floatingribs

2+ Year Member
Dec 3, 2015
128
24
Status
Pre-Medical
So these may be stupid but my pre med adviser is no help, so a couple of general questions on the MCAT and applications:

  1. Does it matter how many times you take it? Obviously I'm aiming for once but do med schools know how many times you've taken it like with the SAT?
  2. Can you super score? Again like the SAT, or is it each test individually
  3. I've been reading MCATS scores last for 3 years and it's highly recommended to take the new one, but does having a score that's closer to when you apply help in any way?
  4. What's the best sort of hands on experience to have? (I've worked/am working as a CNA and volunteer in ER registration), but is there a preference as to which counts more
  5. Also what exactly constitutes patient contact experience?- In the ER I just band patients, get signatures and just get/put away supplies for the nurses, but does patient experience mean something requiring some sort of licensure like with CNAs, EMTs, PCTs, etc.
  6. Do most people take gap years and does it hurt?- I probably won't be able to apply in my junior year b/c of how much my major + the pre med classes are requiring and I'd like to work for a year, but does it hurt (I'll have a lot of patient contact in that year)
  7. Does patient contact have to be volunteering to count? (I still have a volunteer hours, just my patient contact is mostly coming from work)
  8. Does shadowing help?- I've done so once a while ago, but I honestly find it useless since I'm not allowed to do much.
 

Kpw101

5+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2013
366
459
Status
Medical Student
So these may be stupid but my pre med adviser is no help, so a couple of general questions on the MCAT and applications:

  1. Does it matter how many times you take it? Obviously I'm aiming for once but do med schools know how many times you've taken it like with the SAT?
  2. Can you super score? Again like the SAT, or is it each test individually
  3. I've been reading MCATS scores last for 3 years and it's highly recommended to take the new one, but does having a score that's closer to when you apply help in any way?
  4. What's the best sort of hands on experience to have? (I've worked/am working as a CNA and volunteer in ER registration), but is there a preference as to which counts more
  5. Also what exactly constitutes patient contact experience?- In the ER I just band patients, get signatures and just get/put away supplies for the nurses, but does patient experience mean something requiring some sort of licensure like with CNAs, EMTs, PCTs, etc.
  6. Do most people take gap years and does it hurt?- I probably won't be able to apply in my junior year b/c of how much my major + the pre med classes are requiring and I'd like to work for a year, but does it hurt (I'll have a lot of patient contact in that year)
  7. Does patient contact have to be volunteering to count? (I still have a volunteer hours, just my patient contact is mostly coming from work)
  8. Does shadowing help?- I've done so once a while ago, but I honestly find it useless since I'm not allowed to do much.
1.) It matters how may times you take it. Medical schools see every score. One and done is always the best outcome you can have.
2.) No you cannot superscore.
3.) Having an MCAT closer to when you apply won't change anything as long as your scores are still valid. If you haven't taken the MCAT yet then you have no choice but to take the new one that debuted in 2015.
4.) The best sort of hands on experience is an experience that has a lot of patient contact, that is meaningful to yourself, and that you love doing. Personally I'm an EMT and love every second of it.
5.) If you're close enough to smell a patient, it's clinical experience.
6.) I don't know how many people take gap years in general but a good number of my friends >50% are taking gap years. They do not harm you in any way. A lot of people do the same thing. Save a little money on the side during their gap year while also doing extracurricular to make their application stronger
7.) No it doesn't have to be volunteering. I'd recommend having a clinical or non-clinical volunteering gig on the side though.
8.) Shadowing doesn't only help but is almost necessary to a well-rounded application. The purpose of shadowing is not to be useful to the doctor. The purpose of shadowing is to observe and see what a doctor does in his everyday job. Be a sponge; absorb everything you see and find out if this is the career path you want to take.
 

aldol16

2+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2015
4,912
3,437
Status
Medical Student
1-2) You only want to take it once because medical schools differ in how they view the scores. Some schools take your highest score and some schools do some sort of averaging. They will see both scores so you should approach this with the mindset of only taking it once.
3) Not really, as long as it's within the acceptable limits set out by the medical schools you're interested in. I think ~3 years is standard for an acceptable MCAT score.
4) The best sort of hands-on experience is the sort that you can speak about with passion. Volunteering for 1000+ hours in the ER making beds and washing urinals isn't as valuable as 200 hours of speaking with terminally-ill patients that you learn from and can talk about in essays/interviews.
5) Look on SDN for varying definitions - this has been asked many times.
6) A lot of people do take gap years but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the norm. The average matriculant age has been creeping up though.
7) No.
8) You should be able to articulate why you want to pursue a career in medicine and that you know what it means to pursue a career in medicine. Medicine isn't always about making life-or-death decisions or about saving someone from death. A lot of it is menial, everyday stuff and that's what you see when you shadow (unless you happen to shadow a trauma surgeon in Newark or something).