It’s hardly surprising that “When should I take my MCAT exam?” is one of the most commonly requested questions. It may seem difficult to find time to study for the MCAT exam between classes, extracurricular activities, a job, and remembering to relax and have fun every now and again.
So, when is the appropriate time for students to enroll? The greatest advice we can give you is to take the exam when you are most prepared; there is no “one size fits all” method that will work for everyone.
When would I like to start medical school?
It’s a good idea to think about when you want to matriculate to medical school and then work backwards, whether you decide to go directly 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 apply to medical school. For example, if you plan to start medical school in the fall of 2023, you might choose to take your exam in 2022.
Have I mastered all of the exam’s content?
The MCAT exam covers material present in most undergraduate institutions’ introductory-level courses, such as biology, general and organic chemistry, and physics, as well as first-semester biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. While there are no prerequisite courses to register for and take the exam, it is necessary to be familiar with the subject and abilities examined. If you believe you’ll need more courses or studying to help you prepare, consider testing later in the year to give yourself more time. Because courses differ by school, see your pre-health adviser or a faculty member for help with course selection.
When is the best time for me to take the MCAT?
Late in your sophomore year or over the summer between your sophomore and junior years is the best time to take the MCAT. Regardless of whatever MCAT prep books or course you choose, you’ll have finished most of your medical school prerequisites by then, reducing the amount of material study you’ll have to do.
If you want to take the MCAT early in the year, you’ll have lots of alternatives, since 24 of the 30 or so test dates happen between April and September. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to study—between two and four months, depending on your understanding of the topic and your capacity to dedicate 100% effort—so you can perform your best on your first attempt. It’s not enjoyable to take the MCAT, and it’s much less fun to take it again.
When should I take the MCAT the latest?
Between January and April of your application year, you should take the MCAT for the last time. If you want to start medical school in August 2024, for example, you’ll need to take the MCAT within the first four months of 2023—no later than April 2023.
You might be wondering why you require such a window. After all, you won’t be able to submit your principal application until late May, according to AMCAS.
You should devote a significant amount of time to crafting your application essays. You won’t be able to pay enough attention to your medical school personal statement, AMCAS Work and Activities part, and multiple secondary essays if you wait too long to take the MCAT (including pre-writing secondary essays before secondary applications are released).
The MCAT score(s) you receive will be used to determine which medical schools you should apply to. You don’t want to waste time and money applying to medical schools just to find out afterward that your MCAT score doesn’t even qualify you for consideration.
Furthermore, your MCAT result will not be available for a month following the exam. You should complete your testing early if you want adcoms to assess your applications with your entire set of scores and if you want to take advantage of medical schools’ rolling admissions process.
What is the validity of MCAT scores?
MCAT scores over the previous two to three years are recognized legitimate by the majority of medical schools. To make matters more confusing, some medical schools demand a score earned within two to three years before the application deadline, while others count backwards from matriculation—resulting in a year or more of difference across institutions.
It’s worth remembering that MCAT results do not technically “expire” in the eyes of the AAMC. Rather, each medical school sets its own window of acceptable score dates.
That is why you should research the earliest exam date approved by each medical school that you are interested in. This information will be available through MSAR or the admissions websites of the institutions.