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800-lbf gorilla in the room...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by wepio, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. wepio

    2+ Year Member

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    ...and it's name is Salty!

    Most of you know what it is that I'm referring to, and for those of you who don't, it's a reference to the MCAT via the ExamKrackers series of study books. Anyways, I know my MCAT score is the Achilles' heel of my application so I've decided to start studying for that stupid test again. I have two questions:

    1.) How much movement denotes improvement, and not just seen as the same score? I'm sittin' on a 28 right now, so what're talkin' here... +2? +4? +6? (i.e. because the test is scaled, is a 28-30 the "same" score?)

    2.) (...and I pray it doesn't get this far) Are any points won by retaking the test every year, even if say I manage to get 32+ next time around, and continue with an upward trend? My logic is that a.) the 32+ retake wasn't a fluke, and b.) my brain hasn't turned to mush year after year.

    Just curious.
     
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  3. NTF

    NTF PGY-6
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Was there something about your preparation for your current MCAT score that you could reasonably improve to get a higher score? If you could get that MCAT upto a 33+ and add a couple of interesting ECs, and apply to some more lower-tier schools I'd say you're good to go. (Plus this application cycle is far from over so don't give up hope on that)

    Plus, I'd also suggest getting a patient care EC to add to your ER volunteering.
     
  4. wepio

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    Well, I don't think I was very efficient about it, and severely overestimated my ability. I studied for a couple of months, a couple hours a night, and even then it was just the bio portion 75% of the time. I had just finished the o-chem sequence that same year so I glossed through that part and the other subjects during the rest of the 25% of the time. The PS did me in, especially the physics. It's ironic that as an engineer I would choke on that section. Honestly, it's been nearly 6 years since I took physics and with an improvement on that portion, I can break 30.

    This is kind of hard for me because I work 40-hours during the day. Whenever I shadow or want to observe a surgery, I have use my PLA to do it. Not to mention I can't exactly tell my employer what I'm up to. I really want to diversify my EC's, and I'm trying.

    I really just skimmed through the MSAR and selected schools with 30-32 average composite MCAT with "low" gpa's that accepted out of state. As for some of the higher tier schools, I flat out applied because those are the places I'd like to live (i.e. NYC!!!). Who knows, maybe a reviewer will be tired or distracted and accidentally move my app to the next round. My logic on those higher tier schools was that if I don't apply, it's an automatic no, if i do apply and get rejected, I didn't lose much. Eh, what's another few hundred bucks when I'm preparing to take on a student loan equivalent to a mortgage?!?

    There really aren't that many schools with low numbers that take out of state. I honestly thought I picked quite a few schools with low numbers. What else are you considering "low-tier"? I want to know what schools are you referring to I'll add 'em to the for next year! I'll go anywhere. NOT a school snob, no sir.
     
    #3 wepio, Dec 10, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
  5. desperatedoc

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    Same here. You belong to those of us who have to work full-time and still won't give up on going to med school.
     
  6. talkalot24

    talkalot24 Member
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    I may be in the minority on this, but if I had your score and knew I'd get a 30 on retake, I'm not sure I would retake. I'm not sure 2 more points is worth it. But if you could increase your score by 4-5 points or more, then I'd do it. I mean, the difference between a 28 and a 30 means getting possibly 2 more questions correct on the entire test? Does medical school adcoms think folks who get 2 more correct to be that much smarter and more prepared for medical school?

     
  7. wepio

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    Thanks for your response. I agree with you that a 30 is really no better than a 28 when mesauring intellectual ability, but it's more than just a couple of questions. It does look better on paper though. Personally, I'd say anyone with an MCAT of 24 or better is capable of passing medical school. But, whatever, I'm not an adcom. I'll play the game and study for that SOB until I hit a ~34. I was just curious how much movement the adcoms expect on a retake, and if there's any merit to retaking it every year to prove to them that you haven't lost it.



     
  8. talkalot24

    talkalot24 Member
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    I would think that it's possible for your score to increase by 2 points by getting 2 more questions correct. If you think about it, there is a cut point. Say getting 48-50 questions correct gives you a scaled score of 10, then getting 51 correct would give you an 11.
     
  9. NTF

    NTF PGY-6
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    1) MCAT - I'd say it's worth retaking if you think you can get at least a 10 (hopefully an 11) on each section.

    2)ECs - Can you get a volunteer gig on the weekends at a hospital or a clinic?

    3)School selection - I wasn't faulting you for applying to high-tier schools. By all means apply - if you have the time and money for it. But I wouldn't just limit your search for schools with lower average numbers to just private schools. The problem with private schools is that they tend to have 2-3x as many applicants as publics. But a lot of public schools take significant numbers of OOSers. (University of Cincinnati and University of Toledo come to mind). I'd get a membership to US N&WR ranking website, not for the rankings but the admissions/application data. Don't just pay attention to average MCAT/GPA but also the numbers of applicants, percentage of OOSers that get interviews, and percentage of OOS matriculants. Knowing how many people you're competing with is just as important as how your numbers stack up.
     
  10. wepio

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    I was actually thinking of trying to get into the following:

    - nursing home volunteer on the weekends
    - doing some Boy Scouts stuff (my friend's really into and maybe he can help me get set up)
    - and I am planning on entering an EMT-B program Fall '09.

    Next year, I'm going all out. Throw enough money at something, and you're bound to get the result you're looking for. Since I've got a ton of different prompts anwered, applying to ~30+ schools next year won't be so bad. Plus, I'll be read to apply EARLY next year since most of the stuff is done. Oh, and I'm going to add a bunch of DO schools too. I'm not gettin' any younger over here. Can barely keep up with the kids these days as it is!
     
  11. dragonfly99

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    You need volunteer work that involves patients. A clinic or nursing home would be good. I don't think the Boy Scouts volunteer work will do much for your med school application, though it's a laudable organization.

    I think an MCAT score >30 or so definitely trumps the 28. If you have only taken the test once, I would retake. But really study. For an engineer, you should be able to make 10 or better on the PS section for sure...hopefully better. You just need to review all the equations for physics that come up over and over and over. Practice writing the essays in the style the MCAT graders want. Review all the biology concepts. Take a LOT of practice exams so that you have the timing down cold.
     
  12. kiyomander

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    A couple questions... how did your scores break down? Were you consistent across all sections, or do you have one area that's a definite weakness? Also, how many full-length practice tests did you take?

    If you did significantly worse on one section, I think you could definitely focus on it and pull it up a couple points. I found that Examkrackers worked great if you had a pretty good understanding of the material and just needed a review and test-taking hints. If you need a little more work, practice with specific concepts, or a more detailed explanation of the subject matter, I'd recommend another prep program- Kaplan and Berkeley Review tend to go much deeper than Examkrackers. Also, Kaplan has these side-courses, "Verbal Edge" and "Physics Edge." If one of those areas is your Achilles heel, I'd look into it.

    In preparation for my MCAT, I took 10 or so full-length MCATs. They were all old AAMC tests and I was scoring really high on them and uber-confident. When test-time came, I was shocked to discover that my actual MCAT was much harder than any of the practice tests I had prepared with. It really shook me up. Luckily, everyone who tested that day must've had trouble because I ended up with a decent score, but I still wonder how much better I could have scored if I hadn't been so shaken by the difficulty. Even my timing was thrown off. Kaplan has practice MCATs that are much more difficult than the AAMC ones. I avoided them because I heard that the scoring was all over the place, but in hindsight, it would have been better to have gotten used to a more difficult test.

    Sorry for the long-winded post. I hope this helps...
     
  13. gman33

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    Looking at your MDApps, I'd say the MCAT is the least of your problems. You are going to have a very hard time getting into a MD school with your overall GPA. Have you looked into DO schools? You would be more competitive there, even with the current MCAT score.

    If that's not your plan, you need to do something about the overall gpa, which is the hardest thing to fix. Maybe think about an SMP.

    And to answer the original question, moving from a 28 to a 30 would help at a lot of schools.
     
  14. wepio

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    I agree and that's what I'm going to do this year. The boy scouts volunteer work is mainly because my friend already volunteers there and I thought I'd just help out too.

    I really didn't take very many full-length tests (maybe one or two?) In hindsight, I rushed through the test prep, and spent too much time on the bio portion. As for my weakness, I'd have to say it's the PS, more specifically the physics. It's been a long time (~5 years) since I've taken the course. I have a solid understanding of the basic physics stuff (i.e. forces, reactions, acceleration, etc), but am seriously lacking in the electromagnetism, optics/lenses; basically second and third quarter stuff, or late second semester if you're not on quarters.

    Yes, the gpa sucks and I know that. You are correct in that it's a hard thing to fix. Unfortunately, where I live, there isn't a university with a formal SMP. Right now, I'm just taking a couple classes a semester, focusing heavily on molecular bio classes. I can take classes until I've run out of classes to take at this school, but I doubt I'll ever get the cgpa up to par with the what's competitive for an allo school. The only thing I can hope for is that the adcoms will see that 50 semester credits of post-bacc bio-science classes at a 3.9 sgpa as a redeeming factor. It's unrealistic for any non-trad to really "fix" their gpa from a sub-3.0. Even if I took 120 semester credits as a post bacc and nailed a 4.0, it would only bring up a 3.0 UG cgpa to a 3.5. I mean, honestly, do you really think that's what the adcoms want? At some point, I would assume they'd recognize that you've proven yourself, even if you don't have a 4.0 cgpa.
     

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