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why do non-science majors ace the MCAT?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by caffeine37, Jun 22, 2005.

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  1. caffeine37

    caffeine37 Senior Member

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  2. wetlightning

    wetlightning Senior Member

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    well, i'm a non-sci major (english/german) and i can assure you that i didn't ace the mcat :) 33S (11,11,11)...dammit! couldn't even really ace the verbal section...

    in fact, i think some upper level bio courses would have helped me tremendously, so as a warning to fellow non-sci, future mcat-takers...take some extra sciences! i really see a difference in students who took those kind of courses.

    also, don't make my mistake and NOT take physics before taking the mcat...bad bad bad idea

    on the whole though, to answer your question, i'd guess the nonsci majors who ace the mcat are tremendously good, not only at science (they have to be since they have fewer science classes to up their sci gpa), but also at critical thinking/reasoning b/c of their practice in humanities/philosophy courses
  3. jbrice1639

    jbrice1639 Cub Fan, Bud Man

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    Speaking as a non-science major, I think it's simply that we approach the test differently. I didn't "ace" the mcat per se, but I got a 36 (12s in each), and I have a degree in English and Creative Writing. My science knowledge for the exam came from my post-bac classes.

    I attribute my success on the test to the way I approached it more than the knowledge I brought to it, though. I think non-science majors, specifically those of us in reading/writing intensive majors tend to look into the test for the answers more. We're more trained to read something for content and interpret that content, whereas most of the science majors I have dealt with have tried to rely solely on their own knowledge on the MCAT. I can't even tell you how many people I have heard say they don't even read the passages on the science sections of the MCAT, which is just absurd considering how much information is in there if you know how to look for it.

    That's my 2ยข anyways...
  4. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch

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    Because the science on the MCAT is really easy. Success on the MCAT depends mostly on rapid, accurate assimilation and regurgitation of difficult passage material, something non-science majors tend to get a lot of practice in.

    Plus, we're just a heck of a lot smarter than the scientists. ;)
  5. smsansoucie

    smsansoucie Another one rides the bus

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    Even though individuals may be non-science majors, they must complete med school pre-reqs. Thus, they are adequately prepared to handle the MCAT assuming they do well in their prereqs.

    Your question is, however, why do they do better? I suspect that the answer may lie in verbal reasoning. I have had to write far more papers as a philosophy minor than I have had to write as a biology major. As a philosophy minor, I have had to thoroughly support my arguments and defend my positions. These experiences will likely lend themselves to a higher score in the area of verbal reasoning.

    Beyond this, I think perhaps many non-majors applying to med school are "renaissance-types" who enjoy learning solely for the sake of learning and can do virtually anything with ease.

    Stephanie
  6. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Useless PGY2 Moderator Emeritus

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    From the practice tests I have taken (so my opinion may be a little off) is that you miss the most questions just because you don't understand the language and diction they are using that is trying to elicit the right answer. Case in point, rarely did I ever miss a discrete b/c they are straight forward...recall and use this formula type problems. There was no charade and misleading phrases. This is where a non-science background I think is an advantage...in cutting through the muddy waters of the passages.
  7. MaDe in Cali

    MaDe in Cali Member

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    Non-science majors read a lot and hence are well versed in the ability to get the jist of passages (science and verbal alike), dissect out important bits, understand the flow of the passage, and remember where to find small details. If you can do that, it helps tremendously on all the passages.

    Note to non-science majors who are still early on in their pre-med career: READ A LOT!!! I know you might hate it, but you'll get used to it!
  8. ggt187

    ggt187 Member

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    I'm a music major currently and I got a 38Q on the MCAT. I agree with the poster who said that we look into the test more. The science isn't that difficult and most of the time, the answers are in the passages or the questions. I didn't memorize a bunch of stuff for the MCAT, but I practiced deriving the answer from the given information. It's much easier that way.
  9. IndyZX

    IndyZX

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    i think the two are pretty much totally uncorrelated. i think smarter, more studious people tend to do better on the test and *gasp* (j/k) there are some smarties who choose not to major in engineering or sciences.
  10. Brain

    Brain Taking over the world

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    I'm not so sure about this. The pre-health advisor at my undergrad said just the opposite, that it's very common for non-science majors to come in with fabulous GPAs but really low MCATs. It may depend on the school though and perhaps you're only hearing about the success stories.
  11. lorelei

    lorelei SDN Angel

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    The MCAT is really a critical thinking test. Yeah, you need to have science knowledge, but just taking the prerequisites is fine. Of course having more knowledge is good, and may speed you up, but as long as you've taken the basic science classes and done well in them, it's really all about critical thinking. You just do not need that much knowledge to do well on the MCAT, and I think there are a lot of premeds who are used to applying memorized knowledge more than reading critically and reasoning through questions.
  12. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch

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    There's hard data on this, actually. Looking at this AAMC data, you can see that matriculating math majors had the best composite MCAT at 31.5, and the physics and chemistry majors the second at 30.8. Humanities came in third at 30.6.

    But perhaps looking at matriculant data reflects a bias on the part of adcoms to accept biology and health science majors despite lower test scores. When we look at applicant data, however, we find a similar disparity: math majors scored 29.8, followed by physical sciences at 28.6, followed by humanities at 28.5. Biology was pretty low at 27.1, and health science majors last at 24.8.

    Others have speculated endlessly on why bio and health science majors fare so poorly on the MCAT. I don't care to, but the facts are indisputable, it seems to me.
  13. Shredder

    Shredder User

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    probably same reason non science majors seem to fare better in med school admissions. since they dont default to premed like all science majors too, the ones who are premed tend to be smarter, whereas in science there are lots of people in the lower end of the bell curve who need to get weeded out to realize med is not for them.
  14. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch

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    Organic Chemistry, the great weed-whacker.

    I think we're inventing a new science here on SDN:

    Appliconomics, or perhaps Getinology - the scientific study of how to get in to medical school.
  15. aliendroid

    aliendroid In Jail using internet

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    I was a computer science major and I couldn't read passages well if my life depended on it, I fly through them too fast :D . 37Q, must be :luck:

    I found a lot of the tricks on the MCAT to be similar to those on IQ tests, but not completly alike. The questions often try to throw you off or mess you up if you really don't understand the foundations of the scientific concepts you study.

    Yes, READ A LOT!!!

    I'm one of the people that didn't comprehend any of the VR passages and I pulled a 10, which is much lower than the other two sections (13,14). I didn't get the jist, I didn't dissect out important bits, and did not follow the flow of the passages, and coun't find any small details and in fact I never went back to any of the passages after reading them.
  16. UCLAstudent

    UCLAstudent I'm a luck dragon!

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    It could be because biology is the "default" major for a lot of pre-meds and therefore the major contains a lot of the less qualified applicants, moreso than other majors. Perhaps these people weren't weeded out during undergrad and consequently weigh down the MCAT average for the major. Just a thought.
  17. 45408

    45408 aw buddy

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    Exactly what I was going to post, but not so concisely. :thumbup:
  18. MollyMalone

    MollyMalone I'm a Score Quadruplet Moderator Emeritus

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    Count me as a vote for Getinology... that's the funniest thing I've heard all day! :laugh:

    And it's been a rough day, so thanks!

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