You’ve taken your prereqs already, but it’s been a while—13 years! Should you retake your prereqs before you retake the MCAT?
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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:01] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I was a premed student about 13 years ago. I completed most of my BPCMs except organic chemistry and biochemistry. I also took the MCAT and scored above the national average.
However, I only got one interview and was subsequently waitlisted. I figured it was because my GPA was 3.5. I needed the GPA boost but also wanted to challenge myself even more. So, I decided to get into the public health field, to gain more experience in population health.
After years of working in hospitals and departments of health, I’m still drawn to becoming a medical doctor. I plan to take the MCAT this year for 2021 entry. However, I have a lot to catch up on before the test since it’s been a while I dove into any of the BPCM subjects.
Also, some of the schools that I’m interested in require BPCMs to be taken within 5 years from the application cycle. I spoke to a prehealth advisor, who recommended that I retake my prereqs before taking the MCAT or applying, but this would mean that I would take an additional year to apply for 2022. I don’t want to wait that long because I feel I’ve waited too long to pursue my dream.
My question is should I take the prehealth advisor’s advice and wait to retake the MCAT or should I go ahead and take the MCAT once I’ve completed my content review and then retake the courses later this year and into the following year?
My MCAT score from practice test was below the national average, but I was expecting that since I’m quite rusty and need to study up, but my prehealth advisor feels the low score indicates a foundational issue that will be remedied once I retake the courses. I believe I can self-study and get the score I need. Your feedback is greatly appreciated”
[03:03] Getting Those Prereqs
It’s been 10 years since the undergraduate courses for this poster and this is a very common issue, especially for career changing nontraditional students.
If you’ve been out of undergrad for a long time, then what are you going to do with those prereqs? Those prereqs can hinder you at some schools. Some of the schools require or want your science classes to be taken within five years.
But that doesn’t mean you have to go and retake your classes.“There are schools out there that don't really have prereqs. They don't require anything other than a good GPA, a good MCAT score, a good foundation of why you want to be a doctor.”Click To Tweet
For a lot of schools, this student and many other students can have really old classes and not retake them. Although it may limit you from some of the schools that you are thinking of applying to.
So you really need to do your homework. And right now, there isn’t a really good tool out there that will say which school would require your prereqs within five years. However, check out mappd.com. I have partnered with a development company and we’re building out a new technology platform that will help students with regards to this.
[05:06] The MCAT is a Big Hurdle
With old classes, obviously, the MCAT is going to be the big hurdle here. You could self-study for the MCAT but it may take a really long time. So if this student wants to start medical school in 2021, that means applying in 2020. And it’s a very quick turnaround.“From an MCAT and classes standpoint, it seems like a couple of months to self-study for the MCAT is probably very, very fast.”Click To Tweet
We’re currently in the middle of a pandemic, and everything got shut down anyway. Maybe the student has a chance, especially this year, especially with a shorter MCAT. Maybe there’s a better chance of not knowing things right, and still getting a decent score. Because there are fewer questions on the MCAT that will potentially test material that you didn’t have time to self-study. So that’s one way of looking positively at these MCAT changes.
[06:30] Possible Reasons for Being Waitlisted
One reason this student was waitlisted, to begin with, is that they probably didn’t have enough clinical experience. They didn’t have enough reason behind why they wanted to be a doctor, which was why they were waitlisted with a 3.5 GPA and MCAT above the national average.
If your MCAT score was “above” the national average for matriculants, with a 3.5 GPA, your stats weren’t an issue. If your GPA or MCAT score was above the national average in terms of just median, that’s not very great.
If you were 52nd percentile, that’s not very good. And so maybe the MCAT was an issue but the student did get an interview and was waitlisted.
With that said, my question is what are you doing clinical experience-wise? What are you doing shadowing-wise? What are you doing activity-wise to prove to yourself that you want to be a doctor?“Not just that you have it in your head that you still want to be a doctor, but what are you actively doing to prove that you want to be a doctor?” Click To Tweet
A big thing that a lot of students miss is they have the stats and the scores but they missed the whole part of proving it. Actions speak louder than words. Your actions need to map to you wanting to be a physician. You need to be around patients. You need to be around doctors. You need to be in and around healthcare, not just have good stats, whether you’re traditional or nontraditional. All of that matters.
[08:58] Should You Retake the Classes?
So just focusing on just this question whether to retake the classes before taking the MCAT, the answer is you don’t have to. But it’s going to take longer to study for the MCAT.
Just make sure you have enough time to study for the MCAT. And understand that there will be some schools that you potentially will not be able to apply to. Or you can apply to if you want to waste your money, but they won’t accept you because your prereqs are too old.“The ultimate answer comes down to you as a person. How dedicated and motivated are you to do well on the MCAT without having to retake those classes?”Click To Tweet
[09:53] MCAT Resources at Your Fingertips
The material is there. The knowledge is there. You can learn it. You don’t have to go pay anything at an institution to learn this information anymore. You have the internet. All of it is there.
There’s Khan Academy. I donated to Khan Academy a few weeks ago because their servers were overloaded because everyone’s at home.
You have the information at your fingertips, just know that it’s going to take longer than a typical MCAT study period. And if you have that window to study, great, go for it. Just understand that you’re going to potentially lose out on some schools.
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