Selecting a Test Date for the MCAT in Year 2014
(If You Attend a Quarter-System School like UC Los Angeles)


The year 2014 continues to inaugurate many changes in the structure of the MCAT (fewer questions, less time), in the way in which it is administered (electronic entry of all responses, even Writing Sample essays), and in the frequency with which it is offered (33 times on 31 test dates spread throughout the calendar year, rather than just twice annually). An applicant may now take the MCAT as many as three times in one year. Test results should be returned within 30 days, rather than six to eight weeks, as was formerly the case. Expect changes beyond these in the coming years, as AAMC fine-tunes its development of the MCAT.

Students enrolled in a quarter-system course of university instruction during the weeks leading up to MCAT test dates in 2014 have more choices of dates than ever before; but they must also consider more variables than applicants in previous years did when selecting the best time to begin a preparatory course to study for the MCAT. Chief among these variables is the timing of midterm and final exams and of extended school holiday periods, all of which reduce the number of low-stress hours that can be devoted to MCAT preparation.

You can compare the Summer 2014 course of instruction for MCAT preparation offered by The Berkeley Review (TBR) with the course of instruction for your school by clicking on TBR's Summer 2014 link for the program offered at our Westwood campus. Then compare both of those against the dates below when the MCAT will be offered during the year, and select the date that is best for you. A link for TBR's Winter 2015 course schedule will be made available online at a later time.





January 23 and 5:
These are the earliest possible dates for taking the new version of the MCAT, but they do not comfortably fit the schedules of most students still taking a full course load in college, because they would require a period of preparatory study beginning in early autumn 2013. In addition, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays traditionally eat into study time. Students at UC Los Angeles do not resume classes until after the start of the new year, usually during the first week of January. On the other hand, these test dates may work to the advantage of medical school aspirants who have already finished undergraduate study. At the current time, TBR will offer preparatory assistance in Westwood to students who have selected test dates in January.

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.


March 22, April 5, 11, and 24:
These dates all fall close to the single MCAT test date in April that was the norm during the era of the handwritten examination. They are ideally suited for the schedule of MCAT prep instruction offered by TBR to students in quarter-system schools. The UC Los Angeles winter-quarter final exams week (March 17 to March 22) falls a few weeks before these test dates, and the break immediately after the winter-quarter final exams allows for added study time, which reduces stress. Assuming that the AMCAS initial application acceptance date (June 1) remains unchanged, any of these test dates in April would work to the advantage of the applicant who wants to be first in line!

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.


May 8, 17, 22, and 31:
Although a number of the TBR preparatory course sessions starting in January are completed before these four test dates in May, the chief drawback of these dates is that May 17, 22 and 31 fall just before the spring-quarter final exams week at UC Los Angeles (June 9 to June 13), and it is anyone's guess as to how the stress that accompanies finals will affect the retention of what might have been learned in the course--positively or negatively. May 8 falls about a month before the spring-quarter final exams at UC Los Angeles and would be a better test date. If you plan to take TBR's preparatory course for the May 8 MCAT, be sure to pick a session in which instruction will be completed by late April. It is important to maintain a good GPA, so your estimation of how well you think you will do on finals (especially in your junior and senior years) should be taken into consideration as you select a date.

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.


June 5, 13, and 21:
These test dates fall just before and just after the last day of the spring-quarter final exams week at UC Los Angeles. These are not recommended test dates, as it is important to do well on your final exams.

Exam Registration for this date opens on: TBA.


July 2, 12, 24, and 25:
Students considering these test dates could start an entire preparatory course with TBR in January. They will probably be most popular with students who are studying for the MCAT on their own or with a friend, or who are taking the MCAT as a retest.

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.


August 1, 2, 7, 15, 21, and 27; September 4, 6, 10, 12, and 18:
Students taking the MCAT on any of these dates will be sufficiently exposed to the material they need to know by taking TBR's spring or summer program. Summer preparation has the advantage of allowing students the luxury of studying without the academic pressures of the regular school year. And because test results from even the last of these test dates will be returned to applicants by the second week of October, no one should be disadvantaged in the application procedure.

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.

October 21 and 25; November 7:
Students taking the MCAT on any of these dates will be sufficiently exposed to the material they need to know by taking TBR's spring or summer program. Summer preparation has the advantage of allowing students the luxury of studying without the academic pressures of the regular school year. Because test results from even the last of these test dates will be returned to applicants by the second week of December, one might be at a disadvantage in the current year's application procedure.

Exam Registration for these dates opens on: TBA.




The following is a list of variables to keep in mind when selecting a test date for the MCAT:

Inflexible dates and hours (those that are set for you by others):

• Regular class schedule
• Summer class schedule
• Midterm exams
• Final exams
• Thesis deadlines
• Laboratory practicals
• School and government holidays
• Work for hourly wages
• Athletic events
• Graduation ceremonies

Flexible dates and hours (those that you set for yourself):

• Research commitments
• Volunteer time
• Vacation time
• Athletic training schedule
• Traveling abroad

Things that are not always easily predictable (but sometimes follow a pattern):

• Seasonal allergies
• Family emergencies
• Personal "time-out for yourself" days


Other considerations:

AM/PM test preference:
Do you test better in the morning or in the afternoon? Unlike previous years, the MCAT is now given at different times of the day on different test dates. Check the MCAT web site for times.

Travel time:
Beginning in 2007, the MCAT will be administered solely in selected Thomson Prometric testing centers across the United States and around the world. There are hundreds of Thomson Prometric testing centers, and new ones are under construction; but at the present time, you may have to travel as far as 1,000 miles (e.g., Westwood, California, to Seattle, Washington) to reach the nearest test site. You should budget sufficient travel time, if you will be traveling to another city to take the MCAT.

Medication:
You will not be allowed to take anything into your testing module except your clothing and a watch (no cell phones or paging devices, no cameras or recording devices are permitted). You will not need a timer--the computer will show remaining time in the menu area of the computer screen. You might need to tell the test proctor in advance, if you know you will have to take medication during the course of the MCAT. Guest lockers, ergonomic chairs, and noise-reduction headphones in climate-controlled rooms should be available to registered examinees at all test sites.





HOME | WHO | WHERE | MCAT | TBR | HOME-STUDY | REGISTRATION

MCATprep@Berkeley-Review.com
2014 The Berkeley Review