Now that we’ve covered the structure, scoring, and test prep options for the MCAT, let’s look at how the scheduling of the MCAT impacts your overall med school application timetable.
There are many reasons to take the MCAT as early as possible!
Timetable for Applying to Medical School
Applying after junior year. If you would like to attend medical school immediately after college, you would need to apply immediately after junior year, and ideally take the MCAT by May of your application year. Your score will help you develop an appropriate medical school list, since your MCAT score is a critical factor in your admissibility. It is possible to submit your application without an MCAT score, and provide your score as late as August, but we would then advise holding off on applying to “reach” schools until you know your score to avoid doing a lot of extra work for potentially very little return. Beyond this, many med schools won’t schedule interviews until they receive your score.
Applying after senior year. If you are not able to complete the MCAT-related coursework until senior year, and so take the MCAT in spring of senior year, you would then need to apply to med school when you graduate college or later, in which case you would take one or two gap years.
Retaking the MCAT
Taking the MCAT at the earliest effective date possible will also enable you to retake the exam if you wish. Keep in mind that med schools receive ALL your MCAT test scores and view multiple scores in different ways, including:
- considering only your highest total score, and the section scores therein (the most common approach);
- considering your highest section score from each test and recalculating a new total (super-score);
- averaging your total scores and each of your section scores; or
- considering your most recent test scores more heavily.
Check the policies of your favorite med schools, as well as how your test scores compare with those of admitted students, to help decide whether to retake the exam. (The Medical Schools Admissions Requirements (MSAR) on the AAMC website is an excellent source for this information.)
Applying to medical school is a long and challenging process. For more information or guidance regarding the MCAT, or any other aspect of the admissions process, contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help.