Retake classes again?

So, I was just talking with a premed advisor who advised me that I should retake my premed courework again, as most of the lower division courses are 7-9 years old. This was the second time that I took these courses, but the first time was 30 years ago and I was not premed at the time. During the intervening years, I was doing upper division coursework, studying for the MCAT, taking care of my parents, and running health projects abroad.)

The advisor said that prereqs should be within 5 years.

While I don’t mind retaking coursework again (as it would up my science GPA), it does delay things another year or two. I’ve taken so long to get here, that I don’t like the idea of doing it all over again, for the 3rd time.

Depends on what schools you’re applying to… For example, Duke requires all prereqs complete in the last 5 years. Some schools have a recommended timeframe, and others don’t specify. My prereqs spanned from 2000 to 2013, with about half of them being done before 2002. I got accepted in the '13-14 cycle by a program with a 10 year recommended window, so I guess I was an exception to policy.

Bottom line is you don’t necessarily have to take them again to be competitive, especially if you have an MCAT score that shows you know the material (highly recommend a prep course in your situation). You may, however, consider taking some sort of “upper” science class to show recency of academic success (ie I took an online biochem course right before I applied).

Thanks, kennymac. Based on what you have told me, I will probably not be applying to Duke. I have taken lots of upper division coursework, but perhaps a bit more would not hurt.

Where did you find the online biochemistry course?

Will med schools adcomms accept online coursework?

Univ New England coll of med. Some schools take it, some don’t. With 3 online prereqs plus biochem online, I got 5 MD interviews and a DO interview (only school I applied to). Just do some research on your own interests before spending/wasting mkney

I also recently spoke with a premed advisor and they recommended that I retake science courses. I graduated from undergrad in 2008 with a 3.82 science GPA, got a masters in science education (4.0), and have been a science teacher. I need to retake the MCAT as my score is outdated now (2007 score was 37). I’m a little peeved at the idea of spending money to take classes that I already took but thought it might be smart to put the q out there. I’d do it if necessary. Any words of advice?

Not all premed advisors are created equal. Is your advisor speaking from experience or is he/she used to working with traditional-type applicants? The cookie cutter answer would be “retake all the classes and apply immediately thereafter”. But why spend money in subjects you’ve already excelled at?

I may be the outlier, but I say take an upper level science you haven’t taken before if you want to show you’ve still got what it takes to do well in the basic sciences. If you haven’t done biochem, I’d recommend that, especially since it’s on the new MCAT. I also rec a commercial prep program to refresh/learn the concepts for the MCAT.

As referenced above, it depends on what schools you want to apply to and whether they have a course recency requirement.

I don’t like that I’m the only one who has commented on this thread and welcome other opinions based on hearsay or experience. I’d hate to steer you wrong because of my individual experience (OPM was my “premed advisor”).

James P,

kennymac is right (as usual) and your advisor is wrong. While recency requirements for particular courses (e.g. Bio 101, Chem 101, Anatomy & Physiology) do exist in nursing and PA program admissions (mainly because nursing and PA programs incorporate these particular courses to meet mandated instruction hours and/or instruction content), medical schools are primarily concerned with identifying applicants who have the academic “muscle” to handle the medical school curriculum. If you were on the medical school admissions committee, which applicant would you prefer? An applicant who merely retook remedial premedical coursework that he/she did well in previously or an applicant who challenged himself/herself by taking and excelling in unfamiliar upper-level premedical coursework (e.g second-year Organic Chemistry, graduate-level Biochemistry). There many successful posters on this board who did not repeat their lower-division premedical coursework that they excelled in from long ago, but rather focused on scoring high on the MCAT and excelling in recent, upper-division/graduate-l evel premedical coursework:………

PLEASE do not repeat coursework! I was accepted to two medical schools and interviewed at 4 (out of 8 that I applied to) with prereqs reaching back to 1999. It is simply unnecessary.

I got accepted with some prereqs that were 15+ years old. I had however taken some of the others in the past 2 years.

Help, I’m trying to make a decision and I have a tons of questions about how to this. I’m a second degree BSN and work in a NICU for the last year plus. I have only done 1/2 my pre-recs and they are over 10 years old. Do I have to start from scratch or can I finish them and do a post- bacc? From what I’m reading just finish what I haven’t done and take the MCATs. Any advice?


Short answer is “it depends.” Some schools have a recommended/mandatory time period since you’ve completed the prereqs. I got into a school with a recommended 10 year timeframe, but they let me slide in with some classes a little bit older than 10. I did have 2 classes within 2 years of my application though. Think about it from an ADCOM perspective though. Would I rather have someone with a good academic track record from a decade ago or someone who has reproved their ability, at least in some areas.

Second consideration is that some schools I looked into (can’t remember which specifically) don’t necessarily accept nursing classes for prereqs. By that, for example, I mean a class that covers chemistry topics but has a course designation as “NURS310” or whatever. The classes have to be legitimately labeled “CHEM110” or something to that effect. But like I said, it all depends on the school you’re looking to apply to.

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend retaking a class per se. You may consider taking upper level classes in subjects that you have already taken. Prereq doesn’t have to mean first 2 classes in the course series.

I’d recommend retaking courses only if you have a recent (past 2 years) good (>30) MCAT score. Otherwise, I’d look at retaking the courses as a cheaper review for the MCAT but I’d mix in some upper level courses in the hard core sciences too!

I got accepted after nearly two decades out of college, and with a 3.2 cumulative GPA (3.9 in my post-bacc), without retaking all my pre-req’s. I did re-take gen chem and orgo and that was actually helpful because I got good preparation for the MCAT and got A’s the second time around. But I did not repeat physics or orgo lab, and that was fine.

Do you have your heart set on top-tier schools? Then maybe retake everything. If not, then only retake classes that you think would be helpful to you aside from what the ad com thinks. Your goal is really to show that you can handle rigorous science coursework, so if your grades and MCAT scores are high, you should be in good shape. Take some upper-level classes to show that you can still challenge yourself.

If your science grades were not great, then it would be worth it to re-take classes anyway to demonstrate that you can do better, and to make sure you have mastered the material.

One final note on advisors - I agree that they often give “cookie cutter” advice and you need to take what they say with a grain of salt. My advisor told me to take physics, physics, and more physics which would have guaranteed me a full year of misery - and it turned out it wasn’t necessary. Keep in mind many of them do not have a medical or even strongly academic background. If you have a non-trad kind of question, it’s good to run it past some people who have served on admissions committees recently and see what they think.

It varies widely and with schools shifting to core competencies and reduced prereqs, the only suggestion I would have is perhaps retake intro bio as that seems to be the most changed course and will help you prep for MCAT. I wish I could have some sort of definitive answer for this but every time I start seeing the start of a common trend, its changes

Hi all! This is my very first post in Premed after stalking this post for a year. :slight_smile:

I am debating similar issues. I graduated with B.S. Nutritional Science in 2010. Almost all science classes are taken in CC during 2008-09 and then I transferred to a prestige college.

I borrowed an old MCAT exercise book in library and tried to evaluate where I am at. I do pretty well in Biological Science (through it took a long time ) but i almost forgot all Gen. Chem.

My goal is to get into any DO school or new MD schools given my below average GPA (3.34 undergrad) and my passion in primary care/rural health. I took/re-take Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology w/ labs in Berkeley extensions (GPA 4.0) within last 2 years in attempt to go to PA school. I will be taking Physics (3 quarters - in one year) in UCLA extension.

My struggles are finance and how to show meds school that I can take hard work load. I worry about the later because most of my science classes are from CC. I work 6 days a week and volunteer few hours bi-weekly. I plan to buy the Princeton MCAT book set to self-study, plus any of the following option:

(1) spend $2300 for MCAT prep class

(2) re-take gen.chem (grade: A, B) and o.chem (grade: B, B) in any CC regardless quality. I am in Southern California --> having much difficulty to get a spot in CC, can’t be picky !)

(3) re-take gen chem and o.chem (lecture only - w/ labs it will be over $2000 per course ) in UCLA or UC Berkeley extension

(3) re-take Biochem ( grade : B-) and take genetics. They are not required but considered upper level classes.

(4) just study MCAT books, plus whatever free online course I can get (e.g. Khan, Coursera)

Any advice will be greatly appreciated ! I need some supports here as my friends and co-workers talk about buying houses or raising kids, but I rather be broke and risk the chance of not able to have kids in other to pursue a life-long career that i truly enjoy!

Have a good day everyone.