In the event that things don’t go quite as planned, and you decide you’d like to try the MCAT again, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of strategy to work from until the next exam. Part of this time must be spent introspectively analyzing your performance and prior preparation methods and success, and only you will be capable of doing so. Below we take a look at some other tactics that may help you attain the score you’re looking for on the next go round.
Getting Advice on Your MCAT Score
First and foremost, upon receiving an unsatisfactory MCAT score, go talk to people about it. Talk to professors, friends, advisers – anyone you think might have valuable insight and input to offer. Seeking outside opinions on the best prep methods and resources can often yield a wealth of information and ideas that never made it onto your radar, including some that might work better for you this time. These people, if they are candid, can also help determine whether you should retake the test at all, depending on your scores and your academic standing.
Then take the best of that advice to heart, and start working, remembering to pace yourself. As onerous as it may feel, beginning this process shortly after you receive your less than stellar scores will best allow you to learn the necessary information, take plenty of practice tests, and still not be too overwhelmed (hopefully).
Taking Science Courses, and More Paths to Success
If you’re still in college, take some extra courses related to biology, chemistry or physics (I’ll leave advice on math to someone more qualified, since mathematics and I parted ways rather roughly after calculus II). This will provide an additional knowledge base, much of which will reinforce concepts you have already seen in introductory courses. It will also allow you to demonstrate your interest level and scientific proficiency, which may tip the scales if admissions directors are on the fence. Such efforts won’t matter much without at least a decent MCAT score, but they’re likely to help if it’s a close call.
Likewise, if you’ve already graduated from college by this time, definitely consider a post-baccalaureate or masters degree in the sciences, which will offer many of the same benefits as taking extra classes during your undergraduate years. Admissions committees always like to see that someone is willing to pursue the dream of medical school through rigorous graduate education, and you’ll certainly learn a lot more too, which never hurts. Plus, you’ll have your first degree that you can legitimately put behind your name, if you so desire.
Finally, if you’d really like to go the extra mile to prove your commitment regardless of average test scores, it can often be helpful to work in a lab or do any sort of official research during the time between tests. If you can find clinically relevant work, all the better. This will not only enhance your knowledge and know how, but a good relationship with the head of the lab can sometimes go a long way in persuading the powers that be that you are indeed worthy. A friend of mine successfully used this strategy to earn himself a spot in a dermatology residency, one of the harder residencies to get. And while that was for residency placement and this is for the MCAT, the principle and potential effect are very much the same.
There are undoubtedly many other great ways to improve your MCAT scores and hence your chances of getting into medical school. That’s but one reason you should seek out the help of others, as suggested above; they will likely be able to help you at least as much as I can. If you’ve gotten this far in your education, there’s a very good chance you’re smart enough to conquer this beast, but you have to really want it. Following some of this advice, and that from outside sources, may help prove to yourself and others that this is indeed the case.
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This article originally appeared on the BenchPrep blog.