Dec 23, 2014
11
4
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello all!
I am entering my junior year at a state university in Michigan. I plan to take the MCAT in April 2016, and then apply to both MD and DO schools that summer.
I have a few questions about the next 8 months:
  • What can I do to strengthen my application between now and then? I currently have a 3.73 cGPA and a 3.85 sGPA (with a much better Sophomore than Freshman Year), am working in a physiology lab on a glioblastoma project (been in lab since January 2015, plan to stay throughout undergrad), work as an in-home respite care aid, have 50 hours volunteering in the emergency department, volunteer once a week with an organization that works with individuals on the autistic spectrum (This is a good leadership experience as I plan social outings with them), and will have plenty of shadowing as I luckily know numerous doctors in my community through my physician father. I also will be participating in a camping/hiking study abroad in New Zealand this Winter Break.
  • Which MCAT prep course should I take? And which books are the best to supplement with?
  • Is it ok if I take a very low amount of credits this year in order to study for the MCAT, gain hours at work and in my lab? I am ahead in my credits due to AP and summer courses, and I will also receive 6 credits over Winter Break for my study abroad.
Sorry if this post was lengthy, it is my first in SDN. I appreciate all and any advice/criticism!
 

SmurfingReviews

5+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2014
94
19
Status
Medical Student
1. Keep up the good work, and those are some cool things that you will be doing or have plans to do! Maybe do some community service that's not medical related to strengthen your app
2. MCAT prep courses are essentially the same, and each one have strengths and weaknesses. I personally took Kaplan prior to mcat swapping to new format. Having said that, I felt like MCAT course was a waste of my money and I did better when I studied by myself. This is completely up to you whether you decide to take prep course or study on your own.
3. Having lower loads would probably relieve some pressure especially if you are going to have research concurrently with the MCAT. But make sure you also keep up your work in those courses since adcom will be able to see breakdown of credit hours taken semester by semester.

Best of luck!
 
OP
JohnDorian2.0
Dec 23, 2014
11
4
Status
Pre-Medical
1. Keep up the good work, and those are some cool things that you will be doing or have plans to do! Maybe do some community service that's not medical related to strengthen your app
2. MCAT prep courses are essentially the same, and each one have strengths and weaknesses. I personally took Kaplan prior to mcat swapping to new format. Having said that, I felt like MCAT course was a waste of my money and I did better when I studied by myself. This is completely up to you whether you decide to take prep course or study on your own.
3. Having lower loads would probably relieve some pressure especially if you are going to have research concurrently with the MCAT. But make sure you also keep up your work in those courses since adcom will be able to see breakdown of credit hours taken semester by semester.

Best of luck!
Thank you so much for the response! I really appreciate it. If anyone else has suggestions to increase my chances, or how to approach MCAT prep it would be very helpful to this neurotic pre-med! :)
 

majahops

YOU are great.
10+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2006
1,727
23
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Take a minimal course load and do minimal-to-no research while studying for the MCAT.
Be very systematic in your studying for the MCAT, plan what you will study and when you will study it (with revisions as necessary as you go)
 
OP
JohnDorian2.0
Dec 23, 2014
11
4
Status
Pre-Medical
Take a minimal course load and do minimal-to-no research while studying for the MCAT.
Be very systematic in your studying for the MCAT, plan what you will study and when you will study it (with revisions as necessary as you go)
Will do. I plan on only going into the lab twice a week first semester, and taking second semester off in order to study more for the MCAT. Thank you for your input!

One more thing, I am taking Biochem this fall, which I understand is a major part of the MCAT. Would you recommend taking a prep course second semester, after I have completed biochem? (as opposed to concurrently)
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
Hello all!
I am entering my junior year at a state university in Michigan. I plan to take the MCAT in April 2016, and then apply to both MD and DO schools that summer.
I have a few questions about the next 8 months:
  • What can I do to strengthen my application between now and then? I currently have a 3.73 cGPA and a 3.85 sGPA (with a much better Sophomore than Freshman Year), am working in a physiology lab on a glioblastoma project (been in lab since January 2015, plan to stay throughout undergrad), work as an in-home respite care aid, have 50 hours volunteering in the emergency department, volunteer once a week with an organization that works with individuals on the autistic spectrum (This is a good leadership experience as I plan social outings with them), and will have plenty of shadowing as I luckily know numerous doctors in my community through my physician father. I also will be participating in a camping/hiking study abroad in New Zealand this Winter Break.
  • Which MCAT prep course should I take? And which books are the best to supplement with?
  • Is it ok if I take a very low amount of credits this year in order to study for the MCAT, gain hours at work and in my lab? I am ahead in my credits due to AP and summer courses, and I will also receive 6 credits over Winter Break for my study abroad.
Sorry if this post was lengthy, it is my first in SDN. I appreciate all and any advice/criticism!
Clinical exposure and volunteering is what you need to focus on. Don't do anything that will drop your grades or not allow you time for sufficient MCAT prep. If you are applying next cycle it's hard to say when to take the MCAT but it's probably not the best choice to take it during the actual school year(of course studying for it during hte school year is a different thing) and you want to take it early enough where you still have a chance to re-take it if necessary for next cycle.

It's fine to ease up on credits but by "very low" amount of credits 12-13 should be ok not say 8. And I wouldn't try and drag MCAT prep over both semesters; stick to it for the spring and try and take it after school ends(again timing is hard to say but if you are all in on applying next cycle you really want to give yourself time for a re-take chance if it is necessary. If you are more open to a gap year particularly if the MCAT doesn't go so well the first time you take it then you can push back the actual date you take the MCAT even if your goal is still to apply next cycle).
 
OP
JohnDorian2.0
Dec 23, 2014
11
4
Status
Pre-Medical
Clinical exposure and volunteering is what you need to focus on. Don't do anything that will drop your grades or not allow you time for sufficient MCAT prep. If you are applying next cycle it's hard to say when to take the MCAT but it's probably not the best choice to take it during the actual school year(of course studying for it during hte school year is a different thing) and you want to take it early enough where you still have a chance to re-take it if necessary for next cycle.

It's fine to ease up on credits but by "very low" amount of credits 12-13 should be ok not say 8. And I wouldn't try and drag MCAT prep over both semesters; stick to it for the spring and try and take it after school ends(again timing is hard to say but if you are all in on applying next cycle you really want to give yourself time for a re-take chance if it is necessary. If you are more open to a gap year particularly if the MCAT doesn't go so well the first time you take it then you can push back the actual date you take the MCAT even if your goal is still to apply next cycle).
Would you count my job as a respite care provider as clinical exposure? I provide in home care to clients with cerebral palsy, and other types of disabilities. I was trained to administer medications (mostly through a G-tube) and also was trained by an OT to perform ROM exercises with a client.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
Would you count my job as a respite care provider as clinical exposure? I provide in home care to clients with cerebral palsy, and other types of disabilities. I was trained to administer medications (mostly through a G-tube) and also was trained by an OT to perform ROM exercises with a client.
Sure. You do want to keep up the work volunteering in the ER and with children with autism however even if you are doing this for a solid amount of time a week.
 

majahops

YOU are great.
10+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2006
1,727
23
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Will do. I plan on only going into the lab twice a week first semester, and taking second semester off in order to study more for the MCAT. Thank you for your input!

One more thing, I am taking Biochem this fall, which I understand is a major part of the MCAT. Would you recommend taking a prep course second semester, after I have completed biochem? (as opposed to concurrently)
I've never been one for prep courses myself, that's just not the most efficient way for me to learn. I used the ExamKrackers books exclusively for MCAT studying. I don't know if that's the best resource any more, but boy it sure was at that time. I didn't find biochem to be a big part of MCAT. I did find BIO and CHEM, their introductory versions, to be a big part of MCAT. Biochem was more med school, at least for me.