On the fence about timing. Input please?

Hi everyone! I have a bit of a dilemma that I’d really appreciate some input on. I’m going into year 2 of a DYI post-bacc. This past year I completed the gen chem series as well as the bio series needed for pre-reqs (plus some extra bio that was upper division stuff). I’ll be taking orgo in the fall, along with microbiology and a poli sci class since I never had it as an under-grad (and it’s required if I do complete the 2nd bachelor’s degree). I’ll finish the orgo series this year, but my issue is with physics.

Currently, I have not completed the 2 pre-calculus classes I need to get into non-calculus based physics. My school requires an “activity” period with math classes and it makes them incompatible with science classes. I had planned on working toward the math this year, but in the meantime due to the CA budget situation, physics 201 (the one I need to start with) is only being offered in fall…when I’m otherwise loaded up with 15 units and haven’t fulfilled the pre-reqs. That means I’ll have to wait until the fall after this one to start the physics series.

I’ve toyed with the idea of sitting for the MCAT in May without formally taking the physics (the plan would be to start on that NOW and use online archived lectures and a text book to go through it myself). But I’m not sure how prudent that would be to try. The other monkey wrench in this is that my EC’s have pretty much come to a halt with me being pregnant. It’s been an uphill battle just keeping up with school alone. My concern is that I don’t have enough research experience and/or community service yet.

Bottom line…sorry this is long winded…is that I’m beginning to wonder if I should hold off a year on the MCAT and applying. I really don’t want to wait because I’m, well, impatient! lol(I turn 40 in 2011 when I had planned on entering med school and that number just kind of bugs me). I don’t want to set myself up for failure though. On one hand it gives me another year to build my application up, but on the other it’s just one more year passing from the bulk of my science classes. I worry I’ll forget it all and that it’d be easier to teach myself physics than refresh on a year’s worth of bio, and 2 of chem.

Insight on this? Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply. It’s greatly appreciated!


I was faced with a somewhat similar dilemma last year. I decided it was better to hold off a year than potentially mess up the MCAT because I hadn’t taken physics yet. You really only want to take the MCAT once.

I’m pretty impatient too so it was a hard decision to make but doing it this way has also allowed me to focus on other areas of my application. I’m trying to get some research lined up and am beefing up my volunteering, neither of which I would have been able to do if I had rushed the application.

This is my perspective, but I hope that helps.


Thank you Lynda. I appreciate hearing about your experience. It helps me confirm waiting is the best thing.

I guess I should have added that the caveat here (as if there weren’t enough already…lol) is that my undergrad degree was from an expensive private school. As a result I’m close to running out of undergrad money. That adds a little more pressure and urgency to the situation.

I would STRONGLY (did I emphasize that enough? ) recommend that you wait to take the MCAT until after you’ve completed physics. It’s a difficult subject for many to grasp, even those with solid math backgrounds (not sure what your background is).

IMHO, looking back on it, one more year will not seem like much.

The question I pose to people with similar stories is this: is your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school QUICKLY?

Taking your plan would violate two of my rules that every non-traditional pre-med should follow.

Rule 6: The MCAT is your friend. Yes the MCAT can be your friend if you treat it right, with respect, time, effort. It can be the shining star in a non-trad’s application, particularly those If you do not do so, the MCAT will turn on you and eat you alive.

Rule 8: Be wary of “premature application”. Get all your ducks lined up in a row and have the strongest application possible

Thank you both for the honest opinions, they’ve been very helpful. I think my biggest fear has been related to issues on whether or not I’ll be able to finance an extra year I wasn’t counting on, and what to do with my lag year (and how I’ll deal with going into repayment on student loans) if I don’t get into medical school “on schedule.” But in reading your words of advice I realize that I’ve worked way too long and too hard to blow it now. Guess I will have to take a deep breath, do the right thing, and have faith that it’ll all work out in the end. Thanks again for the input.

Rule One: Take a breath.