take Upper Div Bio before OChem II?

Wondering if anyone has contemplated this strategy or heard any reports of it working out well…

I will be applying to the three schools in Arizona and fairly broadly out of state next June.

OChem I and II are the only pre-reqs that I have remaining and I feel pretty good about ending up with a solid B or A in OChem I this Fall.

I don’t have any upper division BIO, but I have read so much about one or two of these really enhancing the application (and being more relevant on the MCAT than OChem II) that I am considering taking an upper div BIO like genetics or micro bio next spring instead of the OChem II.

My other more cautious and prudent voice sometimes nags at me that maybe I am being hasty and trying to start the “sprint” at the end of this marathon a bit too soon…next June will have been almost three years working on my DYI pre-med post-bac, but maybe it should be four

Is there anyone that has had or learned of any outcomes, either negative or positive, with this approach of defering OChem II for the next semester to have an upper division BIO completed before the MCAT and applications?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice…


The problem with your reasoning, Neil, is that O-Chem is a prerequisite - i.e., required. I am not a fan of deferring required courses until after you’ve submitted your application, for the simple reason that most of your competition WILL have completed those prerequisites. So while you may have good grades to put up against the other applicants, you won’t have a complete set of good grades, and most applicants will.

Any non-trad’s application is already going to be “different” by definition. When it comes to the really key stuff - prerequisites and MCAT - you don’t want to be different.


I concur with the illustrious Dr. Renard.

  1. OChem II is required

  2. Upper Division Bio as a mechanism to improve MCAT seems to be a low ROI (return on investment). The time, energy, and resources to do well in the couse may take away from focus on the MCAT

  3. Your sprint may be too soo as you suggest.

    Overall you are “violating” several of my “rules”

    Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

    Do Not Risk Bad Grades By Taking Too Much

    The MCAT Is Your Friend

    Premature Application

    And I always ask, is your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school QUICKLY?

Hey, Neil. It’s great that you’re thinking about options for how to best prepare yourself. I think that Mary and Rich have given some sound reasoning as to why to stick with O-Chem II in the spring. I’d like to add that the second semester of o-chem doesn’t get easier, and by putting it off awhile you are apt to lose many of the concepts learned in the first semester which will be required to do well in second semester. I took the MCAT 4 years ago, and perhaps it’s changed a little, but back then the material tested beyond the general requirements was very limited and I’m certain you would get this information with any MCAT review course (which many of us recommend).

Congrats on the success with O-Chem I and well wishes for continued success!

Thanks everyone…

I really appreciate your candid and well reasoned advice, and will rest much easier planning to take OChem II in the spring, rather than second guessing…