Retake prereqs to be more competitive?


I’ll keep this short.

I’m a 42-year-old Non-Trad. I decided at the end of 2016 to change careers and to return to pursuing my original passion which is medicine. After a 13-year hiatus from academia, I’ll be finishing my bachelor’s degree this June. I was a pre-med student in my late 20s and completed one year of bio, one year of gen chem, one year of O-Chem, one year of physics, two-quarters of calculus and two-quarters of anatomy and physiology all at a community college about 15 years ago. My science GPA is probably around a 3.70.

I’m still working in the entertainment industry but have since started volunteering at a hospital through the COPE Health Scholars Program. I’ve also managed to shadow a Urology DO last summer and I am currently seeking an Oncologist and a Family Practice physician to shadow. I’ll be leaving my full-time job very soon so that I can focus on academics.

I was recently accepted into a formal post bacc program in Southern California-where I live. I know that California medical schools are some of the most impacted programs and are tough to get into. Like most pre-meds living in CA, my top choices are all in Southern and Northern California. My post bacc advisor encouraged me to consider retaking all of my pre-med prereqs on top of upper division classes in order to make myself more competitive for CA schools. She says the grades look great but since they are pretty old it may benefit me to start fresh. I tend to agree with her but I wanted to see what you guys thought. Do you think that retaking all of my pre-med prereqs at a four year and doing well in three or four upper division bio and chemistry classes will make me a more appealing candidate for CA schools? I’m aware that there is much more to it than my GPA and MCAT scores but I have to make a decision before registration begins.

Thank you for any and all comments.


If I am reading your post correctly, you took your prerequisite science courses at a community college. Some medical schools, especially those that are more competitive to get into, often prefer applicants who do their prerequisites at a four-year university or college. Given that you took them 15 years ago, I would at least consider this. If not, you could just do the upper division courses at the four-year university, instead. Then do well on the MCAT. If necessary, take an MCAT prep course, but strive to do well the first time on the MCAT. Many med schools do not like too many retakes. In my case, I was told to retake the courses in which I did not get an A, so I am redoing those at A-level work.

Above all, do not screw up the post-bacc. Make it a priority and if you have any learning or study-related issues, take care of those before you get heavily into classes. That’s what I failed to do. Only in my last year of post-bacc were two learning issues evaluated properly (two of my professors noticed them and sent me to the learning center). Unfortunately, it was too late to fix my science grades back then, but in the meantime, I re-learned how to learn the “right way.” Now, seven years later, I am slowly doing better, with an upward trend in my “new” post-bacc-bacc retakes. Just got 2 A+'s, and I am expecting a third one.

I, too, am a non-traditional premed student in the Los Angeles area, but I don’t expect to get into any California medical schools.