Test center incident-->voiding latest-possible MCAT date for early app. Reschedule ASAP or punt on this cycle?

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UCDavispremed92

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Thanks in advance for reading. I'll try to keep this short - essentially I am an otherwise well-qualified applicant with no MCAT score. (feel free to skip specifics in bullet points, only showing this to demonstrate MCAT truly is the rate-limiting step for me) . TLDR at bottom
- 3.88/3.94 sGPA/cGPA
- major: political science
- 2.5 years research with professor of national renown in subfield
- global health program in Africa directly tied to disease area of research
- EMT in ER setting for 1 year
- undergraduate med school associated clinic
- tutoring in low-SE public high school district for years
- healthcare policy work in Sacramento
- formal role on successful challenging federal congressional campaign (U.S. House of Representatives)
• trying to keep nonpartisan in what is referenced
• healthcare policy was #1 issue in this campaign however, something may be touched on in PS
- ER scribe
**not comprehensive

THE ISSUE: I have an accommodation for stop the clock breaks during MCAT (taken 5/23) because of chronic polyuria for reasons not uncommon among men, but particularly pronounced in my case given my relative youth (probably exacerbated by years of high caffeine consumption). During the exam, after taking my second such break, I realized that in each case 5-10 minutes had come off of the clock and that the proctor had no explained to me the special menu option to make the clock stop. The elapsed time off of my testing clock totaled approximately 20 minutes....I knew I would have to void but sat for the entire exam as if I didn't intend to.

I chose May 23 because it was latest date that would allow me to get my score back before June 28th when apps are sent out to schools, so that with proper late May/June time management, I could be part of that initial submission given I pre-submit to at least one school, pre-write secondaries, etc. So, I am in a position now where if I am willing to travel I could conceivably get any number of dates, but I also wonder whether it would be best to have such a swift turnaround on this given I am approaching a disadvantaged position submission timing-wise and I feel as though more MCAT prep time would benefit my prep.

- experience on voided exam: I felt "ok-to-good" about the exam, very positive about B/B and P/S, but C/P was brutal and made me question the degree to which invested time in equation memorization/application vs. broad principles and CARS was not very good. I seem to score 127 every time on practice tests....but got a 124 for the first time a week out. I have a lot of experience in liberal arts courses/essay writing relative to the average pre-med, so 127 is really about what my baseline was when I started studying...I've improved little and struggle to draw distinctions between hair-splitting/nit-picky answer choices...waste time perseverating about it....you get the picture.

I realize that as a relatively late-tester, this may sound ridiculous, but my approach as an undergrad was alway to memorize everything and basically eliminate critical thought from my exam-taking experience as a precautionary measure because I considered the stakes too high to allow that to be determinative. So, I am very bad at MCAT prep because I don't have it in me to shrug off anything as low-yield. I have no background in psych/soc and no background in physiology (organ system level of organization), just cell bio and all of other prereqs. So, this has been a significant amount of self-teaching that has proved incredibly time-consuming. I found in the late-going within AAMC materials that they have their own cache of terms and areas of emphasis not clearly referenced in my Kaplan books, somewhat better referenced in TBR/Khan...but very time consuming to do a comprehensive accounting for, much less very efficiently.

TLDR: Had to void on latest MCAT date for primary app+early verification placing it in first batch sent out from AAMC to schools on June 28. I felt "ok" about my MCAT, but it is somewhat confounded by the stress from my test center logistical issue and loss of time on C/P sections. CARS is a weak spot and vulnerability with high variability for me. I am solid on B/B and P/S on that iteration of the exam. With all that in mind, given how soon I would likely be able reschedule being roughly "mid-to-late June" at best and very little application stuff done aside from half of my personal statement, what is my next best move?

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Your best move is to take a gap year.
I've already done two, after intending just one last year, but experiencing a slow-motion breakdown of my health. This exam is just an albatross for me because it feels as though I am having to build up an "ideal pre-med" archetype out of its base units (I am not this person I just did a collection of interesting things and enjoyed neurosis-fueled success in undergrad, all highly highly calculated) in order to receive a score anywhere near commensurate with the rest of applicant profile. I have never worked in a wet lab (only computational analysis of wet lab side) and I don't have any experience reading hard science research papers aside from structural biology/virology. I have zero track record of success as a standardized test-taker and am an 11th hour-late bloomer academically.

I feel like this exam has taken over/eaten 2-3 years of my life and I've never even had it scored. Meanwhile, anyone who looks at my applicant profile tells me I ought to sit for it immediately, when I believe there is real cause to expect it might ruin me. I don't want this to just turn into pure rant, but what I am essentially saying is that I am constitutionally ill-suited to performing well on this exam. I am honest enough with myself to admit that - so if someone wants to swoop in here and make a sales pitch along those lines, I invite you to do so.
 
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I would appreciate it if someone would make the counterargument, perhaps that with my applicant profile and proper preparation of my essays, I could survive a non-early app or something. It may sound as though I"m set on a top-20 because all I would need is an MCAT scale in their range for it to be a less than outlandish proposition I apply there, but in truth I would go with a random acceptance from any lower-48 MD school at this point. This process makes me ill.
 
It sounds like your MCAT prep has left a little to be desired. I understand the urge to push forward with your application, but as many people have said before, this is arguably the most important test of your career. It's worth taking another gap year to prepare for it more thoroughly. Or at least another couple of months, but then you risk being a late applicant.
 
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The MCAT and the application cycle is like marriage... you want to do it right and do it once.
You've had a trial run and got the equivalent of an immediate annulment. OK. Don't screw this up by doing a half-a55 job only to be standing here next year wondering how you could do better in a second cycle.

Take a year off. Take a prep course. Take a sociology course, a human physiology course, and something in social psychology. Get yourself a subscription to The Economist or find a library with a comfortable reading room where you can read it each week for free. Treat the articles like CARS passages and quiz yourself. You have a leg up given that you know what CARS passages look like.

Two years into medical school you'll be taking the Step 1 exam which is pass/fail. If you pass with a low score, the die is cast and you are up a creek in terms of being competitive for highly desirable residency programs. So, while the MCAT is a bear, it is not the last bear you'll be dealing with so learn how to manage it.
 
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Taking your MCAT in mid- to late-June is not bad and wouldn’t harm you. However, given the rest of your post I think you should take a year and learn how to study for tests like the MCAT. It seems like your prep needs work, and trying to just memorize everything you can is a good way to get a disappointing score. You only want to take this test once, and you’re already taking it twice due to an issue at the test center. Last thing you want is to take it a third time.

Do it right.

I know you really just want one person to come in here and tell you to just go for it, but that person won’t be doing you any favors. One more year is nothing.
 
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If you need a study strategy, I have this thread here that worked well for me. Feel free to ask any questions! Am I tooting my own horn? Probably, but it worked!

 
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Taking your MCAT in mid- to late-June is not bad and wouldn’t harm you. However, given the rest of your post I think you should take a year and learn how to study for tests like the MCAT. It seems like your prep needs work, and trying to just memorize everything you can is a good way to get a disappointing score. You only want to take this test once, and you’re already taking it twice due to an issue at the test center. Last thing you want is to take it a third time.

Do it right.

I know you really just want one person to come in here and tell you to just go for it, but that person won’t be doing you any favors. One more year is nothing.
Thanks for thoughtful response. For reference, I got 512 on FL1 with 131 in B/B and 127 CARS. F2 got 512 128/127/130/127
FL3 was 511: 129/124/129/129. This was only non-127-128 CARS score I've gotten. CARS qbank scores are generally 75-80%, sometimes much higher in 90s for spurts, then I'll go bomb a passage.

It's been bit hard for me "take the plunge" and sit for the exam because I have so much to gain from a higher score and have control over when I take it (no current academic commitments) and I am good at self-assessment. In my C/P of unscored AAMC FL, I flagged 2/3 of incorrect answers. I know when to void vs. score an exam to the extent someone can, I believe. I come from a position of lowballing/underestimating my preparation/competence, which I believe helped me in undergrad but is certainly a double-edged sword.

Overall, it would be inaccurate to say that I lack scores that indicate anything but near-readiness to sit for the exam, though that single CARS drop was concerning (I think I went to hard on the highlighting that time and was getting impatient). Likely, my ceiling on CARS is far higher than 127, and that would seem necessary to get into that 515-120 range that is more than satisfactory for my purposes.

Lastly, my mistakes are not reading something correctly ~1/3 of the time, so my scores definitely underestimate my background knowledge. I'm under a lot of parental (financier) pressure to apply and I know how bad that sounds, because it is just that bad. So that's a major push factor here. I hear and full respect the pull app arguments, but I just hate to death this process and believe it suggests for the most convincingly disingenuous far often than the pure of heart. I've been brushing up on sociopathy ahead of application season, as incentivized.
 
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Thanks for thoughtful response. For reference, I got 512 on FL1 with 131 in B/B and 127 CARS. F2 got 512 128/127/130/127
FL3 was 511: 129/124/129/129. This was only non-127-128 CARS score I've gotten. CARS qbank scores are generally 75-80%, sometimes much higher in 90s for spurts, then I'll go bomb a passage.

Imo that’s even more reason to wait. If those are your scores with less than ideal prep, you could totally dominate it if you give yourself enough time and really learn how to prepare for the MCAT and the testing strategy.

Or you could take it in June and probably do decently and get in somewhere. But imagine if you took a gap year and got a 517+.
 
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Thanks for thoughtful response. For reference, I got 512 on FL1 with 131 in B/B and 127 CARS. F2 got 512 128/127/130/127
FL3 was 511: 129/124/129/129. This was only non-127-128 CARS score I've gotten. CARS qbank scores are generally 75-80%, sometimes much higher in 90s for spurts, then I'll go bomb a passage.

It's been bit hard for me "take the plunge" and sit for the exam because I have so much to gain from a higher score and have control over when I take it (no current academic commitments) and I am good at self-assessment. In my C/P of unscored AAMC FL, I flagged 2/3 of incorrect answers. I know when to void vs. score an exam to the extent someone can, I believe. I come from a position of lowballing/underestimating my preparation/competence, which I believe helped me in undergrad but is certainly a double-edged sword.

Overall, it would be inaccurate to say that I lack scores that indicate anything but near-readiness to sit for the exam, though that single CARS drop was concerning (I think I went to hard on the highlighting that time and was getting impatient). Likely, my ceiling on CARS is far higher than 127, and that would seem necessary to get into that 515-120 range that is more than satisfactory for my purposes.

Lastly, my mistakes are not reading something correctly ~1/3 of the time, so my scores definitely underestimate my background knowledge. I'm under a lot of parental (financier) pressure to apply and I know how bad that sounds, because it is just that bad. So that's a major push factor here. I hear and full respect the pull app arguments, but I just hate to death this process and believe it suggests for the most convincingly disingenuous far often than the pure of heart. I've been brushing up on sociopathy ahead of application season, as incentivized.
Well then go tell your parents that LizzyM, the freaking queen, dropped knowledge on you and you’d be a fool to not listen to her.
 
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Thanks for thoughtful response. For reference, I got 512 on FL1 with 131 in B/B and 127 CARS. F2 got 512 128/127/130/127
FL3 was 511: 129/124/129/129. This was only non-127-128 CARS score I've gotten. CARS qbank scores are generally 75-80%, sometimes much higher in 90s for spurts, then I'll go bomb a passage.

It's been bit hard for me "take the plunge" and sit for the exam because I have so much to gain from a higher score and have control over when I take it (no current academic commitments) and I am good at self-assessment. In my C/P of unscored AAMC FL, I flagged 2/3 of incorrect answers. I know when to void vs. score an exam to the extent someone can, I believe. I come from a position of lowballing/underestimating my preparation/competence, which I believe helped me in undergrad but is certainly a double-edged sword.

Overall, it would be inaccurate to say that I lack scores that indicate anything but near-readiness to sit for the exam, though that single CARS drop was concerning (I think I went to hard on the highlighting that time and was getting impatient). Likely, my ceiling on CARS is far higher than 127, and that would seem necessary to get into that 515-120 range that is more than satisfactory for my purposes.

Lastly, my mistakes are not reading something correctly ~1/3 of the time, so my scores definitely underestimate my background knowledge. I'm under a lot of parental (financier) pressure to apply and I know how bad that sounds, because it is just that bad. So that's a major push factor here. I hear and full respect the pull app arguments, but I just hate to death this process and believe it suggests for the most convincingly disingenuous far often than the pure of heart. I've been brushing up on sociopathy ahead of application season, as incentivized.
Ahhh, parents. Being their best out of love and ignorance to destroy your medical career.

Get them accounts on SDN and we can teach them the error of their ways.
 
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I think the advice suggesting I punt on this cycle makes sense on paper.....it's just that these are literally all of the things that told myself I was going to do last year. So, forgive me if immediately giving into the suggestion I do another go-round doesn't feel more than a bit like self-delusion. I do appreciate LizzyM's input, so this is more of a devil's advocate response than my true feelings on this matter. If I could just replay the last year with some tweaks here and there and not screw it up this time, I'd probably go ahead and do that.

Regarding CARS specifically, which is lowering my ceiling to greatest degree among the sections....I'm already someone who has had a subscription to the New Yorker and read it religiously for years without ulterior motive. Not to brag, but to demonstrate how frustrating this is - I got a 99.9 percentile on verbal comprehension on two iterations of an IQ test, last administered 2 years ago.....so there is something test format/emphasis/approach-wise that is just absent. I have done a good number of CARS passages, perhaps inconsistently, but large in absolute quantity. I'm just saying that there isn't a dispositional affinity for reading in which I am deficient that my subpar CARS scores might be attributed to. It's definitely more related to the quirks of CARS as an exercise, unnatural speed, and reading with a mind to being questioned rather than....you know, reading things to read them. I'm not trying to be a contrarian here, I'm just saying that I am very much an "on paper" high CARS scorer....it's just not happening. 128 should not be my ceiling for this section and it is introducing a great deal of uncertainty into my overall MCAT score.

In truth, there is real potential this could be a breaking point in my relationship with my father. This has all the ingredients: step-mother, estranged mother who can't act as counterweight on my behalf, father's growing wariness of financial commitments to me as son from prior marriage, and professional entanglements between he and I, which I'm not going to spell out, but certainly tie in with why he might have the gall to suggest he knows how I should go about this process.

I've never been someone who was only interested in medicine, so this is all making me feel like a very stunted version of myself.....so in my father's defense, there would be something "humane" about me just sitting for the exam and "putting it behind me" - of course he's convinced my concerns are "all in my head," so everything is just happily ever after once I get out of my own way. I only wish it were so simple.
 
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I think the advice suggesting I punt on this cycle makes sense on paper.....it's just that these are literally all of the things that told myself I was going to do last year. So, forgive me if immediately giving into the suggestion I do another go-round doesn't feel more than a bit like self-delusion. I do appreciate LizzyM's input, so this is more of a devil's advocate response than my true feelings on this matter. If I could just replay the last year with some tweaks here and there and not screw it up this time, I'd probably go ahead and do that.

Regarding CARS specifically, which is lowering my ceiling to greatest degree among the sections....I'm already someone who has had a subscription to the New Yorker and read it religiously for years without ulterior motive. Not to brag, but to demonstrate how frustrating this is - I got a 99.9 percentile on verbal comprehension on two iterations of an IQ test, last administered 2 years ago.....so there is something test format/emphasis/approach-wise that is just absent. I have done a good number of CARS passages, perhaps inconsistently, but large in absolute quantity. I'm just saying that there isn't a dispositional affinity for reading in which I am deficient that my subpar CARS scores might be attributed to. It's definitely more related to the quirks of CARS as an exercise, unnatural speed, and reading with a mind to being questioned rather than....you know, reading things to read them. I'm not trying to be a contrarian here, I'm just saying that I am very much an "on paper" high CARS scorer....it's just not happening. 128 should not be my ceiling for this section and it is introducing a great deal of uncertainty into my overall MCAT score.

In truth, there is real potential this could be a breaking point in my relationship with my father. This has all the ingredients: step-mother, estranged mother who can't act as counterweight on my behalf, father's growing wariness of financial commitments to me as son from prior marriage, and professional entanglements between he and I, which I'm not going to spell out, but certainly tie in with why he might have the gall to suggest he knows how I should go about this process.

I've never been someone who was only interested in medicine, so this is all making me feel like a very stunted version of myself.....so in my father's defense, there would be something "humane" about me just sitting for the exam and "putting it behind me" - of course he's convinced my concerns are "all in my head," so everything is just happily ever after once I get out of my own way. I only wish it were so simple.

That’s what parents do. They whole “you’re so smart and wonderful, who wouldnt accept you?” It took me so long to explain all of that.
 
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That’s what parents do. They whole “you’re so smart and wonderful, who wouldnt accept you?” It took me so long to explain all of that.
I asked my grandma “do you want a link to my spreadsheet of when I get interviews, acceptances, rejections etc. to see my application progress?”

“Hell No! Sammy, if anyone rejects my grandson they’re an idiot.”

Thanks grandma. Love you too lol
 
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That’s what parents do. They whole “you’re so smart and wonderful, who wouldnt accept you?” It took me so long to explain all of that.
Yeah, there's some of that. But his prior on the prospects of my application does have some basis....I had some kind of confidence crisis at least once in most undergrad quarters. Yet, aside from calculus (B/B+) I had only a single pre-req non-A grade....so he thinks I have an anxiety disorder or something when I'm actually just honest with myself and consider optimism an impediment to success more often than not.

If I go through with not applying this cycle, I will have to convince him that the ship has sailed with regard to a smooth/unimpeded application cycle, with implications for my likelihood of success. If he believes I have a "choice," which in the most literal terms I still do have, he is not going to view anything I say charitably and will get very ugly.
 
Don’t take the exam before you are properly prepared. Having said that, every year you wait is a year of lost income. Not the end of the world, but sitting on your hands for 3 years is $1M+ of lost earning potential. Don’t take more time than you need just to try to shoehorn yourself into a top 10-20 school. I went to one, and it ain’t all that.
As for your controlling parents, get a job and support yourself. Then you don’t have to take their harassing calls. Move far away as well.
 
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Do you all subscribe to the idea that there is significant likelihood for a different outcome with this application cycle if I take June 15/June 28 MCAT vs. intended May 23, all else being equal? Say I get a middling score of ~512 or something.
 
Do you all subscribe to the idea that there is significant likelihood for a different outcome with this application cycle if I take June 15/June 28 MCAT vs. intended May 23, all else being equal? Say I get a middling score of ~512 or something.
If you get verified and submit now then minor delay. You will get your secondaries in Mid July (after you get your score back and select schools) as opposed to early july like the early appliers. You will be delayed by at most 2 weeks, and it won't even be a delay if you write your secondaries in between MCAT and submission
 
FWIW, i wasnt complete until the end of July at any school because I had to wait on my committee letter.
 
FWIW, i wasnt complete until the end of July at any school because I had to wait on my committee letter.
Applying super early is kind of over rated as it really doesn’t affect your application.

I still did it because, you know, paranoia. But it is completely irrational paranoia
 
I respectfully disagree with all the wise adcoms. With your GPA and EC’s , you would (probably) need around a median MCAT (511 or better, I think) to get a spot somewhere. If you take the MCAT in mid June you will still be okay with submitting this cycle. If you think you’re ready and you’re confident you can do that, I would go for it. Who wants to sit around another year when everything else is lined up? The main risk here is you bomb the test, not that your app would be too late. If it were me, I’d go for it this cycle. Apply broadly. I bet you’ll get in. Good luck to you whatever you decide!
 
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Not sure what you mean by that. OP asked for a counter argument. No disrespect intended to anyone.
I don't think you were trying to be disrespectful, I just think it's important to be very clear that the counter argument that OP asked for is a direct contradiction to the advice of ALL of the adcoms who have weighed in.
 
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The MCAT and the application cycle is like marriage... you want to do it right and do it once.
You've had a trial run and got the equivalent of an immediate annulment. OK. Don't screw this up by doing a half-a55 job only to be standing here next year wondering how you could do better in a second cycle.

Take a year off. Take a prep course. Take a sociology course, a human physiology course, and something in social psychology. Get yourself a subscription to The Economist or find a library with a comfortable reading room where you can read it each week for free. Treat the articles like CARS passages and quiz yourself. You have a leg up given that you know what CARS passages look like.

Two years into medical school you'll be taking the Step 1 exam which is pass/fail. If you pass with a low score, the die is cast and you are up a creek in terms of being competitive for highly desirable residency programs. So, while the MCAT is a bear, it is not the last bear you'll be dealing with so learn how to manage it.

Have they gotten rid of scoring for step 1?

EDIT: I stopped reading after you said pass/fail lol my bad... got too excited
 
If by all you mean the 2 or 3 who replied, then I agree.
But they don’t represent everyone’s opinion, nor are their opinions always correct.
don't think you were trying to be disrespectful, I just think it's important to be very clear that the counter argument that OP asked for is a direct contradiction to the advice of ALL of the adcoms who have weighed in.
 
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I respectfully disagree with all the wise adcoms. With your GPA and EC’s , you would (probably) need around a median MCAT (511 or better, I think) to get a spot somewhere. If you take the MCAT in mid June you will still be okay with submitting this cycle. If you think you’re ready and you’re confident you can do that, I would go for it. Who wants to sit around another year when everything else is lined up? The main risk here is you bomb the test, not that your app would be too late. If it were me, I’d go for it this cycle. Apply broadly. I bet you’ll get in. Good luck to you whatever you decide!

Thanks, I suppose was fishing for something to this effect, but still. I was already planning on applying to ~40 schools , as I hardly see the downside to doing so but a few grand - when I'm already all in for the privilege of doling out a couple hundred to the institution of their choice.

Given that I'm a CA resident and risk-averse as you can all tell, aside from UCs, my school list consists of out-of-state public institutions (specifically those with significant proportion of matriculants that are non-state residents)+private institutions with the lowest MCAT scores, per MSAR. This tends to correspond with a broader 1st quartile matriculant MCAT score, so I figure it's a list that could provide a soft landing if I don't achieve ~512. The non-UC school list tops out at schools with 513/514 (ex. Drexel, Georgetown).

Appreciate interest in all my post's convoluted detail.
 
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