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10/20/2017 1:01:18 AM
9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/13/2005 9:11:09 PM EDT
I'm a junior in college and plan on med school, but am worried about the MCAT. Just wondering if anyone here has any tips on how to prepare for the MCAT.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 10:18:20 PM EDT

Aside from "study like hell" and "keep your class notes", my understanding from many of the undergrads at my institution is that they're taking "MCAT Prep Courses" that are raising scores pretty well.

Seems like crap to me (do I want a doctor who is a good doctor, or one who had $1200+ to spend on a class on how to do well on a test?) but it seems to work for them...

Link Posted: 9/13/2005 11:20:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/13/2005 11:44:41 PM EDT by Moof]
I played Doctor with an older woman* once. Does that count?

* I think she was 11, maybe 12.
Link Posted: 9/13/2005 11:37:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CABG:
I'm a junior in college and plan on med school, but am worried about the MCAT. Just wondering if anyone here has any tips on how to prepare for the MCAT.

Depends...what is your undergraduate program? It is FAR easier for a chemist to get a good score on the MCAT than any of the life sciences majors.

With that said, don't fret if you are the typical biology major. Just make damn sure you know your organic and biochemistry inside and out. And know how it relates to life.

Have a good grasp on physics, calculus and languages.

Most students hurt themselves on the MCAT through nothing more than getting nervous. They know the material but let the situation snipe at their ability. Keep your head and work the problem.

Now, that is what I have heard. I never took it but have many friends that did. The ones who got the highest scores did not have majors in the life sciences. Chemistry, physics and engineering. And I used to love sniping their "study groups"...as an engineer who only studied the life sciences in high school, I knew the answers to the tough questions.

Link Posted: 9/13/2005 11:45:59 PM EDT
If you've been going the "pre-med" route through college, you will have the required courses out of the way. Many schools will offer MCAT prep classes free of charge. At Baylor (over 20 years ago), a professor in biology, chemistry, physics, whatever, would on a rotating basis spend about 3 hours on a Saturday reviewing basic science materials. This started in January and went up until about 2 weeks prior to the spring MCAT.

Several self-study prep courses are available and others have small classes with tutors, but those can get expensive.

You should have developed sufficient test-taking skills over the years to know how to spot tricks on the test.

Plan on 3-4 months of preparation.
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:29:14 AM EDT

I am currently in the application process (AMCAS submitted, awaiting secondaries) and took the MCAT this Spring. I did pretty well considering I've been out of school for five years. Here is the best advice I can give you.

1. Do NOT take the MCAT until you have taken Orgo. Biochem may add a point or two to your Bio section, but not having taken (and understood) Orgo WILL essentially reduce your Bio score by 20-40%. There really is that much Orgo on the blasted thing.

2. Take lots of practice tests and start taking them early so you can get some diagnostic use out of them. Don't screw with Kaplan's tests or anyone elses-- get real AAMC tests from AAMC. They are worth the money. Take them in one shot, with a timer, and in the order the sections are given. Don't omit the writing samples. The key here is to simulate the real deal so you can gauge your timing, endurance, and weak spots.

3. Learn the format for doing the writing samples, and then don;t let it stress you out. Learning to do the WSs should require no more than an hour of your life. Most schools could care less how well you do on the WS.

4. Sleep before the test, and get a good breakfast. If you don't take vitamins and excercise a little daily, start now. If you are sick or out of shape when the test rolls around it may bite you.

5. For study materials I recommend working through and learning all of the Exam Kracker's MCAT study books. The set is pricey but worth it. Work through them on a good schedule in the four or five months leading up to the test. If you have a commute of any kind I also highly recommend Exam Kracker's Audio Osmosis. The humor is terrible, but they have lots of useful mnemonics. Their study set and Audio Osmosis both cover pretty much everything that will be on the MCAT. Other books I have looked at (and used!) cover material in too much detail for the MCAT. Remember they are testing your basic understanding of the sciences, not you ability to derive Poiseuelle's Law-- learn trends and fundamental concepts.

6. For BS, know how to read scientific papers, understand the research done, and interpret graphs. It is important that you be able to make solid inferences.

7. If you don't read much, start now. And I don;t mean cereal boxes and comic books. Pick up some Faulkner and Joyce. If novels aren't your thing, read Scientific American and the New Yorker. You need to keep your reading skills sharp or the VR will eat you alive.

8. Start reading the forums at Studentdoctor.net, but don't take the anal gunners too seriously. Do NOT read stats at mdapplicants.com. First, it will discourage you. Second, most of those stats on that site are utter tripe. Nuff said.

9. When you have studied all you can and have taken all the practice tests, do not be surprised when the AAMC throws you a curveball. Just go in on test day prepared for a reaming. I can guarantee that the real deal will barely resemble the practice tests you buy, but I can also guarantee you that they are the best thing going.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If I can be of any assistance, feel free to IM me. I'd be happy to share what little I know.

Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:16:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/14/2005 12:19:19 PM EDT by CABG]
I'm a double major in chemsitry and biochemistry with a minor in biology, so I should know that stuff pretty well. I'll be in the 2nd half of biochem when I take the MCAT this April. Physics was easy for me, I placed out of Calc 2 from AP Calc in high school. I figure I'll know the material pretty well, but wont do as well because I'll be nervous. Verbal will probably kick my ass though. I might look into a Kaplan course for that just to refresh my memory.

One of my friends is at MUSC right now and he gave me his Kaplan books to read over. There are three, and I think the shortest is around 400 pages. I planned on skimming them and doing all of the questions in the back. He also gave me two full MCAT tests so I'll setup a couple of saturdays or sundays and treat them as if it was the real thing. Where can I get tests from AAMC? I'm looking at their website right now. [NM, I found the link.]

Red, for reading novels, I'll probably have that covered with my honors courses. There is literally 1-2 hours worth of reading thick ass novels everynight.
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:29:26 PM EDT
I don't know how much the MCAT has changed since 1990 or so. I bought two or three review books, did all questions in those books, did some work on the weak areas. Worked for me.
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:29:30 PM EDT
One of my students took it last year. He was a HARD worker in all of his classes, and a peer tutor for underclassmen. He was panicked over it but had a good day. The only thing he said was that all the hardwork paid off. He had it at the top of his priority list for 2 full years.

Study your ass off, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:35:19 PM EDT
MCAT is no big deal. Don't let it stress you out.

Buy Kaplan's big book (don't take the course), buy a practice test or two ($40 each) from AMCAS (*or I have two unopened ones from several years ago I can sell you), read the whole book, take some practice tests UNDER REALISTIC CONDITIONS and you're good to go.

On test day, wear a t-shirt but bring a light sweater because AC is often cranked. Standard pink erasers smear answers, so buy an "Art Gum" eraser and bring it with you. You'll do great.
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:38:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/14/2005 12:53:32 PM EDT by nater]
2nd year medical student here...

Dont worry about the mcat. Take a prep course (I liked the kaplan, but it is personal choice), and study hard in that course. It will teach you 100% of what you need to know to do REALLY well on the test.

Take the practice tests seriously, and take some outside your class. They are 100% important to increasing your score. I wont say what I ended up with, but my first MCAT (practice test) I scored a 13 (you basically need a 30 to get into school, a 45 is perfect for those of you that dont know)...

Also, remember that schools are constantly emphasizing personality and what you have done outside the classroom more and more. Not to say you can have a 22 MCAT and a 2.5 GPA and get in, but they look for the "rounded" personality.

*edited* because I am fucking slow today and was thinking of the ACT when I said perfect score..
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:50:01 PM EDT

You can get the practice tests from this site. I paid the $80 to get the four tests (I didn't use 8R as it costs another $40 or something like that.) When I signed up you could get a free account to take the first practice test free. I highly recommend you do that-- it will give you an excellent idea of where you stand.

Your course of study ought to help out. I did a BS in Bio/Chem and a BA in English and felt fairly well prepared for it. There is no calculus on the MCAT, and really no math beyond algebra and trig at all. Not finishing Biochem 2 won't hurt you. If your curriculum is like ours, that will be mostly lipid, nucleic acid, and amino acid chemistry. You won't need to know those reactions for the MCAT, but you should know basic stuff like an overview of glycolysis through the TCA cycle, ATP synthesis, second messengers, enzyme kinetics and rate law, etc. You probably won't see a ton of that, but it may help you pick up some easy points.

Sounds like all you need to do is take some tests, study what you were weak on, and chill out. Best of luck, and pray the proctor doesn't sit you down beside some skinny guy that had a half-dozen bean burritos and a latte for breakfast.

Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:51:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/14/2005 12:52:54 PM EDT by red_on_black]

Originally Posted By nater:
(you basically need a 30 to get into school, a 36 is perfect for those of you that dont know)...

No offense, but it's been on a 45-point scale for a while now. 15 points per section on Verbal, Physical Sci, and Biological Sci, and then a letter score for the Writing Sample.
Link Posted: 9/14/2005 12:55:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By red_on_black:

Originally Posted By nater:
(you basically need a 30 to get into school, a 36 is perfect for those of you that dont know)...

No offense, but it's been on a 45-point scale for a while now. 15 points per section on Verbal, Physical Sci, and Biological Sci, and then a letter score for the Writing Sample.

yeah... I know.. I just was not thinking when I typed that (was thinking of the ACT)
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