I’m currently a sophomore planning on taking the MCAT in January of my junior year. In terms of the “typical” pre-reqs needed for the MCAT, I still need to take my physics sequence (Physics 1 & 2), Chem 230, and Soc 302. For background, I didn’t get high school credit for chemistry (started by taking Chem 130 here) or for physics. In order to take the MCAT at the start of next year, I’m planning on studying for the MCAT in the fall of my junior year, but I’m unsure of how I should go about taking these classes, and/or which classes could be studied at the same time as doing MCAT prep.
My original plan was to take both physics classes at my local university over the summer (one in the spring and one in the summer)and then to take Chem 230 and Soc 302 in the fall, which will also be the semester that I am going to study for the MCAT. But I also understand that this might be too much for the fall term, as I also plan on taking other classes in addition to Chem 230, Soc 302, and MCAT prep during that term. So, my other thought would be to take both physics classes here over the summer, so that I could take Physics 135/6 along with Chem 230 in the spring term and then take Physics 235/6 in the summer term. This option would leave Soc 302, which I would then have to take in the fall along with some other classes and my MCAT studying.
Do either/none of these plans seem feasible? Could Chem 230 and/or Soc 302 be taken during the same semester as prepping for the MCAT, or would that be too much? Or is it possible to just self-study for either of them, and then take them later (at some point after taking the MCAT)? I would also really appreciate any other suggestions you might have for what could work. Thank you so much! 🙂
Hi, thanks for your question!
In general, it is usually recommended that students taking the MCAT in January take a part-time workload in the preceding fall semester, or as close to 12 credits as possible with minimal rigorous classes in order to dedicate enough time to studying for the MCAT. That being said, not everyone sticks to this, and there are certainly students who take on a heavier workload and do fine on the MCAT – it just takes extreme dedication.
Your specific timeline will depend on when you are planning to apply to medical school. I’m going to give my advice based on the assumption that you plan to submit your primary application starting in June after your junior year. If this is wrong, please feel free to post a follow up question or, better yet, drop by our advising hours to talk with one of our advisors 1 on 1! If this isn’t the case, there’s more room to spread out your classes and MCAT test date.
Studying for Chem 230 and studying for the MCAT at the same time will be very tricky. To do well in Chem 230, you really need to set aside lots of time for mastering the material and problem solving methods. I took Chem 230 in a winter term when I was studying for the MCAT, but I didn’t take my MCAT until the end of June, so I had two months after finishing the class to really dig into MCAT material. Above all, I would highly recommend against taking Chem 230 and Physics 135/6 in the same spring term. Chem 230 in the spring by itself is a huge time commitment – there’s essentially an exam every week. On the other hand, there are certainly students who do not take Chem 230 before taking the MCAT who do just fine self-studying the gen chem material. If you can’t fit in Soc 302 before the MCAT, it’s definitely not a huge deal, as the sociology material is often self-studied by many students who take the MCAT. I also just want to make sure that you’ve already taken or are currently taking biochem, as that is really the number 1 class you want to complete before taking the MCAT.
Given all that info, here’s a plan I came up with. I would suggest taking Physics 135/6 here in the spring term, and 235/6 here in the summer term (2021). Then I would take Chem 230 and Soc 302 together with some other classes in the fall. Since you won’t be submitting your primary application until June 2022 (I’m assuming), I would take a part-time course load, if your financial aid situation allows it, or a very low workload semester during the winter 2022 term, and study for the MCAT during that time. Then, changing your MCAT to a date in May would allow for you to get your scores back before submitting your application, and you will have had a light semester leading up to it to maximize your study time.
Again, if you’d like to discuss any of these options further, we are happy to help!
-Owen, PMH Co-President