Took the old MCAT, looks like it will expire by the time I apply...

BtmoreRavens18

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Mwooster

US MD Candidate
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Hi all!

I have found myself in a bit of a pickle with my MCAT score and am hoping for some advice!

I am currently enrolled in a PhD program but have realized that I desperately want to work with patients - and have decided to apply to medical school. I took the old MCAT on one of the last available dates in Jan of 2015. At the time I was under the assumption it would be good for 3 years no matter what and would therefore be valid for application on June 1 2017 for a 2018 start - unfortunately it seems some schools (many that i'm really interested in) have decided to to only accept the new MCAT for their 2018 cycle.

It seems I have three options;
1. To suck it up and retake the MCAT (I don't know how on earth I will find the time to study for it and also I'm worried I won't replicate my previous score - 37)
2. To only apply to schools that will accept my old score - thereby limiting the number of schools I can apply to
3. Rushing my application now, submitting it for a 2017 start date and then hoping the school will allow me to defer my acceptance for a year so I can finish my PhD.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Some other background info:
uGPA: 3.5 :( (My freshman year is pretty atrocious and so I am hoping perhaps my upward trend will help out
gGPA: 3.9 (I know the adcoms won't really care - but my grad classes were substantially harder than undergrad so I'm proud of it none the less)
College athlete, lots of EC, student govt and volunteering etc.
Decently ranked liberal arts school for undergrad, top 15 research university for PhD
I am very low on shadowing but I am hoping to fix that before I apply
I have a lot of patient contact hours from undergrad but I wouldn't be surprised if the adcoms don't look at them since it was so long ago.
I am unfortunately going to be a bit of a location snob with my applications due to family stuff... so that may hurt me.

Any advice on what I should do about my MCAT or my application in general?

Thanks in advance!
It really depends on your MCAT score, Ravens Fan. If it's not a high score (36+), I'd finish PhD and retake.

Btw, since you are a Ravens fan, this institution might be of interest to you. It looks like it's very close to M&T Bank Stadium.
https://www.facebook.com/Ball-So-Hard-University-School-of-Medicine-299310026773152/

EDIT: just read you got a 37... still, it's kind of late in the cycle. I'd whole-ass my effort into an early, great cycle next year
 
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tjo422

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Jun 21, 2016
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I retook the MCAT for the same exact reason in May this year. It happened to work out well for me (so far), and went on my first interview today. Here's my advice:

If your top choice needs the new MCAT, retake, otherwise you'll always wonder what if. I was also stressed about replicating a good performance. as long as you put in the study time, you'll be fine. Generally critical reading and comprehension skills should improve after an extensive period of reading and writing.

If that's not the case, see if you can put together a good list of 15-20 schools you would be happy at that take the old exam (if and only if you think you can put together a fantastic application fairly quickly). This list should be mostly stat matches, a few "safer" matches if there is such a thing, and a few reaches.


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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Sep 6, 2016
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It really depends on your MCAT score, Ravens Fan. If it's not a high score (36+), I'd finish PhD and retake.

Btw, since you are a Ravens fan, this institution might be of interest to you. It looks like it's very close to M&T Bank Stadium.
https://www.facebook.com/Ball-So-Hard-University-School-of-Medicine-299310026773152/

EDIT: just read you got a 37... still, it's kind of late in the cycle. I'd whole-ass my effort into an early, great cycle next year
Thanks for the advice!! Very much appreciated.
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Sep 6, 2016
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I took the MCAT in August 2013 and retook in April for the exact same reason. If you scored so well the first time around, it shouldn't be too difficult to replicate. I had the option of rushing my applications in October of last year when I realized that my scores were expiring, but I decided it would be best to suck it up, retake the MCAT, and take AMCAS a bit more seriously. You have otherwise good credentials, so you should do well regardless of whether or not you're able to exactly recreate that 37 (99th %ile?). Anything 95%ile or above should be good for you with those credentials, and considering your previous score, I sincerely doubt you will have any trouble accomplishing that goal.

FYI: I far exceeded my 2013 score on the new MCAT. I had the same anxiety as you do regarding the ability to reproduce our scores, but it turned out well in the end. Hopefully this inspires confidence for you; I would hate to see the remainder of your application suffer for attempting to squeeze it in at the very end of this cycle.
Thanks a lot for sharing, it definitely makes me feel better. My real concern is that since its an entirely new beast of an exam i think I'd have to prepare a lot for it, and trying to do that while finishing my PhD work is going to be challenging..

Did you find that you had to spend as much time preparing the second time around?
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Sep 6, 2016
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I retook the MCAT for the same exact reason in May this year. It happened to work out well for me (so far), and went on my first interview today. Here's my advice:

If your top choice needs the new MCAT, retake, otherwise you'll always wonder what if. I was also stressed about replicating a good performance. as long as you put in the study time, you'll be fine. Generally critical reading and comprehension skills should improve after an extensive period of reading and writing.

If that's not the case, see if you can put together a good list of 15-20 schools you would be happy at that take the old exam (if and only if you think you can put together a fantastic application fairly quickly). This list should be mostly stat matches, a few "safer" matches if there is such a thing, and a few reaches.


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Congrats on the interview! I hope it went well for you. I think you're right, its best just to suck it up and retake it. Did you take the new CAT after previously taking the old one? Did you find it more time consuming to study for?
 

tjo422

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Jun 21, 2016
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Congrats on the interview! I hope it went well for you. I think you're right, its best just to suck it up and retake it. Did you take the new CAT after previously taking the old one? Did you find it more time consuming to study for?
Nope, three years in between old and new, and when I studied for the new one it was after almost two years of non-science related work.

The only thing that was "harder" was teaching myself psych/sociology since I never took the intro classes but the material itself isn't terrible. It's a lot more experimental passages now, which should play to your strengths.

I studied more this time around and got a better score, but I don't think this test necessarily requires more study time than the old outside of allowing more time to review the new content that has been added. Major changes: you MUST know your amino acids, other biochem, and psych/soc.


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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Nope, three years in between old and new, and when I studied for the new one it was after almost two years of non-science related work.

The only thing that was "harder" was teaching myself psych/sociology since I never took the intro classes but the material itself isn't terrible. It's a lot more experimental passages now, which should play to your strengths.

I studied more this time around and got a better score, but I don't think this test necessarily requires more study time than the old outside of allowing more time to review the new content that has been added. Major changes: you MUST know your amino acids, other biochem, and psych/soc.


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Awesome, good to know, thanks!
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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I prepared a total of 6 months, the first three of which I spent reading Kaplan psych at a somewhat leisurely pace because I lacked any background in psych/soc. The last three months I studied 4-5 hours daily using the ExamKrackers books. It was time consuming, and you may not be able to study as much while finishing your Ph.D., but then again you probably wouldn't have to. I went way overboard on my studying.
Ok, thats reassuring. Unfortunately there's no way I'll be able to get 4-5 hours in a day, but I still have 8-9 months so maybe I can just spread it out more. Thanks so much for the advice!
 
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LizzyM

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Do not apply assuming that you can ask to defer until you finish the PhD. When you apply, you are applying to start the following year. Schools will not poach from current students in other programs, they expect you to apply to a program you can matriculate into the following summer/fall having finished whatever degree you are currently enrolled in. Take your time, retake the MCAT, and apply the summer before you plan to defend, or the summer after you defend, depending on when you defend. If you do not intend to finish the PhD, cut bait, then apply. Frankly, I would not recommend for admission someone who wasn't going to finish the PhD until after our start date the following academic year.
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Do not apply assuming that you can ask to defer until you finish the PhD. When you apply, you are applying to start the following year. Schools will not poach from current students in other programs, they expect you to apply to a program you can matriculate into the following summer/fall having finished whatever degree you are currently enrolled in. Take your time, retake the MCAT, and apply the summer before you plan to defend, or the summer after you defend, depending on when you defend. If you do not intend to finish the PhD, cut bait, then apply. Frankly, I would not recommend for admission someone who wasn't going to finish the PhD until after our start date the following academic year.
Thank you very much for input. I assumed medical schools were ok with deferring acceptance for a year based on limited anecdotal evidence - good to know that this is not actually the case and I will definitely not try to pursue that path.
 

summergirl

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Feb 28, 2012
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I retook an expired 37 recently and i got just as good on the second time. There also wasn't a lot of studying you'll have to do since you've done the mcat before. I think I studied a bit during the winter semester and took it 1.5 months after class ended. And I like to tell myself that two great scores are better than one lol.
And FYI, I'd really recommend that you be extra careful when applying, i.e. Apply early, and broadly. I have an extremely similar gpa/mcat combo and was ultimately wait listed last year.
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Interesting, that's really good to know. If you don't mind me asking, which schools did you apply to? Did you apply early?


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csdanim

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Definitely retake MCAT. I was in the same situation, but I retook it and received the same percentile on sciences and actually better percentile on verbal reasoning.

Your PhD training will help you a lot because the new MCAT is heavy on research design and data analysis.
 
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BtmoreRavens18

BtmoreRavens18

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Sep 6, 2016
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Definitely retake MCAT. I was in the same situation, but I retook it and received the same percentile on sciences and actually better percentile on verbal reasoning.

Your PhD training will help you a lot because the new MCAT is heavy on research design and data analysis.
Thanks for the input, makes me feel better about my situation. I've been looking into the new mcat and it definitely seems like the changes may actually be a good thing for me.


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