Should You Take The MCAT Next Year?
- Jul 07, 2020
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Prep
First off, congratulations to everyone reading this!
We’re now in the final stretch of one of the most turbulent MCAT cycles (ever?) and every single person that’s still in this with us deserves recognition. It’s been quite the rollercoaster spring/summer and the AAMC hasn’t made it any easier—though big props to them for giving us a shorter MCAT in the interim. You’ve all pushed through, continued with your MCAT prep, and are ready to take the next available MCAT, come hell or high water (or world-wide pandemic).
However, it’s also possible that there is a tiny voice in your head wondering if you should take the MCAT next year. Let’s be honest and talk this through. Maybe waiting to take the MCAT next year is the better option for you.
When do you want to start medical school?
If you’re planning to start medical school by Fall 2021 and are in the process of submitting your applications now, then you definitely should not wait to take the MCAT. The latest you can take the MCAT and still matriculate in 2021 is September, however, most students aim to take the exam by the end of July at the latest. That being said, this is a COVID year, so taking a late MCAT (while not advisable) is still perfectly understandable. If you are taking the exam in September, you’ve got three months to get into fighting shape!
If you’re willing to apply next year and start medical school in 2020, you’ve got a few options. Maybe you were hoping to take the MCAT this summer, just to get it out of the way, but the…unusual nature of this testing cycle ruined those plans. That’s ok! The good news is that you likely don’t have to take it by the end of the summer. Barring any other time-intensive commitments you have lined up in the fall, you are well within your right to take the MCAT in January or in Spring 2021. You can still get your score back in time to send it with your medical school application or see if you need to regroup and retake the MCAT.
How is your MCAT prep coming along?
Are you consistently getting the scores you want on your practice tests? Feeling confident about your performance when it comes to science and CARS? Awesome! Keep that momentum going, don’t get in your own head, and trust in the hard work you’ve put in to see the results you want on test day!
However, if you’re still not hitting those benchmarks, find yourself struggling with timing, and your test day is quickly approaching – it might be a good idea to hit pause. It’s very rare for students to see a considerable score increase a few weeks out from their MCAT exam. Review your recent full-length with a fine-tooth comb. Are you making easy-to-fix mistakes or are you clearly not where you need to be in your content review or mastery of practice passages? If it’s the latter, you should consider prepping for a bit longer and paying closer attention on your weaker areas. Fortunately, you’re not starting from scratch, so you’re MCAT prep won’t be so extreme, making it easier to fit into your fall schedule. [Pro tip: if you’ve been prepping on your own with an online MCAT course, consider meeting with a private MCAT tutor a few times to help you work through what’s holding you back.]
How are you feeling?
Some days, we’re all this guy.
We’re living through some pretty unprecedented times. If you’re feeling more stressed out than usual, that’s perfectly normal. However, your mental health can affect your MCAT performance. MCAT prep is hard enough as it is without adding the threat of a pandemic (or murder hornets, sweeping civil rights movements, or the possibility of a Kardashian White House). Everyone gets test anxiety to some degree, but if you find yourself freezing up during your practice tests or unable to concentrate, then please know it’s fine to say, “I can’t do this right now.” As we’ve said, if you’re able to wait and apply next year, then by all means take a break. The journey to becoming a doctor isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon that you’re only running against yourself. We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare—sometimes slow and steady wins the race.
That said, if you’re looking for ways to relax, we recommend trying some calming apps to help beat that stress, along with exercise and good old fashioned radio (err…podcasts)!
It’s still early enough in July to hope for no more MCAT date cancelations or other crazy happenings. However, we support you 100% if you want to wave the white flag and take the MCAT in 2021 or if you’re taking it this summer! If you need to move your test date until next year, we have a 12-month MCAT course that will keep you covered for the rest of this cycle and the next! We know this is a hard choice to make, but remember: the best time to take the MCAT is when you feel ready!
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