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Early MCAT a good idea?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by frever, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. frever

    2+ Year Member

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    Some background:
    I've just finished my freshmen year and just transferred out of Electrical Engineering after I realized how much more flexible my schedule would be as a pre-med in Biology. I claimed AP credit for all core classes with the exception of Calc I and II because I was planning on doing pre-med in EE while still graduating in 4 years. If I want to, I can have all med school pre-reqs done by next summer (requiring me to undertake both Orgo II w/ lab and Phys 2 w/ lab in the Spring). As of right now, I have very weak EC's (random club memberships, 2nd place in school's robotics competition and sporadic volunteering).

    The question:
    I've heard of people taking their MCAT the summer after their sophomore year and my pre-med adviser mentioned that several of her students swore by the 6-week, full day MCAT courses. I read a thread discouraging students from attempting to prepare for the MCAT along with a full course load and agree with the fact that a Summer dedicated to MCAT prep and immediately after finishing the pre-reqs would help you reach your highest potential score. So my question is: is it worth it for me to rush into the MCAT and sacrifice an entire Summer's worth of EC's considering my EC's are already weak?

    If I take the MCAT at the usual time in Spring of Junior year, I'll probably get a lower score but in turn, I can use this coming Summer for a research position at UT Southwestern or clinical exposure through a job at the county hospital (I know I'll get at least one of them).

    During Junior year, I plan on joining a mentorship program at my university that coordinates 12, 8-hour weeks of shadowing (4 hrs clinical/4 non) and maybe loading up with a full year's worth of research as well.

    If I take the MCAT over the Summer, this would leave me with:
    -a higher and early MCAT score (hopefully leading to an early application)
    -non-medical retail job from this Summer (also took Govt II at local CC this Summer)
    -about 80 hours of volunteering at a hospital from Sophomore year
    -about 40 random volunteering hours
    -about 100 hours (a Fall semester) shadowing (I may get more from family friend doctors)
    -1 semester as a coordinator for the shadowing program (leadership?)
    -about 1 years worth of some research (if I can keep my courseload light Junior year)

    Sorry for the long post but I was hoping for an opinion on my prospective plan as I don't think it is the path more often traveled. Another drawback is that I was hoping to minor in Spanish but I'll be taking Spanish I this Fall and will not be able to take Spanish II the following Spring if I need to cram both Orgo II and Phys II in that semester. A semester (or 2 including Summer) off between language courses is probably a bad idea so I don't think I'll be able get that Spanish minor.

    So assuming that when I apply, I have about a 3.95 cGPA/sGPA and about a 32-34 MCAT (rough guess based on where my friends and family have scored), will these EC's hold back my application? I'm basically picking between a stronger MCAT score with weak EC's or a more balanced app. I'm aiming for either UTSW or Baylor.

    Thanks for any response and sorry in advance if I broke some forum rules/etiquette. I'm still a noob here.
    So... :thumbup: or :thumbdown:?
     
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  3. raltima07

    2+ Year Member

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    Take the MCAT whenever you can prepare for it the most. No matter what anyone says numbers are important. If you finish it over the summer, then spend the school year beefing up your EC's. Quality>Quantity.
     
  4. aSagacious

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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    A) Most med schools do not accept AP credits to satisfy pre-reqs. Just thought I'd let you know.

    B) I agree with Raltima.
     
  5. raltima07

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    Nice catch - I missed that in the 10 paragraph OP :D
     
  6. chronicidal

    chronicidal Scrub
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    Do research AND study for the MCAT. It would be mind-numbing to study for the MCAT full-time. You only need 200-300 hours of studying total. Beyond that you get rapidly diminishing returns.

    It's really reasonable if you don't work in lab more than 10 hours / are efficient at getting your work done. Then study 3 hours consistently each night, most of the summer. Take a week or two to study full time. You'll be set.
     
  7. frever

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    Righty-oh, thanks for the responses. It looks like I'll be taking it next Summer and squeeze in some quality EC's as I can manage.

    @aSagacious, I was warned about this before I claimed the credits and was told that it would only restrict me from the top tier schools, which I'm fine with. But if this chart is correct, then I don't feel very limited in my choices at all as there seem to be plenty of schools that accept AP credit.

    @chronicidal, I could pick up the research position next Summer but it's a 40 hour job with a 45 minute commute both ways so for some reason the thought of doing both never crossed my mind. I feel like it might actually be a viable option if I can find another position that has a lighter workload. Thank you. However, my locked mental set on a purely MCAT focused Summer began because I was considering taking a designed, full schedule MCAT prep course such as this. They're pretty much MCAT boot camps... I still need to do research on them to find out which one is the best/if they're even worth it.

    If I can ask again: with these stats and EC's, do I seem competitive for UTSW or Baylor? I know what their average numbers are but I'm not sure if I'm lacking on the EC end. I am willingly to apply a cycle later if I'm on the low end of both schools' spectrum.
     
    #6 frever, Aug 11, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  8. aSagacious

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    That chart is correct to the best of my knowledge. The question is why would you limit the number of schools that you can apply to for something as trivial as a handful of pre-reqs?

    Yes. With a 3.95 and a 32-34 you'll be competitive at most schools (assuming you have decent ECs).
     
  9. YouNeverKnow22

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    :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
     
  10. frever

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    @aSagacious, I took the plunge with the AP credits because I originally intended on staying in electrical engineering as a pre-med and didn't want to take 5 years to graduate.
    Yes, but it's the EC's that I'm concerned with. I see your MDApps profile and chronicidial's (holy @#^%& batman 40 MCAT!) and I notice a definite weakness in my application. In my original post, I listed all of my potential EC's (yes, all of them). I feel like I may have been a little too relaxed this past year when I compare myself to others here at SDN. What I meant to ask in my last post was if my EC's are weak enough to warrant taking another year before I apply considering my 2 target schools. I can put in more work over the breaks but I don't see my list of EC's losing its blandness that easily. After scanning through SDN, I feel like in the battle of EC's, I am a David amongst Goliaths...

    Thank you again
     
  11. aSagacious

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    First and foremost, if you compare yourself to others on this website you will surely end up with a stroke by the time you're 25. Nothing productive comes from worrying about things that cannot be changed. Remember, you just finished your freshman year (and I just finished my senior year ;)).

    All that you can do now is consistently maintain your ECs until application season. IMO you've got plenty of shadowing so I'd put that on the back-burner for now. Yes a year of research (if possible) would be a nice addition to your app. Additionally, if it is feasible, see if you can maintain a 3-4 hr/wk hospital volunteer commitment for at least a year or so. Other than that keep up on your coursework and you should be in good shape (and don't forget to do things that you enjoy!)
     
  12. chronicidal

    chronicidal Scrub
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    Yea you can do a lot in terms of ECs in just two years. If I had to list my EC profile after freshman year ended, it would look like this: zero shadowing, no international experience, two summers of research but no publications, two low-level board positions in random clubs, 20 hours of pushing wheelchairs at the hospital.
     

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