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Best time to take the MCAT?

gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Pre-Med Topics
I don't want to have a gap year after my senior year and would like to transition straight into med school after my senior year of undergrad. So if someone could please give me their input it would be great:
Is it better to take the MCAT in January of my Junior year or May of my Junior year? At first I though it might be a good idea to take it in January because I will be able to study for it over the summer casually (not rigorous studying) and then I can take a lighter course load in the fall of my junior year which would allow my ample time to study for the MCAT. But, from what I am seeing, my older friends are all taking it in May of their Junior year. This alternative can also work out as I can just take a lighter course load in the spring of my junior year and study then, but I won't have the summer right before that semester. What do you think is better?

Also, is it true that if I DO take the MCAT in May, then applying for med schools will be more hectic because the deadline is very near after taking the MCAT?
Post edited by gimmedat on

Replies to: Best time to take the MCAT?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 8,806 Senior Member
    Actual application deadlines don't close until mid-October at the earliest. (But you're shooting yourself in the foot if wait that late to apply.)

    The AMCAS application cycle officially opens on June 1. (Though I believe you can start filling out forms and uploading your PS as early as May 1.) It takes 4 weeks from the date of your exam to get your MCAT scores back.

    If you test at the end of May, you'll get your scores back at the end of June--which isn't too late IF you have everything else ready to submit as you get your scores back. Everything includes have a list of appropriate schools ready based on various contingencies--like various different MCAT scores.

    I think the critical questions is:

    Will you have all your pre-reqs done before you January MCAT test date?

    If you will, then it really doesn't matter whether you take your MCAT in January or May.
  • bigreddawgiebigreddawgie Registered User Posts: 2,157 Senior Member
    take it in Jan. you get winter break to study for it. end of may, you prob have exams to worry about too
  • gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Thanks to both of you for the replies, I really appreciate it.

    To answer WOWMom: I will have taken bio, chem, orgo, and physics by the end of my sophomore year and I was planning on taking cell bio or genetics during the fall of my junior year (whichever class is more helpful for the MCAT, I would likely take that one). This way I'd have the 4 major pre req classes done before I even start studying for the MCAT and I'd be taking either cell bio or genetics as I study for the MCAT. Do you think this is advisable? Or should I take both cell bio and genetics before the MCAT?

    Bigreddawgie: This is what I was leaning towards as well and specifically for that reason. Thanks for reaffirming what I was thinking!
  • norcalguynorcalguy Registered User Posts: 7,548 Senior Member
    Why don't you study hardcore in the summer after your sophomore year and then take it at the end of the summer?
  • gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Norcalguy, thanks for your response. To answer: By the end of my sophomore year, I still wouldn't have finished (or even started, for that matter) genetics or cell bio. From what I have heard those classes are helpful for the MCAT as well, and I really have no time to take it by the time I am done with my sophomore year. So I'd likely have to wait til I begin my Junior year before taking either of those classes.
  • TuftsStudentTuftsStudent Registered User Posts: 570 Member
    Why don't you take one practice test without studying after sophomore year and see where you fall?
  • bigreddawgiebigreddawgie Registered User Posts: 2,157 Senior Member
    you dont need genetics or cell bio to do well. i didnt take those classes.

    dont waste a aamc practice test just to see where you are
  • TuftsStudentTuftsStudent Registered User Posts: 570 Member
    There are like a billion tests out there in addition to the AAMC ones: Kaplan, TPR, Berkley, ExamKrackers. I highly doubt most people do them all.

    Plus, if you decide not to do the test that summer, you won't remember anything about that particular practice test the summer afterwards.
  • gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Hmmm thanks for your replies.
    Bigreddawgie, while I have heard from several people that cell bio and genetics aren't really needed for the MCAT, I have also heard a few people say it did help them out. But at the same time, it would be so much more convenient if I were able to take the MCAT at the end of the summer so I have a full summer to study hard compared to taking the MCAT in January when I have a whole semester of classes not to mention finals only a few weeks before January. But at the same time, I feel like taking one of those classes could help me a little. So I guess I need to figure out what's more important: a summer of studying, or being extra prepared with one more class.

    Tufts, that's a good idea. I think I might want to take a shot at one practice test, and if I'm not satisfied with how well I do, then maybe I should wait til January.
  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP Registered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    " don't want to have a gap year after my senior year and would like to transition straight into med school after my senior year of undergrad."

    -I believe that you will hear different opinion from different people because all of them are in slightly different situation. So, you have to ask yourself what time is the best for you. My D. had the same goal: no gap year, go to Med. School straight after UG. She took her MCAT in May, 2 weeks after her spring finals in junior year. One thing she said she would have done different is taking MCAT right after finals, not waiting 2 weeks. Other than that, this timing worked for her. She took it once, got decent score, applied early and got accepted to several Med. Schools. Specifics of her situation:
    1.very busy with various EC's and unrelated minor
    2. not needed to review Gen. Chem - SI for Gen Chem prof for several years.
    3. guaranteed spot in one Med. School (in combined bs/md)
    4. took very long prep. class (starting in October)
    5. good pre-med advisory with everything completed earlier than some other posters have mentioned on CC.
    6.D. wanted to complete Physics and Genetics before taking MCAT. Having couple classes that are heavily represented on MCAT right before taking MCAT has helped.
    7 D. did NOT study previous summer, I would strongly advise not to start that long in advance, it will not help, it might have opposite effect.
    I have listed D's reasons for taking MCAT in May. As I mentioned, you have to adjust to your specific circumstances and choose your best time.
    BTW, in general, D. did not do ANY studying in any summer during UG, did not take single summer class, did not read anything. Complete R&R and some shadowing and volunteering, not much, since nothing is available in home town. She could only dream about any paying position, there were none, she has tried. Looking back, it has helped. She did awesome in UG. Do not push yourself too hard, spend time with your friends, go swimming, fishing, whatever, while in UG. You will not have these opportunities later on in your life.
  • phonyreal98phonyreal98 Registered User Posts: 1,984 Senior Member
    I would keep an open mind regarding a gap year...the majority of physicians I know took one or more years between undergrad and med school and none of them have any regrets about it.

    But that's not really what you're asking about.

    I studied for the MCAT during the summer after my sophomore year and took it at the end of that summer. I think that's a good time to take it because if you mess up, then there's still time to take it again. That said, it's best to only take the MCAT once, a. because it's a royal PATA to study for and b. because admissions committees would rather you take the MCAT once and do well than taking it over and over again for a minimal score increase. There used to be a pretty large stigma about re-taking the MCAT but it seems like (via SDN) is that the stigma is starting to fade because more and more people are retaking the MCAT (due to the fact it is offered so many times during the year now). The downside to taking it when I did is that since I want to take a gap year, I pretty much have to get in on the first try, otherwise I'll have to retake the MCAT.

    One last point is not to rush into taking the MCAT. Wait until you finish the majority of the premed requirements before taking it. While I did very well on the Physical Sciences section, I still could have picked up a point or two if I had waited until after I had taken physics in college to take the MCAT (although I had taken AP Physics in high school).
  • gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Thanks for all you advice everyone. Do you think taking all the 4 pre-reqs for pre-med (chem, bio, orgo, and physics) so early (will be finished with them by the end of my sophomore year) will be a disadvantage for me if I decide to take the MCAT in January or May of my sophomore year? Because I'm worried that maybe if I take all these classes so early they won't be so fresh in my memory by the time I actually take the MCAT. Would it be more beneficial if I save one class, say something like physics, and take that junior year in which case it will be fresh in my memory? Or is this not a big deal?
  • ace550ace550 Registered User Posts: 1,126 Senior Member
    Taking a gap year for incoming freshmen could be a problem if the new MCAT becomes effective in 2015.
  • gimmedatgimmedat Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    ace550, what are you talking about?
  • kristin5792kristin5792 Registered User Posts: 2,068 Senior Member
    I believe ace550 is referring to this press release from the AAMC regarding changes to the MCAT in the coming years:

This discussion has been closed.