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500 hump problem driving me insane!

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doctor hartman

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i want to pull out my hair while screaming and running down the street, but i will try to refrain so I can focus on my studies.

my goal is a 510 and to get into an md school.

i have been studying for 3 months. i have taken 8 practice tests with a 496, 500, 509 (doesn't count b/c it was untimed) 502, 500, 497, 502, 500. any idea what i could be doing wrong?

i study all day on weekends (8-10hrs/day) and 2-3 nights a week for i study for 2 hours when possible because I work 50hrs a week and sometimes literally can't think after work because I'm so exhausted. i would love to quit my job and devote my time to studying, but i can't afford to not work because my husband is currently unemployed. so, that's not an option :/

but SOMETHING has got to change. i'm pretty solid on most content, though i'm not the best test taker. i have until the end of june. i just need to figure out what i'm doing wrong so i can get there. any tips. maybe i'm review my practice tests incorrectly??

what has worked for others who were stuck in a rut?

thanks in advance!
 

FaustK

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1. working long doesn't means you must be good. Well, this is sad, but this is true.
Glad you are asking for help though, it can be a good coping strategy (just like what you might have been learned for P/S section).
2. take a breath. To be honest, practice doesn't necessarily reflect your actual MCAT score.
it actually depends on the test maker, your skills, and luck (yes, luck. I know this might be sad but this is true. You need luck)

Although you said you studied for long time, but I don't know how you studied exactly.
You might study in a wrong way. So, take a breath, stay calm. You should realize there are tons of people who have more horrible experience than you.
Let's get onto the true topic.
Several suggestions I personally can make about studying:
(It might be helpful or not, please proofread my suggestions carefully.)

3. May be it's too late to say this, but plz don't waste practice tests.
there are limited practicing tests, and NOT all of them are good and relevant. So please don't rush, some of them are treasures.
4. Check whether you are ready to take practice exam.
a) firstly, be sure you have learned about 90% of all material. There should be some question bank or section bank for your reviewing.
b) if you have any issue with timing (except for CARS), please remember such an issue.
You might need to understand some basics about how to do well on timing. For example, if there's are question you don't understand, JUST SKIP THAT and come back later.
Also, reading articles might not be 100% necessarily in sections like CP and BB, but is critical for CARS and PS.

5. Don't just simply do the questions without further thinkings.
While you are doing the practice exam, on your scratch paper, plz take some notes about first feeling of questions.
If there's a question in which you feel troubled, take a note of that.
If there's a question which tests important concept or requires advanced thinking, take a note of that.
If this is a question which is basic and you feel confident, then just don't take any notes.

The note can be like a symbol, a scratch, or whatever things you like.
The note should not be too complicated, because you are doing "TIMED PRACTICE TEST".
Why I suggest you to do so? This illustrates how you rank about the importance of content.
a) Some question requires your thinking, if you successfully identify this, it means you are one-step further to the truth.
b) Some question tests really important things, your might know the answer because of luck, but you need to reinforce your memory so that you still remember that on test day.
c) By doing so, sometime you can get a sense about how your section goes even without submitting your answer.
If you marked 15 question in which you feel not confident, just assuming they are all wrong. And you should know roughly where you stand.
After you really back your practice score, compare your expected results and your actual results. Please think, whether you truly predicted your results, or you were totally off the track.
 
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doctor hartman

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1. working long doesn't means you must be good. Well, this is sad, but this is true.
Glad you are asking for help though, it can be a good coping strategy (just like what you might have been learned for P/S section).
2. take a breath. To be honest, practice doesn't necessarily reflect your actual MCAT score.
it actually depends on the test maker, your skills, and luck (yes, luck. I know this might be sad but this is true. You need luck)

Although you said you studied for long time, but I don't know how you studied exactly.
You might study in a wrong way. So, take a breath, stay calm. You should realize there are tons of people who have more horrible experience than you.
Let's get onto the true topic.
Several suggestions I personally can make about studying:
(It might be helpful or not, please proofread my suggestions carefully.)

3. May be it's too late to say this, but plz don't waste practice tests.
there are limited practicing tests, and NOT all of them are good and relevant. So please don't rush, some of them are treasures.
4. Check whether you are ready to take practice exam.
a) firstly, be sure you have learned about 90% of all material. There should be some question bank or section bank for your reviewing.
b) if you have any issue with timing (except for CARS), please remember such an issue.
You might need to understand some basics about how to do well on timing. For example, if there's are question you don't understand, JUST SKIP THAT and come back later.
Also, reading articles might not be 100% necessarily in sections like CP and BB, but is critical for CARS and PS.

5. Don't just simply do the questions without further thinkings.
While you are doing the practice exam, on your scratch paper, plz take some notes about first feeling of questions.
If there's a question in which you feel troubled, take a note of that.
If there's a question which tests important concept or requires advanced thinking, take a note of that.
If this is a question which is basic and you feel confident, then just don't take any notes.

The note can be like a symbol, a scratch, or whatever things you like.
The note should not be too complicated, because you are doing "TIMED PRACTICE TEST".
Why I suggest you to do so? This illustrates how you rank about the importance of content.
a) Some question requires your thinking, if you successfully identify this, it means you are one-step further to the truth.
b) Some question tests really important things, your might know the answer because of luck, but you need to reinforce your memory so that you still remember that on test day.
c) By doing so, sometime you can get a sense about how your section goes even without submitting your answer.
If you marked 15 question in which you feel not confident, just assuming they are all wrong. And you should know roughly where you stand.
After you really back your practice score, compare your expected results and your actual results. Please think, whether you truly predicted your results, or you were totally off the track.


Thanks for your detailed response. I definitely recognize I need some outside assistance. What I'm doing is clearly not working.

I agree that working longer doesn't mean working smarter. When I study, I take notes in the book margins (I was taking notes in a separate notebook, but didn't find it helpful), highlight the 1st read through and underline the 2nd read through weeks later, and I make flashcards. The only thing I don't probably do is watch a lot of videos. Maybe I can try more of that.

I have taken a lot of practice tests because I THOUGHT I would be taking the test this week. But since I'm not, I do feel like many of those practice tests are now wasted :( From now on, I'll just focus on question bank questions until I really feel I'm ready for a test.

I do feel comfortable with content and timing isn't too big an issue. I finish all sections either just on time or with 3-20 minutes to spare (depending on the section).

I feel like my biggest issue is understanding the passages. When I read the passages I see a foreign language. I worked in basic science for several years, so these passages are not difficult passages to comprehend (for me). When I read them outside of testing situations, they are clear as day. During a test, I am so confused. Maybe it's my anxiety? Idk. It makes more sense when I can talk, but I don't think the test proctors will like that too much :)

Any test taking tips?
 

UBLI-EINSTEIN

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Thanks for your detailed response. I definitely recognize I need some outside assistance. What I'm doing is clearly not working.

I agree that working longer doesn't mean working smarter. When I study, I take notes in the book margins (I was taking notes in a separate notebook, but didn't find it helpful), highlight the 1st read through and underline the 2nd read through weeks later, and I make flashcards. The only thing I don't probably do is watch a lot of videos. Maybe I can try more of that.

I have taken a lot of practice tests because I THOUGHT I would be taking the test this week. But since I'm not, I do feel like many of those practice tests are now wasted :( From now on, I'll just focus on question bank questions until I really feel I'm ready for a test.

I do feel comfortable with content and timing isn't too big an issue. I finish all sections either just on time or with 3-20 minutes to spare (depending on the section).

I feel like my biggest issue is understanding the passages. When I read the passages I see a foreign language. I worked in basic science for several years, so these passages are not difficult passages to comprehend (for me). When I read them outside of testing situations, they are clear as day. During a test, I am so confused. Maybe it's my anxiety? Idk. It makes more sense when I can talk, but I don't think the test proctors will like that too much :)

Any test taking tips?

Don't worry too much about Kaplan, some of Kaplan tests are deflating your score and they are sometimes harder than the actual MCAT.
This is especially true for the scientific sections like CP, PS.
CARS sections seems to be easier, but it deflates your score.

The only good thing many people say about Kaplan FL is training for endurance.
Also I personally think it stresses your detailed conceptual knowledge of some contents.
Doing these practice and having a good review of content will help you in the actual test, although you said you are not stressed with content and timing.

Personally speaking, reading the passage is not as critical as what many people believe for the MCAT.
This statement will be true for CP and BB section, but not really true for CARS and PS.
In terms of CP and BB, just do the question first and then skim through the passage if necessary.
it should be easy to identify which question should be passage-based and which question is just as straight forward as you can ever believe.
PS section is similar to CP and BB, but it might rely more on the passage than the other. (simply because PS is more subtle than other science like CP and BB)
The passage commonly states what researchers want to study, and sometimes they even states their hypothesis.
In most cases, their hypothesis will be found true by the experiment. So just follow their thinking all the way through.

Specifically for your cases, I think you can simply take some short hands notes on the scratch paper.
Talking with yourself in such a case should be easy and fast.
Don't write down full sentence or long paragraph on scratch paper though, it will seem crazy unless you really have to do so to keep yourself in a good state.
 

doctor hartman

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You're clearly working hard (that is, putting a lot of time in), but you may not be working smart.

Have you checked out some of the advice in this thread?: 509+ MCAT Study Habits

This thread is awesome! I came across it when I first started studying and completely forgot about it. I'll have to sift through and see what strategies have been useful for others. Thanks!
 

doctor hartman

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Don't worry too much about Kaplan, some of Kaplan tests are deflating your score and they are sometimes harder than the actual MCAT.
This is especially true for the scientific sections like CP, PS.
CARS sections seems to be easier, but it deflates your score.

The only good thing many people say about Kaplan FL is training for endurance.
Also I personally think it stresses your detailed conceptual knowledge of some contents.
Doing these practice and having a good review of content will help you in the actual test, although you said you are not stressed with content and timing.

Personally speaking, reading the passage is not as critical as what many people believe for the MCAT.
This statement will be true for CP and BB section, but not really true for CARS and PS.
In terms of CP and BB, just do the question first and then skim through the passage if necessary.
it should be easy to identify which question should be passage-based and which question is just as straight forward as you can ever believe.
PS section is similar to CP and BB, but it might rely more on the passage than the other. (simply because PS is more subtle than other science like CP and BB)
The passage commonly states what researchers want to study, and sometimes they even states their hypothesis.
In most cases, their hypothesis will be found true by the experiment. So just follow their thinking all the way through.

Specifically for your cases, I think you can simply take some short hands notes on the scratch paper.
Talking with yourself in such a case should be easy and fast.
Don't write down full sentence or long paragraph on scratch paper though, it will seem crazy unless you really have to do so to keep yourself in a good state.

Definitely agree about Kaplan FLs emphasizing details more so than the AAMC FLs. I'll try the question 1st, passage 2nd strategy to see if that works for CP and BB. That might actually work for me. And maybe I can just whisper to myself or do as you suggested and only talk through my short notes so I don't get kicked out for talking during the test :)

Thanks for the tips. And thanks for the optimism too. A good dose of that would do me some good right about now :)
 
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