Needing some guidance from the wise ones...

This website is such a help! I know I’ve cobbled some pieces of info together for part of my answer, but I still need some input. (By the way, I should have saved the “list of 10” someone wrote on how to stay confident, etc. Could someone direct me to that? So helpful…)

My original plan was to make an appointment to speak with the head advisor in the nearby postbac premed program, which I still intend to do. (Still waiting on one more transcript to show up, that she said was necessary before making the appointment.) I’ve been reading the posts on DIY prereqs versus the formal post-bac programs, and feel like I’ll need the extra boost of support from a more formal program. My understanding is that people have used which system works best for them.

Anyhow, I have assumed, with limited skepticism, that I need to re-do these prereqs, based on email correspondence with the advisor. She said my 1996-graduation date prereqs are too old. And since I didn’t study as well as I should have (got some B’s I could have avoided and one C in a semester of Orgo), I thought it would be good to redo it all. (I have read that schools sometimes factor old and new classes together to come up with a composite grade. Yikes! Can someone speak to the veracity of this statement?)

So that was my plan, hoping to start the postbac premed program this fall, but realizing that it may not happen due to kids, husband, transitions with their work and school, etc. Planning to keep on plugging along anyway, making appointments, starting to study for MCAT, hoping to make it in next fall at the latest. Well, short story long, I run into a guy at a kids’ birthday party whose wife is 40+, finishing her anesthesiology residency, and I open up about my plans. He says, oh, you don’t need to redo those prereqs, just redo the MCAT and slam it for a home run. (Yes, took it in 1996?, did not study for it, not a favorable score. My understanding is that 7+ year old scores no longer exist. Whew.) He suggested doing a Kaplan course and just going from there.

So now I’m confused. I have not been directly involved in the sciences since undergrad, did grad work in a humanities discipline not too long after that, have been at home with the kids since 2003. When studying for the MCAT, quite a bit more comes back to me than I had assumed would, which is great, but organic was challenging then (thought I could have studied more), and still is.

So the final question is: a) do I do the post-bac premed program and redo everything, or b) assume my nearly ancient premed work will carry the day, along with a really hot MCAT score? I am at peace with the former, but realize the latter would save me a chunk of time.

My initial gut reaction is that I’ll need to redo it all. I just need more input from the wise ones out there, because the post-bac advisor is slightly biased, due to needing to keep bodies in her program, though I don’t mistrust her generally speaking.

Thanks a bunch!!!

The following link will answer your questions:…

Additionally, AMCAS will average all of your grades (including class retakes and with no regard to how old your classes are) to compute your GPA. AACOMAS will similarly calculate your GPA. But in divergence from AMCAS, AACOMAS will use only your most recent grade in a class retake to calculate your GPA.

my second semester of gen bio was takenwhen i was pregnant with my oldest who just turned 11…and my school has had no issue wit the age of the course.

are tehre specific schools you are considering applying to?? if so, iwoudl call them and speak with an admissions counselor and ask how they woudl view your courses for prereqs? some will waivethe w/in a certain time frame if you have taken advanced coursework since then but some do not.

i did the kaplan thing and it is reallytime intensive. there is a lot of out of class busy work which leaves little time for studying, esp when one has kiddos :). when i had to atke it again (due to a score expiring) i opted to use exankrackers study at home schedule (which is found on their website) and expanded it since it was fairly intensive and was based on a 10 wk review so i expanded it to 30 wks and did 1/3 of the material for week 1 the first week, 2nd 1/3 week two and third 1/3 for week 3…rinse and repeat for each of the following weeks. i also spent more time on the areas where i was weaker, worked more problems in those areas,a dded in additional material and took less time on things that i found came back to me quicker.

good luck and welcome!!

You may not need to retake all of the pre-reqs. As mentioned above, if you have specific med schools in mind, you should call them and get an opinion from them. most schools will tell you something like they prefer that the pre-reqs be no more than X years old. Very few of them state absolutes, as there may be candidates who absolutely kill the MCAT without recent coursework or who have advanced degrees/work in the sciences.

I don’t know if you mentioned your overall/science GPA and/or whether or not you’ve taken any coursework recently, but if you have a mediocre GPA and/or no recent coursework, you should definitely plan on taking some advanced science coursework at a minimum. You should definitely plan on taking some biology courses as the field of biology has changed significantly. Typically, you can get away without retaking physics, gen chem, and anything you got a B or better in. If you got a C in it, that might lean in favor of retaking. Anything below a C should be retaken, along with the additional advanced coursework.

Another factor may be whether or not you feel like you can do well on the core subject ares of the MCAT via self-study or Kaplan to refresh yourself on the content. Personally, I remember virtually nothing of organic chemistry, so if I had to prepare for the MCAT, it would take a significant effort on my part to adequately prep for it.

Thanks so much for the guidance. I will chew on all of this. By the way, the I found the “10 list” I was referring to. It’s “Rich’s 10 rules for nontraditional students.” I’ve been feeling FUDdy (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) lately, but reading the posts here is very helpful. There’s a logic and planfulness to replies, yet a “go get 'em tiger” element as well.

You need to check with individual schools, the University of Minnesota has NO time limit for prereqs… They do expect you to know the material, but there isn’t a time limit… Some schools may have one, but it is specific to each school… Best of luck!

As I begin MCAT studying, the concepts on the flash cards (I like flash cards) are coming back better than I thought, but I feel so rusty still, in all subject areas. The other three subjects feel mostly in my grasp, but to do well on the MCAT… I don’t know. I may need a comprehensive review. Organic, after the first few cards, might as well have been written in Russian. (I don’t speak Russian…) My hunch is I might have to take them all over to do well on the MCAT, organic for certain. So in some ways the issue of the time elapsed on courses is irrelevant; it’s the recall of the info that matters more. Maybe trying out that examkrackers course would be helpful. I know I’ll have to take some coursework as well, sounds like at least organic and an update biology. Thanks again for the insights.

just remember that flashcards are a snippet of information designed for quick recall after you ahve finished your review.

before you throw in the towel and retake the courses i woudl recommend doing a good few chapters in a review book on that subject.

it had been a while for me personally since i had taken gen chem (1998/1999) when i took the mcat but i was pleasantly surprised when i picked up a review book by how much came back. the knowledge was there it was just a matter of shaking the dustbunnies out from my brain. after i reviewed then i could look at flashcards

good luck!!

I’ve heard from more than one person, including the postbac premed advisor here, that Examkrackers is a well-regarded review program. Is that the general consensus? I also heard Kaplan’s class is good and I have one of their practice test books, which has some really good advice on “owning” the test. Any other recommendations on good MCAT review? (As I write this, I wonder if I should be in the MCAT forum…) I took a look at a Barron’s comprehensive review book, but something about it left me cold. Any advice?

if you want something more in depth, check craigs list for a set of berkley review books. they are more in depth than examkrackers if you feel you need a more in depth review.

as i said before, i did do a kaplan course and i feel that it did not really work for me. there is a lot of busy work and it really leaves little time to review. it keeps you on a schedule but it is their schedule not one that you design. of coruse if life gets in the way, as it will with kiddos around, you do not get to take a lot of time off. i also felt that it was more designed for people who had the courses more recently as it was not an intense review and did not let me really focus on my weak areas.

which is why when my score expired and i ahd to take it again i did the examkrackers schedule for 10 wk at home study but expanded it to 30 wks since i knew that was what i could do. i also spent more t ime on sections i knew i had trouble with and less time on section that i knew cold. it allowed me to be flexible while still maintaining some sort of schedule.

i also used novas mcat physics book since that was particularly weak area for me.

as far as textbooks i highly recommend general chemistry by ebbing. it was the book i used in ugrad and i would have student borrow itw hen i tutored gchem. it has a ton of problems that are worked out and if you get it wit the solutions manual you ahve a ton of problems to solve. you can find old editions online and have a good reference book on hand.

good luck taming the beast…it can be done!!

Which MCAT review method to use depends on what method works best for you. I used Kaplan because I needed the structure of the classes and their schedule of two nights per week worked better for me than Princeton Review’s three nights per week. I treated it like a college course, doing the recommended preparation work before hand and reviewing after each session. I have never been someone who has felt comfortable with standardized tests, so I felt the investment was well worth it for me.