I’m sure you’ve been told that applying to med school as early as possible is important. But sometimes, the MCAT gets in the way of that.
Most students want to apply to med school the summer after their junior year to avoid a gap year. But junior year also tends to be the time students take their MCAT.
You can submit your primary application without an MCAT score, but your score will appear as pending and this halts the application process.
A lot of premed students end up having to take the MCAT in July due to time constraints. This is because it’s difficult to study for the MCAT while in school and after graduation it’s tough to study for the MCAT in less than a month.
If you only have a month to study for the MCAT, I recommend checking out our 1 month MCAT study guide which helped me improve my score by 12 points!
You may be wondering, is taking the MCAT in July too late? Will I be considered a late applicant?
Not necessarily. Although it’s ideal to take your MCAT earlier so that your application is complete earlier, there are things you can do to make up for the lost time. Don’t worry, your application is not doomed.
That being said, let’s dig deeper into this topic of taking the MCAT in July and actionable steps you can take to keep yourself in a relatively competitive timeline.
What Happens If I Take MCAT In July?
Your MCAT score takes about a month to come back.
So, if you take your MCAT in mid-July, this means that your scores will come back in mid-August.
Even if you submitted your primary AMCAS or AACOMAS med school application, every med school you applied to will see your MCAT score as pending and this will pause the review of your application.
Once your MCAT score is submitted, schools will review your primary application and usually send you a secondary application immediately.
Want to improve your MCAT score fast? Check out our complete list of high-yield MCAT topics that you should focus your studying on!
Work On Your Secondaries While You Wait For Your MCAT Scores To Come Back
After you take your MCAT in July, you’ll have a month before your score comes back.
It might be tempting to take that time to relax. After all, you’re probably burnt out from MCAT studying.
But this is the time you should be working on your secondary application essays.
(Okay first give yourself a few days to unwind… but then you should really take advantage of this downtime and start writing your secondaries.)
Even if you don’t have your secondary applications, you can find the essay prompts on Student Doctor Network. Med schools recycle the vast majority of their essay prompts.
Once your secondaries come in, you’ll be ready to submit them right away.
Steps For Applying To Med School If You Take The MCAT In July
Taking the MCAT in July doesn’t mean all hope is lost for applying that year. Sure you won’t be applying at the earliest possible date, but you can still set yourself up to be in the top half of early applicants.
Here are steps you can take to get your med school application in relatively early when taking the MCAT in July:
- Step One: Do your primary AMCAS/AACOMAS application as soon as it opens (This is usually end of May)
- The verification process can take about a month.
- Step Two: Take the MCAT in July as planned.
- Step Three: While you wait for your MCAT scores to come back, start writing your secondary essays.
- Med schools won’t send you your secondary invitation yet due to the pending score but that doesn’t mean you can’t start writing the essays. Most essays are recycled and you can easily access those on SDN.
- The secondary essay writing process is why lots of students submit their applications late!
- Step Four: Your MCAT score comes back and most med schools will send you your secondary invitation immediately.
- Since you will have written most of your secondary essays, you should be able to submit your secondary applications within a few days.
- Step Five: Sit back and wait for those interview invitations
If you follow these steps, you should still be able to have all your applications complete by mid or late August. Believe it or not, this is actually not that bad.
Lots of students will submit their primary applications early. But when the secondaries start pouring in, students are not prepared for all the essays and they end up submitting their secondaries in August and September anyway.
Don’t Compromise Your MCAT Score By Taking It Earlier
A bad MCAT score is going to hurt you more than applying a little late or having to take a gap year.
Don’t risk getting a bad score because you want to push that test date up. Take the time and do it right the first time.
Should You Consider Taking A Gap Year?
Have you considered taking a gap year? This might be a better option than trying to rush everything the summer after your junior year.
Many students frown on gap years but they’re not that bad.
Sure it’s not for everyone but sometimes they can benefit you a lot.
Are your extracurriculars suffering as well? Gap years are an excellent time to gain valuable medical experience without the constraints of a busy school schedule.
Also, if your grades are not doing so well, a gap year is a great time to boost that GPA through some post bacc classes.
When Is The Ideal Time To Take The MCAT?
This is a difficult question to answer because MCAT timing will depend on your specific situation.
If you are planning on applying to med school Junior year in order to avoid a gap year, then the ideal time for you to take the MCAT will be Spring or very early summer.
This means you will have to study during the school year so it’s important you plan on a light class workload.
If you are planning on applying to med school during the summer after your senior year, then the ideal time to take the MCAT is at the end of the summer after your Junior year.
This gives you about 3 months to study which is plenty of time.