Timing of MCAT

My situation: two time consuming classes (at least 20 hrs each per week) and one 1-credit lab (6 hours a week of work and class time) next semester One volunteer research assistantship 8 hrs a week. One part-time job (20 hrs a week with a flexible schedule). One hour commute 2 times a day.

With these time commitments, anyone recommend an MCAT date. I am registered for May 31st, but might change the date to mid June or early July to give myself time after exams are done to focus solely on the MCAT. Any thoughts? Anybody take the MCAT with a similar schedule and do well?


coming from someone who had to take it in difficult times (although unplanned issues surfaced), I believe that you should give you enough time to study. The last thing you want to do is retake it.

Given your schedule:

1- Have you started to study yet?

2- If not, how are you going to study with your schedule?

3- What is your background in the sciences, are you strong or so, so?

4- How are you doing on your verbal?

5- Have you taken a diagnostic to see where you are at and how much work you might have to put in.

Some folks spend months of full time study, others get away with less. Ultimately your conditions will dictate the appropriate way to set up a plan to succeed.

You want to take it as early as you can, but not before you are ready. Sometimes, it means and it can be worth delaying plans an entire year. I am not suggesting that is what you should do. Just make sure to consider all options.

Surveys of med school admissions staff put each the MCAT and GPA as one of the top two factors in admissions consideration by at least 75% of medical schools (info from Kaplan survey going back to 2006 or so where about 2/3 of the MD schools responded)

The MCAT should be thought of, at the very least, a really hard 3 credit class, more likely 6 credits. In addition to the comprehensive content there is also the style, tone, and the tactics of the exam. Most students concentrate on the former and dont give the latter enough thought. I think that is a mistake.

If you get a jump on the style, form, etc you can start creating a mindset to attack and conquer the exam. Having a tight spring semester makes that difficult but you may find very helpful to take a few hard weeks during winter break to really read thru and work some exam problems. Not so much to have all the content known but just to see how the exam is written, how the style and tone is, how to pick out important info, how to read the questions (especially in verbal), how to rule out answers, how to focus solely on the question of timing (lack of discipline in timing is the main reason students do not finish or feel rushed for the exam).

You may find doing that during winter and letting that bubble thru your brain during the term will make the end of spring prep go much better.

As for when to take the exam, I would recommend at least 4 to 6 weeks after the end of the spring term. My rule of thumb for being ready for the exam is doing consistently well on 4 to 6 practice exams taken under real conditions.

while I dont normally recommend taking the exam that late, doing so does not really impact your application timing. You can submit your application with MCAT pending/planned date. (dont wait to submit your app for an MCAT score). The issue that it does represent is what happens 4 weeks later when you get a score that is low? do you rush to retake? do you withdraw?

I am getting a little past your question but here are some things I feel students should consider. General perception is that after 3 MCAT tries most medical schools considered it a large negative. So if you take a late June and don’t do well then rush a September to make up and it you don’t do well, it leaves you one chance the following year. A lot riding on that one day

I suggest that is you take a late June to also plan on one of the following:

A) keep prepping. Take the exam in June and just keep at the MCAT books until you get your scores. You may in fact want to have registered for a second exam (you can cancel it later). I suggest this not simply to be ready but imagine the psychological hump that you take the exam, relax thinking you did well, and then get a bad score. Imagine what you have to do start again.

B) be ready to withdraw applications: If you get a low score, be ready to withdraw your application. Yes it costs money, but an incomplete application doesnt count as a reject for most schools. I get this perception from some school websites that say after a second completed application that is rejected, no further applications will be considered.

That is my rather long winded advice on this,

Thanks for your thoughts. Sorry my reply took so long. Between exams exams and holidays, I decided to take a breather from premed for this next haul should last well into the summer.

In response to Redo-it-all:

1- Have you started to study yet? Nope. But I have gotten all my study materials, read through the exam krackers books. Developed a schedule. So I am ready to start, basically.

2- If not, how are you going to study with your schedule?

This is the problem. I have finally scheduled my life on paper and realized I have no time to study for this MCAT this semester. It just can’t happen. So I guess I have my answer. I need to do well in my classes. I need a bit of an income. And I need to soend at least two solid months studying.

3- What is your background in the sciences, are you strong or so, so?

I am pretty strong, but have no photographic memory - actually have a learning disability so the phsyics formulae are going to be hard to memorize.

4- How are you doing on your verbal?

Verbal is my best area. I am going to try to do verbal problem every day before getting started studying

5- Have you taken a diagnostic to see where you are at and how much work you might have to put in.

So I have been given mixed reviews on this. SOme say to leave the diagnostic as an actual practice test, since by taking it for diagnostic purposes you end up wasting a perfectly good practice exam.

So, with all this, I think I am going to take an early July MCAT. This would give me two solid months for the practice exams, in addition to very part-time prep this semester. Thanks to both of your feedback and some reflection, I realize I am just going to be too busy, and want to get these last grades as high as I can get em.

Thanks for taking the time to feed back!

This really helped me a lot! Thanks.