In today’s episode, we talk about when to take the MCAT, which is such a big question. It has huge implications for your application, but a lot of students don’t think enough about this.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
When should you take the MCAT?
The simple answer: Take the MCAT in April or May of the calendar year before you want to start medical school. So if you’re planning to become a first-year medical student in August 2025, then take the MCAT in April or May of 2024.
Factors Affecting When to Take the MCAT
- Plan your MCAT in coordination with other parts of your application, such as when you can take the prerequisite classes. Start by saying when you’re going to have the necessary stuff done.
- Don’t rush it! Don’t take it before you’re ready.
- Don’t schedule the exam until your prerequisite coursework is going to be done.
- If you’re starting as a freshman in college, you could fill your entire first two years just taking all the courses to help you succeed on the MCAT.
[Related episode: How Do I Know If I Am Ready to Take the MCAT?]
MCAT Prerequisite Courses
You should ideally take all these classes before the MCAT. It’s possible to self-study up to 1 semester of a class, but it’s not ideal. Do well in these classes, and your content review will go much smoother:
- 2 (ideally 3) semesters of biology
- 2 semesters of physics
- 2 semesters of general chemistry
- 2 (but you can get away with 1) semesters of organic chemistry
- 1 semester of psychology
- 1 semester of sociology
- 1 semester of biochemistry
- 1 or 2 semesters of humanities (not required, but it helps)
When Will You Get Your Score Back?
Understand that your MCAT score takes a month to get back on average. So if you’re late to take the exam, it can delay your application another month after when you took the test. A lot of schools will wait until your MCAT score is back before they look at your application at all.
I discuss more about how your test date becomes the basis for timing out your whole application in a Premed Years podcast episode called “What Does the Med School Application Timeline Look Like?”
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have I done enough preparation?
- Along with content review, you need to take a lot of practice tests and review them closely.
- Have I taken my prerequisites?
- Are there hidden prereqs for the MCAT?
- Will I be able to apply early in the cycle to be competitive for the year I want to apply?
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my book about the MCAT, co-written with Next Step Test Prep: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT.
- Related episode: Four Tips for Memorizing Science for the MCAT.
- Related episode: How Can I Improve My CARS Section Score on the MCAT?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Next Step Test Prep!
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