Should I quit my job to study for the MCAT full-time?

Hello everyone! This is my first post at :slight_smile:

I’m debating whether I should resign from my job or not. I’ve graduated last year in May 2015 and have been balancing working a very-full time job (40-50 hours a week) and MCAT studying. I’ve taken the old MCAT before the change happened in January 2015 and scored a 20 (literally…but I’m a very good student with 3.97 GPA) I was taking a Kaplan course at the time while taking 3 science courses and thesis and crammed studied for 18 days. In retrospect, I needed to strategize and needed more time.

I am aiming to take the exam in January 2017 (already unofficially pushed back the exam twice due to events at work) and feel like I need to study head-on. But I haven’t seen much improvement despite on and off studying since last October. My biggest fear is quitting and not doing as well on the exam as I’ve hoped. But I’m also so tired when I come home from work and I know that something needs to change at work. Financially, I have about 3 months worth of rent (NYC) and am concerned about finding a good job to sustain me after my exam. But my main focus at this point is to do well on the exam and I don’t want to delay taking this exam anymore.

I’m going to ask my employer if I can take a one-month leave of absence from late December to my January exam date and somehow find a way to use my vacation days so I can work 3-4 days a week. Would this be enough time to improve my score to 510+? My first Kaplan practice test score was 491 :frowning: I’m determined to do well but for some reason, I’m not making much progress on this exam.

Or is quitting your job for the exam worth it for the exam? Would med schools look unfavorably if I were to study for the MCAT head-on?

Thank you!!

P.S. Dr. Grey, could you please do a podcast episode on this topic?! :slight_smile:

I personally think it’s worth it to take a leave of absence if you can swing it financially. So when the time comes, I’m planning on doing the same thing, taking at least a 1 month leave of absence.

I’m wondering if that would be enough though. I don’t think it’ll give me enough time to focus and improve. Or maybe I’m over thinking this?

@Gutsy wrote:

I’m wondering if that would be enough though. I don’t think it’ll give me enough time to focus and improve. Or maybe I’m over thinking this?

Being ready depends on when you last took the preqs IMHO and how much concentrated studying you’ve done. One month could be plenty of time, but this is so uniquely variable. I say take a practice exam to see what your “weak” points are and develop a plan from there.

@Gutsy wrote:

Hello everyone! This is my first post at :slight_smile:

Or is quitting your job for the exam worth it for the exam? Would med schools look unfavorably if I were to study for the MCAT head-on?


Personally I would not. I think studying hard for a month won’t cut it. That is my personal opinion (my MCAT was in the 4 top %). However it is true that no everybody studies the same way.

So if I were you, I would take 1 year, not 1 month. You need to study slowly and convert “temporary knowledge (that you acquire when binging)” into permanent knowledge base. The only way to do that is to “repeat” again, and again and again. So if you set up a plan in which you review the material multiple times, then it will end up sticking. It is tedious, long and painful. However, you don’t need to quite your job and your life can go on. It is also much safer.

But again, it is opinion. It worked for me.

Now I hear the time complaint. But believe me, in the grand scheme of things, 1 year is irrelevant. I can promise you that (after this there is MD school, after MD school, there is residency, and for some fellowship).

Whatever you decide. Good luck. Keep trucking.

Med schools will have no idea how you studied for the test, nor will they really care I don’t think.

I took a Kaplan on-demand course while working full time. The course was WAY better than my initial attempt at just studying the kaplan books on my own. It was expensive, but I couldn’t help but pay for the convenience of it being fully on my own schedule. I crammed it all into a 3 month period then took my test. I did well, but the “temporary knowledge” thing described above definitely kicked in a couple of times. If you started now and fully dedicated yourself while working, then took the last 2-4 weeks to really hit home the stuff that you’re weak on, you might be okay. If January is a crunch, definitely consider moving it to a later date. I think you can take it as late as April/May and still be able to submit on application opening day.

Thank you everyone! I’ve already pushed back a year to study for the exam (so taking 3 gap years total instead of initially planned 2 years) and want to everything I can to take it soon.

I don’t think I can push it back any further as I’ve already pushed the test back twice and am burning out right now. It’s a tough battle to choose for sure :frowning:

Chiming in a little late here, but I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in.

I would highly recommend against quitting your job. Aside from med school being crazyland expensive, the volume of material that you have to be able to work through in a short amount of time is massive…I would argue it’s more intense than studying for the MCAT while working full time.

I don’t know anything about you, so take this with a grain of salt, but you may need to work on your time management and/or self-discipline.

As far as the MCAT itself is concerned. Practice tests & practice questions are you friend. Tests to learn the timing, question banks for the material. I also highly recommend the Kaplan course, though I took it in person (in addition to school & work at the time). The online one is probably the way to go, for the resources they provide if nothing else.