Just wondering what the timeline should be for MCAT with applying to med school. I know you get scores back in a month. Is there a specific time before you apply where you want those or is there a window after you apply where you can still send them in?
Thanks for your question! Just to give you some background, the MCAT is offered January through September, although they typically don’t have dates in February. It’s recommended to take your MCAT at the earliest about 2-3 years before you plan on applying, since some medical schools consider a valid MCAT score to be one about 2-3 years before you submit your application (each school is different, though). You are correct in that after you take your MCAT, it takes around a month for you to get your scores back. AMCAS applications are released to schools in late June of the cycle that you plan on applying, so I would suggest the latest you take your MCAT to be in April/May. Finishing your MCAT by this time will also allow you to spend enough time writing your personal statement and preparing your applications for med school. This being said, typically individuals start submitting their primary applications in late May/early June, so I would recommend having your scores back before you submit your primary applications, just to ensure that your school list is comparable to your statistics and MCAT score. The absolute latest that some schools accept MCAT scores is typically in September of the application cycle that you apply in. However I would suggest using these dates as a last resort back-up, since taking your MCAT in September is considered late and may cause delays in your application, as they aren’t able to review your application until you have your MCAT scores in.
Personally, I would also suggest taking your MCAT at a time where you have some flexibility after you get your scores back, should you need to retake the exam. Although getting your desired score on your first attempt is the goal, I would recommend taking your MCAT prior to April/May of the cycle you plan on applying, in the case that you don’t get your desired score and want to retake the exam. In my experience, I took my MCAT for the first time about a year in advance of when I planned on applying (May 2021), and after I didn’t get my desired score, I studied for about two additional months and retook the exam in September 2021. Lastly, I would recommend taking the MCAT when you feel ready, and not rushing the process. I know many individuals who have postponed their test dates because they didn’t feel ready to take it, and I would definitely trust your gut and take it when you feel that you have adequately prepared, even if this means pushing your application cycle by a year!
I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to stop by our advising hours from Sunday-Wednesdays at 6-10pm.
Lakshmi, PMH Co-President