Are You Ready to Take the MCAT?

June 25, 2024

minute read

One of the biggest challenges most pre-med students encounter is figuring out when to take the MCAT. Finding time to study for the MCAT exam on top of classes, extracurricular activities, a job, and remembering to unwind and have fun occasionally may seem difficult.

It is indeed a challenge and not a straightforward decision to make. With this article's help, we will help you decide and identify whether or not you are ready to take the MCATLet’s get started. 

When is the Best Time to Take the MCAT?

The best time to take the MCAT differs from one person to another. However, the best advice we can give you is to take the MCAT at a time you feel prepared the most. Then, you should maintain that momentum. 

Before booking your MCAT test date, here are some questions you need to ask yourself.

When Do You Plan to Attend Medical School?

It is always a good idea to consider when you want to enroll in medical school and then work backward, regardless of whether you want to go straight from your undergraduate degree to medical school or take a break in between. 

Students frequently decide to take the MCAT exam the same year they submit their medical school applications. For instance, you might consider taking your exam in 2022 if you want to start medical school in the fall of 2023.

Is There a Chance You Will Have to Retake the Test? 

Although it is something nobody wants to consider, many test takers write the MCAT more than once. Consider taking the test earlier in a testing year if you anticipate needing to retake the MCAT and want to give yourself that choice. This will allow you to find another seat on a desired date and location later in the year, receive your results, and decide whether or not to retake the exam.

Do You Have a Full Understanding of the Contents of the MCAT?

The MCAT exam assesses knowledge from introductory-level courses in biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, first-semester biochemistry, psychology, and sociology, which are offered at most undergraduate universities.

Although you do not need to take any particular courses to register for and pass the exam, you must be familiar with the material and abilities examined.

Consider taking the test later in the year to give yourself more time, if you feel you need to complete more courses or study.

If you need help choosing courses because they differ from institution to university, speak with your pre-med advisor or a professor.

The MCAT Has Testing Limits

You can only take the exam a certain number of times. 

The exam can be taken three times in one testing year and four times during two successive testing years. And you have a total of seven chances to take it in your lifetime. 

Please be aware that electing to void your MCAT exam or failing to show up on test day will count toward your total allowed attempts.

Medical Schools See All of Your MCAT Scores (Even For Retakes)

Although taking the test more than once will not put you at a disadvantage, keep in mind that medical schools will see the results of every exam you opt to take.

Each medical school's policies and techniques to see and assess multiple scores are unique.

How to Plan for the MCAT Depending on Your Status or Situation

It takes a lot of planning to prepare for the MCAT successfully. Therefore, anyone wishing to take the MCAT should allot a lot of time to planning, preparing, and studying due to the MCAT's difficulty

Below are a few pieces of advice to reflect on before you sign up for the MCAT, depending on your present circumstance or status.

Traditional Student

The traditional approach is losing favor as more and more med students opt to take a year off before starting school. A typical student would intend to take the MCAT in the spring or summer of their junior year.

Gap Year(s) Students 

This is a similar path to what a typical student would do. However, following their senior year, they want to take the MCAT. 

If you are sure you want to take a year off to strengthen your applications, complete another degree, or just unwind, this choice is for you.

Non-Traditional Student 

The non-traditional student has the most alternatives when it comes to taking the MCAT. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your own schedule when planning. 

Do not take the MCAT in the spring, for instance, if you are typically busy then. 

If you are unsure, the most important thing to remember is that MCAT preparation requires time, so evaluate your schedule and make adequate plans.

Are You Ready to Take the MCAT? 6 Questions to Help Answer the Question

You will never really know when you are 100% ready for the MCAT. However, you will definitely know when you are NOT ready. 

You just have to set aside the emotions that come with the concern of whether or not you are prepared to take the MCAT. 

To help you decide when the perfect time to take the MCAT is, below are some factors you must consider. 

How Do You Utilize the Practice Tests Available?

Practice exams are your go-to if you are unsure whether you are ready to take the MCAT. 

The most effective approach to discovering your skills and shortcomings is through these exams. In essence, you will be more aware of the areas where you want improvement. 

Practice exams help you adjust to the length of the exam and give you a good understanding of your time.

Have You Completed All My MCAT Practice Tests With 80%-90% Mastery?

Practice exams are essential for the MCAT. They show you how the questions are formed and patterned.

  • How many MCAT practice exams have you taken?
  • How many correct answers have you gotten?

Before your MCAT test day, ensure that you have answered at least 8-10 practice exams with 80-90% mastery.

What Is the Best Actual Number You Have Achieved in Each Section?

Review the full-length practice exams you have already taken. Consider your top sectional scores rather than your top overall scores. 

Take each section separately and consider your most significant work in CARS, bio, psychology, and the chemical and physical foundations. Do not focus on your target score or what you wish you had gotten.

How Will You Overcome the Overwhelming Test Timing?

You must be ready to sit through the entire seven hours of the MCAT test and pay attention. You do not want to stop taking the test after the fifth hour because your body or mind can no longer handle it. 

Make sure you are ready to take the drawn-out exam. Maintaining the same level of energy throughout the exam should be your goal.

Achieving this requires a lot of work and creating an effective timing plan. 

For the biology section, for instance, you should plan to spend eight minutes reading a text and one minute answering each question about it.

How Do You Deal with the Unwanted Stress of Preparing for the MCAT?

A difficult exam like the MCAT will cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Students frequently experience exam anxiety before they even start their preparations. Anger, discontent, or guilt are other typical emotions that can overpower you.

Throughout your exam preparation, maintain your composure. Stress during preparation or testing might negatively impact performance.

You will have moments where you want to give up. The wider picture is what you need to keep in mind, though. Your efforts will ultimately be rewarded.

What Is the Deadline for Medical Schools for the MCAT?

Your MCAT test date should be chosen after considering the application deadline for the institution of your choice. It takes approximately a month after the exam to get the results. 

You should be aware of the college's application deadline to avoid delays with your application.

Medical schools will frequently not examine your application until you submit the secondary one. 

Make sure to adequately prepare so you can take the exam a few months before the application deadline.

How Much Time Should You Give Yourself to Study for the MCAT?

How long should you spend studying for the MCAT? When should you begin? 

It is a crucial problem that needs to be resolved because if you do not plan and give yourself enough time to study, you can find yourself having to go through the procedure repeatedly for years.

The amount of time you must study for the MCAT boils down to these five self-evaluation questions:

Do You Fully Understand What the MCAT Covers? 

The topics of the MCAT often absorbs students' attention. But ultimately, the MCAT is mainly concerned with reading and reasoning abilities. 

The MCAT begins with information and then challenges you to apply what you have learned to unfamiliar situations that require systematic consideration and analysis.

What Additional Obligations Do You Have?

Your obligations are very important. It can be challenging to take a full course load and the MCAT at the same time. 

The majority of successful candidates arrange some time specifically for the MCAT. Similarly, it will take twice as long if you work a full-time job because you will only have a few hours of low-quality, unmotivated study time.

Are You Pursuing a Career as an MD, DO, or Both?

A medical student attempting a 505 is on an entirely different timetable than an individual attempting a 515

Although this is only a rough estimate, you should anticipate that your score will increase by 1 point every week

A lower starting score necessitates more time to build a solid foundation, whereas a higher starting score necessitates less time.

What Is Your Starting MCAT Score?

How long you need to study for the MCAT depends on your starting point. The firm you choose for your first practice exam, the scores you get in all four sections, and your level of test-day anxiety are all minor variables. 

Compared to individuals who perform well in the sciences but poorly in MCAT CARS, those who perform poorly across the board will take much longer.

Additional FAQs – MCAT Test Readiness

Should I Take the MCAT If I'm Not Ready?

The obvious answer is no. 

While it is a fact that you can never really be ready for the MCAT, your practice exams and your gut feeling will tell you if you are prepared to take the MCAT. 

Do not waste your effort, time, and money taking the MCAT when you yourself know you are not 100% ready.

How Long Should You Study Before Taking the MCAT?

Most students who perform well on the MCAT devote between 200 and 300 hours to studying. 

Your test date and other employment and academic obligations will dictate when you should begin the preparation, typically 3 to 6 months before your exam.

What Year of College Should I Take the MCAT?

You can take the MCAT at any time. However, you should do so no later than the summer after your sophomore year and no later than April. 

It’s possible that your "application year" could fall in the spring of your junior year, senior year, or during a gap year. 

Plan ahead so that the MCAT results are ready in time for medical school application season.

What is the Easiest Month to Take the MCAT?

There is no easiest month to take the MCAT. The MCAT is a standardized test, and it does not matter what month you take it. It will just be as difficult or have the same difficulty level. 

The only way to make the MCAT easy is if you put in a lot of effort and hard work while preparing and studying for it. Plus, if you combine that with applying the right strategy. It’s not just about the hours you put into studying, it’s about the quality of those hours. To make sure you’re studying in the right way, learn from our top-scoring MCAT tutors or consider enrolling in one of our MCAT strategy courses!

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