I’m trying to decide whether I should take the MCAT in April or August. I recall OPM advice to take biochem before the MCAT. Can anyone refresh my memory on the reasons why it will help?
Here’s my status: while working full-time and volunteering at Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic and taking fulltime classes, I finished the prereq’s with mostly B’s and some A’s (did well in Gen Chem and both organics). I was scheduled to take biochem this spring but I backed out after my Quantitative Chem grade was ‘unsatisfactory’ (I decided to use this Spring to repair the damage). I can take biochem during the second summer semester, which ends about the time the August MCAT is given.
Originally, I planned on finishing biochem and genetics this spring and take NO classes in the summer so that I could use the time for MCAT prep. I originally planned on taking the August MCAT. Now that I must take biochem this summer, I don’t have the luxury of taking time off to devote myself solely to MCAT prep. Since I will be pushed for time in August, I’m wondering why I don’t take the MCAT in April (another ‘pushed-for-time’ test date). If I don’t do well in April, I will still have August to retake the MCAT. From the prep-time perspective, I’m seeing the April/Aug test dates as ‘six of one, half-dozen of the other’ but from the prep-content perspective I think there might be a difference.
Another option is for me to take the Aug MCAT according to the original plan (no summer classes, full time MCAT prep) and take biochem in Fall, 2005 (which is after I’ve taken the MCAT). This is not a good option if there is a lot of biochem on the test. But, it is a good option in that I can devote time to practice tests in the other areas.
Since I have ‘mostly Bs’ my MCAT score is VERY important.
I need some feedback and/or info about the test to make a good decision.
I welcome any and all opinions/advice!
It’s tough to say. A lot depends on how your undergraduate school handles their General Biology course. My school had General Biology in the broadest sense and the course wasn’t tailored to premeds. A semester’s worth of Biochemistry and a semester’s worth of Physiology would have probably boosted my BS MCAT score.
Biochemistry isn’t one of those “required” courses to take the MCAT, but it would help. That having been said, if it’s going to take away from the overall time you have to take the test, I wouldn’t bother with trying to squeeze it in.
Biochem for the most part is not tested on the MCAT and the little that is can be learned via a review book. I would plan on taking biochem before starting medical school…but not prior to MCAT.
I do not think that Bochem will help with the MCAT. I remember the bio section being primarily Orgo II and Physiology along with some microbiology. If I had to take any class above the prereqs it would be the part of A&P that deals with physiology (my A&P I class was mainly neuro and muscular and A&P II was the resp/cardiac/GI/GU) or a microbilogy class. While Biochem was helpful in medschool, it was not an issue on the MCAT. However, I took the MCAT in 2001 so maybe it has changed.
Hope this helps,
You are right that you really need to rock the MCAT in order to make your application competitive. Serious focused undivided-attention MCAT prep is going to be far more helpful to you than biochem.
The MCAT is far, far more about reading well and carefully, and making good deductions based on basic science knowledge, than it is about really nitty-gritty science stuff. Yeah, there’s some nitty-gritty in there for sure. But it is the most application-based test I’ve ever heard of - it’s not what ya know, it’s what ya do with that knowledge that counts for the MCAT.
That’s why you’ll read so many comments about serious preparation for the MCAT. Whatever methodology you use, you MUST plan to do many practice passages and full-length mock exams, with follow-up review to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. At an absolute minimum, you should devote to the MCAT the time you’d devote to a four-credit science/lab class.
As far as timing: my own opinion is it’s better to go slow and get it right the first time. I am a little dubious about the “I can always take it again in August” line of thinking. Trust me when I say you will NOT want to take this test again and I think it’s a mistake to think of a repeat test as a safety net. I’d recommend instead that you plan to dedicate yourself to a stellar effort for April, and if your schedule makes that highly unlikely, just take it in August when you’ll be able to devote the necessary time and attention.
Just my .02
Thanks for the feedback everyone!
Based on your comments, I’m thinking that it would be better for me not to cram in biochem and focus on MCAT prep over the summer (I don’t have blocks of ‘open time’ for study this spring).
Your comments were helpful. Thanks again.