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7+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2014
New York
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Hey I met people that took up to 7 years of gap. The point is what you do with the gap year. You don't have to do anything amazing like publish in Nature, but you do have to show dedication. A couple people I met did teach for america. Others were lab techs for a few years. I worked at a non-profit for three years. The key is to do really well on your exam, assuming the rest of your app is in order.

My suggestion to combat anxiety is to focus on prepping in test taking conditions over and over until it is routine for you. I did this and really helped to improve my score, as I took it more than once as well. I also did it while working multiple jobs during my summer, so it is possible but it takes commitment. Prepare to budget your time wisely, but knowing it was all worth it is your light at the end of the tunnel.


2+ Year Member
Jun 26, 2017
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
503 is not a total lost cause, especially for DO. If you have really spent more than a year volunteering, working as a scribe, and doing research, your ECs are probably great. If you did well in school, with those ECs, you probably have a shot at some MD programs too.

Why don't you at least apply DO and low tier MD schools this year and see what happens?
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Membership Revoked
May 2, 2017
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Don't worry about the time off. This is becoming increasingly more common. Also don't worry about reporting (or not reporting) having some feelings of depression. I would assume most adcoms would be indifferent to hearing this as I would say something needs to be wrong with you to NOT feel depressed at some point along this process. Some more academic information would be helpful (gpa, etc) in advising further action.


2+ Year Member
May 31, 2016
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
{pls don't quote}

Hello all,

New user here on SDN. I'm at a place where I don't know how to move on and came here for options. I'll try to keep my tale brief:

I graduated in May 2015 with the intent to take the MCAT and apply that year. That didn't happen. I decided not to rush the test and took more classes in the fall 2015 to keep me busy. I devoted spring 2016 to study hoping to apply last year. Didn't happen either as I voided my June exam. I stepped aside and realized there was an underlying problem of anxiety keeping me from succeeding. This was worsened not only with the MCAT, but also other stuff in my life. I had a very lonely undergrad (long story, will need a fresh thread), and I believe that led to my anxiety, low confidence and motivation. Still, I did not give up. I found a scribe job, continued my volunteering and research. I prepared my apps, studied for the 2017 exam and took it in May. I ended up with a 503 :(

NOW I am truly lost. 2015 and 2016 were heavenly years compared to what I am going through now. I posted an earlier thread about my 503. Many users (obviously) said not to apply. I am still not willing to give up this path. I want to apply with all I've got and am willing to do so next cycle once and for all. That being said, I have some pressing Q's:

1. How on Earth do I explain my time off? :( Fall 2015, I took non-degree classes. But Jan 2016 to now, I did absolutely nothing except part-time work, volunteering, and research. Will they question why I was not able to study for the MCAT during that time? It clearly shows ample time...but my anxiety and dare I say, some depression, was bad. Is it a good idea to explain my losses due to mental weakness? Not sure how that will pass with adcoms

2. I can't retake this September (frightened of the same score or worse), but want to write in January. I'm on the fence abt applying to my state school still, but will most likely have to forgo . what are the steps I should take from now to be a good applicant for next year?

3. My new plan forward is to take non-degree graduate courses, write GRE and MCAT and apply to Masters next year while simultaneously applying to med. I know this isn't a sound path financially, but I literally can't see myself being out of school for so long. I need some structure. I do not want to work the same menial job for an entire year :unsure: I will do a six month service internship in the spring before the masters and applying. Does this sound like a good plan?

Sorry for the long thread. I am at an all-time low. I used to think low of people that took gap years, believing that they did not plan well or stay focused in college. I learned my lesson now. I see how smart those people were, who took their time to do it right and here I am at the lowest of them all. Everyone else got into med school and will become doctors, while I am still here struggling with my emotions and, of course, the MCAT.

Please advise if you can.

tl;dr - Graduated 2015, did not pass MCAT & procrastinated, struggled w/anxiety. Finally took MCAT - got 503, hopeless about my chances & don't know how to explain time off to med schools. What are my options?

I can feel your anxiety and concern throughout your post. Your determination is apparent, but for your own well-being you need to figure out how to address the anxiety before you undertake what, by your own admission, will clearly be significantly stress-inducing. If this can be satisfactorily accomplished you will be able to to authentically explain to adcoms how you encountered an obstacle, formulated a plan of resolution, and are the stronger for it. Such a narrative could be impressive. Finally, not knowing your gpa, but if it is not great, your package may be best aligned with a DO application.
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