cerno

Crave Case
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Oct 30, 2011
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I am applying to MD schools next cycle. However, I will not have my year of physics done until the beginning of that cycle (aka May 2014). I am wondering whether it's still better take the MCAT in April of 2014 so that I can have the month of winter break to study, as well as the "easier", beginning portion of the semester and spring break to study. By the time the MCAT rolls around, I will be short maybe a month of physics,

If I take it at the end of May, I will have completed all the necessary prerequisite classes, but will be forced to due the brunt of my studying during the second half of the semester, including during finals week, and then about a full month after classes are over to dedicate to only studying. I can't decide which would be more effective.
 

HalfPast6

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May 9, 2011
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Based on my experience alone (take it with a grain of salt), sounds like you should take the MCAT in April if you can study for it by then.

Here's why:
1. You indicated that you can study for it during winter break.
2. Taking the MCAT in May will add to the stress of taking finals during that time.
3. At my undergrad, Optics was the last thing that we studied and it was rather basic. Why not study the material in advance for the MCAT? It reinforces what you need to know for that last month of Physics anyway. (In retrospect, I would've used my MCAT materials for Physics. One prime example: the correlation between current, heat conduction, and movement of water in the ExamKrackers materials helped me consolidate my knowledge for all three phenomenon.)
4. If you test in April, you will get your results in May. This gives you time to do a retake (if necessary). Given that your AMCAS is ready to go, your application will be completed and reviewed at an earlier stage.

Since you are looking into applying for 2014, here are some advice I wish I had sought in the beginnng of my application cycle: Plan the entire admissions process wisely. Don't underestimate the amount of work that goes into filling out the AMCAS. I'd recommend filling out all the easy portions (background, GPA, etc) when the application opens in January(?) and submitting at the earliest date possible. I took an April MCAT, got my results in May and was ready to submit my AMCAS when it first opened up.

Also, I made the mistake of not having enough reviewers to look at my personal statement. I had one doctor, a friend, and my health counselor. I was still waiting on one reviewer, an English major, to get back to me and when she did...she basically said that my ps was crap and did not attest to my confidence in pursuing a medical career. So I rewrote everything that same day and had 3 additional reviewers help me polish my paper. It took 3 weeks before I could submit and a month before my AMCAS was verified. I am an average applicant (*sigh I didn't realize that either), so applying later in the cycle have really hurt my chances at getting interviews. Sorry for that off-tangent rant.

Good luck on your admissions!
 
OP
cerno

cerno

Crave Case
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Oct 30, 2011
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Great response. Thanks for the advice. I was thinking that it wasn't unreasonable to teach myself the last month or so of physics concepts earlier in the semester.
 

darkjedi

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My vote is for May as you have that extra entire month to dedicate to studying. I decided to take my MCAT several weeks after my classes ended so that I felt like I could focus my efforts on only MCAT in the weeks preceding the test. I had some friends who had to take the MCAT in April, who all complained that they felt exceptionally stressed having done so. A retake is also certainly possible with a test in May as well.

Regardless of if you take the MCAT in April or May, you will HAVE to study for the MCAT concurrently with the rest of your classes. Taking it in May gives you time to regroup after your classes end and identify your weaknesses so you can tackle them and address them by the time test day comes. Self-discipline is key here, and is where I think most pre-meds fail in regards to MCAT studying.
 
Mar 2, 2012
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I would take the MCAT earlier rather than later.
I took my MCAT in late April right before I applied and wished that I had taken it sooner. I wasn't super happy with my score, but by the time I got it back, it was too late to retake without being a late applicant (which would have put me at a greater disadvantage, especially if I were unable to improve my score). Plus I had to prepare my entire application without being certain which schools I would even be competitive at.

Oh and I hadn't taken Physics in about 5 years when I took the MCAT. The material in the usual books and practice questions is enough to overcome that last month of class that you would be missing.
 

darkjedi

how did this get here I am not good with computer
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I have no idea where you guys are getting this idea that May is too late for a retake. You can certainly retake in time and have an updated MCAT on your application. Additionally, I don't see how taking the MCAT sooner would help your score any. Only retake if you absolutely have to, make the one time you take it count.
 

GatsbyK

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Sep 25, 2012
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You should definitely take the mcats when you're ready. If you feel may gives you more time I would go for that. Never rush taking the mcats because this test can wreck your application. May is not too late either.
 

MedPR

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April

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Mar 2, 2012
147
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It sure feels like the north pole...
Status
Medical Student
I have no idea where you guys are getting this idea that May is too late for a retake. You can certainly retake in time and have an updated MCAT on your application. Additionally, I don't see how taking the MCAT sooner would help your score any. Only retake if you absolutely have to, make the one time you take it count.
Not too late, just puts you at a disadvantage IMO.

Example:
You take the May 14th MCAT
You get your scores June 14th, BTW after the application submission period has opened.
I would assume you would want at least a couple weeks of studying to ensure that you improve your score (it would suck to take it again and do worse). Not to mention the test dates where I live book up fast. That brings you to the July 14th test date.
You get your retake scores on August 14th.
Time for your primary to be approved, then deal with the secondary submissions.

To me this makes you late in the game.
I personally made the decision to apply early with a mediocre score than to try to retake again for a couple more points and end up later in the cycle. This worked for me, but I also wasn't shooting for only top 10 schools.

Like I said: May is not too late to take the MCAT, but from my experience I recommend April.
Unless you are absolutely not prepared by April--then by all means wait until you're ready.