Premed in the Fall...

Hey folks … I know this is a subject that seems to be visited frequently. I have found the feedback from these forums to be invaluable during my planning so far … so I am going to have to solicit some more advice!

Right now the strongest candidate for my premed program is going to be a large state university (for cost purposes) but it also happens to have a good premed reputation. I can’t start school until fall of next year because of military commitments … If I have no sciences whatsoever with my BA, what is a realistic estimate for how much time I will need before I can take the MCAT as a full-time student?

I have seen a handful of formal postbacc programs that can finish them all in a calendar year … does the same translate to a do-it-yourself post bacc program? I guess what I’m asking is … if I start full-time in the fall, can I take the MCAT in august the following year or would it completely sabotage my scores and gpa? I understand the question is largely based on the capabilities of the individual, but surely someone has some good advice to relate. I understand also that taking the MCAT in August is disadvantageous insofar as applying late to med school, however, I am willing to accept that if it could save me another year of waiting to matriculate.

I have also given some thought to taking some correspondence courses (such as calculus) while I am waiting for my discharge. I can see that it will be at least 2 years of premed before I can matriculate to med school no matter which way I slice it. However, taking the MCAT in that first or second year is what makes the difference between 2 and 3 years of waiting. I’m prepared to do whatever makes sense because getting in a hurry is the kiss of death on an undertaking like this, but I’d also like to settle on some realistic expectations for the future to plan around. Any thoughts, suggestions, experiences that can help me?

And by the way – you guys are great. Quality guidance every step of the way, I tell you what.

Hi Hawkunit,

If you’ve taken no science classes as of yet, you will probably be looking at 4 semesters before you should really consider taking the MCAT. Whether you take the Biology sequence or the Physics sequence, it probably doesn’t matter which one you do first, although chances are if you’ve taken no math classes, you’ll want to get at least precalc algebra and trig done before starting the physics. For most schools, you will probably not have to take calc-based physics; algebra-based usually suffices. The thing that takes the 4 semesters is the chemistry sequence which requires you to take general chem 1 and 2, and then you take Organic Chem 1 and 2. By finishing (or very close to finishing your prereqs), you will up your chances of doing well with the MCAT.

You can usually use the glide (application) year to take some advanced science classes like biochemistry.

Definitely get your Algebra legs solid before attempting Physics. It will also make Chem much easier.

I would advise you to get some Scientific American magazines and start reading them often. The articles aren’t so full of jargon as to be impossible to read but aren’t completely watered down like the newspaper. This will broaden your scientific vocabulary on a wide variety of topics.