First, let’s define what the MCAT prerequisites are.
Simply put, the MCAT prerequisites are the premed courses that cover material that can be on the MCAT. Technically speaking, not all the MCAT prerequisites are necessary to take before the MCAT. Theoretically, you could take the MCAT with none of the prereqs, but I wouldn’t recommend that. Here’s why you really should take that laundry list of classes.
Reducing content review time
I can understand why some people might want to take the MCAT without finishing the prereqs. Sometimes we don’t plan out our schedules perfectly, and we end up taking courses as late as senior year. Depending on when you want to apply and when the test can be taken, you might be tempted to take the MCAT before you take all the prerequisites.
I decided to take the test before taking biochemistry. But within the first week of preparing, I realized how much harder it is to study for the MCAT while missing such an important subject. Instead of just relearning material I had already learned, I had to learn it for the first time which means a lot more studying.
The MCAT mainly tests your ability to take tests like the MCAT. Less time spent reviewing the actual content means more time studying practice exams and problems and ultimately getting into that very important MCAT mindset.
The MCAT prerequisites gives you a better understanding of the material.
Seems like an obvious point, but it’s often overlooked.
Taking an actual course for one of the subjects on the MCAT gives you the opportunity to really understand the material. This is important because the hardest challenge of the MCAT is time. Having more exposure to a subject will reduce how long it takes you to recall and comprehend what you just read.
I was able to review all the necessary material for biochemistry on the MCAT, but when it came to the actual exam, I found myself lost at times. Because I didn’t take a comprehensive course, my grasp of the material was lacking.
Like with any science course, the more you review the subject matter, the better your understanding.
Taking the MCAT without prerequisites?
Now I know this isn’t always easy to do — sometimes there is just no way to get in that last prereq.
If you can’t take all of the prereqs before studying for the MCAT, it’s not the end of the world. From what I experienced, the test blends the subjects together into a more comprehensive type of exam, so you can get away with knowledge from other courses to help fill in the gaps. However, you will have to do a pretty thorough review of the missing material. Be prepared to spend extra time studying.
Start planning your premed years now so that you can take the exam after you have taken every course the MCAT covers. If it’s impossible to fit every MCAT prerequisite before your MCAT test date, make sure to block out a longer period of time for your MCAT prep.
Any questions about the MCAT prerequisites and when to take them? Leave a comment below!