maimiee

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Hi all-

I have been agonizing over applying to med school for a while, mostly because I am wrestling with the idea of retaking the MCAT. I'd appreciate any advice you can give (go ahead and apply, improve on x and y, etc.). I'm trying to be very strategic about when I apply because I am currently a first year Teach for America corps member (2 year commitment) and know my MCAT scores will expire after three years (I took it in Sept. 07).

I was a public health major with a 3.9 GPA, graduated with honors (wrote a thesis), volunteered extensively as an EMT on campus for 4 years, worked in the ER. I have other leadership/volunteer experiences as well (orientation, community work, etc.). I am currently a Teach for America corps member teaching high school math. BUT I scored a 29Q on the MCAT (P9, V10, B10).

As a teacher, I have absolutely no spare time to prepare for it again during the school year, but I could spend the summer studying. I've heard such mixed reviews on retaking the MCAT, and I worry that a second go-around will end up hurting me in the end if I don't improve my score enough. I also am unsure as to how Teach for America will improve/hurt my chances of being accepted. Would you advise applying and seeing what happens? Or would you suggest saving my money on the apps and working on some of my creditials first?
 

NTF

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Hi all-

I have been agonizing over applying to med school for a while, mostly because I am wrestling with the idea of retaking the MCAT. I'd appreciate any advice you can give (go ahead and apply, improve on x and y, etc.). I'm trying to be very strategic about when I apply because I am currently a first year Teach for America corps member (2 year commitment) and know my MCAT scores will expire after three years (I took it in Sept. 07).

I was a public health major with a 3.9 GPA, graduated with honors (wrote a thesis), volunteered extensively as an EMT on campus for 4 years, worked in the ER. I have other leadership/volunteer experiences as well (orientation, community work, etc.). I am currently a Teach for America corps member teaching high school math. BUT I scored a 29Q on the MCAT (P9, V10, B10).

As a teacher, I have absolutely no spare time to prepare for it again during the school year, but I could spend the summer studying. I've heard such mixed reviews on retaking the MCAT, and I worry that a second go-around will end up hurting me in the end if I don't improve my score enough. I also am unsure as to how Teach for America will improve/hurt my chances of being accepted. Would you advise applying and seeing what happens? Or would you suggest saving my money on the apps and working on some of my creditials first?

Your MCAT is only slightly below average of for matriculants. Plus, the fact that it's balanced is good. Coupled with your stellar GPA, solid ECs and work history, I think you're a shoo-in for med school somewhere as long as you apply broadly. The only reason to retake the MCAT (and I honestly don't think there's a good reason to do it) is to make yourself more competitive at top-tier schools.

Almost everyone is a longshot at top 10 schools. So I don't think you're any more or less a longshot if you retake the MCAT unless you score in the 35+ range. Most people don't vary their scores by more than a few points and you run the risk of getting a lower score.

My vote is to apply with your score as is. You have a solid app.
 

Mobius1985

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From what I've read here on SDN, participating in Teach for America is on par with working for the Peace Corps, namely, a fantastic EC that gives you major points for humanistic endeavor and will be viewed very positively.

Your ECs look fine otherwise, except I don't see research mentioned. Research is not essential, but would cause more schools to consider you. Did your thesis add to human knowledge in some way, or is it based on others' publications?

My view of your MCAT of 29 would depend on what state you live in. Some have such high-selectivity state schools that they are not a "shoo-in" with stats like yours. And these days your competition for private and out of state schools is getting more intense. There's a reasonable chance you'd get accepted somewhere as you are, but if you are lacking a research experience, you need the rest of your application to be the best it can be in order to maximize your chance of success with only one application cycle. That would mean seriously studying for and retaking the MCAT to achieve a higher score. Maybe an on-line Kaplan course (or equivalent) would work with your schedule, if you did not participate in a formal prep course already.

Also, keep an eye on when your favored med schools expire an MCAT score. I think most are three years, but some are two years. This might change your opinion of whether you need to retake.
 

HeatherMD

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I would apply & see what happens. You have excellent stats, and while your MCAT is mediocre, it's not bad at all, so I think you have a great shot at an acceptance.

If you don't get in somewhere, then I would re-take the MCAT, but I'd give acceptance a try first with these scores.
 
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