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Help Find the Weakness in my App

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by herewego, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. herewego

    7+ Year Member

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    Hey guys,

    Well, it's getting kind of late in the season and I haven't gotten any interview invites. I have not been officially rejected from the schools I completed the secondaries for, but I'm pretty realistic about the situation.

    If anyone could provide ome feedback on my app to help identify some weaknesses that I can work on over the next few months (I'm pretty much assuming I didn't make it in this cycle), I'd really appreciate it.



    Secondaries : Completed early-mid september

    I think this may have hurt me, although it was mostly due to my school not sending out my committee letter till this time. I plan on getting things squared away much earlier next cycle if need be.

    MCAT: 10 BS 10 PS 9 V =29Q

    Pretty lackluster, I know I can do better. I'll definately retake and get this score 30+. Although this score isn't too bad for the schools I applied to.

    GPA: Cum- 3.83
    BCPM - 3.67

    I thought these were decent stats. I've managed to improve on them slightly this first semester of my senior year.

    Clinical experience :
    ~1.5 years of shadowing same physician
    ~1/2 year volunteering at a hospital

    ECs/Leadership

    ~4 years of general volunteering in a service organization
    1 year of that in a leadership position

    ~1 year of research, publication as co-author is being written (progress has been made since I reported it on AMCAS)

    Some misc job experience over the past summers.

    Some unique hobbies that I think set me apart, most practiced for 4+ years.

    Schools completed:

    Loyola
    UIC
    Northwestern (reach school)
    Rosalind Franklin
    Rush
    Wisc School of Medicine
    SLU

    I think the small numbers of schools I applied to may have hurt me as well. I was tight on money and I thought I'd have a decent shot at those schools given my stats.

    Anyway, again, if anyone has some advice on what I can improve on, I'd really appreciate the help. I need to feel like I'm making progress toward getting into med school instead of feeling like a failure...
     
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  3. Pedsbro

    7+ Year Member

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    Actually, that's a pretty good self-diagnosis. Get that MCAT up (especially the VR score), apply way earlier, and apply to a few other schools...10 is a good number.
     
  4. funkymunkytoes

    2+ Year Member

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    Since you don't seem to be a ranking obsessed, anal SDNer, don't retake the MCAT. A 29Q is great. Next cycle, just get things out a bit earlier and apply to more schools (15ish). Then we can call you doctor.
     
  5. Pedsbro

    7+ Year Member

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    Really? Hmm...that's a new one, but OK. Regardless, it's a bit of an underachievement compared to the OP's other stats
     
  6. p30doc

    p30doc Ever true and unwavering
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    If the OP is consistently scoring much higher an diag's then I recommend a MCAT retake.

    GPA and ECs seem good. Your MCAT is mediocre, but doesn't necessarily take you out of the running. Apply earlier! Like the 1st day you can. Apply more broadly, a lot more. Yea it is expensive as hell, but it could have saved you from reapplying which nets you your gains right there. This cycle isn't over yet, you still have a chance. Of course you need to be planning for the worse though. You should also consider DO schools, it is not too late to apply, but should be done asap if you decide to go that route. Either way good luck. :luck:
     
  7. tdittyx2x3

    7+ Year Member

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    Although it may not be 100% necessary, I would say retake it. OP, there isn't much else you can do to improve your application in the short six months you have until round two. If your looking for "something to work on", I think an improved score would be the biggest help.

    One thing you didnt mention - your letter writers. Are you pretty sure they were solid? How many and who were they from?

    I would find a new and different clinical experience (or even two or three) to diversify the app a bit. Shadow a doc in a different specialty or try volunteering in a new healthcare setting. Adds to the app, potential for another letter, etc.

    How much effort did you put into your PS and secondary essays? It may help to have your adviser or at least some wise pre-med friends go through your written materials to check for errors or general red flags.

    GOOD LUCK
     
  8. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    i think retake only if practice tests are consistently 32+
     
  9. michigator04

    10+ Year Member

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    With a sub-30 MCAT, I would apply to 20+ or even 30+ schools if you are serious about this being the last go-around. If you can get that MCAT in the 32 or so range, then reduce that number accordingly.

    I take it the OP is an IL resident?
     
  10. herewego

    7+ Year Member

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    Thanks everyone for your replies!!

    For your questions:

    -For practice MCATS, I took the AAMCs and PRs. For the AAMCS, I usually ranged in the 30-32 range, the higher ones being the latter AAMCs. I know I can do better. I was shocked at my VR score because I NEVER got below an 11. I guess I was really off that day or something, although I can't complain about my PS score because I always scored a 9 =P

    But again, the schools I applied to, their averages are like 30-31 (minus NW), so I didn't think it was THAT bad to go ahead and apply with a 29.

    -Yes, I am an IL resident. As for applying more broadly, you're right that applying broad the first time probably will save money in the long run as opposed to applying twice. I'll definately keep that in mind the next time around, but if the money isn't there...well...

    -As for my PS, committee letters, and secondaries.

    I worked with my pre-health advisor on my PS, and we were both satisfied. She's been doin it for a few years now so I trust her opinion, plus I felt it conveyed some genuine feelings.

    My letters, I believe they were solid. I had a good, somewhat longer term relationship with the profs I asked. I did some things that set myself apart with them, and I also sat down with them to give them an update before they wrote the letters. Everything was synthesized into a committee letter. I had a few of the commitee members as former profs, the last of which was the head of the committee. We have a great relationship, and I stop by to give him updates and what not.

    I think my letters were a very solid part of my app. My problem now is keeping a solid relationship with them if I need to take a year off..I'm considering taking some tough classes that my former profs teach so they get to know me an academic setting again.

    My secondaries? I put effort into them. To be fair, noone looked them over for me though. But I felt my answers were pretty BS free, answered the questions at hand, and coveyed to the reader a sense of who I am. I'll definately look over my responses and stuff to tweak them.

    For my clinical experience. I am definately looking at volunteering at a new setting. But I'm hesitant too because the fact that I stayed with my current setting opened up opportunities for me. Because I started as a volunteer at the hospital, I got a chance to volunteer in the lab of a doctor. Because I volunteered at that lab (part of the hospital), I landed a summer job. Because I landed a summer job, I got to work on my own project and work on a publication.

    I'm trying to get a job in a lab in another department of the hospital, and use the doctor I've shadowed/worked for as a good reference. But yes, I'll definately look for opportunities elsewhere. I'll take what I can get at this point.

    As for applying DO. I'm definately going to do it next year. Some of my friends applied DO later than I did, and already have acceptances with lower stats than mine. Needless to say I'm jealous =P

    Anyway, thanks for all the input. I appreciate it.
     
  11. flip26

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    September is late...be early next year.

    Retaking the MCAT would be a risk for you given your practice test results. I would not do it UNLESS you suddenly shifted into the mid 30s on a series of practice exams...
     
  12. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Fatal flaws... applying to late, and not shadowing enough. Think diversity... its all about having interesting stories that changed you....
     
  13. nontrdgsbuiucmd

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    As a reapplicant who was successful this go-around:

    1) concur w/posts above - September secondaries used to be early, if you need to reapply, shoot for earlier. Schools I've spoken with and should receive interviews at given discussions w/the schools, say they're swamped, and are taking months to review secondaries.

    2) call each school to get feedback regarding what they're looking for & how you can strengthen your app.

    3) I don't see the problem being numbers, either GPA or MCAT. Higher is always better, but I don't think that's where the issue lies.

    4) Take a look at the wording on your AMCAS primary - I screwed this up last year, this year I separately listed each volunteer activity (hundreds of hours each) and thereby gave each the same weight as each professional activity (typically years) which I'd not done last year.

    good luck!
     
  14. cyclin M

    cyclin M megaman
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    Wrong. A 29Q is not "great." Why are you misleading the OP?

    OP, don't listen to this guy. You have a good GPA, you need to retake the MCAT since based on your GPA you should score higher than that. Also based on your practice verbals 11 is what you expect which brings you up. Maybe you ran into a particularly hard MCAT verbal or weren't feeling well..

    Most importantly the reason you should retake is because, I quote:

    For next round since you don't even have a fully year left:

    1. STUDY HARD FOR MCAT
    2. RETAKE MCAT
    3. CONTINUE VOLUNTEERING
    4. CONTINUE SHADOWING
    5. MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS W/ LETTER WRITERS
    6. APPLY EARLY

    I did not say to apply more broadly because that is up to you and your financial situation. I know some people cannot afford to apply to 20 schools. Your list looks good as an IL resident since all except I think Wisc were in IL. In addition, I did not say research because that is a long term endeavor and the relative output/input ratio will not make as big a difference as what I listed up there. Just wait until that paper gets submitted/published. Good luck.:thumbup:
     
    #13 cyclin M, Dec 28, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2008
  15. herewego

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Pretty much confirmed my own suspicions.

    Do you guys think I should continue research? More is probably always better I suppose, but I think a co-authored publication is pretty decent for low-mid tier schools. At this point, I think I'd have to start fresh with a new doc/phd, so I doubt I'd be able to crunch out another pub in about 6 months.

    I'd rather find a job and get some money (another research job would be AMAZING, but my experience is more preclinical trial/proof of concept stuff than running westerns, pcr and what not, which is what it seems most biology labs need.

    Anyway, again I appreciate all the input.
     
  16. bluesmd

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    yeah OP definitely retake the mcat and continue with stuff. i know it's hard when the app process is so expensive but look at MCW as another option. good luck!!!
     
  17. wawawa

    wawawa Yeah Buddy!
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    TAKE THE MCAT AGAIN! My second time I studied just as hard as the first time and I knew the material more or less the same. The difference the second time was that I was less nervous. I believe that is what increased my score by four points. You will walk into the test center as a seasoned veteran.
    Relax...Obviously you want to be a doc. You will get there. What is a year in the grand scheme of things?
     

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