Ask a College Graduate Anything (yes, I did "premed")

Dr. Stalker

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Hello to all the wee little high schoolers out there! I am a recent graduate from a public university in the good ol' US of A! While in my 4 years I did the whole "pre-med" thing, and I'm happy to answer any/all question pertaining to college or HS as I excelled in both.

About me: Studied 4 years, earned my B.S. degree, but I didn't get into med school immediately! In fact, I'm still not there. I recently just retook my MCAT (took it once got a ok score, applied, got interviews, got waitlisted, got rejected from all schools, and they said to up my MCAT and reapply) and that's where we are now!

Feel free to fire away with any questions or concerns you may have, and if you're embarrassed, don't be! No such thing as a stupid question but if you still are, feel free to shoot me a private message and i'll try n' respond!
 

Kurk

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What advice would you give to those highschoolers who are nervous about college classes, studying, etc?

How do you approach a prof for the first time after hours?

Do you address them by "Dr. X" or "Professor X"?

How many hours per week did you spend just in lectures on average?

Outside of studying, volunteering, shadowing, etc. how much time did you have for hobbies/socializing/having a life/? (I know it is subjective to many things)

How many significant grading opportunities do you receive per semester in an average class (e.g general biology)?

Thank you for taking the time
 

jcdo

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were there times where you felt stuck, or saw other students you knew who where stuck. as in, no matter what they did they kept scoring bad say, in a biology. how can you get out of something like that. how can you avoid that.
what are tests like.. is it spitting information back or using what youve learned and applying it
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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What advice would you give to those highschoolers who are nervous about college classes, studying, etc?
Its ok to be nervous! All freshman are! I know I deifnitely was. Its really important you go in with a solid plan and be ready to give it your all. A lot of college students SUFFER their freshman year because they don't approach college the way you should - they treat it like high school. You'll be taking several hard classes and you can't simply just study the night before - you can get away with that in HS, but if you try that in college, you're on the fast track to a 1.0 GPA. Freshman year is a bit rough in terms of adjusting, however the classes you'll be taking are the easiest, it only gets harder, so its important to study really hard and try to get the highest possible GPA. I would STRONGLY suggest a few tips:
1. Study in the library. Not your dorm room. The dorms are awesome for socializing, people will be coming in and out constantly. Go to the library with your lecture notes, textbook, and homeworks. Do all of your assignments, and then study and do practice questions. For gen chem, I remember we'd have about 30 questions of hw a week. I'd do all over those, and then additionally, I'd do another 15 to 20 in the chapter we were studying to make sure I had the material down.
2. DON'T FALL BEHIND. Stay ahead. Always try to stay ahead.
3. Have fun - but controlled fun - partying is ok, but every night is gonna destroy your GPA (and your body)

How do you approach a prof for the first time after hours?
First and foremost have a good reason to approach a professor. A lot of professors tend to hate pre-meds so simplying going up after lecture 1 to say "Hi I'm Kurk, I'm in your freshman chem class!" will make him/her assume you're trying to kiss up and you're a pre-med and already you'll be in bad standing. If you have a legitimate question on notes, materials, or questions, you can go to them during office hours. Bring ALL the materials organized. If you have a question from slide 23 in lecture 4, bring lecture 3 and 5 because he/she might say "Yeah there was an error on that slide, but I corrected it in lecture 3 and 5" so this way you don't look like a fool.

Do you address them by "Dr. X" or "Professor X"?
Great question! Professor. Always professor. While a PhD is a Doctor, these professors in academics work extremely hard to earn the title of professor. You can be a "doctor" as soon as you finish your PhD. But to be a professor you need to complete a post-doc and get associate professor status and work towards tenure, so its a higher form of respect.

How many hours per week did you spend just in lectures on average?
Let me think...you mean just lecture hours? I'd say from Monday to Friday I had roughly 15 to 20 hours of pure lecture a week, which is roughly 4 hours a day. After class I'd go to the library and start doing my homework or studying for midterms.

Outside of studying, volunteering, shadowing, etc. how much time did you have for hobbies/socializing/having a life/? (I know it is subjective to many things)
First and foremost, grades are the most important part of your medical school application! You can volunteer 10,000 hours, but if you don't have good grades it don't mean squat unfortunately! I mainly studied in the semesters....a little bit of volunteering (4 hours a week) because I was wrapped up in classes. I was also involved in several extracurricular activities like TAing for some classes and club meetings/club leadership. With all of that plus classwork, I was pretty busy! I did have time for my hobbies/socializing/life! I lived in a suite, which is a common room plus 3 rooms with 2 guys in them. Me and my roommate would play xbox every night or watch netflix, get food, etc. Maybe during midterm week a little bit less, but I had plenty of time. I always had friday and saturday nights free. I'd finish up studying by 6 or 7pm, and go out afterwards. Don't worry, its doable :).

How many significant grading opportunities do you receive per semester in an average class (e.g general biology)?
Unfortunately for those classes there aren't too many grading opportunities. My general biology class simply had 4 midterms (in college every exam is called a midterm), and a final exam. Each was 25% of your grade. The final exam counted to your grade no matter what, and of the 4 other midterms, your lowest score was dropped, so 3 of them counted. :/. Occasionally in a class like gen chem, you have 3 midterms and a final, everything counts, sometimes the final more than others. Hypothetically, the final might be 30% of your overall grade, each midterm then 20%, so that brings us to 90%. 10% might be split up between 5% of lecture clicker questions, and 5% online homework assignments.

Thank you for taking the time
My pleasure :)
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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were there times where you felt stuck, or saw other students you knew who where stuck. as in, no matter what they did they kept scoring bad say, in a biology. how can you get out of something like that. how can you avoid that.
Absolutely. You're going to be hit hard with a ton of difficult material at a rapid pace. Be prepared to feel stuck and sometimes even hopelessly lost! What got me through it was knowing my entire class probably felt the same way. What I would do is think about all of us in this together and that helped me a little bit. Afterwards, I'd really look over the material, slowly and carefully, what about it was so hard?? Was I missing a key topic that everything understood? Is it the concept or the calculations surrounding the concept. Lastly, you should make good use of the TAs! Most classes have undergraduate TAs that TOOK THAT CLASS LAST SEMESTER! They know everyone will struggle with a particular topic, because chances are, he or she did! Go to them. Learn to love them. They can really help you understand the concept and get back ony our feet!

You can't avoid it! What you can do is brace for impact and relax. Deep breaths. You can do this!

what are tests like.. is it spitting information back or using what youve learned and applying it
It depends on the class. Sometimes in a biology class its spitting back information. Recognizing details. Other times the professor will want you to apply what you were taught in lecture. That's mainly what will happen in your physics, chem, and math classes. And it will happen in your bio classes, the upper division ones for sure. Tests are like once every 3 to 4 weeks, and they count for a lot of your overall grade, so its important you prepare. Professors will often give you a sample midterm (usually last year's midterm that he/she wrote) so that's an excellent template to get used to what you'll be asked.
 
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DUCKTOR

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Does going pre-med somewhat define you? As in did you see people distancing themselves from you because they thought you were this uptight, stereotypical pre-med student?

I found out from some of my friends that their first impression of me was as this kid who thought he was smarter than everyone else. I definitely don't want this idea of me to continue in college especially if I do decide to go pre-med. Thanks. :unsure:
 
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jcdo

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Absolutely. You're going to be hit hard with a ton of difficult material at a rapid pace. Be prepared to feel stuck and sometimes even hopelessly lost! What got me through it was knowing my entire class probably felt the same way. What I would do is think about all of us in this together and that helped me a little bit. Afterwards, I'd really look over the material, slowly and carefully, what about it was so hard?? Was I missing a key topic that everything understood? Is it the concept or the calculations surrounding the concept. Lastly, you should make good use of the TAs! Most classes have undergraduate TAs that TOOK THAT CLASS LAST SEMESTER! They know everyone will struggle with a particular topic, because chances are, he or she did! Go to them. Learn to love them. They can really help you understand the concept and get back ony our feet!

You can't avoid it! What you can do is brace for impact and relax. Deep breaths. You can do this!



It depends on the class. Sometimes in a biology class its spitting back information. Recognizing details. Other times the professor will want you to apply what you were taught in lecture. That's mainly what will happen in your physics, chem, and math classes. And it will happen in your bio classes, the upper division ones for sure. Tests are like once every 3 to 4 weeks, and they count for a lot of your overall grade, so its important you prepare. Professors will often give you a sample midterm (usually last year's midterm that he/she wrote) so that's an excellent template to get used to what you'll be asked.
WHAT IS A TA??
 
Jul 26, 2016
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Hello to all the wee little high schoolers out there! I am a recent graduate from a public university in the good ol' US of A! While in my 4 years I did the whole "pre-med" thing, and I'm happy to answer any/all question pertaining to college or HS as I excelled in both.

About me: Studied 4 years, earned my B.S. degree, but I didn't get into med school immediately! In fact, I'm still not there. I recently just retook my MCAT (took it once got a ok score, applied, got interviews, got waitlisted, got rejected from all schools, and they said to up my MCAT and reapply) and that's where we are now!

Feel free to fire away with any questions or concerns you may have, and if you're embarrassed, don't be! No such thing as a stupid question but if you still are, feel free to shoot me a private message and i'll try n' respond!
1. What was your GPA
2. What was your MCAT
 

[POLAR] FlipSide

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What I’ve found is that difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whisper, because life always whispers to you first. And if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream. Whatever you resist persists. But if you ask the right question—not why is this happening, but what is this here to teach me—it puts you in the place and space to get the score you need. Hope this answered your question.
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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Does going pre-med somewhat define you? As in did you see people distancing themselves from you because they thought you were this uptight, stereotypical pre-med student?

I found out from some of my friends that their first impression of me was as this kid who thought he was smarter than everyone else. I definitely don't want this idea of me to continue in college especially if I do decide to go pre-med. Thanks. :unsure:
Unfortunately it does. I guess I'm kind of a "gunner" (hyper-competitive, secret premed, who tries to ruin everyone else)? If you don't know the term gunner, click here. I wasn't really trying to throw people under the bus though - I just worked really, really hard to get the best grades I could. If people asked me my major I'd respond with "Biochemistry" and if they said "pre-med" I'd say "Probably, but I'm not set yet." The definition really sucks...and being pre-med wins you nothing but hardship from the bulk of your professors.

I'd strongly suggest you don't walk around labeling yourself as such. In honest conversations/interviews, you should talk about your future goals, and if medical school is part of that plan, be sure to discuss it. For example, as a freshman, a PI (PI = Principal Investigator = PhD that has a lab doing research) interviewed me to join his lab. He gave me a tour, introduced me to all his grad students, post-doc, etc. At the very end he was like "So Dr. S, I really like you want to take you in - last question - are you pre-med?" I responded honestly and he said he prefers not to mentor students going for medical school, and I ultimately didn't get the spot. A bit of rationalization here, but it worked out for me. It would be much worse to have worked in his lab for 3 years and then ask him for a letter of recommendation for medical school and not get one and have wasted all my time.

I personally did not like the stereotypical pre-med kids - so they weren't too many of my friends. They were gunners lol. But you'll meet a lot of people in college, so don't worry :). Just don't be uptight!
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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1. What was your GPA
2. What was your MCAT
GPA: 3.7+ (at my UG it's actually very very difficult to get above a 3.5, so I'm very proud - I also took the bulk of the hardest classes offered)
MCAT: 29 (old MCAT)

I applied with those numbers only to be interviewed, waitlisted, and rejected by many medical schools (MD only - no DO or foreign schools). All of those schools told me while a 29 is generally tolerable with a high GPA such as mine, a lot of medical schools want a new score (out of 528...the MCAT recently changed), so my score (29) was much more lethal.
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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Also what classes did you take in highschool?
All of them?

I'll list the AP classes I took: AP Chemistry, AP Calculus AB, AP Biology, AP Psychology, AP Global History, AP World History, AP English Language and Composition, AP Literature and Composition.

I graduated in the top 10 in my class out of 300. I consider myself top 4...a few students ahead of me cheated their way there, but the school didn't want to cause an issue and make them look bad, so they casually looked the other way -_-.
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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WHAT IS A TA??
Teacher's Assistant. Generally a class will have both a mix of TAs and UGTAs. TA generally can mean undergraduate or graduate student getting his/her masters or PhD in that field, whereas UGTA specifically means Undergraduate Teaching Assistant. I found the UGTAs to be the most helpful and insightful because they would be able to help me from the perspective of a student. A UGTA has taken that class last year and excelled in it (usually got an A- or greater), so they'd offer great tips and tricks to overcome difficult lectures/topics as well as homework problems.
 

JPS398

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Remember to have fun in college, it goes by faster than you think...

but as long as grades are good of course.. don't spend friday night studying unless its finals. if you get into med school you'll do that then..
 

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If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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bump!
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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1. I am planning on majoring in Computer Information Systems (basically, a more broad major than CS). Would I still be able to be a solid candidate for medical school?

2. How important is research in undergrad for medical school?

3. Did you hold a job during college and how did this affect your grades and/or MCAT?

Thank you.
 

efle

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You can major in anything at no disadvantage. Just beware of majors that will make for a lower GPA (e.g. engineering, physics)

The importance of research varies a lot between medical schools. In broad strokes, for most of the very top private schools it is the norm to have research experience (90-95% of accepted students have had research XP at these places, according to the MSAR data), while for midlevel and public/state programs it is still common but not nearly as expected.

Many people work something part time and/or do research and/or handle time intensive ECs like sports. Juggling a lot of hours of stuff is a big part of the premed game
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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1. I am planning on majoring in Computer Information Systems (basically, a more broad major than CS). Would I still be able to be a solid candidate for medical school?

2. How important is research in undergrad for medical school?

3. Did you hold a job during college and how did this affect your grades and/or MCAT?

Thank you.
1. Any major is fine. Keep in mind medical schools place a heavy emphasis on GPA with respect to admissions. If you feel this major can help you maintain that along with all the pre-med classes, go for it!
2. Research is one of the more important things you should do for medical school. Any and all research is fine. Whether its in comp sci, biochem, or even physics!
3. Nope, no job. I was involved in lots of time consuming extra curricular activities though. Its important to balance everything, you don't want to have a 4.0 GPA with zero ECs. Mix in small amounts of clubs, volunteer work, etc.!
 
Dec 13, 2016
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How did you maintain such a high GPA when science courses/Pre-med pre-requisites are so rigorous? This is my main concern when I'm admitted into a University.
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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How did you maintain such a high GPA when science courses/Pre-med pre-requisites are so rigorous? This is my main concern when I'm admitted into a University.
Its no joke. Its a ton of work. At my particular UG our sciences were brutal. I tutor all over my home town at about 10 other colleges, and for example, our organic chemistry was by far the hardest.

To maintain a high GPA its pertinent you don't mess up freshman year. These are the easiest classes you'll be taking in college. Its important you learn HOW to study. Don't study in your dorm - too much noise, too social. Get comfortable at a quiet library (I'm not a fan of studying at cafes...I go there to read for leisure, but not to learn), and really LEARN.

1. GO TO CLASS. Don't think "Oh its ok, I'll just review it after, its not like there's attendance!" That's a huge mistake. Going to lecture isn't just sitting there. Its actively reading and reviewing all material beforehand and taking notes during class.
2. After class, THAT DAY, review your notes. Don't save it for later. Later never comes.
3. REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW! You can't just read science. A big difference between high school and college is practice tests. Your professor sometimes gives you LAST YEARS exam to study with. Treat this well, you know what your professor will ask, so learn it.
4. Study. Practice Problems. If your professors gives you 5 HW problems a week and you copy your friends answers you aren't learning. The only way to truly learn a science is to do a lot of practice questions applying that knowledge.
5. Reach out to TAs. The Undergraduate TAs took the very same class you're taking. Go to their office hours and learn how to prepare and what you should and should not be doing.

If you do all this, it won't be as frightening as you think!
 
Dec 13, 2016
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Its no joke. Its a ton of work. At my particular UG our sciences were brutal. I tutor all over my home town at about 10 other colleges, and for example, our organic chemistry was by far the hardest.

To maintain a high GPA its pertinent you don't mess up freshman year. These are the easiest classes you'll be taking in college. Its important you learn HOW to study. Don't study in your dorm - too much noise, too social. Get comfortable at a quiet library (I'm not a fan of studying at cafes...I go there to read for leisure, but not to learn), and really LEARN.

1. GO TO CLASS. Don't think "Oh its ok, I'll just review it after, its not like there's attendance!" That's a huge mistake. Going to lecture isn't just sitting there. Its actively reading and reviewing all material beforehand and taking notes during class.
2. After class, THAT DAY, review your notes. Don't save it for later. Later never comes.
3. REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW! You can't just read science. A big difference between high school and college is practice tests. Your professor sometimes gives you LAST YEARS exam to study with. Treat this well, you know what your professor will ask, so learn it.
4. Study. Practice Problems. If your professors gives you 5 HW problems a week and you copy your friends answers you aren't learning. The only way to truly learn a science is to do a lot of practice questions applying that knowledge.
5. Reach out to TAs. The Undergraduate TAs took the very same class you're taking. Go to their office hours and learn how to prepare and what you should and should not be doing.

If you do all this, it won't be as frightening as you think!
Thank you so much for the sound advice!
 

juice up

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So I got accepted to Cornell and my state school. I want to know your advice and if I should attend my state school where I could get higher grades or a grade deflating school like Cornell? Thanks man!!
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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So I got accepted to Cornell and my state school. I want to know your advice and if I should attend my state school where I could get higher grades or a grade deflating school like Cornell? Thanks man!!
You should really investigate the difficulty and opportunities at both schools. I went to a state school which (no offense) is way harder than cornell :p. Wherever you go, whatever you do, just be smart about it and work hard to earn the highest possible grades. For a successful applicant (MD bound, not DO/foreign), you really want a 3.7+ GPA, so that's really A-'s across the board. Good luck! PM me specifics if you'd like my help and judgement about state schools.
 

undetermine

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1. How did you study (like note taking methods, study tips etc)
2. Did you live in a dorm, if so how was your experience
3. How many volunteer hours do you recommend before applying to med school
4. How competitive was your college (like studentwise) I've heard some professors grade on a curve and only there are only a certain number of A's and B's so the competition is very tight...
5. Also, when did you take your MCAT
 
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Dr. Stalker

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1. How did you study (like note taking methods, study tips etc)
2. Did you live in a dorm, if so how was your experience
3. How many volunteer hours do you recommend before applying to med school
4. How competitive was your college (like studentwise) I've heard some professors grade on a curve and only there are only a certain number of A's and B's so the competition is very tight...
5. Also, when did you take your MCAT
1. It varied. For all classes, I did attend lecture. It motivates you to actually give a crap about what you're learning. And I'd pay attention to lecture thoroughly (no texting, snapchatting etc.). Bring your notes printed out before class and pay attention and take notes during the lecture itself. Finally, I'd rewatch the lecture (if it was recorded) because I'd usually miss some details here and there. Then I'd review those notes every weekend. Thats how I did most of the biology based courses. Same thing for the harder sciences (chemistry, organic, physics, etc.) but in addition to doing reviewing notes I'd do tons of practice questions to make sure I understood the concept.

2. DORMING is great. I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful dude during orientation before college and he was my first roommate. During my freshman year, I met some other great friends, and I eventually moved into a suite style building with them. In our suite, from the hallway if you entered, you would see a common room. This had couches and stuff, a nice window with a scenic view. Then there were three rooms, each with two occupants within them. Dorming is essential to college because its a level of socialization. Yes, it costs money, and I don't advocate it just so you can "party." Its pivotal you learn to live with others outside your family, make new friends, embrace a new atmosphere, and have fun.

3. Volunteering, shadowing, ECs are all useless without a high MCAT and decent GPA. High MCAT = >512, and for science and cumulative GPA, above 3.65. I say that because way too many premeds do the whole "volunteering for 3,000 hours" and end up not getting into medical school because they have garbage numbers. Are applications reviewed "holistically?" Yes and no. Yes --> They will read everything you did. No --> They don't care you did 3,000 hours volunteering, went to a 3rd world country, shadowed 5 doctors UNLESS you've impressed them with your academics. Nothing compensates for low grades.

To answer your question, aim for 200 hours before you apply. Doing a couple a week or during the summer months this is easy to obtain.

4. EXTREMELY Competitive. My university (despite being a "state" school) has an awful premed community. Not only was each student out for him or herself, the competition was fierce, and our professors didn't help. Kind of like the hunger games. Some of my classes were curved, meaning the higher scoring students made the cutoff for an A even higher. Some were curved in our favor, if the average was a 33, an A might be a 70+. However, I did take one class where the average on each exam was in the 20s, yet an A was a 90+...

5. Fall 2014, Summer 2015.
 
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EmergencyMedFanatic

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Currently I'm a pharmacy technician and I've made it thing asking my pharmacists questions about medications and how each works on a chemical level in the body; how much of the pre-med education is based off of that? Also what are some areas that a high school student should be familiarizing him/herself with before even starting college?
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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Currently I'm a pharmacy technician and I've made it thing asking my pharmacists questions about medications and how each works on a chemical level in the body; how much of the pre-med education is based off of that? Also what are some areas that a high school student should be familiarizing him/herself with before even starting college?
Great question. Btw, any and all prehealth exposure is good. Pharm tech, dental assistant, etc.

As far as learning about drugs, that's great. Its a good amount of introductory biology and chemistry, with tidbits of kinetic and thermochem localized to the human body, some pharamcology, as well as biochemistry. Great stuff.

The best thing I can tell you for HS is to study HARD and WELL. Additionally, try to take AP Bio and AP Chemistry. Don't just sit there in those classes. Take them very seriously as they will mirror your introductory biology and chemistry classes that you'll be taking as a freshman. Study hard and learn the material! Additionally, try to get a 5 on both of those exams. This brings me to my next point: try to take as many AP classes as you can in HS and get as much college credit as possible. While you might not get waved out of a class, having all those credits going in is a lifesaver. When I started my freshman fall, I had enough credits to be a sophomore, and halfway through my freshman year, I had enough credits to be considered a junior.

Lastly: ENJOY high school. College pre-med isn't "frats, booze, girls every night." Try studying every single night very hard as you see your peers going out with the kegs and lady life. You'll have plenty of time to lock yourself up in the library during pre-med, so enjoy HS as much as possible.
 
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EmergencyMedFanatic

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Thanks for your response! My next question is how are you doing on your journey to become an MD? Any recent breakthroughs or anything that really stuck out and you'd do differently?
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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Thanks for your response! My next question is how are you doing on your journey to become an MD? Any recent breakthroughs or anything that really stuck out and you'd do differently?
YES. The one thing I wish I knew was your grades are EVERYTHING! Every MD school website says "we do a holistic review of your application, more than MCAT and GPA!" That's true to an extent. Your ECs WILL NOT SAVE YOU. The biggest issue is really getting a competitive MCAT score. Study hard and early. At the end of your freshman year, assuming you've taken freshman biology and chemistry, get the MCAT books for them and start studying. You're never too young to prepare for the verbal section either. Really, the best way to get an interview at a MD school AND an acceptance is proving your worth on numbers. AFTERWARDS, all your ECs matter. Get some volunteering and shadowing, definitely some research. But guess what, doing 5000 hours volunteering, going to a third world country to work at a free clinic, shadowing the department chair of pediatrics DOES NOT MATTER unless you get those golden numbers. After those numbers are met, those ECs make you look amazing and help pull you into the school :). I wanted ZERO gap years, I graduated with a top GPA and several honors due to research as well as amazing ECs. 5k research hours, 1k volunteer, lots of research scholarships, and amazing GPA, but my MCAT was borderline. I'm looking at 3 gap years because I grossly underestimated the MCAT. I should have taken it once and gotten a high score. I rushed to take it because the exam was changing, and I got a very borderline score, and I tried to apply, and my ECs didn't save me, neither did my GPA. GET THAT HIGH MCAT!!!!!!!!!!
 

EmergencyMedFanatic

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[QUOTE="Dr. Stalker, post: 18619529, member: 639729" GET THAT HIGH MCAT!!!!!!!!!![/QUOTE]
Did you retake the MCAT's? And what study materials are you using now? Also what is the score you're aiming for?
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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[QUOTE="Dr. Stalker, post: 18619529, member: 639729" GET THAT HIGH MCAT!!!!!!!!!!
Did you retake the MCAT's? And what study materials are you using now? Also what is the score you're aiming for?[/QUOTE]
Took it once in Fall 2014.
Took it a second time Summer 2016.

Studying for a 3rd retake cause my MCAT score isn't quite good enough for an MD school. With my first MCAT score, I received several MD interviews; all waitlisted and rejected me. Post-interview rejection, you can ask schools for feedback, all of them said my MCAT was too borderline, hence I'm retaking a 3rd time. Goal is 518+.
 

Turkishking

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GPA: 3.7+ (at my UG it's actually very very difficult to get above a 3.5, so I'm very proud - I also took the bulk of the hardest classes offered)
MCAT: 29 (old MCAT)

I applied with those numbers only to be interviewed, waitlisted, and rejected by many medical schools (MD only - no DO or foreign schools). All of those schools told me while a 29 is generally tolerable with a high GPA such as mine, a lot of medical schools want a new score (out of 528...the MCAT recently changed), so my score (29) was much more lethal.
How are you a gunner with a 29 on the MCAT?
 
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Dr. Stalker

Dr. Stalker

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How are you a gunner with a 29 on the MCAT?
Never said I was? By definition gunners tend to be hostile...I just kept to myself and studied. Did my own thing, ya feel me
 

Turkishking

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Unfortunately it does. I guess I'm kind of a "gunner" (hyper-competitive, secret premed, who tries to ruin everyone else)? If you don't know the term gunner, click here. I wasn't really trying to throw people under the bus though - I just worked really, really hard to get the best grades I could. If people asked me my major I'd respond with "Biochemistry" and if they said "pre-med" I'd say "Probably, but I'm not set yet." The definition really sucks...and being pre-med wins you nothing but hardship from the bulk of your professors.

I'd strongly suggest you don't walk around labeling yourself as such. In honest conversations/interviews, you should talk about your future goals, and if medical school is part of that plan, be sure to discuss it. For example, as a freshman, a PI (PI = Principal Investigator = PhD that has a lab doing research) interviewed me to join his lab. He gave me a tour, introduced me to all his grad students, post-doc, etc. At the very end he was like "So Dr. S, I really like you want to take you in - last question - are you pre-med?" I responded honestly and he said he prefers not to mentor students going for medical school, and I ultimately didn't get the spot. A bit of rationalization here, but it worked out for me. It would be much worse to have worked in his lab for 3 years and then ask him for a letter of recommendation for medical school and not get one and have wasted all my time.

I personally did not like the stereotypical pre-med kids - so they weren't too many of my friends. They were gunners lol. But you'll meet a lot of people in college, so don't worry :). Just don't be uptight!
But I feel you ;)
 
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Dr. Stalker

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But I feel you ;)
I just re-read that :(. I mean in the loosest sense I suppose I was? But I never harassed other students like the other gunners I had met. In that post you quoted (drat, you beat me to editing my above post), I actually didn't do those things in the parentheses. I spent most of my time studying by myself. I guess I did have gunner qualities though, high grades?
 
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Turkishking

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If you are curious to know, I did know a few gunners. One of them stole my notebook from the library once! D:
Similar thing happened to me. He then proceeded to say, it was an accident. I ended up failing the first exam, and withdrew from the course.
 

neel9414

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Did you retake the MCAT's? And what study materials are you using now? Also what is the score you're aiming for?
Took it once in Fall 2014.
Took it a second time Summer 2016.
Studying for a 3rd retake cause my MCAT score isn't quite good enough for an MD school. With my first MCAT score, I received several MD interviews; all waitlisted and rejected me. Post-interview rejection, you can ask schools for feedback, all of them said my MCAT was too borderline, hence I'm retaking a 3rd time. Goal is 518+.
[/QUOTE]


I personally think a realistic goal for most people when taking the MCAT should be a 508 (127 on each section). That'll put you at the 79th percentile of all test takers and make you a competitive applicant at the middle and lower tier medical schools as long as you've checked all the other boxes. A score of 518+ (97th percentile or greater) is really difficult to achieve and unrealistic for many.
 
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I personally think a realistic goal for most people when taking the MCAT should be a 508 (127 on each section). That'll put you at the 79th percentile of all test takers and make you a competitive applicant at the middle and lower tier medical schools as long as you've checked all the other boxes. A score of 518+ (97th percentile or greater) is really difficult to achieve and unrealistic for many.[/QUOTE]

Solid advice, and I do appreciate it. However, the fact that I have roughly two scores of a 29 on my record makes me a bit concerned as to how "low of a score I can afford to make adcoms forgive me." If I was a first time testtaker and a college junior, a 508 would be solid. But I scored a 29 (balanced) on my first exam. Despite that, I applied and received several interviews all waitlists cause of the MCAT score (I called schools and asked why I was waitlisted/what to improve). Then, on my second MCAT (first time taking the new test), I hit a 505 (again, balanced). This is what I think seriously holds me back!

I know a 518 is incredibly high, but I'm hitting 507s on practice exams now (and I'm only 1 week into MCAT studying), so I can see the score rising. Lastly, if I fall short of a 518 and hit a 515, I'd hope adcom would cut me some slack.

What score do you think I'd need to be successfully admitted to a US MD school given my circumstances? sGPA and cGPA >3.7, 1000 volunteer hours, 500+ shadow hours (5 different types of doctors), research thesis from ug, advanced honors diploma from ug, several published research papers (1000+ research hours), leadership in lots of clubs, and very strong letters of recommendation (very personal from faculty [MDs, MD-PhDs, PhDs] that knew me very well) etc.?
 
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Similar thing happened to me. He then proceeded to say, it was an accident. I ended up failing the first exam, and withdrew from the course.
Lol, the guy walked out of the library WITH MY BINDER. I left it on my desk for two minutes to go to the bathroom. Prior to that, in my lecture the professor gave me an award in front of the whole class (700+ students) for the highest test score. I was a bit annoyed he did that (#Gunners like to be silent ;) ), so some random classmate of mine came up to me in the library and asked to study with me. I said "uhm sure." While I'm gone, I found him in the hallway with my binder. Very awkward conversation. Said he "mixed up our books" yet mine had my name printed in a huge font on several labels on and inside the binder. Smh.

BTW by gunner, I meant more so in the loosest sense of good grades, not the "I'm out to shoot you, take you down, be the last and best pre-med standing" however I know you were joking, I just wanted to clarify it :).
 
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neel9414

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Solid advice, and I do appreciate it. However, the fact that I have roughly two scores of a 29 on my record makes me a bit concerned as to how "low of a score I can afford to make adcoms forgive me." If I was a first time testtaker and a college junior, a 508 would be solid. But I scored a 29 (balanced) on my first exam. Despite that, I applied and received several interviews all waitlists cause of the MCAT score (I called schools and asked why I was waitlisted/what to improve). Then, on my second MCAT (first time taking the new test), I hit a 505 (again, balanced). This is what I think seriously holds me back!

I know a 518 is incredibly high, but I'm hitting 507s on practice exams now (and I'm only 1 week into MCAT studying), so I can see the score rising. Lastly, if I fall short of a 518 and hit a 515, I'd hope adcom would cut me some slack.

What score do you think I'd need to be successfully admitted to a US MD school given my circumstances? sGPA and cGPA >3.7, 1000 volunteer hours, 500+ shadow hours (5 different types of doctors), research thesis from ug, advanced honors diploma from ug, several published research papers (1000+ research hours), leadership in lots of clubs, and very strong letters of recommendation (very personal from faculty [MDs, MD-PhDs, PhDs] that knew me very well) etc.?


I didn't mean to come off as discouraging about your MCAT goal score. You should always try to get the highest possible score you can. I just wanted for other people reading it, who maybe haven't started learning about the MCAT and don't know any better, to know what a reasonable goal should be.

To be honest, I'm surprised that you didn't get in off of the waitlists your first time. With a score of 29, a GPA as high as yours and all of your ECs, I think would have been good enough. I really don't know what the real impact of rewriting the MCAT is in the eyes of adcoms. From what I read online, they want to see improvement, but the fact that you got two similar scores would make me think that that 70ish percentile score is your "real" score. That's not necessarily a bad thing as nearly 40% of all AMCAS applicants end up matriculating to a medical school.

A few things I would do/consider:
- Ask yourself if you really did try as hard as you could have on your first 2 attempts of the MCAT. If you did, a 3rd try might not be the best use of your time, especially since a decrease in score would be disastrous. If you determine that you didn't do everything you could have done on your first two tries, I think your goal should be 512 (the median score for all MATRICULANTS into MD school). That is just outside the 90th percentile and when you get into that range, the difference between 512, 513, 514 might be just 1 or 2 questions.
- Focus all of your current ECs into clinical experiences. Try to become a scribe or a CNA. These things look good on applications.
- Think about going the DO route. I know this might be something you want to hear. There is a stigma to it, that you couldn't hack it and get into MD school. Whoever tells you there isn't is lying to you. But your end goal is to become a doctor and this will get you there. Even if you want to specialize, the DO route will allow you to do so especially since the AOA/ACGME merger will go into effect by 2020.
- Work on your interview skills. Use your school's career development center to do mock interviews. Ask if you can record yourself during this mock and look for ways to improve.
 
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I didn't mean to come off as discouraging about your MCAT goal score. You should always try to get the highest possible score you can. I just wanted for other people reading it, who maybe haven't started learning about the MCAT and don't know any better, to know what a reasonable goal should be.

To be honest, I'm surprised that you didn't get in off of the waitlists your first time. With a score of 29, a GPA as high as yours and all of your ECs, I think would have been good enough. I really don't know what the real impact of rewriting the MCAT is in the eyes of adcoms. From what I read online, they want to see improvement, but the fact that you got two similar scores would make me think that that 70ish percentile score is your "real" score. That's not necessarily a bad thing as nearly 40% of all AMCAS applicants end up matriculating to a medical school.

A few things I would do/consider:
- Ask yourself if you really did try as hard as you could have on your first 2 attempts of the MCAT. If you did, a 3rd try might not be the best use of your time, especially since a decrease in score would be disastrous. If you determine that you didn't do everything you could have done on your first two tries, I think your goal should be 512 (the median score for all MATRICULANTS into MD school). That is just outside the 90th percentile and when you get into that range, the difference between 512, 513, 514 might be just 1 or 2 questions.
- Focus all of your current ECs into clinical experiences. Try to become a scribe or a CNA. These things look good on applications.
- Think about going the DO route. I know this might be something you want to hear. There is a stigma to it, that you couldn't hack it and get into MD school. Whoever tells you there isn't is lying to you. But your end goal is to become a doctor and this will get you there. Even if you want to specialize, the DO route will allow you to do so especially since the AOA/ACGME merger will go into effect by 2020.
- Work on your interview skills. Use your school's career development center to do mock interviews. Ask if you can record yourself during this mock and look for ways to improve.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. Last year was gap year 1, this is gap year 2 currently. I started my masters and am on my way to completing it by Spring 2018 and hopefully medical school in fall 2018. Assuming I can take my MCAT and score a 512+ by this June and apply on time, I plan on becoming a scribe as well as finishing my masters next year.

All of the MD schools weren't sugar coating it which was certainly nice when they gave me post interview feedback. I too was shocked because theseschools tend to accept 26+ MCATs as per the MSAR anyway. However, an interesting fact that one of the schools did tell me was that particular cycle, 2015-2016, the New MCAT scores were used by the admissions committees for the first time and their particular school opted to take 502+ scores vs their usually 26+, and had a higher standard for the old MCAT scores (31+ as per the information I received). Perhaps that's what the other schools did that rejected me post-interview as well? Regardless of all of these odd rules and rumors, I think the best advice for myself and for any student interested in MD or DO schools is to obtain a killer MCAT score on the first attempt. Sounds simple enough, but if not achieved, can lead to a whole different situation!

Interview practicing is great advice. While I think I'm a great interviewee, I did a bunch of mock interviews to get that way. Nonetheless, it can't hurt to improve on that as well.
 

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1. What are you doing in the meantime while you wait to reapply?

2. Could you have taken a picture of the student who stole your notebook (with said notebook) and report him for stealing?
 
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1. What are you doing in the meantime while you wait to reapply?

2. Could you have taken a picture of the student who stole your notebook (with said notebook) and report him for stealing?
1. I'm getting my master's degree, volunteering, shadowing doctors, and studying to retake my MCAT. A lot of people spend time on ECs and lack the grades, so its really important to have good grades/MCAT when applying to be successful.

2. Easily, but I just dropped it. It was awkward enough for both of us. Campus PD was a phone call away, but I figured let's just put this behind us. Though, if it happened again, I would have zero problem going to the police about this. BTW, the library has a ton of cameras, so there was evidence he clearly walked over and snagged my book.
 
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Dr. Stalker

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What are you doing to get by? Work? Living with parents?


And you're better than me. I'd report him in a heartbeat
Living at home studying MCAT around 60 hours a week. From my above posts you can tell my MCAT is really the only thing hindering me for an MD school. My goal is to take my MCAT and get the score I need by april or may if need be. I'm also completing my Masters degree. Home life...is...eh...ok, can't complain. Don't pay rent, and I eat and sleep here for free :p.

Eh, I figured if I report him I'd cause a big scene and it wasn't worth it. Had he damaged my personal belongings I wouldn't have hesitated to call campus police cause that's theft and destruction of my stuff for no reason.