MCAT Timing

Hi. I’m getting a little worried and concerned about when to take the MCAT. I’ve been reading that you should take the MCAT about a year prior to applying to Med School. So, for traditional students, this would be sophomore year, correct? Well, as a non trad, I’m working on my Bachelors in Bio and like a lot of us, am not going to school full time. However, I intend to get my Bachelors in Spring 2014 and would hope to start med school that same year. So, that would mean I’d have to apply in 2013. The school I have my sights on has early decision applications due in August and general in November and I imagine most other schools are similar. So, that would mean I should take the MCAT next year!! This seems way too quick to me. I won’t have taken all my pre-req’s by then. I will only have Gen Chem and Bio I & II done. I am taking a physics class now, but it’s not premed physics, so it’s only a primer. Due to work/life commitments, I cannot take Physics in Fall and Spring 11/12 and the earliest I can begin Orgo is Summer 2012. I plan to speak with my premed advisor, but honestly, I had a bad experience with her on my first meeting. (She was not very encouraging, telling me I needed all these low level courses before I could even sign up for gen chem which was totally erroneous and I got that cleared up, but I think she was almost trying to shoot me down and I have no idea why.) BUT anyway, is wanting med school in 2014 unrealistic with my current path? I don’t know what to do. I cannot feasibly take the MCAT next year, but can I wait until early 2013 and still apply to schools in August/Fall 2013? Do I need to reevaluate my work/school/life schedule to make everything happen or should I (reluctantly) wait to apply and hope for 2015 matriculation? I really don’t want that, because then what do I do w/ myself after getting my Bachelor’s but having to wait a year or more to start med school? Any thoughts? Anyone else on a similar path or done this already? Thanks!!!

I took mine in April this year and applied in June. Many MD schools will take an August MCAT in the year you apply, some DO will take a December MCAT. There is no rule as to when you should take the MCAY, except take it when you are prepared.

I have found that from my own personal experience that when I would rush taking classes here and there the outcome would be horrible and would benefit no one. Think slow and steady…

I don’t know what your situation is with work/family/life but try you hardest to get at least the Bio, Chem, Phy, Ochem under your belt first before you sit for your exam. Then allow a good 2-3 months of study prep time (of course this depends on how well you know the exam material).

As far as I know most trads take the exam Spring the year before they intend to matriculate. I plan to take it in the fall 2 years before I matriculate but that is just my personal plan. You (and only you) know what you can handle and what you can take to make the most of your time.

You can ask ten different people and get ten different strategic time lines from which to follow but at the end of the day you need to feel comfortable with you academic load, how it will affect your other commitments and only you will have to deal with the repercussions of those decisions.

So I say finish your basic pre-reqs, take ample time to study and if you can go for a 2015 matriculation. The thing with applying in the fall with a “rolling admissions” school is that those early (right from the start) applicants will get interviews acceptances before many of the late summer early fall applicants even hit the send button on the apps. So the key is to apply as early as possible to get the best chance.

God speed and keep us posted…I’m right there with ya!

I’m taking it in April, 2012, to apply in June, 2012. Yes, it leaves me little room to retake if needed, but on the other hand, all the material will be fresh (I’ll finish up the 2nd round of orgo and physics in spring of 2012).

Like any choice, there are pros and cons to doing this. But you just have to find the plan that works the best for you–giving yourself plenty of time to prepare and ensuring that you give yourself the utmost chance for success.

Good luck!!!

Most traditional college students take the MCAT in the spring of their junior year.

If you want to apply in 2013 for matriculation beginning in 2014, then you can take the MCAT anytime in 2013. Most will take it anywhere between March and June.

The MCAT is taken about a year before matriculation, not application.

I’m taking a late one this year, it’s just how the timing worked out. I wouldn’t have been able to in Spring, and wanted the summer to study. If it is a problem for some schools, then so be it. Others don’t have a problem with it.

I’d say take it when you’re comfortable, but I think the fact is that most are never comfortable. You just have to pick a time, study, take it, and if you don’t do as well as you like, take it again. Count the first one as practice.

Yoau asked,

“Do I need to reevaluate my work/school/life schedule to make everything happen or should I (reluctantly) wait to apply and hope for 2015 matriculation? I really don’t want that, because then what do I do w/ myself after getting my Bachelor’s but having to wait a year or more to start med school? Any thoughts? Anyone else on a similar path or done this already? Thanks!!!”

Though i have not taken the MCAT and may not be the best person to answer your question, i will give you my opinion. Yes, you need to re-evaluate. I understand that you should not take the MCAT until your are ready. My interpretation is that you are not ready for the MCAT untill you take the majority of classes covering the material tested on the MCAT. The classes are one year of general Biology, inorganic and organic chemistry and one year year of physic. You next question about what will you do during that year after you complete your degree. My answer is shadow, volunteer, get some clinical experience and prepare for the MCAT.

All great responses! I could have sworn I read that one should take the MCAT a year before applying which I must have read wrong. That is what freaked me out a little and had me thinking I may have to put off med school longer than I’d hoped. With the clarifications I’ve just received, I see that it is not a year before applying, but matriculating, so that leaves things feeling less rushed. I will have all my premed prereqs completed Spring 2013 so expect to sit for the MCAT after that semester. I will, of course, have to schedule in MCAT studying over the next two years as well, but that is something I planned for. I just did not plan for next year, and so now I feel relieved that I can wait until 2013 as I originallly thought.

Idalyn, thanks for your thoughts. I am aware of all the prereqs I need for med school and also aware that I want/need/it is suggested to have them all completed before taking the MCAT. This is exactly why I thought I may have to reevaluate my current plan, but the track I am now will be fine now that I am more clear on when best to take the MCAT with regard to when I want to apply and matriculate.

As for shadowing and volunteering on a year “off” well of course I can do that, but I’m not getting any younger so I don’t want to take a year “off”. Plus, I need to live, so if I’m not in med school, I will need to be pulling in some income to pay for living expenses and student loans that I will no longer be able to defer. In a perfect world a year break from getting my degree to going on to med school sounds like a great time to get more experience, relax a little, etc, but in reality, especially as a nontrad, a year “off” is not the preferred way to go, not for myself anyway. I am a mom afterall, too, so there is never any real time “off” and I always have something to do. I guess what I meant by what would I do w/ myself in a year “off” from school, is well just what I said; I will need to support myself and will have to pay loans so I’d rather jump right into med school and/or adjust my current schedule so that I don’t end up with a year break at all even if that means drawing this whole thing out another year. I am determined not to do that, so I’m sticking with my plan!

Thanks everyone for great advice as always!

Shanport -

All this August for early admission and September for later has me confused as you said "I guess other schools are similar). No, AMCAS application opens in June, and most schools begin to consider applications as soon as processed (late june, early July). So if you took the MCAT in spring of 2013 (I took it in May with 3 weeks left to go of OChem, but I’d studied all the MCAT topics and reviewed other subjects earlier), it would be good to submit your application to AMCAS in June.

Your target school may not review applications till August but other schools will be looking sooner.

If you are in Texas, ignore me because they have a different application process.