Oct 18, 2009
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NEED ADVICE!!!!!

I'm supposed to take the MCAT in mid-June, but I have a killer rest of the semester at an top-10 school, and then afterwards am taking Biochem summer session right away until June 15th. The result is that I'll basically have hardly ANY free time to study....

I know that taking the MCAT early is best, but I'm scared that as is, I'll end up hardly studying at all and fail the thing. How bad is it to take the MCAT in late July or early/mid August? Does it put you at a serious disadvantage in your applications to take the test later? I COULD potentially drop biochem, but I'm assuming that would be a terrible terrible idea.

Also, should point I'm already taking a year off... taking 2 just wouldn't be an option.

Any advice would be AMAZING b/c my school premed advisors are useless and no one can really tell me what to do (HELP!!!!)
 

ksmi117

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Are you applying this summer? If so, it will put you at a huge disadvantage testing that late. I'd take it in June, at the latest.
 

ksmi117

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taking in July is OK also... early July.
It's OK but not ideal by any means. But I was that kid that submitted my AMCAS on the first day, so I obviously think it's really important to apply early. I just don't think anyone should let their MCAT date push them into the "late" territory. To me, if you test in July, you get your scores in August. If you haven't submitted your AMCAS before then, you're gonna be late. However, if you have your AMCAS all verified and ready to go, it'll be OK. That's just my take.
 
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It's OK but not ideal by any means. But I was that kid that submitted my AMCAS on the first day, so I obviously think it's really important to apply early. I just don't think anyone should let their MCAT date push them into the "late" territory. To me, if you test in July, you get your scores in August. If you haven't submitted your AMCAS before then, you're gonna be late. However, if you have your AMCAS all verified and ready to go, it'll be OK. That's just my take.
to ksmi, roughly speaking when is the latest you could take the MCAT and make the very beginning of the cycle on time?... granted everything else on your app is good to go...
 

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Latest would be beginning May. Scores come back June 1st-ish and have a 1 day turn-around for AMCAS submission and then assuming your app is complete you're done.
 

ksmi117

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to ksmi, roughly speaking when is the latest you could take the MCAT and make the very beginning of the cycle on time?... granted everything else on your app is good to go...
If you are willing to submit your AMCAS before you have your MCAT scores, you could take the MCAT in mid/late-May and still have your AMCAS application complete at your schools as soon as possible. This is because AMCAS doesn't release the completed AMCAS applications to the schools until late June, even though you can start submitting in early June.
 

MegaSpectacular

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It's OK but not ideal by any means. But I was that kid that submitted my AMCAS on the first day, so I obviously think it's really important to apply early. I just don't think anyone should let their MCAT date push them into the "late" territory. To me, if you test in July, you get your scores in August. If you haven't submitted your AMCAS before then, you're gonna be late. However, if you have your AMCAS all verified and ready to go, it'll be OK. That's just my take.
Yes.

  • Submit in June.
  • (verify)
  • Take MCAT in July
  • Fill out secondaries in July
  • Scores arrive in August/Secondaries submitted within a day of receiving
  • Complete August
Other people who complete in July will have a huge leg up over people completing in August? I would estimate over 50% of medical schools don't do too much with apps until August when school starts.

Of course if you are looking at a top 10 school this probably doesn't apply, you would probably want to be exemplary in every area. But MOST of the schools don't care if you are done in July or August.

SDN has a unique crowd that over emphasizes some things. Being complete 30 days apart isn't a huge deal.
 

BerkReviewTeach

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NEED ADVICE!!!!!

I'm supposed to take the MCAT in mid-June, but I have a killer rest of the semester at an top-10 school, and then afterwards am taking Biochem summer session right away until June 15th. The result is that I'll basically have hardly ANY free time to study....

I know that taking the MCAT early is best, but I'm scared that as is, I'll end up hardly studying at all and fail the thing. How bad is it to take the MCAT in late July or early/mid August? Does it put you at a serious disadvantage in your applications to take the test later? I COULD potentially drop biochem, but I'm assuming that would be a terrible terrible idea.

Also, should point I'm already taking a year off... taking 2 just wouldn't be an option.

Any advice would be AMAZING b/c my school premed advisors are useless and no one can really tell me what to do (HELP!!!!)
Exactly why do you need to take biochem immediately after spring finals if you won't be attending medical school until a year and a half from now? While biochem is a great class for seeing the big picture, it is not essential for the MCAT. Granted, the MCAT varies from sitting to sitting, so you could get a biochem passage on yours, but it is likely something you could pick up during your prep. Taking the MCAT in late May or mid June at the latest is paramount to increasing your chances of being accepted. I'm in 100% agreement with Ksmi here.

As far as the timeline goes, AMCAS will send unverified applications out early (as in the first few days that AMCAS is open), so that any schools who send automatic secondaries can distribute those early. Many schools wait until the applications are verified before sending secondaries, but nevertheless, there are some schools that have secondaries out in early June based on unverified applications. AMCAS verification fluctuates depending on when you submit (the line gets longer, the longer you wait), so it definitely pays to submit early. No matter what, you should submit as soon as you can.

What is often suggested for people taking a late May MCAT is that they submit their application with a limited number of schools as early as possible (before they have their scores back), so that they can get it verified and on to the schools (albeit incomplete). They get their automatic secondaries despite not having any MCAT scores, so they are not really behind at those schools. Once they get their scores, then they can add some more schools based on how they did. It's playing the timeline as best you can.

If you are willing to submit your AMCAS before you have your MCAT scores, you could take the MCAT in mid/late-May and still have your AMCAS application complete at your schools as soon as possible. This is because AMCAS doesn't release the completed AMCAS applications to the schools until late June, even though you can start submitting in early June.
I completely agree with your answer, but want to add one caveat. Your timeline might need a little more flexibility to account for the different ways things are done at different schools. For many schools that send thousands of secondaries, they don't wait for verification or completion to send the secondaries, figuring they'll worry about it when it comes time to review the primary and secondary together. No matter what though, earlier is better when it comes to submitting your primary.
 

BerkReviewTeach

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Other people who complete in July will have a huge leg up over people completing in August? I would estimate over 50% of medical schools don't do too much with apps until August when school starts.

Of course if you are looking at a top 10 school this probably doesn't apply, you would probably want to be exemplary in every area. But MOST of the schools don't care if you are done in July or August.

SDN has a unique crowd that over emphasizes some things. Being complete 30 days apart isn't a huge deal.
I would beg to differ a bit. While you are correct that many schools sit on applications for the first couple of months, they still field them in a first come, first served basis. In a process where over 50% of all primaries are submitted in the first month, submitting in July and August are about the same as each other and both worse than June. June submissions get earloer secondaries, which lead to earlier interviews, which lead to decisions being made when the class has spaces. As the number of spaces reduces, the selectivity increases and the likelihood of getting shut out, despite a strong application, increases.

The bottom line is that earlier is better, be it by a small margin at some schools or a huge margin at others. If you are sitting around awaiting MCAT scores while another applicant has a completed application, they are going to prefer the other person if for no other reason than to be done with the arduous process of selecting an entering class.

Late July MCAT, August MCAT, or September MCAT = "hello waitlist!" at many schools. Sure, you might get in, but only after a ton of stress and having to watch people with lower numbers getting accepted before you.
 
Oct 18, 2009
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As far as biochem goes... I did poorly in both semesters of orgo (think C+'s), but have done really well in my other courses. My advisors said that a.) med schools REALLY wanna see biochem now and b.) doing well in biochem would alleviate their fears about my poor orgo performance.

Would it be best to:
1. Drop biochem and do the MCAT in late May/early June with plenty of time to study?
2. Do biochem and MCAT at once (bleh...might kill me and probs would lead to a so-so score)
3. Do biochem and them study for MCAT afterwards with plenty of time to study, but I'll end up taking the MCAT late (in the mid-July zone).

Basically, how screwed will I be with those grades if I don't take biochem?

Thanks for the good advice so far! Still confused though....
 

MegaSpectacular

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I would beg to differ a bit. While you are correct that many schools sit on applications for the first couple of months, they still field them in a first come, first served basis. In a process where over 50% of all primaries are submitted in the first month, submitting in July and August are about the same as each other and both worse than June. June submissions get earloer secondaries, which lead to earlier interviews, which lead to decisions being made when the class has spaces. As the number of spaces reduces, the selectivity increases and the likelihood of getting shut out, despite a strong application, increases.

The bottom line is that earlier is better, be it by a small margin at some schools or a huge margin at others. If you are sitting around awaiting MCAT scores while another applicant has a completed application, they are going to prefer the other person if for no other reason than to be done with the arduous process of selecting an entering class.

Late July MCAT, August MCAT, or September MCAT = "hello waitlist!" at many schools. Sure, you might get in, but only after a ton of stress and having to watch people with lower numbers getting accepted before you.
I don't think a school rejects an applicant based upon 2 weeks difference in completion time. Maybe a month or more, but July vs June or May is no difference.

Completing August 7th vs July 7th doesn't put you in any advantage.

I'd rather rather +3-5 points on the MCAT than 30 days earlier application. Ask all the people who rushed their MCAT by taking around finals and scored sub 30 if they would have rather preped better.

I think I'm talking about applicants who are chosing b/t taking MCAT prematurely in May to be early, vs giving ample prep time to put a better overall application in. Of course ideally you submit day 1... but most of the people considering a May vs June/July MCAT are those that don't feel they will be prepared in May.

A lot of this is heresay. The admissions people I've spoken to say it is BS (at least for their school) to say that your app must be complete in June or July.
 

MegaSpectacular

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I don't understand. Are you guys saying completing the 1st week of August vs completing in mid to late July will make a major difference in the outcome of your application?
 

LostInStudy

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You could just take Biochem in the fall. Here's what you're looking at so far:

1 - You don't take biochem now and study for the MCAT and give yourself the best chance for your best MCAT score and apply with so so O. Chem grades and update schools when you take Biochem in the fall. You also get App in early.

2 - You take Biochem now and study for MCAT and don't get the best possible MCAT score so now you have so so grades (because biochem didn't make a huge difference) and a so so MCAT, you get your so so App in early

3 - You take Biochem now and study for MCAT after and get your App in late with your biochem grades and good MCAT

From those situations, I would pick the first one then the third one. The second choice isn't even an option. If your other grades are good then those O. Chem grades shouldn't keep you from an interview. I'm not sure how much they will affect if you're overall gpa is great. Either way, it would be your best option to take Biochem later so you can update the school later or on a secondary.

Honestly though, I think a great app is a great app no matter when they apply. However, only superstars like Ksmi have great apps and for people like her it wouldn't matter when she applied but for the other 98% of us, applying early does help and by early I mean no later than first week of July. The problem with mid-later July or August is that there are a lot of applications that come in at that time and verification takes well over 4 weeks and so many people are submitting their apps at that time that each day means that there is huge stack of apps piling up quick at the school you want to get into. The lower you are on this stack the more superstar you have to be for an interview or acceptance.

Hope this helps,

-LIS
 
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MegaSpectacular

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:)
You could just take Biochem in the fall. Here's what you're looking at so far:

1 - You don't take biochem now and study for the MCAT and give yourself the best chance for your best MCAT score and apply with so so O. Chem grades and update schools when you take Biochem in the fall. You also get App in early.

2 - You take Biochem now and study for MCAT and don't get the best possible MCAT score so now you have so so grades (because biochem didn't make a huge difference) and a so so MCAT, you get your so so App in early

3 - You take Biochem now and study for MCAT after and get your App in late with your biochem grades and good MCAT

From those situations, I would pick the first one then the third one. The second choice isn't even an option. If your other grades are good then those O. Chem grades shouldn't keep you from an interview. I'm not sure how much they will affect if you're overall gpa is great. Either way, it would be your best option to take Biochem later so you can update the school later or on a secondary.

Honestly though, I think a great app is a great app no matter when they apply. However, only superstars like Ksmi have great apps and for people like her it wouldn't matter when she applied but for the other 98% of us, applying early does help and by early I mean no later than first week of July. The problem with mid-later July or August is that there are a lot of applications that come in at that time and verification takes well over 4 weeks and so many people are submitting their apps at that time that each day means that there is huge stack of apps piling up quick at the school you want to get into. The lower you are on this stack the more superstar you have to be.

Hope this helps,

-LIS
agreed.

That is why I was saying submit in June, get verified, take MCAT in July, complete secondaries in the interim, complete in August.

You will be ahead of those applying in July and not understanding how to verify faster.