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when do you have to take the mcat?

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I'm thinking of applying to us schools for the starting 2008 class, but i know that the application process begins in may, so I'm wondering, does it matter at what point in the summer I write the mcat? Also, would it even be a good idea to apply now, or just a waste of money... this is my situation:


I go to U of T

1st year: gpa 2.63, 5 FCE'S

2nd year: 3.18, 4.5 FCE'S

3rd year (current), sem I: 3.74 Sem II: could be between 3.65-3.7

4th year: Hypothetically 3.9


EC'S: pretty good

Research: None

References: good


Note: I know that my poor grades (1st and 2nd year) are not a reflection of ability, because there have been due to personal/family issues.


Oh, and I took gen chem, bio, first half of orgo, stats, and English (ENGB02, and 3)

I'm planning on taking 2nd half of orgo this summer, and physics through athabasca.


Also, I'm really starting to consider staying for a 5th year, does that sound like a good option for me?


Best advice?

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If you are applying for 2008 entry, you HAVE to apply this summer.


However, let me be straightforward and not beat around the bush for a second.


I'm sure you're aware that your GPA is nowhere near competitive (3.2 tops as of end of this academic year) - even if you were a US citizen, you'd still have low chances unless your MCAT was through the roof and your BCPM GPA was nearing 4.0 as well. Go to mdapplicants.com and punch in 3.2 for GPA - you will see that only about 5% of profiles on the site fit that criteria (I put in GPA between 3.1 and 3.25), and a sizeable chunk of these applicants are from tough schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT, and their 3.2 is not the same 3.2 as at some University of Wichita in Horse's Ass. That alone makes applying this year pretty much pointless. Even if you do get a 3.9 in your 4th year, your application will most likely be tossed in the junk pile before they get your grades for the fall semester, so don't count on your 4th year making any difference in the 2008 entry application cycle.


Back to this summer - even if you wanted to apply this summer, you'd have to write the MCAT ASAP. The longer you wait, the lesser are your chances, because admissions are rolling. So by the time you gear up for your MCAT, write it, and get your scores, you'll be like 3-4 months into the cycle, and that's pretty late even if you have competitive stats. And then you're taking at least 2 (I don't know how many physics courses you're gonna take, which is why I'm saying at least 2 - orgo and 1 physics) courses this summer, and both of them are pretty challenging and happen to be courses you need to be familiar with to do well on the MCAT....so you have the issue of not having all the background necessary to do on the MCAT successfully, being busy with other things, and running late with the test results. This really complicates things further. And with your GPA, you simply can't afford to do badly on the MCAT.


So bottom line: don't apply this year, it will be too much stress with an extremely low chance of a good outcome.





Now, what to do about this:


You know you gotta crank it up to make sure your physics/orgo marks are great this summer. Focus on that and if you are only taking 2 courses as opposed to 3 or 4 this summer, start studying for the MCAT. Take AAMC 3R (e-mcat.com, it's free) and see where you stand. Based on that, register for an appropriate MCAT date - I would suggest September, but depending on your practice test scores, you may require more or less prep time. If you write it in September/early October, you don't have to worry about your MCAT prep interfering with school work, because you'll be done before midterms strike.


Yes, I also suggest a 5th year. Even if you get a 3.9 in your 4th year (that's a long shot....especially considering you've never achieved this GPA before and that you'll be taking 4th year classes), you're looking at 3.35, which is not competitive either.....even though you'll have 2 good years, they may not take the time to consider the improvement and just toss you in the reject pile based on the cumulative alone. It doesn't mean you shouldn't apply for 2009 entry, but you need to remember you might not get in. On the other hand, if you take a 5th year and get high grades, you're looking at a pretty competitive 3.65 or so, in which case, a high MCAT and grade improvement will definitely sway the adcom towards you. This is probably the best thing you can do with your 5th year, as opposed to a master's or work.

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thanks Jochi for the amazing reply:) I was thinking the same thing in terms of my lack of competitiveness. It seems as though my best chance for both Canadian and American schools would be the cycle after I finish my fifth year, because then i could ensure my cgpa is high enough (for US schools), and I could also make the cut for queens, dal, western, nosm, and Ottawa (so I really should be hoping for entry in 2010), is that correct?

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Yeah, you'd meet the cut-offs in Canada, too, if you were to maintain a high GPA in your 5th year.


By the way, I didn't mention that you don't necessarily have to take the MCAT this fall...to get an early start on rolling admissions for 2009 entry in the US, you only need to have the scores by June, so you could take the MCAT any time between now and late April. However, the reason I said this fall is because the prep can take up lots of time, and many people find it hard to study for the MCAT while they are in school full-time, especially in a situation like yours, where you're under MAJOR pressure to keep up the grades. Someone with a 3.8 can afford to get a B+ instead of an A-, but for you every percent will make a major difference.

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US schools secondary application deadlines start near the end of the year (nov/dec) and continue on into jan/feb. so you have to submit your score before these deadlines in order for your application to be complete and reviewed. with your current GPA you better apply EARLY (ie. have your primary application submitted in the 'J' months and your secondaries REALLY soon after that) and have an *AWESOME* MCAT score high 30s - low 40s.


i honestly think you should save your money and perhaps apply next year at the earliest depending on how your GPA looks in subsequent years.

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