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Advice about Timing of MCAT

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Elysium, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. Elysium

    Elysium Not Really An Old Beaver

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    I'd love to get some advice from those who have been through it...

    I'm scheduled to take Physics II (and lab) and Orgo II (and lab, sigh) next semester. I'm a post-bacc so that's the extent of my course work. Would it make more sense to start the TPR review class in Jan and sit for the April MCAT (while taking these two nightmare courses) in order to get the apps in earlier or to pace myself and just take it in August?

    Did you guys feel better prepared in April or in August?

    And, is there a noticeable improvement in scores from the two test times? (I suspect not, but I wonder if anyone had any insight).

    Thanks so much for any guidance.
     
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  3. SMW

    SMW Grand Member

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    I planned to take it in April, but bailed and took it in August, because I was not ready. And I was not taking physics and orgo at the same time -- in fact I already had all my prerequisites out of the way. I just did not have enough time to devote to my Kaplan class/materials/practice tests during the academic year. So the day after I graduated I started re-taking the Kaplan course (except I didn't really go to class the second time around, I just studied and took practice tests). I basically studied for 2 solid months before the August MCAT, and pulled out a 30. I could not have done it otherwise. But lots of people will tell you it's possible to do what you're contemplating. I think it's really an individual thing. Good luck and welcome to SDN!! :D
     
  4. nerfornothin

    nerfornothin Member

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    Hey TE,
    1) Have you thought about taking the MCAT in August and then waiting to apply until the following summer?

    2) You could definitely take it in April and then apply this coming summer but it would entail a huge workload (courses + MCAT + preparing application).

    3) If you followed option #1 you could spread things out allowing you to be strong in every area. Plenty of study time for the MCAT. No problem doing well in courses next semester. Lots of time to prep app. You could use the extra year to volunteer, take more upper division science, classes of interest, and so on.

    4) If you're not interested in taking an extra year the timing of the MCAT depends on whether you think your score will suffer greatly from outside obligations (courses). If you think you can go beast and tackle courses + MCAT + preparing application then do it in April. You optimally don't want to fall behind in the admissions cycle by waiting for the August MCAT (you start applying in early June).

    If you feel your score is really going to suffer from the added workload then sit the MCAT in August and lose a few months on the admissions cycle while gaining needed points on the MCAT.

    I wasn't post-bac but I had to make a similar decision myself. I chose the long route and thus far it has worked out well for me in this admissions cycle. I took the MCAT in August (took TPR and felt as prepared as possible) of my jr year then waited until the summer of my senior year to apply. The extra time helped on the MCAT and this year off has been awesome as it has allowed me to do all sorts of things I coudn't do while I was in school.

    The best of luck to you whatever you decide. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.
     
  5. Zack90

    Zack90 Senior Member

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    As a post-bacc, I know quite a few students who took Phy II and Orgo II in the Spring and also took the April MCAT. Some did well, some did not do so well. Those who seemed to do well, said it really helped them to be taking these classes at the same time while studying for the MCAT. I, for one, did not do so well, and became an MCAT re-taker the following April. I then took a Kaplan course and scored >30 the second time. Bottom line: take one or two practice MCAT tests, see what you score, get a feel for the test, and then decide for yourself. Just be prepared, and do well, since both GPA and MCAT are major factors in getting an interview.
     
  6. Coalboy

    Coalboy Senior Member

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    I am post-bac as well, and I waited until August to take the MCAT. I'm applying now, and while it puts you behind a bit in the process, I would never have wanted to take the MCAT in the spring. I was doing the same thing, taking Orgo II and Physics II, working full time, volunteering, etc, so it would have been suicide to take the MCAT at the same time. You don't have to put things off a year if you take the August MCAT.
     
  7. doppl

    doppl Member

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    It is a personal decision. I was a post-bacc as well with the same exact course load and opted to take it in April, and I'm so glad I did b/c I got the entire summer to do what I wanted to do. Also, my only other obligation at the time was 4hrs of volunteer work/week so it was definately manageable. Good luck with your decision.
     
  8. doppl

    doppl Member

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    Oh yeah, from everything I've heard, the April MCAT has an easier curve because a lot of people a) took the entire summer to study for the MCAT in August or b) decided to retake the MCAT in August to do better . both of these reasons leads to a more competitive field than students studying for it in April with a full schedule.
     
  9. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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  10. Sprockette

    Sprockette Senior Member

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    I actually think that the April test was HARDER to score well on.

    here is my story: I studied for and took the April MCAT while taking biochem, genetics, genetics lab, and a psychopharmacology class. I studied on my own, did not take a prep course, but did take a bunch of practice tests (AAMC, a few Kaplan, a PR test), and felt confident that I could get a good score based on my performance on the practice tests.

    I sat for the April test, and thought it went really well, except that I hadn't completely finished the verbal section. I had a really easy bio test, in particular, the easiest I had seen amongst any of the practice tests I'd ever taken. I got my scores back two months later and was sorely disappointed. I do not think my score was directly affected by the fact that I was taking four courses at the time, I think it was a result of the fact that the April test was easier and therefore harder to do really well on.

    So, I decided to retake the test in August, even though i knew it would push me back in the cycle. I don't regret retaking it, although I REALLY hated having to wait for schools to get my new scores. I had the summer to study (while working 40 hours/week in lab), but really didn't do anything that differently, and I didn't study that much more during the summer than I had during the school year. Just went back over some things I felt shaky on, plus I tried to read more for pleasure to help me out on verbal.

    Well, the night before the August test was horrible. I went to bed late, couldn't fall asleep until 1:30, and then woke up THREE times during the night. I felt crappy going into the test, which was only made worse by the fact that I was sitting next to a SNIFFER!!!! Who SNIFFED through the ENTIRE TEST. I felt HORRIBLE throughout the whole thing, and didn't even want to release my scores at the end. But I did, because I knew I had to if I planned to apply this year.

    So, my scores finally came, and I ended up doing much, MUCH better on the August test (an increase of 5 points and two writing sample scores). This is what led me to say that the April test was harder to score well on. I felt better prepared for the April test, but I did not do as well as I had expected.

    If I were you, I would still try to take the April test. That way, if you don't do well on it, you can take the August test and still apply. When I decided to study for the MCAT while taking classes, I did so while keeping in mind that when I get to med school, it's going to get a whole lot worse. So, why not practice now? :)

    I am not sure if that helps you terribly, but I hope it does. Best of luck to you!! :)
     
  11. Elysium

    Elysium Not Really An Old Beaver

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    Thanks so much for all your replies. It's really a crapshoot either way, I guess. I plan on taking TPR, but I'm still conflicted...

    I'll probably end up sitting for both. Yuk.

    Again, thanks.
     
  12. feltj

    feltj New Member

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    Well, instead of resigning yourself to taking both, why not say you'll give a shot at April and see how you do? You may be pleasantly surprised . . .
     
  13. Jessica

    Jessica Senior Member

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    I was in a similar situation last year (taking Organic, Physics, and Genetics at the same time with work and volunteering) and decided to wait for the August test. I simply did not feel ready to take the exam in April given the fact that I would not have covered 1/3 of Orgo and Physics at the time of the test (my school is on a quarter system.) I waited to take the Aug test, and I don't really feel that it has hurt me too much in the admissions process (of course this year was pretty wierd... it usually hurts , esp. with rolling admissions, to put off the MCAT until Aug.)

    anyways, the important things to do/consider before you commit to taking the April or Aug. test (or both)

    1. take AAMC diagnistics (I found that they were excellent measures of what my true score was, and it seems to be the general consensus of SDNers that the AAMC test III, IV, and V are the best predictors)
    2. can you teach yourself the material or learn it from a prep course (you mentioned TPR) in a manner that will cover you for the MCAT?? If so, you might lean toward taking the April test.... use practice tests to gauge your readiness.

    Bottom line - choosing between April and Aug. is a very personal decision, there are advantages and disadvantages for each in your situation, and weighing out those factors is entirely up to you. Take the test when you feel ready to knock its socks off! Good luck!!
     
  14. Salman20001

    Salman20001 Member

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    mpp-

    How sure are you about the mcat scores become compared to previous years etc..I honestly thought that it was always relative to the 'current' test takers..

    anyone else have any info on this.?
     

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