I was planning on applying to med schools during this upcoming cycle (May 2020), but because of the coronavirus, I am rethinking my plans. I am interested in several upper tier research-focused med schools, but my MCAT score is low (514) for most of these schools. My GPA (3.94) and ECs are strong and competitive for these upper tier schools. I have a lot of quality research experience and very strong LORs. I attend a top 20 undergrad school. I was accepted into the NIH SIP program for this summer and was hoping my research experience at the NIH this summer would help strengthen my application, but the NIH SIP program has been canceled. I specifically targeted this NIH lab because the research in this lab is similar to the research I did last summer during a summer student research program at a major academic/medical center. I enjoyed the research topic and felt it would be good to have this commitment, consistency and continuity. My would-be PI at the would-be NIH lab is a very influential and prominent scientist at the NIH. I was hoping a LOR from this PI and the fact the research focus was a continuation of my research last summer would strengthen my application for these upper tier schools and maybe somewhat offset my low MCAT score. However, with the NIH SIP program being canceled, I have been rethinking my future.
My thoughts are:
My thoughts are:
- Option 1: Take a gap year:
- return to the NIH lab for summer 2021 (my spot will be held per the PI) and stay there for my entire gap year. Hopefully, if I receive a strong LOR from the PI and have this continuity and committment in the research topic/focus I started in summer 2019, my app will be strengthened.
- Consider retaking the MCAT during this gap year: this is my big question. I don’t want to risk getting a lower score.
- Have this extra gap year time to prepare for interviews, secondary app essays, strengthen other ECs, etc…
- Option 2: Continue with my original plan of applying this cycle and hope for the best with the upper tier schools without the added benefit of the NIH experience. I will obviously be applying to my state school and mid to lower tier schools that are more appropriate for my MCAT score. My MCAT and GPA are several points above the median/mean at my state medical school, but they only admit 50% of in-state students, so there is no guarantee there.