So you’ve knocked out the MCAT. Congratulations! There’s still much to be done, so now what should do you?
The best advice is to speak with someone who can evaluate the rest of your application and provide you with a non-biased opinion as to your competitiveness. We know sitting for the MCAT is not a joy (we have consultants who have done it), so please be assured that we only recommend taking the test again if we think it is truly beneficial or necessary.
Now that you have your scores, you can take that deep, holistic view of your candidacy. One thing to keep in mind is that most medical school applicants have the grades and MCAT score to clear the same academic hurdles you’re facing. So you need to make especially sure your intangibles section – the “wow” factors, your personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume/cv and possibly even addendum – all reflect who you are and how you distinguish yourself. The medical school admission process is more than just a “who has the best numbers” system; it’s a chance for you to stand out in the crowd and show the admissions committee why you have more to offer to their medical school.
Another step in the application process to consider is the ever-present question of money – and if you should apply for financial aid. But is it too early to start thinking about it? Typically, most applicants begin the financial aid application process in January or February. It’s difficult to begin earlier than that because you will want your tax information to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal loans.
So no need to think about it at this point? Not necessarily. If you anticipate securing private loans (in addition to federal loans) to fund your graduate education, I highly recommend obtaining a copy of your credit report now. The sooner you receive that report, the sooner you can clean up any credit problems. Oftentimes, these reports contain inaccurate information, so getting one now will allow you plenty of time to correct any mistakes. I recommend making sure you have good credit prior to applying for a private loan.
Lastly, one thing you might want to hold off on is your letters of reference. Oftentimes, it’s best to wait until you have the rest of your application together so you know what to have your recommenders focus on about you. Instead, start taking a look at getting your list of extracurriculars together, tightening your resume/cv, and put some more time into researching your target schools. Get to know what they’re looking for and make sure they’re also the right fit for you.