Chromatic543

2+ Year Member
Mar 21, 2016
501
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Medical Student (Accepted)
So last year (10th of September) I took the MCAT and got a 502 (126-124-126-126).

Currently, I am having no luck with DO school interviews, and I feel if I don't make it this cycle, one of the steps I can take is to improve my MCAT score.


My study breakdown of last year

I took an MCAT preparation course by The Berkeley Review (classroom), which was a review of all the pre-requisite coures. The whole review went from June to August. My days looked like this:

***JUNE TO AUGUST***

Monday-Saturday
(7 am to 12 pm) CONTENT REVIEW
(1 pm to 3 pm) The Berkeley Review Classroom Instruction
(6 pm to 10 pm) CONTENT REVIEW

Sunday

(7 am to 12 pm) CONTENT REVIEW
Rest of day = Break

***AUGUST to SEPTEMBER***

Monday
= Content Review + Practice Tests
Tuesday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Wednesday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Thursday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Friday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Saturday = Full Length Test
Sunday = Full Length Review...made a study schedule to study content of questions I did not understand, and full evaluated why I got each question wrong.


***STUDY MATERIALS***

The Berkeley Review Content Review Books
Kaplan Content Review Books
Examkrackers Verbal Reasoning Book
Khan Academy
Examkrackers Full Lengths
The Berkeley Review Full Lengths


QUESTION: WHY do you think I didn't do so stellar? I feel like I put in a lot of time and effort, and still could not perform well. I was getting around 56% in my EK Full Lenghts, and got a 502 on my AAMC Full Length. How do you think I can improve? Thank you!

 

AnatomyGrey12

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Sep 8, 2015
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So last year (10th of September) I took the MCAT and got a 502 (126-124-126-126).

Currently, I am having no luck with DO school interviews, and I feel if I don't make it this cycle, one of the steps I can take is to improve my MCAT score.


My study breakdown of last year

I took an MCAT preparation course by The Berkeley Review (classroom), which was a review of all the pre-requisite coures. The whole review went from June to August. My days looked like this:

***JUNE TO AUGUST***

Monday-Saturday
(7 am to 12 pm) CONTENT REVIEW
(1 pm to 3 pm) The Berkeley Review Classroom Instruction
(6 pm to 10 pm) CONTENT REVIEW

Sunday

(7 am to 12 pm) CONTENT REVIEW
Rest of day = Break

***AUGUST to SEPTEMBER***

Monday
= Content Review + Practice Tests
Tuesday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Wednesday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Thursday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Friday = Content Review + Practice Tests
Saturday = Full Length Test
Sunday = Full Length Review...made a study schedule to study content of questions I did not understand, and full evaluated why I got each question wrong.


***STUDY MATERIALS***

The Berkeley Review Content Review Books
Kaplan Content Review Books
Examkrackers Verbal Reasoning Book
Khan Academy
Examkrackers Full Lengths
The Berkeley Review Full Lengths


QUESTION: WHY do you think I didn't do so stellar? I feel like I put in a lot of time and effort, and still could not perform well. I was getting around 56% in my EK Full Lenghts, and got a 502 on my AAMC Full Length. How do you think I can improve? Thank you!
What are your GPA, ECs, and school list?
 
OP
Chromatic543

Chromatic543

2+ Year Member
Mar 21, 2016
501
194
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
What are your GPA, ECs, and school list?
cGPA = 3.20
sGPA = 3.21

GRADE UPWARD TREND

Freshman cGPA/sGPA = 2.55/2.19
Sophomore cGPA/sGPA = 3.33/3.54
Junior cGPA/sGPA = 3.32/3.11
Senior cGPA/sGPA = 3.61/3.53


*I had a 3.45 cGPA and 3.46 sGPA BEFORE the grade replacement policy change! :'(

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LECOM-Erie
LECOM-Bradenton
NYITCOM
DMU
Nova
Touro-CA
Western-Lebanon
Western-Pomona
WVSOM
ACOM
Pacific Northwest
ATSU-SOMA
ATSU-KCOM
LMU-DeBusk
BCOM
Touro-Nevada
KCU = REJECTED!!!
Rocky Vista-Utah = REJECTED

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
***ECs***

600 Hours
(~2 years) of helping to care for patients with dementia, post-surgery trauma, and old age.

400 Hours (~2 years) of volunteering in a cancer clinic

1 year as a student government senator

Psychology Club Member

30 hours of Shadowing a DO

15 hours of Shadowing an MD

*Letters of Recommendation*

1 DO letter
2 science letters (Organic Chemistry + Biochemistry)
1 non-science letter

 
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AnatomyGrey12

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You need to be patient and see what happens with the other DO schools, also if you are going to fix something it needs to be your GPA as that is the bigger problem with your application than your MCAT score. You were rejected from KCU because the GPA is below their auto screen, and RVU likes higher stats generally so no suprises there either. You still have 16 schools you haven't heard from so you need to chill.
 

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MCAT improvement:

1. Focus ONLY on AAMC materials specifically the Section Banks and any/all CARS and even old Verbal Reasoning passages if you can find them

2. Do the SB's on accommodated mode and after every answer, check the result; if you got it wrong, write out in your own words WHY - not just "looked at graph wrong" but "need to look at table 1 and compare to graph 1; the peaks on graph 1 increased by a significant amount but the table numbers did not change in the same ratio; the reason why is that: a competitive inhibitor stopped the [email protected] from phosphoylating the 234th L to K " and draw the picture if you have to, or what I started doing (on a Mac) Command + Shift + 4 the entire question + results, printed that and wrote my own notes on it. I also did the same with the passage.

What that allows you to do is put the AAMC's way of thinking into your own words. IF you can and IF you DO this, I promise you'll see a score increase. Because while the graphs and tables won't be exactly the same, they are similar enough so that when you see one, you think, "oh hey, that's like the SB question" and then it's a matter of clicking the right answers.

3. Do the FL 1 and FL 2 the same way and I believe, there is a FL 3 coming out in October or November. Do 1 and 2 untimed, accommodated and using the same method as the SBs described in #2.

For FL 3, this is the one you save for 2 weeks prior to your exam. Do that one timed and UNaccommodated. After getting your result, go through exactly what I described in #2 for FL 3 as well.

It is very time consuming to do so. However, I found using this method, my own notes made way more sense than the AAMC's way of "well B is right because graph 1 indicates that the midpoint of the purple unicorn's head was not c or d, and obviously, a isn't right either given c and d were wrong"

4. My cousin is an adcom at an allopathic school in the US. Before I sat, she wrote and said, "remember, it's just a reading exam, AND you don't need to get a 528 on it to get into med school... remember that if you start to panic." She followed that up with something her son told her to tell me, "The whole test is not the Section Bank... there's like 1 or 2 passages per section that are but the rest are pretty easy."

5. Don't use any other test prep company materials. I used Kaplan's and think they are very good at what they do and suspect TPR, Berk, Altius, etc are similar BUT they are far too detailed and to me, you need to focus on understanding bigger picture not the nits and nats.
 

AnatomyGrey12

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Do the FL 1 and FL 2 the same way and I believe, there is a FL 3 coming out in October or November. Do 1 and 2 untimed, accommodated and using the same method as the SBs described in #2.
I disagree, I would never suggest taking a practice test outside of actual test taking conditions. I would say to take every practice test simulating the real thing as closely as possible, and then go back the day after and go through every question and why you got it wrong or right (yes even the ones you got right).
 

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Sometimes this free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it. I would NOT recommend to any of my students to do AAMC1 and 2 in the untimed manner suggested above. For what it's worth, I've helped nearly 100 students prep for this exam, and no one who has followed my advice has ever scored under a 510. In other words, this is not your typical SDN n = 1 opinion.

I think the idea of doing the SB in an untimed, deliberate manner with lots of note taking and review, is an excellent idea. The same goes for the AAMC Sample Test, because neither resource gives you a scaled score. Further, I admonish you to do your own research. I would never lump Altius practice tests with the others listed by the previous poster--they are GOLD for my students and--ironically--are all about AAMC thinking, critical reasoning, data analysis, etc., not about details or minutia (minus the silly Psych-Soc section; the AAMC itself needs to get off the memorization train for Psych-Soc).

I have no idea what your actual conceptual knowledge is like. You did a lot of content review, but did you UNDERSTAND what was happening at the molecular or atomic level. Could you have taught those concepts back to a friend who is a music major? Could you visual and/or draw out every concept? This is the kind of mastery you need for the MCAT--several major steps beyond familiarity or memorization.

Whatever you do or don't do regarding content, I doubt you have mastered the exam itself. The AAMC only asks about 40 different science questions. There are limitless topics about which they could ask, but they always structure the question after one of a set of fairly consistent, repeating QUESTION BLUEPRINTS. To do well, you must become COMFORTABLE with those question types--as well as dissecting the ACRONYM-LADEN passages that accompany them. By doing A LOT of accurate full-length exams, you gain experience with each question type. By dissecting each passage down to its most simple components, you become familiar with the kinds of information you must get from a passage.

One of the most common question types requires this skill: Can you make a prediction? That's nice that you have memorized the amino acids, but what if we exchanged the isopropyl group on a valine with an isopentyl group? Could you predict the likely impact of that change on binding in the enzyme pocket? How about its impact on the hydrophobicity of valine? How about its impact on tertiary structure when incorporated into a protein?

Hopefully, you can see how that example works. You've got to first learn something at a basic level, then you have to understand it in a broad way such that you can play with it, maneuver it, make predictions about it, visualize it in the body, explain why it does what it does, and so on. Ask yourself, did you HONESTLY study that way for every topic you studied? I mean until you could confidently answer all of the types of conceptual questions of which I've given you examples.

The good news is, if you didn't last time, then if you DO this time your score will certainly go up!
 
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I disagree, I would never suggest taking a practice test outside of actual test taking conditions. I would say to take every practice test simulating the real thing as closely as possible, and then go back the day after and go through every question and why you got it wrong or right (yes even the ones you got right).
Different strokes for different folks. I found that doing the SB/Q-packs/FLs in one sitting without checking answer, absolutely, 100000% demoralizing and then I never went back to check the answers because I was too depressed with the score.

When I did it my way, I found that I could write MY notes in my language so that I could understand, right then and there. I don't/didn't have a problem with timing or endurance so doing them as I did was only beneficial.

Everyone is different in how they learn; no one size fits all.
 

AnatomyGrey12

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Different strokes for different folks. I found that doing the SB/Q-packs/FLs in one sitting without checking answer, absolutely, 100000% demoralizing and then I never went back to check the answers because I was too depressed with the score.

When I did it my way, I found that I could write MY notes in my language so that I could understand, right then and there. I don't/didn't have a problem with timing or endurance so doing them as I did was only beneficial.

Everyone is different in how they learn; no one size fits all.
Just out of curiosity, did you score well on the real thing?
 
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