Should I Postpone My MCAT Based on Low Practice Exams?

Should I Postpone My MCAT Based on Low Practice Exams?

Session 118

Today, we answer a question from a nontrad premed who is working full-time and hasn’t taken the medical school prereqs in over a decade. This student is not scoring well on his full-length MCAT practice exams. He’s asking whether he should postpone taking the MCAT or not.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum:

“I took all my prereqs 12-16 years ago, and I’m really struggling with the MCAT. I started studying for the MCAT December of 2017.

I took my first practice test, a Kaplan full-length one, on February 4th after constant review and got a 489. I took Next Step full-length one the next week and got a 501. In the next three weeks, I took Next Step full-length 2 and 3 and got a 499 and a 495, respectively.

In all fairness, my dog passed away during this time period, so I felt like the drop in my scores was because of that. But I just took AAMC full-length one and got a 493. My test is April 21st, and I feel like I should postpone until May.

I work full-time and I’ve been trying to fit 25 hours of studying in each week (this includes test review). I can’t do much more, as I’m a supervisor at my job, and I can’t drop down to part-time.

Do I need to go back to content review? Or do I need to immerse myself in AAMC material and questions to improve my scores?Click To Tweet

I guess I’m trying to figure out what to do from here. Do I reschedule my MCAT? Do I need to go back to content review? Or do I need to immerse myself in AAMC material and questions to improve my scores? Will postponing to late May hurt my chances by delaying my application?”

[Related episode: How Do I Know If I Am Ready to Take the MCAT?]

[02:45] Figure Out the Issue

The big question for you is whether this is a content-based issue or a test-taking skills issue.

I’m guessing it may be a content-based issue, just judging by the fact that this student hasn’t taken the prereqs for over a decade. Sure, they did content review, but was this sufficient enough to re-spark those synapses in the brain to help you remember everything you learned over a decade ago? Was that content review sufficient enough to help you remember all of the equations you need to know for physics, for example?

Could there be an MCAT test taking issue here, as well? Sure. But the fact, you’re scoring low on the full-lengths tells me there’s likely a content-based issue here.

The big question for you is whether this is a content-based issue or a test-taking skills issue. Click To Tweet

[Related episode: When Do I Need More Content Review vs MCAT Test Skills?]

[05:05] Should You Postpone Your MCAT?

So what do you do about this? Should you push back your MCAT test day and review more content? Yes! This is actually the first thing that has to happen. Only take the MCAT when you’re ready. Your full-length scores are telling you that you are not ready to take the MCAT.

Your full-length scores are telling you that you are not ready to take the MCAT.Click To Tweet

Should you postpone a whole year? If you’ve been planning on taking the MCAT April 21st, will postponing it a month give you enough time to build up that content? Honestly, this could be pretty difficult.

My best recommendation is to delay the application a full year. Do a full year of content prep. And then get back into the full-length exams.

Don't take the MCAT because you need to take it by a certain time. Take it when you are ready.Click To Tweet

[06:15] Will Postponing Until May Hurt Your Chances?

Taking the MCAT in May will not hurt your application or delay your application, as long as you are still submitting your application early.

If you take the MCAT in late May, you can still submit your application right in the beginning of June. You’d be submitting before you get your score back, which isn’t always ideal. But by the time you turn around your secondary essays, your MCAT score will be available. So it won’t delay your application in the end.

The question is, will delaying the test by one month truly help you in preparing for your application? It might not be enough.

[Related episode: Should I Delay My Application Another Year?]

[07:28] Check with Medical Schools About Your Old Prereqs

If you’re in this situation where your prereqs are over a decade old, have you done some due diligence and talked to medical schools that you’re interested in applying to? Have you told them who you are and asked what they recommend? A lot of medical schools will want to see more recent classes. Twelve to sixteen years ago is a long time.

Therefore, do your due diligence and talk to medical schools. Lay out your cards on the table. If all the medical schools you want to apply to want you to have more recent prereqs, then you could work on the prereqs first, and they’d help you with MCAT content review anyway.

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