Pre-Med Q&ACategory: Scheduling and ClassesIs taking MCDB 310 and Bio 225 during one semester in spring a good idea?
AvatarLucy Wang asked 4 weeks ago

I am a premed student just finished freshman year, and originally I was planning on taking bio 225 during spring so that it might reduce my workload during the actual school year since the class is so hard, but I didn’t get off the waitlist of that class until this morning, but at this time I already registered for MCDB 310 as a backup and got in the class. I already planned out my schedule for the upcoming fall semester so that I don’t want to drop MCDB 310. Do you think its possible to do these two classes at the same time in a compressed schedule?
Thank you!

3 Answers
AvatarOwen Doane answered 4 weeks ago

Hi Lucy!
I just want to make sure I have this right. You just got into Bio 225 for Spring 2020, but are already registered for MCDB 310 for Spring 2020. Instead of taking Bio 225 during fall or winter, you’re wondering if it would be okay to take Bio 225 and MCDB 310 together during Spring 2020.
First, we should establish that MCDB 310 requires considerably more study and memorization time than Bio 225, especially during a spring or summer term. So when you’re weighing the pros and cons of taking one of the other, make sure you’re aware that most students find MCDB 310 to be a harder class than Bio 225.
That being said, I would recommend against taking them both in the spring semester. It’s doable, but not advised, to take them in the same fall or winter semester, so in a compressed term, you would have to spend lots of your free time memorizing information and concepts. Since you don’t want to drop MCDB 310, I would recommend taking MCDB 310 in the spring, and push Bio 225 to Winter 2021 (since the class is full for Fall 2020). If you fear that you’ll fall behind in terms of prerequisite courses to take before the MCAT – which it doesn’t seem like you would with that schedule – you could also do some rearranging in your fall schedule to add a very light class to your spring 2020 term.
However, depending on when you’re planning on taking your MCAT, it might be advisable to take Bio 225 during the spring, and take MCDB 310 during Winter 2021. It is recommended that students take biochem the semester before they begin to study for the MCAT. So your choice to take one class or the other this spring depends on the situation you’re in and what your future plans are.
If I misunderstood your situation, or if you want to brainstorm more ideas, feel free to leave another question on this thread and we will get back to you shortly!
-Owen, PMH Co-President

Avatarlucy wang answered 4 weeks ago

Thank you Owen, that was my question, and thank you so much for your response, helped me a lot. Quick update on the situation, after emailing the department I was able to get an override for bio 225 for the summer semester, so I guess that solved the situation of crushing both classes into one term. My plan right now is to take mcdb 310 during spring and bio 225 in summer. 
Could you please elaborate on why it is advised for students to take biochem the semester before studying for the MCAT? I took both orgo one and orgo two my freshman year, and I have been advised to keep going with biochem and then p chem. I know I need to catch up on psychology and biology courses since I only took bio 171.172, and 173, but the spring-summer class for those intro psych class is full so I am planning to take that during fall. I was just wondering if I should wait till later to proceed with my biochem and pchem? Thank you so much!

AvatarOwen Doane answered 4 weeks ago

Hi Lucy,
Awesome that you were able to get that override! In terms of the timing of taking biochem, it’s not universal for every student, the advice I gave typically is just followed by most students. Biochem is a very memorization-heavy subject. You have to memorize lots of names of intermediates, enzymes, and pathways for the course. Most of this information is also required to be retained for the MCAT. We advise students to take biochem the semester before starting to study for the MCAT (not the semester before taking the MCAT) so that all this information you already have memorized is as fresh as possible. That being said, this is obviously not the only way to plan out these classes. If you take biochem early on, you could keep up with the material by doing a quick refresher once a  week (like reviewing the 20 amino acids) after taking the class to make sure you don’t completely forget any major concepts. Biochem is a hard subject to self study, which is why it can be helpful to take the course close to when you’re studying for the MCAT anyway.
As I said before, this is not your only option. There are certainly students who take biochem in the summer or fall term and then start studying for the MCAT the following spring or beyond and do just fine. It’ll just require a little extra time! If you’re looking for some more reading on this, here’s a blog post on our website that addresses the topic.
Let us know if you have any more questions 🙂

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