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>520 Scoring Tips

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by justlisten234, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. justlisten234

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    Does anyone have any last-minute tips for a projected ~515-520 (86% on AAMC FL) scorer to improve a couple more points in two weeks?
     
  2. doctorleospaceman

    doctorleospaceman Medical Student
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    Literally, after like a 510-515 it's all luck
     
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  3. justlisten234

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    You think? I know I'm in a pretty good place but I look at the people who scored a 526 and wonder if I could be closer to that if I'd been more dedicated or something :eyebrow:
     
  4. doctorleospaceman

    doctorleospaceman Medical Student
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    Don't worry about it. None of the people hitting 526 were hitting 526 on practice FLs or felt like they did that well after the exam.
     
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  5. Gandyy

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    There is a certain luck factor on the MCAT after a certain score range. I mean. . a 32 MCAT score is the 88th percentile. There are still 13 more full points that make up the other 12 percentile!

    So whatever the new MCAT conversion for a 32 is... I"d say thats pretty good.
     
  6. Neutrophil2016

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    I made a 522 and I certainly didn't feel confident after the test. I did not feel bad, but I wasn't expecting that score. I would not be surprised if you outscore the projection. In my opinion, a 515 and a >520 have about the same content knowledge. The difference comes in reasoning ability and how lucky you are with CARS.
     
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  7. Pusheen

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    + how lucky you get with topics in the sciences. I know I could get a perfect score if the passages and FSQ's were about certain things I understand well, and I could completely bomb if they were about something I didn't review or understand
     
  8. justlisten234

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    Well, looks like I'll just have to hope I don't brain fart on the day of the exam :rolleyes: Thanks for your opinions guys!
     
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  9. BerkReviewTeach

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    I unfortunately could go on for days about the luck factor. Having seen thousands of students and their scores over the years, I've always felt the MCAT had a 6-point luck range. If a student seemed destined for a 33 (based on observation of their intuition, knowledge, confidence, and some scores) it ended up being a 30-36 depending on how lucky they were. If you get a tough passage on something you know, then you're golden. You jump the curve. If you get a fairly easy passage on the one thing you didn't review, then you're not so golden.

    With the new exam, that range is now 8 points. You can study for countless hours and go in feeling the best you can, but at some point it's like playing the lottery. This luck factor also results in the top 10% and bottom 10% not being distinguished very well. Prorating from the old score, it would seem that 517 and above falls into the karma zone as we call it. You can study your way up to a 517, but after that it comes down to luck. There are exams where they do not give top-end scores, because of the number of people with high raw scores. So even if you hit everything perfect, you might not get a 528. To be able to get a 528, you need to take it on a day where all four sections are on the difficult side so the distribution doesn't get truncated at the top.

    But to answer the OP's question, IMO you can get from a 515 to a 517+ with test logic and shortcuts. The shortcuts we promote in class (and our books) are partly there to save time but even more so they are a solution pathway designed to avoid careless errors. If you can reduce careless errors and develop a game plan to handle the WTH passages, then you can move into the karma zone (517+). This is the most critical thing you can do on your last few practice exams. The greatest utility of your last few exams is not getting a score (although everyone still focuses on that number like it matters), but more so finalizing your strategies, maximizing your focus, and becoming a machine.

    Given that in the last six months many people here have abandoned our materials as their main staple, this is probably a moot point but I'll give it anyway. Make a sheet with the following tricks on it: (1) Page 188 of O Chem II, (2) Page 196 of O Chem II, (3) Pages 29-30 of G Chem 1, (4) Page 260 of G Chem I, (5) Page 310 of G Chem I, (6) Page 265 of G Chem II, (7) Page 21 of Physics I, (8) Page 62 of Physics II, (9) Page 196 of Physics II, and (10) Page 248 of Physics II. There are about twenty to thirty others you can put too, but these ten are a great start in terms of high yield shortcuts that when used will cut your time way down and help you get the most difficult questions in their respective topics quickly with minimal risk for careless errors. Once you have that sheet written out, take your next practice exam and see how many pay dividends. After that, add a few more things, like you're making a cheat sheet to take into the exam. Do this with each exam until your test day, and then spend the last day before your MCAT refining that list.
     
  10. StudyLater

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    Don't you feel so much better now? :D

    You're so good it's not even funny. Hundreds of thousands of people would kill to be in your shoes right now.
     
  11. p0gono

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    Haha, yeah pretty much. It's about striking the balance between freaking out and not taking it seriously. Calm down, but not too much. Lower your expectations and let the adrenaline kick in on the day of.
     
  12. Doctor Dream

    Doctor Dream Eating the 5 pancakes
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    When you say "WTH" passages, are you referring to passages where you read them and after you finish you just think "...what the hell?"
     
  13. tenblackalps

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    I am guessing that's what that means. My strategy for handling the WTH passages was to not get bogged down by the reading and instead draw simple conclusions like "if I raise A I lower B" and "if I lower B I raise C" and "if I raise C I raise D." By reducing the confusing vocabulary to simple terms you can condense the WTH stuff down to simple statements. Also, if I read something and went "WTH is this?" I told myself that everyone else was probably doing the same thing, so I might as well calm down and get started building my series of short logical statements quickly and efficiently.

    Once I jotted down my short logic guide I looked at the figures to try and glean what was important. I would ask myself: "What in this figure is a statistically significant difference (look at error bars/asterisks/etc.) that also means something in the context of the brief logical relationships I built?"

    9 times out of 10 this technique seemed sufficient to answer the WTH passage questions in bio and psych.
     
    #13 tenblackalps, Sep 7, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  14. RaspberrySlushy

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    Thank you @BerkReviewTeach - I'll definitely look to those pages you mentioned and any others you'd like to suggest. Btw I might have an older version of your book set, I bought them at the end of 2012 (was originally going to take the test much earlier but life had other plans). Do those page numbers still work for the 2012 books?
     
  15. allantois

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    More people would be getting TBR resources had the ordering process not been so antiquated :rolleyes:
     
  16. ryan_srs

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    Do you guys tend to first look at the questions in the bio and chem sections before reading? I have been finding a better use of time lately by reading the question first and then skimming the passage and graph to find answers. I've even noticed that a good amount of the passage related questions do not require any reading of the passage. This strategy has been consistently led to bio and chem scores in the 125-127 range.

    What do you high scorers recommend? Reading the passage thoroughly then answer the questions (as in CARS) or search and destroy?
     
  17. Cawolf

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    I read bio and chem passages quickly, then do questions and go back very little (only for specifics).

    For verbal (I took old test) I would read the questions, read the passage, answer the questions, rarely go back.

    If taking the new test I would do similar.
     
  18. p0gono

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    I did it more like cars, reading carefully. I think I would skim once to get the gist, read the questions (and mark preliminary answers if I can) and then reread carefully with the questions in mind.
     
  19. GrapesofRath

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    I hear all the time about people who do 2-3 points worse on the real thing than what they did on their practice test but is it really that common to see people do 2-3 points better than what they were practicing for the old version? On the new version there are people who had estimated 513 scores but ended up with 516-517 showings. Almost all people who get top scores be it old or new MCAT, didn't do better on their practice tests so for a very top score yes there is luck and why it's so incredibly foolish to retake 35+ scores.
     
  20. Satire5Texul

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    Does this not mean, please correct me if I am wrong, since the MCAT is scored based on how well you did against everyone testing that day and everyone's previous attempts before (considering also the pool of previous examinees is quiet low at this point for the new MCAT) that you would be better off taking the test not in april, may or june. Or is this thought entirely debunked by their statistical manipulations, I know they reduced testing dates this year and combated the notion of taking the test during the off-season, does this stand true for the new MCAT as well that is highly based on how well you do in comparison to others?
     
  21. ChrisMack390

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    I think it is far more important to take the test when you are ready to take it than to look for "tricks" to get you additional points.
     
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  22. Satire5Texul

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    golden rule lives on. I know, You are right :cat:

    Wasting time focus on other stupid factors.
     
  23. Healer@1994

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    .
     
    #23 [email protected], Aug 11, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  24. kryptonxenon

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    [QUOTE="BerkReviewTeach, post: 16787643, member: 151966"Make a sheet with the following tricks on it: (1) Page 188 of O Chem II, (2) Page 196 of O Chem II, (3) Pages 29-30 of G Chem 1, (4) Page 260 of G Chem I, (5) Page 310 of G Chem I, (6) Page 265 of G Chem II, (7) Page 21 of Physics I, (8) Page 62 of Physics II, (9) Page 196 of Physics II, and (10) Page 248 of Physics II. [/QUOTE]

    @BerkReviewTeach I have the new version of the TBR books and the page numbers don't seem to match up with what you suggested.
     
  25. Roayer

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    I really think that the 128-129+ range is luck. I thought I did a lot better based off my practice and knew I would score in that range in CP and BB and P/S but got a P/S over hard stuff that didn't play to my strengths and the scaling for CP and BB were pretty rough on my test day. Walking out I knew depending on the scale I would score between 513-523 which is a 10 point range. I scored a 514. Since the difference between a 129 and a 132 could literally be 3 questions a lot of luck is involved.
     
  26. aldol16

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    To get to the 520+ range does not require "luck" as some might have you think but rather a very good preparation. Studying for 4-6 months won't cut it. That score is the culmination of years of hard work in gaining a solid foundation. It's something you can't just "learn" in a short amount of time but rather something you acquired over your academic career. That's the difference.
     
  27. Roayer

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    No its literally a few questions....getting to the 515+ range requires dedication. 520 requires luck and a strong CARS skill since you can't really BS that section.
     
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  28. aldol16

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    Yeah, if you take it literally. My point is, getting to 520+ isn't the matter of reviewing more content or doing a few more practice passages. It takes a long time to get there. Practice will get you in the top scoring range (515+ or so) but to get into 520+ is a matter of whether you already had a strong foundation and analytical skills (including CARS).
     
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  29. Roayer

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    Agreed. Sorry I misunderstood you.
     
  30. Tutor526

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    Luck becomes less of a factor the more prepared you are. The best way to deal with passages on your weak subjects is to have no weak subjects! ;)

    I studied for 6 more weeks after getting a 522 on the AAMC scored FL (and a similar AAMC Sample FL), and was able to boost my score to a 526. Seems pretty consistent to me! I was retaking an expired old MCAT score, and I remember improving by 1-2 points each time I took an AAMC FL when I prepared for that test as well. I think that if I had been able to study full time for an additional week this time around that a 528 would have been quite possible. I did my research and prepared diligently - your score reflects what you put into it. If you aren't improving, you need to change your study/review habits
     
  31. aldol16

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    Very impressive score! However, your score on the real MCAT as compared to your score on the AAMC scored and unscored FLs doesn't surprise me much because I believe 526 is within error range of 522 (maybe the lower bound is 524? I don't remember). I would tally most of that effect up to normal fluctuations with MCAT version and the limit of the MCAT to measure your abilities to arbitrary uncertainty. I'd say that you could have scored that high even without the extra practice although I'm sure it didn't hurt!
     
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  32. BerkReviewTeach

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    Thanks for resurrecting this. I forgot I wrote this back when and upon rereading I'm hopeful that people will read this and take it to heart. After talking at length with several of our 517+ students since I posted this, I tend to think that the 524s and above were going to get that score on any exam they took (they were, are, and will be beyond any karma factor). The people in the 517-523 range could have all been interchanged and it would not have surprised me (they define the karma zone). The common theme amongst their feedback was the importance of being ready for anything and having little to no preconceived notions about what topics and passage types to expect.

    As for the request for an updated version of the shortcuts as they apply to the new books, here are the pages in the new books for the 10 shortcuts/summaries mentioned above as well as a couple new ones. Please note that the presentation of some of them has changed, but it's the same basic shortcut, summary, or strategy.

    (1) Pages 31-32 of G Chem 1
    (2) Page 62 of G Chem 2 (Equation 8.15) (also found multiple times in the answers explanations for the chapter passages)
    (3) Page 100 of G Chem 2 (Table 9.3) (summarizes a few equations)
    (4) Page 159 of G Chem 1 (also found in O Chem 2 page 260 in Figure 8-27)
    (5) Page 252 of O Chem 2 (Figures 8-20, 8-21, and 8-22) THIS ONE IS HUGE!
    (6) Page 260 of O Chem 2
    (7) Page 27 of O Chem 2
    (8) Page 169 of O Chem 2
    (9) Page 19 of Physics 1 (Figure 1-10)
    (10) Page 188 of Physics 1 (Figure 5-4)
    (11) Page 72 of Physics 2 (Example 7.10a) (also found on pages 73, 74, and 82)
    (12) Page 191 of Physics 2

    Given that in the last eight months many people here at SDN have come back to our materials as their main staple, this list is hopefully very helpful now. Everyone knew we would lose our 2014 stronghold on the market by delaying the release of updated books until late 2015 and early 2016 (after the new MCAT had actually been given and information was valid), but it has paid off perfectly. The reviews have been heartwarming and the results have made all of the negative comments about not getting books out earlier much easier to swallow.

    We are sincerely sorry that the last of our new books took almost a full year after the first new MCAT was given to finally come out, but we do things differently, with decisions made by teachers rather than business people.
     
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  33. Tutor526

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    When you say this, are you referring to the 524+ scorers or the 517-523s?
     
  34. BerkReviewTeach

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    The 524+ crowd are generally people who don't care what is on their test. It is a challenge before them that they will solve by a combination of vast knowledge and problem-solving skills. The 517-523 people seemed more of the prepared for anything and ready for everything crowd.

    Both groups fit the statement, but for different reasons.
     
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  35. Tutor526

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    Thanks, and I would say from my experiences that I agree. The ability to reason and interpret newly given information in the context of strong background knowledge seems to be the ticket to a top score on the current MCAT
     
  36. lexswift

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    Did you only study 6 weeks?
    You got a 522 on the scored exam without any prep whatsoever?
     
  37. Tutor526

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    I studied 6 weeks more after taking the scored exam. I started with 2 weeks of light content review reading and videos, 8 weeks of studying as much as possible with class/work/volunteering, and then 2 weeks of full-time MCAT prep (~10 hrs/day)
     
  38. PERSISTtill the end

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    Dear BR,

    Do you mind sharing these pages by referring to the 2012 editions?

    Thanks so much!
     
  39. PERSISTtill the end

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    Is there anyone who has these pages scanned, the page numbers do not correspond to the copies I have :( :(
     
  40. justlisten234

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    wow what a throwback...brings back memories of agonizing over the MCAT and scrolling through the MCAT forums for solace hahah
     
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  41. aurevoir0711

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    What did you end up getting and how did you prepare for the MCAT? I am going over your agony at the moment... ARGHHHHHH
     
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