When to take the MCAT?

If I am looking at admission in Fall 2009, when should I definitely take the MCAT by and when can I start taking it?



If you are going for fall of 2009, which means you will be applying next year, then the latest you would want to take it would be April of 2008. this would give you time to decide which schools you would like to apply to or if you feel that you need to, decide when you would like to retake the test.

I was reading your response, and am a little confused…I should attempt to take the MCAT for the first time by April 2008, or that date I should have whatever score I plan to submit?

You want to take it by April 2008 - this will give you a score report by early June, so you know whether or not your score is good enough to submit your application. AMCAS can be submitted starting June, 2008 for August 2009 matriculation.

Thanks, Emergency! I can know figure out a plan of attack.

  • Emergency! Said:
You want to take it by April 2008 - this will give you a score report by early June, so you know whether or not your score is good enough to submit your application. AMCAS can be submitted starting June, 2008 for August 2009 matriculation.

I would disagree with this advice. The MCAT is now offered multiple times between January and August. Your first thought should be to take the exam *when you are most prepared.* If that is August, so be it. If that happens to be April or May or June, fine. For entering class 2009, you MUST (with very little exception) have taken the MCAT no later than the last offering in 2008 (typically August).

It's nice to take it and get your score before you submit your application in June, '08, but it is not the end-all-be-all if you submit your AMCAS application prior to taking the MCAT.

If, after getting your scores, you wish to add a few new schools to your AMCAS selection, you can always do this after the fact. (In fact, the only AMCAS information you can modify after submission is contact information and the addition of schools.)



Hi Judy,

Thanks so much for clearing that up for me…it gives me the time-line that I was looking for.

Another question…if I take the MCAT in April '08, and do so-so, but take it again a few months later and really do well, are both scores submitted with your application or just your best?

Also, what if you do well on the first but on the second you don’t, can you just submit your first…

I know that I am putting the cart before the horse, but I’m just trying to give myself the time to prepare so that I have a better chance at getting in for 2009.


All scores are submitted, so don’t take it until you feel very very ready. There are several practice exams available online from AAMC, so you should have a good idea of how you’ll do well before you sit down to take the exam. Prepare solidly, take a lot of practice exams, analyze your performance on those exams thoroughly (asking “why was this answer right? Why was this one wrong?” for each question), and you should do well.

Thanks, Denise. Considering the price to take the test, it’s not something I want to take more than I have too.

Ironically the area that worries me most is the writing portion. While I have done well in the past in writing, I’m afraid that I will go blank when it comes to that section. Is there anything that you can do ahead of time to prepare for that? Are they looking for something particular?


Judy is absolutely correct in that you can take the MCAT later than April for application the following year. However, as someone who took the August MCAT and did not have most of my applications complete until November, I would encourage you to make a list of pros and cons for taking the test earlier vs. later.

Obviously, doing well on the test is the most important thing. If that means taking it in August, that means taking it in August. If you take the test in August, though, you will most likely want to submit your application without knowing your MCAT score. Depending on how many schools you apply to, this can be a financial risk if your scores end up not being what you had hoped. On the flip side, many schools will send you secondary applications prior to receiving your scores. This means that you can go ahead and fill those out, send in your LORs and then have your application complete as soon as your MCAT is received. Again though, that increases the financial risk as most schools have secondary application fees.

Med schools have rolling admissions - the later your application is complete the bigger disadvantage you will be at. Now - applying late does not mean that you will not get interviews or accepted anywhere (I ended up being accepted at all five schools I applied to), but it does increase your risk of not being offered an interview or being offered an interview late in the year when many schools have already filled their class. I don’t think this is as big of disadvantage as many on SDN would lead you to believe, but it is definitely to your advantage to get your application in earlier. But, you must balance that with when you will perform the best on the MCAT.

Well, I’m leaning on taking the MCAT around May of 2008 for Fall 2009. By this time I will have completed all of my science prereqs (O.Chem and Physics 2007-2008). This way should I not perform the way I hope (although I plan on doing a lot of prep before), I can still take it again in July should I need to.

You may want to check on the MCAT site about whether or not that strategy is possible. I honestly have no idea what the timelines are for getting your scores back and registering for the next test (the computer based test is a whole different ballgame) - you may not be able to get your scores back in time to register for the July test. Also, even if you do have enough time to register for the July test, it is my understanding that the test sites fill on a first come, first serve bases - so you might find yourself shut out if the testing center is already full.

Because it is still quite awhile away, I’m not going to stress over that right now. According to the MCAT website, they are figuring that you will get your scores within 30 days (they are working towards 14 days). Considering January 2007 is their just starting this new test taking method, I’m sure that by next year, I’ll have a better idea.

But thanks again!

The cost of the MCAT is the least of the reasons why you want to only take this test once. It is a grueling, difficult test unlike any other that you have ever faced - or will face afterwards for that matter. I had a friend who characterized it as the “worst” test he ever took, and he was an established, board-certified physician who’d subsequently taking Steps 1, 2 and 3, and his certification boards that included oral exams.

You always want to have your Plan B in the back of your head, but you want to go into it thinking that you will kick its a$$ and won’t ever have to see it again!