Should I Reschedule My MCAT Test Date?
January 31, 2018
Should I Reschedule My MCAT Test Date?
In studying for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), almost every student encounters the daunting question, “Am I prepared or should I push back my MCAT test date?” This is a critical component for performance on the MCAT and arguably as important as mastery of content, familiarity with test format and timing, and ultimately confidence in your level of preparedness for the exam. Below we will discuss three scenarios and how to decide if you should reschedule your exam or proceed as planned.
Scenario #1: “I am sick”
Many students unfortunately fall ill during their preparation for their MCAT, especially given that many students take it in the peak of flu season. While there is no correct answer on how to handle this scenario, I would argue that if you are less than ten days behind on your study schedule due to illness you can catch up (so long as your study schedule was not overly aggressive to begin with). Given that most MCAT study schedules should have a rest day built in each week, it is possible to forgo this rest day in order to stay on track for your exam. If you are more than ten days behind on your study schedule and have fallen seriously ill, it is completely understandable and encouraged to reschedule your MCAT test date.
Scenario #2: “I overcommitted myself and I have fallen behind on my study schedule”
As type-A individuals, it is a common trend for premedical students to overcommit themselves. While it is tempting to try to do it all, it is important to minimize your commitments if you are planning on studying the typical 100 days or 3 months for the MCAT. This means taking a lighter class load, decreasing your extracurricular commitments, and making sure that your friends and family understand the commitment you are taking on when studying for the MCAT.
In a situation where this is beyond your control and you find that you are behind on your MCAT study schedule you have one of two options—lessen your commitments or reschedule your MCAT test date. Your preferable option is to lessen your commitments so that you can find extra time to catch back up on your study schedule. Make sure in doing this that you realistically review how much time you need to meet your goals on the MCAT. If possible, it is helpful to numerically account for the number of hours that tasks will take you and how many hours you have available each day prior to your exam. If the number of hours you have available is significantly less than the time you have available after lessening commitments, it is advisable to reschedule your MCAT test date.
If you feel as though you are trailing behind, it may be beneficial to seek out tutoring options, as for most people it becomes easier to stay on track while being held accountable (through scheduled tutoring sessions and assigned homework) by someone else.
Scenario #3: “I am on track with my study schedule but I am not performing well on my practice exams”
I can attest that I faced this problem myself. I was on track with my study schedule, I had taken numerous practice exams, but my practice exam scores were not reflecting my knowledge base. I would review exams and practice passages, only to find that questions I was missing were often due to overlooked details or moving too quickly through a passage. If this sounds like you, you are probably suffering from test anxiety. The likelihood is that you will perform better on your exam day and are just facing the common bottleneck in testing scores prior to your exam. If this is the case, you should not reschedule your exam unless you strongly believe your test performance will not reflect your preparedness. However, if you find that when you review passages you are coming across a significant amount of content that is new or unfamiliar, it is possible there are content deficiencies and you should consider rescheduling your MCAT test date.
A final note on the logistics of rescheduling your MCAT:
MCAT registration deadlines fall into three categories: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. During the Gold period (29 days prior to your exam), you can reschedule your exam for $90 fee or get a $155 refund. During the silver period (15 days prior to your exam), you can reschedule your exam for $150, and during the bronze period (8 days prior to your exam) you cannot reschedule your exam. Finally, you are only allowed to take the MCAT exam up to three times in a year, four times in two years, and seven times in a lifetime. Keep in mind that most medical schools prefer that students take the exam a maximum of two times (check out the AAMC website for more information). As you approach your test date, it is important to know that you are well equipped to take your exam and that your performance reflects your academic abilities. Your MCAT can be either your greatest asset on your medical school application or your greatest weakness. Make sure it’s the former and not the latter and you’ll be glad when it comes time to submit your applications to medical school.
About the Author
Jordan Salley is an accomplished STEM and MCAT tutor, currently pursuing her MD. She understands firsthand the preparation necessary to achieve your desired score on the MCAT and enjoys helping students reach their goals. She currently tutors with a boutique tutoring company, MyGuru, and writes blog articles for them as well. For more information on Jordan Salley and more MCAT tutors like her, click here.