Jul 15, 2013
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I'm going to take a major risk and be really vulnerable with you guys (SDN community) and spill my academic/intellectual story hoping that I can get some insight or advice. I recently received my MCAT scores and did terrible. My dream has been to be a doctor. I'm feeling really defeated and need some help.
So here is my story.....ever since I started grade school I have been that kid that is really smart in some area and REALLY struggled in other areas. I was even put into a "transition" grade between kindergarten and 1st grade. Later I was diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication. During that time I had a childhood IQ test and was supposedly 120. I continued to struggle in classes like math and English yet excelled in the sciences. I even practically failed high school algebra twice in high school:eek:. I took the SAT and scored a terrible 900!
After high school I didn't really know what I wanted to do and needed to mature more and figure life out. I went into surgical technology through a community college. Through that job/career I discovered my passion for medicine. I absolutely love my job and have just as much enthusiasm and zeal for the field as any. So, here is the problem.
I enrolled in university classes and am about to graduate with a 3.8GPA in Human Life Sciences. I took all the prereqs for medical school and did really well. I got A's in physics, organic, chemistry...etc. I took the MCAT and received a 22:(.
So, here is the reason for my rant. Am I just kidding myself into thinking I'm graduate level material??? I took an assessment test for the GRE and it estimated around a 280:(. Now grant it I have not studied for the GRE, but still.....
When I looked up how IQ correlates to SAT/GRE it puts my IQ at around 93-100:(:(:(!
Now I feel like I have a higher IQ than that. I have taken really hard undergraduate level classes and have a GPA of 3.8. I TA biology and my professor told me that I was by far the best TA he has ever had. I actually teach a class prior to each lecture to help the students and do really well. People tell me that I'm really smart and talented. I work with surgeons and they all think that I am capable, yet my standardized testing abilities say otherwise.
I guess I'm really worried that I'm going to have this BS in biology and not be able to go on to med school/PA school/graduate school. Everything about medicine and graduate school is based on these standardized tests!!

Sorry for the rant....but I could really use some advice! Thank you so much for reading

If anybody has a similar story and how they over came that would be really helpful
 
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feeling-dizzy

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Aug 12, 2014
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How many time have you taken MCAT? People often score higher when take MCAT a second time (+3). I myself score 5 points higher in my 2nd MCAT. I know ppl take MCAT 3 or more time to get the score they want.
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
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Pre-Medical
How many time have you taken MCAT? People often score higher when take MCAT a second time (+3). I myself score 5 points higher in my 2nd MCAT. I know ppl take MCAT 3 or more time to get the score they want.
just 1 time
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
41
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Pre-Medical
How many time have you taken MCAT? People often score higher when take MCAT a second time (+3). I myself score 5 points higher in my 2nd MCAT. I know ppl take MCAT 3 or more time to get the score they want.
yeah but when you take MCAT, SAT, and predicted GRE score it is defeating....I agree I'm smart and I can teach the material with the best of them. My worry is can I get past these standardized tests to go on to med school or PA school or grad school
 

unnumzaan

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I enrolled in university classes and am about to graduate with a 3.8GPA in Human Life Sciences. I took all the prereqs for medical school and did really well. I got A's in physics, organic, chemistry...etc. I took the MCAT and received a 22:(.
That just doesn't add up for me. It sounds like you just really struggle with standardized tests? Were you super stressed out during your MCATs and SATs? I mean you have to take tests in all your pre-reqs too, so what gives? At my undergrad, taking a test with 500 other students in the room basically felt like a standardized test to me.

Are those classes you mention at a CC or non-standard university or under partial courseload?
 
Jan 20, 2014
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How many time have you taken MCAT? People often score higher when take MCAT a second time (+3). I myself score 5 points higher in my 2nd MCAT. I know ppl take MCAT 3 or more time to get the score they want.
I wouldn't consider 40% or less to be "often." Only about half of people retaking score 2 or more points higher on their retake. A "significant" increase is required to make a person who got a 22 competitive.

https://www.aamc.org/students/download/271680/data/retestertotalscorechange.pdf

Standardized testing is important because you will eventually have to not only pass boards, but be competitive for residencies. A career in medicine means that you will be constantly taking licensing exams (standardized tests) until the day you retire. If OP wants to be competitive for medical school, DO or MD, s/he will have to significantly increase their standardized testing ability, it's as simple as that. The only way to do that is through significant preparation.
 
OP
zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
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Pre-Medical
How many time have you taken MCAT? People often score higher when take MCAT a second time (+3). I myself score 5 points higher in my 2nd MCAT. I know ppl take MCAT 3 or more time to get the score they want.
How did you study the second time....I would love just 3 or 4 points higher (applying DO)
 
OP
zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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By the way I seriously put in 6-8 hours every day for 3 month before the MCAT (with a few sundays off)
 
OP
zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
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Pre-Medical
Would they give you extra time for the MCAT with ADD/ADHD? And seriously dude, don't let a test measure your worth. I know it sounds asinine, but you are so much more than that number.
HAHA....I don't think they would do that
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
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Pre-Medical
That just doesn't add up for me. It sounds like you just really struggle with standardized tests? Were you super stressed out during your MCATs and SATs? I mean you have to take tests in all your pre-reqs too, so what gives? At my undergrad, taking a test with 500 other students in the room basically felt like a standardized test to me.

Are those classes you mention at a CC or non-standard university or under partial courseload?
not sure what you mean....my bachelors will be from Indiana University-east campus
not partial course load.....full time student 15 credits
 
Last edited:

raiderette

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Feb 2, 2014
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How did you study? Did you take multiple tests under normal test conditions? I would recommend getting as many practice problems as possible and working under those stressful conditions. Do it timed, in less than ideal circumstances, etc.
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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How did you study? Did you take multiple tests under normal test conditions? I would recommend getting as many practice problems as possible and working under those stressful conditions. Do it timed, in less than ideal circumstances, etc.
I did, I took all AAMC practice tests
 
Sep 17, 2014
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My personal opinion is that if you have a severe standardized testing phobia issue you should consider getting it documented and having appropriate accomodations evaluated by a professional.
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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My personal opinion is that if you have a severe standardized testing phobia issue you should consider getting it documented and having appropriate accomodations evaluated by a professional.
I guess I'm not familiar with this....How will it help me (serious question)
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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So were you scoring higher than the actual test day? You may be the kind of person that benefits from an actual MCAT prep class.
I am considering a prep class. I was scoring low on the FL AAMC. I did have some 25s and a 30 though
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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If anybody has a similar story and how they over came that would be great help!!
 

PlasticBag

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You did well in your classes so you are probably good at solving science problems. Maybe you just need to focus on test-taking strategies? Like timing yourself more strictly or developing psychological coping skills in case you encounter tough passages, etc. Also, confidence might be a real issue!
I would take the MCAT again and see from there. Don't give up yet!

Maybe some med students could give advice on med school exams - are they more like class exams (which would be good for you)? Then all you'd need to worry about is the boards? It probably varies by school but i would imagine most schools try to prepare their students well for the boards? Maybe you didn't have a similar structured support for the MCAT. Having a structure is good for maintaining focus. For me, doing a post-bacc and not knowing anyone who was preparing for the mcat made studying much harder.
 
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Sep 17, 2014
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You did well in your classes so you are probably good at solving science problems. Maybe you just need to focus on test-taking strategies? Like timing yourself more strictly or developing psychological coping skills in case you encounter tough passages, etc. Also, confidence might be a real issue!
I would take the MCAT again and see from there. Don't give up yet!

Maybe some med students could give advice on med school exams - are they more like class exams (which would be good for you)? Then all you'd need to worry about is the boards? It probably varies by school but i would imagine most schools try to prepare their students well for the boards? Maybe you didn't have a similar structured support for the MCAT. Having a structure is good for maintaining focus. For me, doing a post-bacc and not knowing anyone who was preparing for the mcat made studying much harder.
+1, but DO NOT take it again until you feel ready. Go for the kaplan course or whatever it is that people do.
 

unnumzaan

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not sure what you mean....my bachelors will be from Indiana University-east campus
Oh I was just wondering if the classes were from a reputable university, which IU definitely is.

My biggest question for you is how you feel during a MCAT/SAT/GRE vs. a science final at college. Also applies to how you feel during the preparation for each respective test. If you have a consistent history of doing well on the latter but bombing the former, there must be a cause for the pattern.

For example, maybe you need to practice reasoning around MCAT questions, because even though the content is similar to science finals, it is presented very differently. A lot of people end up over thinking and getting mired in the logical puzzles. Or maybe it's the passages themselves causing a reading disability to obstruct you. Or you are very good at learning single subjects but have a hard time assimilating multiple concepts. These are all common test taking pitfalls that have proven solutions through practice and hard work. The key step is to identify what exactly is holding you back. I recommend doing some self-analysis, soul-searching even, before accepting the "oh standardized testing oh woe is me" fate.
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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[/QUOTE]Maybe some med students could give advice on med school exams - are they more like class exams (which would be good for you)? Then all you'd need to worry about is the boards? It probably varies by school but i would imagine most schools try to prepare their students well for the boards? Maybe you didn't have a similar structured support for the MCAT. Having a structure is good for maintaining focus. For me, doing a post-bacc and not knowing anyone who was preparing for the mcat made studying much harder.[/QUOTE]


Confidence is definitely an issue now haha.....I do great on in class exams. I don't have trouble retaining either. Like I said I teach freshman biology and have no trouble at all. I get great reviews and my professors think highly of me. I think it just has something to do with the way standardized tests are structured or something....(I have dealt with severe self esteem issue regarding my academic abilities since grade school)
@PlasticBag
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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Oh I was just wondering if the classes were from a reputable university, which IU definitely is.

My biggest question for you is how you feel during a MCAT/SAT/GRE vs. a science final at college. Also applies to how you feel during the preparation for each respective test. If you have a consistent history of doing well on the latter but bombing the former, there must be a cause for the pattern.

For example, maybe you need to practice reasoning around MCAT questions, because even though the content is similar to science finals, it is presented very differently. A lot of people end up over thinking and getting mired in the logical puzzles. Or maybe it's the passages themselves causing a reading disability to obstruct you. Or you are very good at learning single subjects but have a hard time assimilating multiple concepts. These are all common test taking pitfalls that have proven solutions through practice and hard work. The key step is to identify what exactly is holding you back. I recommend doing some self-analysis, soul-searching even, before accepting the "oh standardized testing oh woe is me" fate.
appreciate the advice. I do great (usually) on final exams. Maybe I just need to suck it up and learn to master these tests?
 
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JohnFe

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Dec 2, 2012
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Hi! First of all, I just want to say my heart goes to you! There are people out there that are dedicated and motivated to achieve their goals but there are just minor setbacks they have to fight through.

Anyway, MCAT is totally different from any other standardized exams. It really tests your problem solving skills and how you handle stress (it is a test that will pave your future!). Anyway, going back to your practice exams, did you make stupid careless mistakes or you don't get the concept/passage/etc.? It seems to me that you have a good basic science foundation.
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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So, basically what I'm getting from this is that "I'm just bad at standardized testing" is just a bad excuse and I can over come them????
 
OP
zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
180
41
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Pre-Medical
Hi! First of all, I just want to say my heart goes to you! There are people out there that are dedicated and motivated to achieve their goals but there are just minor setbacks they have to fight through.

Anyway, MCAT is totally different from any other standardized exams. It really tests your problem solving skills and how you handle stress (it is a test that will pave your future!). Anyway, going back to your practice exams, did you make stupid careless mistakes or you don't get the concept/passage/etc.? It seems to me that you have a good basic science foundation.
I did seem to make bad mistakes i.e. reading the question wrong, forgetting exactly what the question was asking, etc I also did have a decent amount of concepts to practice. It wasn't all just careless mistakes
 
Sep 17, 2014
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Yes, and as another kid who was diagnosed with the ADHD business- give yourself a break. It might take you time to get the hang of a standardized test, but read up on tips specific to people like us. There's a great magazine on it if you google adhd magazine, and that has some good hints.

ADHD doesn't make you stupid, it just means your brain works differently. I took my mcat with normal timing, but I fully support you in considering pursuing accomodations.

You just have to find things that work for you yeah?
 

Afford

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I would just keep on doing as many problems as possible and simulate test conditions. Also, you might need to work on focusing and do all problems under timed conditions.
 

JohnFe

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I did seem to make bad mistakes i.e. reading the question wrong, forgetting exactly what the question was asking, etc I also did have a decent amount of concepts to practice. It wasn't all just careless mistakes
I experienced the same thing on my practice exams.
Things you can improve on if you're planning to retake:
-improve your concentration. (I don't know in what means but this is necessary to avoid making careless mistakes).
-take a lot of sample problems from TBR, Kaplan or gold standard. By looking at different variation of questions, you kind of get a feel of what they are looking for in terms of the correct answer.
-Good luck!

Edit: I wouldn't recommend EK. Their questions seem to easy for the actual MCAT.
 

unnumzaan

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So, basically what I'm getting from this is that "I'm just bad at standardized testing" is just a bad excuse and I can over come them????
Not a bad excuse, not exactly. If you want to pursue this field, then that simply cannot be an excuse. That is not to say that "I'm just bad at standardized testing" cannot be the cause of your problems or even that you are at fault for it. Some educational systems don't prepare you from a young age to take standardized tests. Some people have legitimate learning disabilities that may apply specifically to standardized testing. But again, you cannot let it become an excuse. I believe standardized tests are something you can overcome.
 
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Afford

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Also, the nice thing about the MCAT is that you can retake it. For tests in medical school, there are no retakes. :(
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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Also, the nice thing about the MCAT is that you can retake it. For tests in medical school, there are no retakes. :(
Yes, and that makes me very worried!!

On the other hand, I know plenty of people that struggled on the MCAT to later be very successful in med school and board exams.....
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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You mentioned your IQ score several times, but that information is most often used for young children. It's actually a bit irrelevant for adults. That's because the IQ scores typically decrease as you age. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060504082306.htm By definition, 100 is average. 120 is above average.
well by GRE/SAT scores my IQ has gone from 120 to 100 in about 18 years lol.....i say that in jest.....I know my IQ is at least a little above average. I can imagine that I would have the GPA I do if it wasn't at least above average
 

mimelim

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well by GRE/SAT scores my IQ has gone from 120 to 100 in about 18 years lol.....i say that in jest.....I know my IQ is at least a little above average. I can imagine that I would have the GPA I do if it wasn't at least above average
IQ is a terrible measure for any of this. Broad strokes, maybe its helpful, but outside of that, useless. A GPA is always in the context of the school and major. There are plenty of ways to get a 3.8+ at a number of schools while being below 100 IQ. Just remember that the standardized exams never stop if you go the medical school route. Besides the medical school exams, you will have Steps 1, 2 and 3. In service exams, licensing exams etc. If test taking is really that difficult for you, it would be prudent to consider something else. I'm not saying give up. I'm saying think long and hard about it before you invest the next decade of your life to it.
 

Afford

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GRE and SAT don't measure IQ. Besides, I think it's better to not find out your IQ. It's just a number that either makes you sad because it's too low or overconfident because it's too high.
 

PlasticBag

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It seems to me that your early school experiences really shaped your perception of your own test taking abilities and/or intellectual abilities in certain subjects. You possibly avoided developing standardized test taking abilities as a way of coping with perceived inadequacy or as a way of defying the standard education that was not suited for you. Either way, this could have undermined your confidence and hindered your test taking skills. I would do what others have mentioned regarding enhancing your test performance but I would also try to tell myself that (almost) everything can be learned and if you were successful in so many other areas, you're likely to adapt to standardized tests as well. Just don't let this one test bring you down so much!
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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IQ is a terrible measure for any of this. Broad strokes, maybe its helpful, but outside of that, useless. A GPA is always in the context of the school and major. There are plenty of ways to get a 3.8+ at a number of schools while being below 100 IQ. Just remember that the standardized exams never stop if you go the medical school route. Besides the medical school exams, you will have Steps 1, 2 and 3. In service exams, licensing exams etc. If test taking is really that difficult for you, it would be prudent to consider something else. I'm not saying give up. I'm saying think long and hard about it before you invest the next decade of your life to it.
I just wander if I will perform better on boards and steps. For me it is the verbal/math stuff that I struggle with. I wander if the exams like boards/steps will be something I'm much better at. Do you have any advice on this? I do so well in science classes especially biology and health related that I just feel like the tests in medical school will be different.

I realize there is no real way of knowing outside of being in medical school
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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GRE and SAT don't measure IQ. Besides, I think it's better to not find out your IQ. It's just a number that either makes you sad because it's too low or overconfident because it's too high.
I agree....there are some (like mensa) that try and make a correlation
 

mimelim

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I just wander if I will perform better on boards and steps. For me it is the verbal/math stuff that I struggle with. I wander if the exams like boards/steps will be something I'm much better at. Do you have any advice on this? I do so well in science classes especially biology and health related that I just feel like the tests in medical school will be different.

I realize there is no real way of knowing outside of being in medical school
You got a 6 on PS and a 10 on BS. I'm not sure how that is doing much better at the sciences. There is at worst a loose correlation between previous standardized tests and boards/steps. Hoping for a radical change is rolling the dice.
 
Jun 21, 2012
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You did well in your classes so you are probably good at solving science problems. Maybe you just need to focus on test-taking strategies? Like timing yourself more strictly or developing psychological coping skills in case you encounter tough passages, etc. Also, confidence might be a real issue!
I would take the MCAT again and see from there. Don't give up yet!

Maybe some med students could give advice on med school exams - are they more like class exams (which would be good for you)? Then all you'd need to worry about is the boards? It probably varies by school but i would imagine most schools try to prepare their students well for the boards? Maybe you didn't have a similar structured support for the MCAT. Having a structure is good for maintaining focus. For me, doing a post-bacc and not knowing anyone who was preparing for the mcat made studying much harder.
For the most part, medical school exams are meant to mimic the boards and are formatted and administered like standardized tests. Many schools even incorporate real board questions into the exams. There is also an issue of shelf exams -- these are exams given after each clinical rotation, and they ARE standardized exams that are scored against all medical students taking them (just like boards). Any person who will need accommodations on the boards needs to start establishing the need for such accommodations as early as possible (seriously, they consider whether you requested them for the SAT and MCAT) & will need/get them for medical school exams. Accordingly, if there is a reasonable accommodation that fixes this problem, it may become a moot point. However, if there isn't one, it seems like success in this field would be nearly impossible -- I would think long and hard about whether there is a possibility you'd accrue debt before realizing you cannot reach your goal.

If it were me, I'd invest significant time and money with neuropsych assessments, learning specialists, & occupational therapists to try to figure this out, simply because the cost of failing halfway down this road would be so high (it's also part of what you would need to earn accommodations on your mcat & boards).
 
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zachdwphoto
Jul 15, 2013
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You got a 6 on PS and a 10 on BS. I'm not sure how that is doing much better at the sciences. There is at worst a loose correlation between previous standardized tests and boards/steps. Hoping for a radical change is rolling the dice.
fair enough
 

rodain

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Sep 18, 2014
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did you take the medication while you took the mcat? i've heard that it actually slows intelligent people down... it gets
people with adhd w/ their minds all over the place to focus but in the process turns off a good chunk of their intelligence.
other than that, i really don't know why...