Plan B

Well, after recieving many rejection letters, as well as a few interviews, I have begun to think about the need to start developing Plan B.

I am currently on the waitlist at one school and on hold at another, both post interview. I am also on hold, pre-interview, at two other schools. Ive certainly not given up on this round, as there are also a few other schools Ive yet to hear from, but it seem to me the time for planning ahead should start now.

Having looked at my current application, I know that I have a few weak areas. #1. Lack of clinical experience #2. Low undergrad GPA

I plan on doing some shadowing starting in the new year, and if time permits, some volunteer work in a clinical setting. If I do this, I should be able to eliminate weak area #1, and two of the schools that Im on hold/wait listed at will take new information, so I should be able to improve my app. for this cycle while at the same time strengthening it for the next round, should it be necessary.

Weak area #2 is more difficult to deal with. I have a Master’s degree with very good grades as well as really good post-bac grades. I thought this would compensate for poor undergrad grades, but it may not have been enough. I do think that having a kick-as$ MCAT score in combination with my post grad work would have really helped. I got a 29, good, but not kick-a$$.

This brings me to my main question as I begin planning plan B. Should I think about retaking the MCAT? This is really the thing that is making me think about this now, because if I should take it again, ie April, I need to start studying soon.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. I hope to hear from anyone who has gone through plan A and plan B. Thanks,


Statistically, if you have a 29, you are much more likely to decrease your score rather than improve it. So, unless you had some sort of bad circumstances - no A/C in a HOT room, late to test… - I would not retake it. Besides, there is nothing wrog or non-competitive about a 29. The mean MCAT for matriculating med students hovers around 30 - you are merely 1 pt below that. That difference is statistically insignificant.

Focus upon the aspects of your application that you can manipulate both for this cycle & for future cycles. You cannot change those old Ugrad grades; so quit fretting over them. You have strong MS & post-bacc grades & that should demonstrate to programs that you can cut it.

I would proffer that something other than grades or MCAT score is your achilles heel. What you need to do is have your pre-med advisor or committee or someone tough, objective & knowledgable about the med school application process thoroughly review your appl for strengths & weaknesses.

Another thing that has yielded positive results for several OPMers is to solicit feedback from the schools who have rejected you. The programs where you are a contender will not be able to provide insight - unfair advantage to you. However, ask the ones who shot you down exactly why. If one or more of those schools is nearby, ask to schedule a meeting with an admissions person to review your application for way to improve for next year.

This process is far from easy…you may find that you are shot from the saddle this cycle. But, as the cliche goes, that is merely the time to get up, dust off & get back in the saddle.

Dave has some very good points. The only consideration that I would add as to whether or not to retake the MCAT is look at what your section breakdown is. If your 29 is relatively balanced, I wouldn’t dwell too much on retaking. But, if one of your sections is several points lower than the others, that may change the thought process (i.e. lower than a 7 on any section).

MCAT retake might also depend on whether your practice tests were significantly different than the real one. If you were having a bad day on Test Day, and also you’ve got a good idea of what to do to bolster your weaknesses, consider a retake.