Q: I’m a sophomore. I attended a very strong high school and took a lot of AP science. I took MOL 214, orgo and biochem already, and I’m fairly confident that I want to be a doctor after many years of high school volunteering and shadowing. My parents are encouraging me to not do any internships or other activities this summer and focus all of my time on the MCAT so I can apply next summer and start medical school after graduation. Are other sophomores doing this? Is it advisable?
A: If you’ve taken the required courses, feel very focused on and motivated for medicine based on concrete experience, and feel ready to tackle the process of studying for the MCAT, we do have a few sophomores every year who take the exam successfully. A few words of advice:
- Don’t just do MCAT. MCAT prep doesn’t need to be a full-time job. If you study a few hours a day and take practice tests on weekends, you’ll be well-prepared. If you’re applying after junior year, this is the last summer that you have to continue to gain experiences outside of the academic year that will inform your future plans. We can brainstorm possible areas to enhance and ways you might do that part-time alongside studying.
- MCAT scores expire for many schools after three years, so an MCAT from summer 2019 will be good to apply through fall 2022 matriculation. If you find an amazing two-year post-grad opportunity, like a Rhodes Fellowship or a research position, you would have to retake the test.
- Don’t rush the process. Take a half-length diagnostic early on and see how it feels. Are you really feeling ready for this? If so, excellent – keep moving forward. If at any point you don’t feel that you’ll do as well as you’d like for your schools of interest, don’t be afraid to change your timeline. Trying to do things just to do them is not a good excuse for poor performance. If it does work out, it’ll be nice to have that piece of preparation behind you so that you can focus on the next things!
This is a very case-by-case situation, so please don’t hesitate to be in touch. We can connect you with students who have taken the MCAT so you can learn more about what it’s like from them, and help you gauge your own candidacy, readiness, target scores, and potential for success via a conversation.
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