses?

Also, I am interested to know how any of you who have completed the MCAT studied while working full time??

I don’t know about schools looking down on summer courses, so I can’t address that. I’d be more concerned about just taking physics over the summer.

I took physics I last semester (and will be taking physics II this semester), and while I got an A, I worked my butt off for that A. I found the class to be very challenging – much more so than my other courses, and much more time intensive (LOTS of time spent doing extra practice problems on my own, and hours spent writing lab reports).

I don’t mean to scare you, because physics is DEFINITELY a doable class. And it’s definitely easier for some people than others. But I would personally not want to take it over the summer when so much material is crammed into such a short time. I found I really needed time to absorb the material. But again, that’s just me.

I too have never heard anything about schools looking down on summer courses. I also agree if there are two sets of courses I would avoid in the summer it is Physics I & II and OChem I & II.


I took Physics during the summer (my school combined I and II into one course with labs). Although I should say that the course started at the begining of May and ended at the end of July. I had two 3 hour lectures a week and a 3 hour lab every week. It was a lot of work, but doable. Now, while I wasn’t working, I was volunteering ~ 10 hours a week and had to deal with some challenging family issues at the same time.

Hope that helps.


Megsmed - I did read atleast on one med school website (I do not remember the med school name) that they prefer students to take pre-req courses during regular semester, because otherwise there is not enough time to absorb the material thoroughly.

Just a FYI — I just stated what I had read, and I might be taking classes in the summer semester.

  • BaileyPup Said:
I too have never heard anything about schools looking down on summer courses. I also agree if there are two sets of courses I would avoid in the summer it is Physics I & II and OChem I & II.

Historically, there is perception by premed advisors, medical school admissions staff, and above all, adcoms that summer courses are not as rigorous as full-term classes. My impression of why this perception exists is summer courses are often taken by traditional undergrads as "makeup" courses, the courses are shorter and compressed and cant be as comprehensive, and that they are often taught by adjunct faculty.

I think this perception by adcoms would likely affect traditional undergrads more than non-trads as the latter often have "adhoc" class scheduling.

However, from a practical standpoint, I tend to advise students to be careful when taking these courses as just the workload in a compressed time frame is difficult and leaves no buffer time. This particularly true for Organic Chem and to a lesser extent physics. I strongly caution students on these courses because it can lead to a drastic and disastrous cascade of events as follows

Often students will plan on taking O-Chem in the summer and followed by a late August MCAT. So they will be taking O-Chem, prepping for the MCAT, and doing application all at the same time, which overload by 3 or 4 times. This lowers the chances of doing well in any of those significantly. Then they sit for the MCAT in august, apply very, very late in the application cycle, and hope for a seat. I think this is very bad strategy to take and leads lowering your chances of acceptance significantly. This in turns leads to having rejection, possibly a need to retake MCAT. Under the philosophy of being the strongest applicant on your first try, I do not recommend this.

I should note that the post-baccs that are designed for a single calendar year will either start in the summer with General Chem and/or end the next summer with Organic. I am not a fan of these programs for most non-trads.

If you are taking a summer class and NOT following it with the above late MCAT and application cycle, then it is not insane just merely very difficult. I took organic in the summer (lecture only) and it was doing 15 weeks of schooling in 5 weeks, with 3 exams and a comprehensive final. It was a bitch. The school I was attending had 3 terms of 5 weeks each (started the day after spring ended and ran to the day before fall started). Some students took Organic I (lecture and lab) followed by Organic II (lecture and lab) then followed Biochem (lecture and lab, which was taught by a professor from downstate med school). Now that's insanity