The MCAT

P/V/B – 8/13/11 (32)
Taken May 31

Where I started – January 2014:
– I dreaded physics. Even when taking classes at school, I could feel myself skating by, not truly grasping concepts.
– I thought Gen Chem would come with practice problems.
– I felt confident about organic chemistry because I had done well in my classes and tutored it for a while.
– I took a physiology class last spring and felt that that would be enough for Biology review.
– I barely considered Verbal (regretted this early May) because I felt that this would be my strongest section.
One of my good friends gave me all of his old review books – ExamKrackers, Princeton Review, Berkley, various others that I never got around to using…seriously, this stack of books was practically taller than me.
I also printed off a calendar to plan and mark off days until the MCAT and posted it right next to my desk.

How I studied:
– I started seriously studying in February. I had no real plan, and was pretty unsure of how to start.
-I spent all my time struggling through physics problems while trying to decide if I should actually be reviewing concepts. In the end, I used a lot of physicsclassroom and taught myself some basic physics, stuff I should have learned long ago. I used ExamKrackers and the Berkley Review books.
– For everything else, I used ExamKrackers practice problems. I started Verbal practice in May.
– I took my first full-length practice mid-May and did 3 total online (you can purchase full-lengths on the aamc website), and a smattering from review books (kaplan and princeton review I think)

Day of: lockers provided, took some crackers and water. I don’t think even earplugs are allowed in the room. It was thunderstorming, and our computers needed reboots every once in a while, people were getting agitated. But man, I was already in the zone of “in 4 hours, everything will be over and I will be sane again.”

Afterwards: immense relief. Decided I wouldn’t think about it at all until the score came out.

Scores came out: I was fairly pleased with my composite, but really disappointed at the unbalanced-ness. Although many people say verbal is the most important, I also read that the P & B (I love PB&Js!) sections were the most indicative of med school board exams. My bio sciences score was also not as high as I would have wanted (I’m getting 2 degrees in bio sciences for heavens sake). However, I felt that I would not retake, and go ahead and try my luck with applications.
Also….Realize that all the scoring is based on a curve…Don’t neglect one section, because chances are, if you’re good at it, so are a ton of other pre-meds. As in, the curve is going to be MUCH steeper. Sorry, that was a scolding of present-self to past-self in reference to the bio section.

If I could do it all over again (aka, if someone forced me at gunpoint to retake):
1. I would go back to the first day I ever heard the word “MCAT.” I would stop myself from associating it with extreme anxiety and insurmountable-braintwisting-evil-impossible-ness. I think the mental freak-out I went through really prevented me from a more rational study and prep plan.
2. I would plan more practice tests. As in, a practice test exactly halfway through my study time (so, end of March) and maybe every Saturday from then. Grab a friend and plan the date and keep each other accountable!
3. I would hit physics hard again, but do concept review AND practice problems at the same time.
4. MORE PRACTICE TESTS.
5. I don’t regret knowing exactly what my weaknesses were, but I did let that knowledge become self-defeating/self-fulfilling. Work hard, but keep a positive attitude.

I don’t know how much water my experience will hold with the new MCAT format. I feel extremely lucky to have had this format simply because it wasn’t as grueling (7 hours? no thanks!).

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