Congratulations! You have passed your pre-requisites, and are now ready to ask yourself some important questions!
Important Questions to Consider
Have I taken the prerequisites necessary to successfully prepare for the MCAT?
To check out what prerequisites are needed, check out our Sophomore Year Page.
***Generally, students are left with Biochemistry their Junior Year to finish before taking the MCAT exam. It is also a good idea to take higher-level courses like Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Genetics to prepare for the MCAT.
***Students tend to take a lighter load of classes if they are studying for the MCAT during the school year, as it is a full time commitment. Additionally, students choose to utilize the summer before junior year to take the MCAT so that they do not have to worry about it during the academic year. However, if you prefer to take it during that summer, plan your courses accordingly so you should’ve taken Biochemistry and any other courses that are tested on the MCAT. This will allow you to have a solid background when you begin to study.
Do I want to matriculate the year following my graduation from college?
This means that you would take the MCAT sometime during your junior year and submit your medical school applications the summer of your junior year and begin medical school the year following senior year.
If so, when is the best time for me to take the MCAT?
Check out the dates that the MCAT is offered this calendar year in the section below.
MCAT and Financial Planning
What do you need to know about the MCAT?
The MCAT stands for Medical College Admissions Test. It was recently revised to become a more comprehensive exam that includes four different sections. The MCAT ranges from 472-528. Each subsection ranges from 118-132, with a median at 125 for each section. In order in which they appear on the exam, they are Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social. In total, the exam spans 7 hours and 30 minutes. Below is a chart that explains the order in which the test is administered, including tutorial and voiding times.
How much does the MCAT cost?
The MCAT and the preparation associated with it is an expensive endeavor, but fear not- there are multiple resources to make it affordable. AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) through which the MCAT is administered offers FAP (Fee Assistance Program):
In order to qualify for FAP, you must fall under a certain income for however many people are in your family, as set by federal guidelines. FAP includes a subscription to the (MSAR) Medical School Admission Requirements, which details medical schools across the country and their information, including average MCAT scores, GPAs, out of state and in state interviews and debt averages.
What happens if I am awarded FAP?
Along with MSAR, your registration fee will drop from $315 to $125 for MCAT exam until December 31st of the calendar year you were approved. Additionally, you receive important MCAT resources like the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam, AAMC MCAT Practice 1, AAMC Practice Exam 2, AAMC MCAT Section Banks, and the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Question Pack. Additionally, you receive an AMCAS waiver for one application submission to 16 medical schools.
What happens if I want to reschedule or cancel my Exam Date?
The MCAT is offered several times each year. Along with registering for the MCAT, you are allowed to change your date for different fees, depending on the deadline for the change date. Below is a table for upcoming MCAT dates for this upcoming year. If you are approved for FAP, for the Gold Zone Deadline (29 days prior to your exam) the cost for rescheduling your date is $45, to cancel is $60. For the Silver Z
one Deadline (15 days prior to your exam date), the cost for rescheduling your date is $65. At this point, you cannot cancel your date. For the Bronze Zone Deadline (8 days prior to exam date), you are not allowed to reschedule or cancel, but you are allowed to register at this point for a fee of $180.
I am not a good test taker and am afraid of taking the MCAT exam and not performing well.
It is natural to feel nervous about taking a 7 hour and 30 minute exam! Many students feel that they are not good test takers, but with the right preparation, it is possible to do well on the MCAT. ***Your MCAT score is not the only indication of whether or not you will be accepted into medical school! The most important aspect of taking the MCAT is to have faith in yourself. As the first in your family to pursue medicine, you have made it very far and are a few short steps from achieving what is likely one of your biggest dreams.
Okay, I want to give this a shot. How do I prepare for the MCAT on a budget?
There are several free resources: along with the resources offered to you through FAP (which are some of the most important), several companies like Kaplan, Princeton Review, Gold Standard, and Next Step offer at least one free half MCAT exam and one full MCAT practice exam. While larger companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review offer a wide range of courses that are both online and in person, they are relatively pricey, ranging from $2000 and up. Before you decide if you want or need a company to help you prepare, it is important to recognize how you best learn:
**If you are a student who enjoys self-studying, you should consider purchasing used books from an MCAT company and studying independently.
**If you are a student who needs more direction, cheaper choices include Next Step, which is a popular up and coming MCAT company. Check it out here: https://nextstepmcat.com/course.
A great way to decrease the cost of preparing for the MCAT and the stress of being able to afford the associated costs is to split the cost of exams with a friend. One of the most important parts of preparing for the MCAT is to take full-length practice exams. Additionally, you should check your pre-health office, some offer awards to select students to help defray the cost of preparing and applying to medical schools. There are also online pdfs of MCAT preparation books like ExamKrackers and Kaplan. If you are interested in receiving these free resources, please email us at FirstGenMedicine@gmail.com
We are also holding a raffle to distribute gently used and new MCAT prep books to students who sign up to be on our emailing list. To sign up, please enter your information below. Books that are available include the 2016 Princeton Review MCAT book set, the 2016 and 2015 Kaplan MCAT book set.
Do you know of a free online resource to study for the exam?
The Khan Academy MCAT series is one of the best free resources available. It includes videos for every subsection, as well as individual and passage based questions. To sign up for an account, go to: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat.
Any suggestions on how to build a productive schedule to prepare for the MCAT?
Generally, students prefer to do what is called content review to begin their prep. Content review includes finishing the 5-7 books that are included in most MCAT bookset. To make the best of your content review, it is important to consistently review the information you previously learned. It is also recommended that you switch the subjects you study from day to day, as to not overwhelm yourself. Although you will want to create your own schedule, a great free resource on how to create one and samples ones can be found at: https://www.reddit.com/r/Mcat/. The MCAT Reddit forum allows you to ask any questions you might have on the MCAT, specific questions on different subjects and test you may have taken. Here is an example of a schedule I used towards the end of my studying:
Any tips on taking the practice exams?
**If you would like more detailed advice on how to review exams, please email us at FirstGenMedicine@gmail.com and we will try our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
It is a good idea to take as many practice exams as possible, but generally students take 7 or 8 before moving on to the AAMC practice exams and passages. **The AAMC Practice Exams 1, 2, and 3 are the BEST predictors of your performance on the real MCAT exam. It is important to save these for last, to mimic test day conditions, and to thoroughly review these exams before your test day.