The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) has been a prerequisite for entering medical school in the U.S. for more than 90 years. You will need to prepare for an MCAT if you are an undergraduate and would like to be a healthcare practitioner. MCATs assess prospective medical students’ aptitude for success in medical school.
The MCAT is a multiple-choice, computer-based test with four sections that are weighted equally. The assessment tests both scientific and non-scientific concepts. It is important to note that one does not have to have a science major to go to medical school and, not all doctors come from a science degree background.
In addition to taking the MCAT, you need to know the entry requirements of the medical school you seek to enroll in as they are diverse. You may need to prepare differently based on the school. You also need to take cognizance of the pros and cons of not being a pre-med before joining medical school if you do not have a background in medicine.
Every School Has Different Requirements
Every medical school has different requirements and is open to any major as long as you have a bachelor’s degree before admission into their medical programs. It is, however, vital to have an impressive academic performance and MCAT pass to qualify for medical school. The schools have prerequisite scores to ensure students aren’t entirely blind to the hard sciences of the medical profession.
You must do your research before applying to medical school to know the mandatory courses needed. You should supplement your degree with such lessons if you did not study them in your undergrad. In addition to an excellent GPA and MCAT pass, there are other non-academic requirements to join medical school. These include life experiences, volunteer work, research, and recommendation letters.
Being a Pre-Med Student Has its Advantages
The main advantage of being a pre-med student before enrolling for medical school is you will have taken the prerequisite courses suited for MCAT. In addition to the lessons, the experience makes you ready for a future medical career. A pre-med major exposes you to what to expect in a medical career, making the learning curve in medical school a little less harsh.
Pre-med students also benefit from an early decision to commit to the medical career path and are often better prepared for the MCAT exam. However, this early preparation is not an overrule of non-med undergraduates. College is a flexible journey that allows you to succeed even with a later recognition of interest in medicine.
Forge Your Path
Despite the advantages of being a pre-med to get into medical school, you still have a chance without a medical background. Regardless of where you began your journey, passing the MCAT with a decent score is what matters to joining the school. You should therefore focus on how to pass the MCAT if your ambition is to practice medicine.
The first step in preparing for the MCAT is to understand its exam outline structure. There are three main sections of the exam, i.e., foundational concepts, technical skills, and critical analysis skills sections. The foundational concepts section tests background knowledge of practical and behavioral sciences. This foundation section splits into three sub-sections, i.e., biological & chemical foundations, chemical & physical foundations, and psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior.
The technical skills section tests scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. This section interrogates the student’s knowledge in diverse areas of the sciences like scientific principles, scientific reasoning and problem solving, design and execution of scientific research, and data-based scientific reasoning. The critical analysis section examines your critical analysis and reasoning skills and is a non-scientific part of the exam. The main areas of the examination are comprehension, reasoning within and beyond the text, and passage types.
Familiarizing yourself with the structure of MCAT will help you study strategically, saving time and money. The MCAT is a rigorous seven-and-a-half-hour exam with a cumulative 50-minute break. It is vital to make every minute and coin count. You can focus on getting the best MCAT prep courses and worry less about spending on things like books that don’t work for you.
Pre-med or Not, Practice Medicine
Not being a pre-med need not be a deterrent to practicing medicine. You can still fulfill your ambitions by working harder to gain some background knowledge of the sciences required to get into medical school. Background knowledge of the sciences like organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics, English, and calculus will get you on your way to achieving your life’s dream.
Whether or not you have a pre-med background, the journey to practice medicine is not an easy one. It involves studying the hard sciences and is a long one. After your undergraduate program, you will need about four years in medical school and another three to seven years in a residency program, depending on your major. However, the result is a lifetime of helping those that need it most.