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When to take and how - i'm new, please don't hurt me =]

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by theslowclap, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. theslowclap

    theslowclap 2+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    I'm currently a freshman and I'm completely ignorant about the MCAT. Can someone please tell me when the ideal time to study for and take the MCAT is? Should you do anything special in selecting your courses (like reducing units) for the semester you will be taking the MCAT? On top of that, what method is said to work best: self-study or classroom course (like the Princeton Review)? I know this is a really broad questions and it probably was answered many times on these forums, but I can't seem to find one concentrated thread about this.

    Sorry about the long post.
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  3. Fiddlergirl

    Fiddlergirl 7+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    A lot of people take it at the end of the third year of college, but that's not a requirement. With the new computer based test, it's being offered a lot more frequently so you have the option of taking it in January or May/June as well as April and August. Generally, you want to take it earlier enough of the year that you apply that your application can go out as soon as possible. That generally means April or early May, or the January.

    Once again, this varies a lot from person to person. I didn't reduce my course load (actually I took 20 credits), but if you want the extra time to study by all means take 12 credits. Just don't overload to the point of a GPA drop or not doing well on the MCAT through lack of study time. Taking the January MCAT (study over Christmas break), the June/August (study during summer vacation) is an option if you don't want a full course load and the MCAT at the same time, but that will put your application in later than the people who took the MCAT in January and April.

    From my experience, this is completely based on how disciplined you are. If you can make yourself sit down and study MCAT review for a an hour or two every single day, and understand the concepts, that you don't need a rather expensive classroom course. However, plenty of the pre-meds at my school took a classroom course to make sure that they studied, and that can help. Taking a classroom course can also give you more prep materials, but it's just as easy to get them off ebay (that's what I did).

    I hope this helps. But, now that I've told you all this, don't worry about it. Start worrying about the MCAT at the beginning of your third year or maybe the summer before. For now, just concentrate on doing the pre-reqs and keeping your GPA up.
  4. phospho

    phospho SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Jun 4, 2006
    Columbus, OH
  5. theslowclap

    theslowclap 2+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    So when is the optimal time to apply for medical schools? I plan on taking a prep course during the summer after my sophomore year while I do something small in the area (maybe volunteer) and then taking the August MCAT during that same summer. But is this timely enough for the earliest opportunity to start applying to medical school? Is it like high school in which you apply to schools the second semester of junior year?

    Thanks for all the help.
  6. Fiddlergirl

    Fiddlergirl 7+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2007
    The majority of applicants apply the June directly after their third year. That's the earliest you can apply. The application process is very different from applying to college though, and involves secondary applications and interviews from every school (I've heard that some don't have secondaries, but the vast majority do). You don't have to apply that year though, and plenty of students take a year or two off after college to work and get mentally ready for medical school.
    Taking the August MCAT before your third year would put you way ahead of most other applicants, so that would be perfectly timely. I didn't take the MCAT until January of my fourth year, but I'm taking time off after college. Hope this helpds.
  7. GreenShirt

    GreenShirt 10+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    You want to make sure that you have plenty of time to study for the MCAT. Taking it during the summer before your junior year is not a bad idea, assuming you get all of your prereq's out of the way (which shouldn't be a problem). You'll have the whole summer to devote to studying and you'll be able to apply early the following summer. I think taking it during the year is crazy, but a majority of people do, so it's reasonable. If you do take it during the year, I would take a smaller course load (for example, take the easier non-science distribution class your school probably requires for graduation). You don't want to jeopardize your grades and MCAT score by taking on too much at once.

    Don't worry too much about in now, though. Once you get on campus, you will get in contact with your school's pre-med office and other pre-med, who will be able to advise you.
  8. Muscles00GT

    Muscles00GT 2+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2007
    Good advice. Hopefully your pre-med advisors are knowledable and can assist you. I came into college as a pre-med major and the advisors sucked. She told me it would be way too much for me if i took chem and bio together. So, I switched to kinesiology. After doing lots of research on my own, I pretty much figured out when and what courses to take. Some advisors can really help you out and some can just flat out kill your confidence and end up screwing you over.

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