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I think I need help!

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Determinedfuturedoc, 05.17.14.

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  1. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

    Joined:
    05.17.14
    Messages:
    9
    Hi y'all,
    I'm new to this website but from what I have seen I believe if I post my story, I'll get honest feedback so here goes.

    I graduated undergrad magna cum laude, so I have a decent GPA...my problem seems to be with my MCAT. I've taken it 3 times...

    First score in August 2012: 19 (VS-6, BS-8, PS-5)
    Second score in May 2013: 21 (VS-6, BS-6, PS-9)
    Third score in March 2014: 20 (VS-6, BS-8, PS-6)
    I'm currently registered for June 21 test.

    I'm not sure what my issue is? I was scoring 25s on my practice tests before the March exam. I had studied for a solid three months before that so I'm not sure what happened other than stress getting to me. I took a break after that test until last week (6 weeks before my scheduled exam) and I have changed up the way I have studied. I'll take my first practice test tomorrow morning, but I'm now repeating them.

    I'm looking for advice and feedback on what you think I can work on and do better and if I have a chance.... I know I am capable of a higher score and ultimately I just want to get in somewhere because this is my passion and a career I truly believe I am supposed to do.
     
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  3. GodComplex

    GodComplex 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    California
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    What are you using to study and how are you studying?
     
    neworleans8 likes this.
  4. KevinGnapoor

    KevinGnapoor Bad-Ass M.C. 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Medical Student (Accepted)
    First off, I understand how you're feeling. I'm totally on the same boat in terms of scores (except I just took the test once), so I would recommend that you check out my thread here and read through all of the replies: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/thr...at-aside-from-crying-myself-to-sleep.1071077/
    When you get scores in this range, you really have to do a lot of evaluation and analysis of your study methods and habits. Truly be critical of what you were doing the last three times and figure out what you can change. Again, I would urge you to find similar threads and read through the replies to get a sense of what study materials to use, how to do content review, how to practice, etc.
     
    Determinedfuturedoc likes this.
  5. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    We need your study plan, materials, and what practice tests you've been using to really help you on this one.
     
  6. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

    Joined:
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    So first time, I studied at home... Didn't really take it seriously. I bought the Kaplan study materials on Craigslist, but didn't put a lot of time into it and only took like three practice tests (AAMC).

    Second time, I splurged and took the Princeton Review Prep Course, did everything and all the online materials but again only took a few practice tests TPR and AAMC practice tests and honestly didn't study outside of class much. Maybe like an hour a day.

    Third time, I took all of the AAMC practice tests, did my flash cards and read all of the Princeton review books and took notes. Probably spending at least 2 hours a day studying. I work full time from 7-3 and have an hour drive both ways.

    I reevaluated the way I was studying and I think my problem is that if I don't know an answer right away or honesty have to critically think about it, I skip it. I don't think I truly understood the method behind the MCAT and how they want you to use your knowledge and apply it rather than just knowing the information.

    I have read tons and tons of threads on this subject and about taking it four times, and totally understand that it looks bad on applications for Med schools, but I'm a great student and I have a passion for this so I know this is what I want to do...
     
  7. doctorgirldaisy

    doctorgirldaisy

    Joined:
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    Don't take the MCAT unless you're COMPLETELY ready to ace it. Maybe re-evaluate taking a year off to study for the MCAT and cut down on your obligations.
     
  8. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

    Joined:
    05.17.14
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    Im
    My plan is to see where I am scoring practice test wise in the next few weeks, if I'm not seeing improvement then I'm definitely going to postpone my test because as you said, I need to be ready to ace it and be totally prepared since it is my 4th time taking it.
    My hope is that my new approach to the test this time around will help me, but if not, then I'm definitely going to take your advice and re-evaluate obligations and taking a year off just to study for it.
     
  9. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

    Joined:
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    How is your studying going now? Any improvement?
     
  10. GodComplex

    GodComplex 2+ Year Member

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    California
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    What has your studying looked like for this next retake?
     
  11. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

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    I study at least 3 hours a day when I get home from work. 6pm-9pm. (I'm thinking about increasing this amount starting this week)
    Everyday I study a different subject, Monday Gen Chem, Tuesday Physics, Wednesday Verbal, Thursday Bio and Friday OChem, Saturday Off and Sunday Practice test, review practice test answers.

    During the three hours:
    The first hour I go through my flash cards, then take ten minute break, after that I do seven passages. After each passage I look at the answer from the passage and read the explanations for the correct answer and figure out what I did wrong. Usually this takes about an hour and a half. Then for the remaining time, I review notes that I have taken from the books.

    I'm approaching it differently because I'm logging hours for my studying and consciously trying to find the correct answer rather than just guessing if it's going to take me a minute to apply what I know.

    Thoughts?
     
  12. KevinGnapoor

    KevinGnapoor Bad-Ass M.C. 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    Status:
    Medical Student (Accepted)
    It's still too early for significant improvements, but here are some changes I've decided to make for this round:

    1. PRACTICE EVERYTHING. Last time I only did some TBR passages and EK 1001 and little bits and pieces, and honestly, that kind of lazy practice sessions do not amount to anything. My plan for this round is to read TPRH content books, and then do Kaplan section tests and topicals and TPR SW. I'm also going to use AAMC SA and some TBR passages later on. I signed up for a Kaplan course because last time I self-studied, I had a really hard time with structure given that I work alongside all this stuff.
    2. Post-game differently. Last time my post-gaming strategy was also lazy and passive, so this time, I decided not to read the answer choices right away and to do the problems I got wrong or guessed on over and over until I can make the logical connections. This really makes sure that you know the content inside out. Things I'm getting wrong or things I know I'm going to forget, I'm making them into flashcards. So far I've been reading TPR and doing the problems from the workbook and getting one question wrong per passage, which I think is a major improvement from last time.

    So far applying my new strategies are not only giving me confidence that I can do way better than a measly 20, but also making sure I put in a decent amount of effort before my retake. If you have any questions, let me know. Good luck!
     
    Czarcasm and Determinedfuturedoc like this.
  13. GodComplex

    GodComplex 2+ Year Member

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    First off, I know first hand that balancing your academic life and your work life can be a real drain, so if your practice scores do not improve this time then seriously consider cutting back on your work if possible.

    What kind of info are you putting on your flashcards (equations, concepts, problems)?

    1. Doing seven passages and then reviewing everything in just an hour and a half seems really rushed unless you are scoring very high on each passage and fully understand why you got everything right. When you are going through the passages after completing them, be sure to go over (at the very least) not only the problems you got wrong, but the problems you guessed on but still managed to get right and the problems that you had the potential to get wrong (such as you knew the right answer but were a little fuzzy and thought another answer looked good as well). Make sure you don't just read the correct answer, you need to fully understand why you got the answer wrong. When I was studying I made flashcards as well, and this was my source of flashcards that I put problems on. You need to really identify your weaknesses and try to eliminate them as best as possible.

    2. How old are your notes? They may not have all of the info you need on them. For example, when I take notes, I only take notes on things that are not intuitive/easy for me at that time. But, this changes over time since I learn new knowledge and forget old knowledge. So, something that may have seemed easy a year ago is no longer so easy due to forgotten knowledge from classes or other sources from the past.

    3. Your verbal score was the same in every exam, so you need to really change something about how you approach that section. I don't have any direct advice on this one though since this varies so much from person to person.
     
    Czarcasm likes this.
  14. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

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    The flashcards are a couple different sets, I have the Kaplan ones which are mostly just concepts. I made flashcards with my physics and genchem equations, and then I also have the Barron's flashcards.

    1. I am missing about 2 questions on each passage, and I am definitely reading the correct answer in addition to the wrong ones so I understand why they are wrong. But I agree, I think I may be rushing that process by not paying close enough attention to questions I guessed on, was fuzzy on, etc.
    2. I also have a few sets of notes… I have my set from when I took the Princeton Review Prep Class in addition to my own set from that time (January-April 2013) and the set I wrote down before the March test (January/February 2014).
    3. I have no idea what is wrong with my verbal either, on my practice tests I consistently score at least 8-9 which isn't great but definitely isn't a 6 either… I feel like maybe on the real test the passages are longer so I get mentally drained easier?

    I just finished the practice test for today, and I scored a 26. (PS-8, VR- 9, BS-9) Best ever. I do have to take into account that it was AAMC 3, and I have taken it before.
     
  15. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries. 2+ Year Member

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    First off, these are two really great pieces of advice:

    As for the sciences, you might feel at ease to know those two sections can easily be improved with the right approach. It's great that you're reviewing flash cards and content, but that can only get you so far. Focus on simple concepts, don't stress minute details. For instance, knowing that a salted solution effects heat capacity won't do you much good as knowing what heat capacity actually is and how it relates to other variables: heat, temperature, and mass. (odd peculiarities won't do you any good). These are simple, straightforward concepts you need to know for the MCAT. Keep it simple. You'll find it'll make things a whole lot easier for you, especially because there's just so much material.

    As others have reiterated, practice is very important. There's just so many things that practicing does for you that content does not. For starters, one of the most important test taking skills: POE -- your ability to eliminate answers based on reason and passage info greatly improves with time. We are incredibly lucky this is a multiple choice test. The answer is there... you just need to eliminate 3 wrong answers. Often times, the key to answering a question correctly comes from the question itself. Other times, it requires you to make an inference from a table and choose the best answer. A big portion of this test is reasoning. This is something that can be improved. So while you might think it's content weakness that's hurting you (a possibility), in all actuality, it may be your test taking ability. The only way to truly know is by effectively analyzing practice passages. Why did I miss this question? What was my thought process? What relevant info did I need to know to answer this question? Was there a crucial piece of info in the passage? You begin seeing trends, and the better you become at recognizing these patterns, the better test taker you become. It's a test of diligence and determination. You have to be wise with your time.
     
  16. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

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    Thank you, I'm definitely going to use these tips while studying and reviewing my passages and practice tests! Thank you for the feedback!!
     
  17. Next Step Tutor

    Next Step Tutor MCAT Guru 2+ Year Member

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    You need a ton of time, but not every day. Three hours is plenty (or maybe even too much) for each workday, but when you're only treating the MCAT like a part-time job (~20hr/wk) it usually takes 5-6 months to be ready.

    Your past scores have already demonstrated that your native habits (both how you think and how you study) don't align with what the MCAT wants. I don't say this as a criticism - it's always especially important not to get discouraged here.

    The MCAT is *not* an intelligence test and doing badly on it does NOT mean that you can't succeed in med school, or will be a bad doctor or are "just dumb" or something. People can get really down on themselves when the struggle on the MCAT. That's understandable, but we always want to remember that the MCAT is just one particular cognitive challenge - a sort of ginormous crossword puzzle. Some people have a good "puzzle brain" that thinks like the MCAT wants you to think, and other people don't. But having, or not having, that knack means basically nothing in the larger scheme of things.

    So having said that, we'll just have to acknowledge that the MCAT is going to be a very long struggle for you - making your eventual success all the sweeter. After how hard you're going to work on the MCAT, med school will be a breeze!

    So the one big piece of advice I'll suggest is this: unless you've already brought your AAMC practice scores up to a level that's getting close to what you want, then one more month isn't enough time. You should strongly consider rescheduling the test to the fall.

    Good luck!
     
    Determinedfuturedoc likes this.
  18. Determinedfuturedoc

    Determinedfuturedoc

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    Thank you, I definitely needed that feedback. I think I'm going to just not focus on applying this year and truly focus on doing well on this test. I think I'm going to take your advice and push the test back until November and give myself plenty of time to increase my AAMC practice test scores.

    Does anyone know what happens if you cancel your scheduled MCAT ? Can you just resign up for a new date or is it better to just reschedule?
     

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