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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Medical School Admissions Cycle (2013-2014): To delay or not to delay the MCAT

With the AMCAS medical school application opening upon us (opens May 8), I have been receiving frequent e-mails from pre-med clients wondering, "Is it ok for me to delay the MCAT?" Many of these premeds are scheduled to take the exam at the end of May and want to move it to the end of June. Here are the issues every premed should consider if contemplating delaying the MCAT:

1. A low MCAT score (below 30 and less than 10 in each section) can sink an otherwise stellar application. You want to take the test when you will be best prepared.
2. Applying "early," which means submitting your AMCAS application in June, offers a large advantage in the admissions process of rolling admissions schools.
3. It takes about 30 days to get your MCAT score back. So if you take the test in late May, you'll get the score back in late June and still have enough time to submit the AMCAS in June. But if you take the late June MCAT, you won't get your score back until late July, which is not an ideal time to turn in the AMCAS. Further, submitting your application without knowing your MCAT score is a huge risk. If you don't do well, you may want to take a year off, retake the MCAT, and apply the next cycle. And you don't want to be a re-applicant, which is treated as a red flag by medical school admissions committees. Unless you are scoring near the 40s on your practice test, don't apply without seeing your MCAT.

So, we have a "catch 22" here. If you take the test in May, you may not be ready. If you take it in June, your application will be late. So how do you make the decision?

If you are scoring well on practice tests (mid to high 30s consistently) and only want more time to boost confidence, then take the test in May. If not, take the test in June and be sure to have your AMCAS application 100% done other than the MCAT score so that you can hit the submit button the minute your score comes back.

Good luck!

--Dr. Miller

Suzanne M. Miller, MD, FACEP
Emergency Physician
CEO of MDadmit Medical Admissions
www.MDadmit.com, 415.939.5251

Author of:
How to be Pre-Med
The Medical School Admissions Guide
How To Get Into Medical School with a Low GPA

4 comments:

  1. Dr. Miller,

    I joined the military after high school and am considering a career as a doctor when my contract expires. I am concerned about falling behind by being out of school for five years. On the other hand, I am concerned that by going to night school I'll miss out on lab work, research opportunities, rigor, etc. and end up with a poorer med school application. Do you have any advice as to which would be more practical and look better on an application?

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  2. Thank you for the question! I am unsure exactly what your two options are. But will say this:
    1. Military experience often offers amazing leadership, clinical, and overseas experience. This can be leveraged very positively in your application.
    2. There are many baccalaureate and post-bac programs set up for pre-meds just like you that provide labs and academic rigor.
    3. Further, I would hope you could work research and clinical opportunities into you military job. Is this an options?
    Feel free to chat with me via e-mail at info@MDadmit.com so we can work this out further.
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your prompt response. Your mention of post-bac programs was exactly what I needed. I really appreciate all you do with this blog.

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