Hi everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. I need advice. I am 37 years old and have always wanted to go to medical school. However, there’s one catch…I can’t seem to do really well on the MCAT. I have all the prerequsites, i.e. volunteer work, a Bachelor’s in Biology (not that this is required), etc. but everything stops at the MCAT. I feel like time is going by so quickly, and next thing I know, I’ll be 60 and look back with regret. About two years ago, I went to talk with a pre-med advisor, who suggested that I enroll in 1-2 classes per semester to strengthen my application, and to prepare me for the MCAT. I did just that, while working full time, and volunteering. I took the MCAT again in April 2002 and did terrible on them. Later, I met with my advisor who said, “Unfortunately, you’re caught in a vicious cycle”, and that I need to take a full course load to “prove myself”, but since I’ve been taking 1-2 classes per semester, AND I didn’t do great on the MCAT, I don’t stand much of a chance. I was so frustrated after hearing that. I felt that I had been misled, that if he thought I should have taken a full course load, then he should have advised me to do so. I would have found a way to stop working for 3 months just to go to school. I felt like I was back at square one again. The last class I took was in Fall, 2002. There is a new pre-med advisor now, but because I didn’t have a good experience with the first advisor, I’m so hesitant to go talk with the new one. I really don’t know what to do at this time. ANY advice concerning this will be greatly appreciated…thanks everyone.

Did you take any sort of prep course for the MCAT, Kaplan or Princeton Review or whatever? I know a lot of people felt that these courses really helped them to feel better prepared for the test. You didn’t mention how you felt about your undergrad record, but it sounds you’ve already got everything you need and the MCAT is the only thing holding you back, so I think I would focus on that for the time being. It seems that you have already done plenty to “prove yourself”. My 2 cents anyway…

Sometimes pre-med advisors don’t give good advice, don’t live and die based on what they say. The first question I had reading your post is: Just what MCAT score are you calling terrible - and are you really sure it is too low? Is your GPA good? Did you study for the MCAT with either the proprietary classes or on your own with MCAT study books?

Well, I don’t know your whole situation and I don’t know how bad your scores are. But, it might be worthwhile to give the MCAT your very best shot and go from there. Perhaps you could take a prep course (I found Kaplan very helpful, but it is $$$!) and take a few weeks or a month off of work to study? I found that doing LOTS of practice tests (and I mean LOTS) and reviewing in detail the particular things I had problems with was a big help.
If you have specific questions, feel free to ask them. I don’t think all premed advisors give good advice, and they can sometimes be very discouraging to OPMs.
Best of luck to you,

Arciedee, hi, thanks for your words of encouragement. I graduated in 1989 with a B.S. in Biology, and my undergrad GPA was 3.49. I don’t think I will be financially able to enroll in a prep course, therefore, I would have to rely on prep books, materials, etc. What did you use? if you don’t mind me asking. Thanks. Van

Wmkayak, hi, my MCAT scores were in the teens. Please don’t take offense, but I’ll just leave it at that to avoid embarrasing myself… I did not enroll in a prep class, as they are too expensive. I used two books, one, the Kaplan review, and two, the Examcrackers series. How did you study for it? Thanks Wmkayak…I appreciate you responding…Van

How long did you study for it? how many hours did you spend per day? how many practice exams did you take? once we know a little bit more detail we may be able to offer more input. Some folks like myself have to study a lot to do well on the exam, other folks maybe not so much. Once you commit to this exam you have to give it 200% if you are serious about medical school. I spent four months studying for it a minimum of four hours per day and some days up to six hours. I took more than 10 practice exams, a course, and studied with EK books and my prep course books. I focused almost exclusively on it and ended up doing good but not stellar by any means. Other folks with much less time did better than I did. So the moral of the story is that if you have attempted the MCAT various times with poor results you need to reasses your study methods, time spent with it, and possibly your preparation class wise for this exam. Did you do well in your pre-reqs? how old are they?

Efex101, hi…thanks for getting back to me. If I were to compare my preparation for the MCAT with yours, I would definitely fall short of meeting those requirements. I took approximately 7 practice tests, worked “topic” questions on each catergory. In hindsight, my undergrad prep work was mainly essay type questions, and not multiple choice; perhaps I am identifying a problem right here, as I don’t consider myself to be a great standardized test taker. Are there books on taking standardized tests better? I did do well on the prereqs. Although you feel that you did not do stellar, did you get into med school? and if not, are you applying at this time? Also, I know this is the old premeds website, but at 37, I’m feeling like I’m the oldest…albeit, age is relative. Do you have any inspirational stories to share of older premeds older than I am that were successful getting into med school? I’m feeling that any encouragment I can get at this time will be helpful…Let me know, thanks, Van.

OMG I am 37 like you, applied to 28 schools (look on the OPM class of 2008 thread for details of schools), received 22 interviews and went on 11 because starting october 15th I received 9 aceptances with three full rides at good schools. So age has nothing to do with it believe me, if you are competitive then age will be a bonus. Okay, back to MCAT obviously you did take some practice tests so that is good, how did you do on them? if you were scoring in the teens or low 20’s then that would be a sign not to take the MCAT. If when you take practice exams you are scoring mid 20’s to high then you will probably be fine for the MCAT real deal. I think that taking standardized exams is an innate ability for some but it can be learned for others. My undergrad school is mostly essay questions and it was hard for me to get into the standard test mode. You have to practice not only with MCAT mock exams but also with a ton of multiple choice MCAT type questions. Examcrackers was great but their questions were much harder than the real deal type questions. Princeton review has probably the best prep books IMHO and i have seen Kaplan as well. There is one huge book with nothing but MCAT type questions from all the areas tested, it was priceless. I know that you said that you cannot afford a prep company but you should really consider taking one. It is about $1,4000 but worth it, specially if you are a repeat test taker and working on your own did not produce the expected results. Also, it may take you six months and 4 hours per day, or could take you three months of intense review but you just have to put the time into it. Obviously whatever time you spent the other times it did not work, that tells me that either you did not spend enough time prepping for it. If you know the MCAT is your weak point then you must conquer it period. Make a mental commitment to yourself and do it because we can sit around talking about all day but until you do it, it will not happen. There are many folks here who have taken it and done really well like Spacecade, TheresaW, and LisaS so also ask for their input. I did well but I also spent a ton of time with it so I can tell you that I do not have photographic memory and that my 30 came with a lot of work.

The teens? It’s ok, no need to expound on that anymore, you’ve been punished enough.
Here’s how I did it, couldn’t afford those classes either:
I took Orgo, Bio, and Physics class all at the same time, didn’t really study much for the MCAT per se, got a Kaplan book in Feb, took the MCAT in April. There were entire sections of classes (like optics in Physics) that I didn’t cover before the MCAT. I listened to MCAT review tapes on my way to and from school (30 min drive), and absorbed a little that way. I took only the practice tests other than the ones included in the Kaplan book.
When I got in line to take the MCAT, people were there talking about how they’d been taking practice MCATS for the past 6 weekends, how they’d taken the MCAT review courses, and otherwise did WAY more prep than I did. I felt like just going back home! But I took the beast and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. I was going for a 30. But I got close and applied anyway to a handful of schools - and got in!
Other science classes won’t really help you on the MCAT, it’s really just the general Bio, Chem, Physics and Orgo that you need to have current. I’m sure couldn’t do anywhere near as well on the MCAT today, a year and a half later. I wonder if your problem is more that it has just been too long since you had those specific classes. The review class would probably really help you with these things. Or dedicate yourself to the immersion of the material, with several practice tests.