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Taking a year or two off? Timeline advice...

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jringo1984

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I asked this question in another forum and they recommended I post here, so I know this is a little long, but anyone who thinks they could help direct me would be greatly appreciated.

I applied to 3 med schools around Sept 07 and was complete in Oct. I had just graduated in May of the same year and took the MCAT in Aug. Well, I scored below my practice range for the MCAT (9,8,8) but applied anyway - to 1 osteo and 2 allo schools. I was rejected from all 3. I had a 3.69 overall GPA and a 3.65 science and tons of clinical experience – both working and volunteering (no research, though). After the secondary apps, my bank acct was empty, so I have been working at the ER as a tech ever since. I skipped last app cycle because I got married Oct. 08 and, aside from saving for another round of apps, I wanted to spend time establishing a good relationship in my marriage and had a lot of philosophy and religion books I have always wanted to read. So fast forward to the present.. I've finished most of the books, we're very happily married, I've saved up enough to apply to more than 3 schools, and I just started studying for the MCAT again this week. Here are my questions:

1. How will admissions committees view my decision to skip a cycle? Has too much time passed since I've taken classroom courses?
2. I just took a diagnostic and scored a 23 (eeeeek), so I'm wondering if I should schedule my MCAT for Aug and apply late with a comfortable score or push myself and try to break 30 before I schedule in early June (I'm not too confident that this is likely). Or… study steadily until next Jan and skip another cycle, and apply very early in '10. The last option wouldn't bother me too much, but I don't want adcoms getting the impression that I'm not actively pursuing med school. Also, I've heard the curve difficulty varies with testing date, so I'm wondering what your opinions on that are.

These are my main concerns, but if I should be taking anything else into consideration, I'd be gracious for that advice, also.
 
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LaTortuga

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Hi jringo,

Just a couple of thoughts about your post.

Regarding taking a cycle off to improve your application ... that shouldn't be a problem, as long as you can tell the adcom's what you've been up to in your personal statement and/or supplementary app essays. If you are building momentum (i.e. more shadowing, volunteering, exploring medicine), rather than remaining static (i.e. not engaging in activities that you could add to your AMCAS app) you should be fine with skipping a cycle.

About the question of when to take the MCAT; that's a tough call. I took my MCAT in August, got my scores back and submitted my AMCAS application very late in the game. This entire cycle I've felt like I've been behind the power curve ... the secret is to apply as early as possible to give yourself a fighting chance. If I could do it all over again, I would have taken the MCAT earlier so I could get the AMCAS in asap! What are you doing to prepare for the MCAT? If you are doing an online course, you might want to try studying for a few months and track your progress before solidly commiting to taking the test. If you're not where you want to be in a few months, bag it, and wait a cycle. The application process from the AMCAS fee, to supplementaries, and all of the other junk like plane tickets, interview outfits, is so atrociously expensive ... my thought is, if you're going to have to pay $3k+, might as well spend it on a venture where you have all of your ducks in a line.

When you do apply again, be sure to apply very broadly, and do it as early as possible. Make sure you have a handful of safety schools, competitive schools and reach schools. Also, try to keep up with new activities to add to your AMCAS application if you do take time off.

Good luck with the re-application process!


I asked this question in another forum and they recommended I post here, so I know this is a little long, but anyone who thinks they could help direct me would be greatly appreciated.

I applied to 3 med schools around Sept 07 and was complete in Oct. I had just graduated in May of the same year and took the MCAT in Aug. Well, I scored below my practice range for the MCAT (9,8,8) but applied anyway - to 1 osteo and 2 allo schools. I was rejected from all 3. I had a 3.69 overall GPA and a 3.65 science and tons of clinical experience – both working and volunteering (no research, though). After the secondary apps, my bank acct was empty, so I have been working at the ER as a tech ever since. I skipped last app cycle because I got married Oct. 08 and, aside from saving for another round of apps, I wanted to spend time establishing a good relationship in my marriage and had a lot of philosophy and religion books I have always wanted to read. So fast forward to the present.. I've finished most of the books, we're very happily married, I've saved up enough to apply to more than 3 schools, and I just started studying for the MCAT again this week. Here are my questions:

1. How will admissions committees view my decision to skip a cycle? Has too much time passed since I've taken classroom courses?
2. I just took a diagnostic and scored a 23 (eeeeek), so I'm wondering if I should schedule my MCAT for Aug and apply late with a comfortable score or push myself and try to break 30 before I schedule in early June (I'm not too confident that this is likely). Or… study steadily until next Jan and skip another cycle, and apply very early in '10. (The last option wouldn't bother me too much, but I don't want adcoms getting the impression that I'm not actively pursuing med school. Also, I've heard the curve for January and April tests might be easier than Jul or Aug test dates, so I'm wondering what your opinions on that are.

These are my main concerns, but if I should be taking anything else into consideration, I'd be gracious for that advice, also.
 
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DrJosephKim

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Why did you only apply to 3 schools? Most medical school applicants are casting a wide net with hopes that something will come through.
 

jringo1984

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tortuga - thanks for the advice. i'll definitely apply broadly and as early as possible. i work as an er tech and i volunteer every now and then at a nursing home, but most of my free time consists of reading books that i didn't have time to read in college. anything else i should consider adding to my resume?

mdjkim - i only applied to 3 schools b/c i didn't have much money, (which won't be a problem next cycle), and because my wife was finishing grad school in the state where i applied to those 3 schools. next time i'll apply to several more... hopefully i'll get a fee-waiver..
 
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