Is there any benefit to studying for the MCAT before pre-med classes are out of the way?

-Megan A.

First of all, you only need an introductory level of knowledge of physics, general chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry for the MCAT. Some passages may describe upper-division topics, but correctly answering the questions will not require upper–division knowledge. To most pre-meds, that’s a shock.

MCAT before pre-med classes?By knocking off most of your prerequisite coursework in your first two years (basically 1 year of bio, g-chem, o-chem and at least the first semester/quarter of physics completed), this will give you the academic foundation necessary to prep for the MCAT.

To avoid frustration you should complete these courses before you take an MCAT prep course.   Our Hyperlearning MCAT programs re-teach the material in a way that applies to the MCAT. We have had students who have taken our program with some of their classes concurrently, but it is best to avoid spending so much time reviewing because you don’t know the material.

The benefit may actually surround your admissions strategy and your schedule.  Maybe your class load, research or work commitments and extra curricular activities are more flexible now to allow for 300+ hours of class time and homework.  If yes, then you have the necessary time available to prep for the MCAT.   If your schedule will be more hectic later on, then it may be more difficult to do well. Preparing for the MCAT should take top priority when you decide to do it, whether you prep for the MCAT before pre-med classes are finished, or not.

Ty to find the ideal time for you (based on course completion, schedule, timing, etc).  We offer different prep options that range from an intensive three month program just before the test (4-5 days per week) to a more spaced out six month program (2 times per week). It really depends on personal choice, learning style, and time availability. It seems most people do best by having the last class within 2 weeks of their test date.

As for med school application timelines, students who take the MCAT in January, April or May will have scores back in time to submit a complete application in the opening days. Since most medical schools work on a rolling admissions basis, the sooner you can submit a complete application, the better chances you have, all else being equal. Delaying your MCAT can (at some medical schools) dramatically reduce your chances for an interview or acceptance. So if you have completed the necessary coursework and you have time to dedicate to preparing in your schedule, then you are ready to prep for the MCAT.

If you are interested in taking an MCAT prep course with The Princeton Review, you can view the different options HERE Don’t forget that you can receive up to $300 off your course by using the promo code MCATFAQ at checkout.

You also may want to check out our new FREE MCAT Diagnostics Exams – designed to assess your strengths and weaknesses in a particular MCAT subject.  This free package includes one free Diagnostic Exam in each subject. Each individual Diagnostic Exam contains enough questions to test your science content knowledge or your ability to work with different Verbal question types.  The Verbal Diagnostic Exam also includes a Reading Comprehension test. MCAT Diagnostic Exams are content comprehensive.

Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions.

Robyn Zangla
Test Prep Specialist
The Princeton Review
RZangla at

The Princeton Review