Can You Take the MCAT Before You’ve Completed Prereqs?

Session 192

Our student is in the Army Reserve, applying for the HPSP, and trying to get the MCAT out of the way. Can they take the MCAT before finishing prereqs?

If you haven’t yet, please sign up for an account at the Nontrad Premed Forum for free and begin asking away.

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

“I am a non-traditional Army Reserve student starting a post-bac program in the fall. I am 36 years old and when I finish my Post Bacc I will be 38. My post-bac is an evening program that will allow me to continue to work while I finish up my prereqs. 

I want to apply for the HPSP as well and I am concerned that I am going to be pushed against the upper age limit timeline in terms of qualifying for the HPSP which is 42. 

The AMEDD recruiter wants me to take the MCAT early when I start getting ready to apply to med school as well as the HPSP. I just don’t think that I will be ready for the MCAT after 1 year of taking Prereqs. I feel as though I will only know half of the information on the test. 

I want to start Med School immediately after Post Bacc to ensure that my timeline isn’t stretched out too far that would potentially disqualify me from the HPSP. I would appreciate any advice to help me stay on course.”

[02:20] Straight From Postbac to Medical School

The student wants to go straight from a post-bac to starting medical school. If you’re a traditional student, typically you start graduating right after graduating senior year in May. Then you start medical school in July or August of the same year.

This the same thing for a nontraditional student where you look at two years before you start medical school. That can either be two years of post-bac or two years of finishing your undergrad.

If you think in terms of traditional students, they take the MCAT between that spring of their Junior year going into their Senior year. I recommend students take the MCAT no later than March or April of the year you’re going to apply to medical school.

As nontraditional students, you could be cramming your prereqs into what would be in the junior and senior year. Whereas most traditional students are taking prereqs starting from Freshmen year on.

'The timeline makes things much harder to take the MCAT in that normal time frame if you don't want to take any sort of gap year.'Click To Tweet

If you want to start medical school right after, you’re going to have to apply to medical school during your second year of your post-bac. Then you’d have to take the MCAT either at the end of your first year or the start of your second year in post-bac.

This means you’re going to do it without half of the classes that are potentially going to be on the MCAT. I would not recommend this.

Yes, you can do it. Yes, it will be hard. Most importantly, it could risk slowing things down by not setting yourself up for success. You’re potentially going to do poorly in your post-bac because you’re taking on too much. And you potentially are not going to get a good MCAT score.

There are these potential risks of trying to keep on this ideal timeline for you that maybe isn’t just realistic when you put everything together. The better timeline is to actually slow down and take that glide year. Apply during that glide year and start after.

[Related episode: Can I Take Community College Courses for a Postbac?]

[06:15] What If You Don’t Take a Glide Year?

Start studying for the MCAT now. Start preparing yourself for those topics that your post-bac may not be able to cover since you have to take the MCAT early.

'Starting to study now even though you're still pretty far out may help because you're giving yourself more time.'Click To Tweet

There are lots of balancing and juggling that you have to do to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Ultimately, figure out what is best for you.

[Related episode: How Long Should You Study for the MCAT?]

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