I am trying to figure out the best way to study for the MCAT next year. I am considering two options:
- Study while taking two labs in the fall semester to take the MCAT in January. I won’t be working, just taking the two labs, which are fairly time intensive at my school, but not intellectually intensive. I expect the labs to take up three 8-hour days of the week, leaving me with four days per week to study. I would prefer not to spend 2000 on a prep course, but, as someone who like to have extrernal support (one reason why I am in a formal post-bacc program) I am considering it.I may or may not take an Examkrackers course next October.
- Study while working next spring to take the MCAT next April. However…I am afraid to take the MCAT while working as I have heard that most undergrads devote their time exclusively to studying for the MCAT, not even taking courses. I need to go back to work in January before we go broke, so taking a semester off is just not an option for us.
Any thoughts, advice, suggestions, ideas, comments?
Of the two options, the first seems like your best bet, taking the test in January. If you need a retake, there’s some time before the application cycle starts in June. Prep courses are a matter of preference; I didn’t get a whole lot out of Kaplan’s didactic lectures, but found the practice tests really helpful. We had six opportunities to do full tests (the last 6 Saturdays of the course). By the time the actual test rolled around 2 weeks later, I was comfortable with the content of the questions and pacing through the different modules.
Just as a note, I doubt that most undergrads devote a significant amount of time to exclusive MCAT study without taking other courses. They may take a lighter load, but they’re taking something. A traditional applicant is taking the MCAT by spring of their Junior year and completes the application process during their senior year, so most of them are taking at least some coursework so that they can graduate on time.
As a rule of thumb, it is good to consider MCAT prep equivalent to one course.
Thanks Emergency! Your words of wisdom have helped me put this into perspective.
(By the way - I love your tag line/signature.)