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What classes to take prior to MCAT... with one semester left?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by themanonthemoon, Sep 13, 2017.

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  1. themanonthemoon


    Sep 13, 2017
    I am currently a Junior at university with one semester after this current one to go. I have completed both general biologies, English, Psych/Soc, and one semester of physics. This semester, I am currently finishing my second general chemistry semester and first semester of A&P lecture and lab (I know, I know I should've done O.Chem this semester). I've obviously taken more classes, but only put the relevant ones above.

    My question is: With only one semester following this one before I'd like to take the MCAT, what classes should I really focus on finishing? I know Organic Chemistry I is a must. I can't take Biochem or O.Chem II because they both require O.Chem I to be completed. Would Microbiology be helpful next semester? Cellular and molecular biology? Physics II? My plan is to give myself just over a month after school ends to study (of course, I'll be studying before then, but really crack down that last month). Would you recommend really delving into O.Chem II for that last month, or more of a general study? I now know that I should've selected my classes more carefully, but in the words of Stevie Wonder, "You gots to work with what ya got's to work with". Thank you guys in advance. I appreciate any input I can get!
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  3. Zenabi90


    Jul 14, 2017
    No biochem, no o chem, incomplete physics is going to hurt. If it was just one missing prereq I wouldn't worry too much. But that's 3 classes minimum. Safest route is a gap year.

    Also I don't know about your general biology, but my general biology courses didn't cover anything on the MCAT.
  4. bears1992

    bears1992 SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

    Jan 5, 2017
    I took the MCAT without biochem. I bought the Kaplan and Exam Kracker set and read each cover to cover.
    Atleast from my test, I was OK not having biochem as my book sets covered biochem well. I would have been really screwed on atleast 7-10 questions on C/P if I wouldn't have taken OChem. All the OChem from my test needed things I learned in class, not from the self study books. You can probably get away with physics just studying from the books. The classes you will really need from order of importance (in my opinion) are:
    OChem II
    OChem I
    Cell Bio
    Physics II
    Physics I
  5. themanonthemoon


    Sep 13, 2017
    I could do physics II and O.Chem I this coming semester, which would be completed before I take the MCAT. I would then be missing Biochem and O.Chem II which I know is still quite a bit. If I take one or two (possibly abbreviated) online courses Biochem or O.Chem II, in addition to TPR and Kaplan books, do you think I'd be okay?
  6. Zenabi90


    Jul 14, 2017
    Ok for the MCAT, bad for the apps I think.

    But just think about what you're asking for just a second. Take a step back and think objectively, without taking into account your timeline.

    Do you want to spend $300 to take a seven hour exam that plays a large part in determining your entry into medical school... on "possibly abbreviated" incomplete/weak knowledge? (Taking O Chem 1 AND 2 at the same time?)


    Do you want to possibly sacrifice your GPA, in order to possibly take the exam next summer, and possibly skip a gap year, assuming everything goes perfectly?

    Why not...

    Take the courses you need to take, take the MCAT during the summer of senior year, send in your app with its stellar ECs and GPA, fill your gap year with something useful like MPH or MBA or SMP (that makes your first year of med easier), and then matriculate?

    If you're dead set on taking the exam this coming summer, it CAN be done. I can help, or someone else can. But just SAY SO, so I can stop suggesting you take a long hard look at your self-proclaimed messed up schedule.

    You quoted Stevie Wonder. "You gots to work with what ya got's to work with." Perhaps that means you have to adjust your long term schedule to accommodate your misaligned short term one, instead of trying to shortcut your exam prep.
    themanonthemoon and Ad2b like this.
  7. themanonthemoon


    Sep 13, 2017
    Thank you so much for your input, Zenabi. I read your comment a few times and it's given me a lot to think about.

    I think I'm just really frustrated because if I'd realized my mistake just 4 days earlier than i had, I would've been able to switch my classes and be on track. But you're right. I definitely should focus on GPA, EC'S, Etc.

    I just think I'd kick myself if I didn't at least try this summer. I think I still will study my ass off this summer and attempt it, but if I notice it interfering with my school work or GPA, then i can put it on the back burner. I know I would be attempting it without a formal Ochem II and Biochem, but I would have formal classes on my application when I take them senior year.

    Thank you for giving me a different perspective. I really do appreciate it. If you have any further advice guidance for me, don't hesitate to reach out again.
  8. Zenabi90


    Jul 14, 2017
    Hey, I get that. Screwing it up sucks. And if you can cover for it, great.

    I hope you don't kick yourself harder when you void. Or get a low score and eat up one of your 7 lifetime attempts. Because that's a possibility.

    If you have any update on your situation, let us know. The best thing at this point is really just get those 4.0s and ECs, but that's just one anonymous virtual person's opinion.
    themanonthemoon likes this.
  9. Poppin

    Poppin 2+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2015
    Strongly agree with everything Zenabi said throughout the thread.
    Biochem >>>>>> Cell/Molecular Bio = Physics 2 >> Ochem 1 > Ochem 2 (distant last).

    Biochem in my opinion is the core of both the science sections (Chem/Phys and also Bio). From a test writer's perspective I'm sure you can imagine that it's easy to write a largely Biochem centered passage that essentially covers all the bases you want to test on. If that wasn't clear, you'll see what I mean when you get to the practice test stage. I think it would be extremely disadvantageous to attempt the MCAT without Biochem. You could MAYBE self study biochem if you are extremely confident in your depth of knowledge regarding Biology, but even then its not "advisable".

    I get your situation. I know you said you couldn't take Biochem this coming semester, so this doesn't answer your question but I'd also like to add another vote in favor of Biochem prior to MCAT. It's at least something worth thinking about. One bad MCAT score is just another hurdle you don't want to overcome in an already stressful process. Of course, you'll do whats best for you but that's just my non-expert opinion.

    As it pertains to Physics 2, It can help particularly on some of the complex cardiovascular passages which you may get. Specifically, it might help in terms of understanding the concepts of flow (as an analogy to current but also relevance to fluid dynamics), resistance, and pressure. Cell and Molecular is useful for parsing through some of the complex bio passages. O-Chem 2 would be marginally useful, but the MCAT focuses more on general concepts as covered in most O-chem 1 classes such as chirality (for example). I didn't take Micro until after I took the MCAT, but I don't think it carries the same weight as Cell and Molecular.

    A final opinion on your last question: Do general study initially to nail down weaknesses and then stop focusing on things you're already good at. This sounds easier than it actually is in practice. If you do it right, you'll naturally triage and end up improving the things that need the most work.

    Edit: spelling/grammar
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017 at 10:01 PM
    themanonthemoon likes this.
  10. themanonthemoon


    Sep 13, 2017
  11. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor Exhibitor 2+ Year Member

    May 11, 2015
    SDN Exhibitor
    The advice you've received is correct. I'm worried, however, that you don't seem willing to accept it? Taking the MCAT without Biochem is insane. PLEASE save yourself from having to learn this the hard way. I've seen many, many students attempt this, or a variety of other shortcuts in the MCAT/application process and it always ends up in disaster.

    **The MCAT is very challenging for smart students who have taken ALL of the prereqs!**

    It's foolhardy to attempt it without the prereqs; why do that to yourself? You're starting out with two strikes against you and the "MCAT ball" isn't some slow-pitch softball, its going to come at you 90-100 mph and you're going to try to hit it with half of a bat...

    Just take O-Chem I and Physics II next. Then do O-Chem II, Biochem I, Cell/Molecular Bio, etc. next year while preparing for the MCAT simultaneously. At the end of spring semester you'll have all the classes done, you can spend a month or so focusing on practice exams, and then you can take the MCAT at your best. Gap years are actually trending toward being "favored" by most adcoms. You'll be in a perfect spot, well prepared, have a better MCAT score, and it will never matter one iota to you 20 years from now whether you matriculated in 2019 or 2020!

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