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Is this true about the MCAT? My friend who got a 35 on the MCAT told me

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by alexfoleyc, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. alexfoleyc

    alexfoleyc Senior Member
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    Well, I asked one of my senior friends who got a 35 on the MCAT how was the exam in general and this is what her said, "In a way, it felt like all those hours I spent studying were in vain--you know, like memorizing chunks of o-chem material and physics formulas--the exam is set up in way that an English major who has good thinking skills can do well. You do not need to know any advance science knowledge. Im not saying that you shouldnt study; just make sure you know the general idea of fundamental biology, chemistry (organic and inorganic), physics-related material." He also said that the test does not require you to recall chunks of facts instead the answers are within the passages and you have to deduce them with your assessment skills. Is that true?


    ----The way he said it seemed like that mcat isnt that difficult as it sounds, however, that was his idea of it. Thats why I am asking my fellow SDNers how they feel about the mcat (assuming you took it already) and is this guy just really a good test taker or the stuff about the mcat he said is true?
     
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  3. 236116

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    It's basic knowledge and critical thinking.
     
  4. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Thats a pretty accurate description.
     
  5. DrSno

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    BS. These statements are false.
     
  6. alexfoleyc

    alexfoleyc Senior Member
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    I knew it!! He was setting me up for failure!! What advanced topics do I need to know?
     
  7. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It
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    I can definitely agree. Having took it twice and using drastically different methods, I can say that the answers are in the passages, or even in the questions, so to speak. Especially Biology/Organic Chemistry; the only part where it isn't is the discretes.

    Also, doesn't this belong in the MCAT discussions?
     
  8. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It
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    They're outlandish and extreme, but not false.
     
  9. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Just buy a review book. Thats what you need to konw. Just dont get bent out of shape on memorizing crazy detais. They save that for med school.
     
  10. DrSno

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    Discrete questions make up around 20% of the science sections and they require the scientific knowledge. Also, about half of the questions with the passages require knowing the science. If you count on just getting the answers from the passage, you will not do well.
     
  11. 236116

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    alzo dem ppl waht wrot teh mcatz sez itz a kritcle tthinkn tezst, noawt su muhc wid deh meomeorizasonz.

    pg 3: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/mcatessentials.pdf

    Also I speak 1337.
     
  12. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Exactly. Know the fundamentals, not the nitty gritty details. Thats exactly what the OPs friend said.
     
  13. DrSno

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    Well I guess that all depends on what you call the "fundamentals".

    My MCAT, however, required knowing some of the nitty gritty.
     
  14. Revilla

    Revilla New Member
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    True.

    Be careful with that line of thinking. It's not like it's a walk in the park. In a lot of ways, it would be much, much easier if it really was based solely on content and you were required to know and recall random scientific facts. Just ask all those pre-meds with 3.8 GPAs who have to retake.
     
  15. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    This all seems SO subjective I don't even know how to respond. In fact, I'd say this conversation is basically useless. Once you begin studying and take a few practice tests (after having studied for a while), you'll see what it's all about.

    That being said, there are plenty of big picture questions (Q: If the cerebellum becomes injured, what might you expect? A: Motor problems) and fine detail questions (like ones in Gen Chem that I couldn't find an answer to in any textbook to save my life after the exam).

    Big picture questions may be the majority, but the fine detail questions separate the mid-20's from the 30+'s. Most people will get most of the big picture questions, while the nitty gritty questions will determine who gets the glory.
     
  16. cyclin M

    cyclin M megaman
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    LOL that just made me burst out laughing. Doubt is healthy though.

    No offense but your friend didn't exactly ace the MCAT and here he is talking nonchalantly and giving you the impression it's not hard. :thumbdown: Take his advice with a grain of salt. Without his copious amounts of prep who knows maybe he would've scored lower.

    The best thing to do here is to take a practice test and see for yourself.:thumbup:

    This.
     
    #15 cyclin M, Jan 3, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009
  17. DrSno

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    Finally, some good advice for the OP (besides mine of course).
     
  18. funkymunkytoes

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    If it were as he described, there would be many more people with 35+ scores, not a 25 average.
     
  19. 236116

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    I think you're over-estimating how well people can think critically.
     
  20. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Interesting CBear. Maybe thats why I got in the high 20s. Altho i really didnt notice very many nitty gritty quesitons on my MCAT. Very few questions did i sit and think "oh damn, thats a really specific quesiton i would have known if i had studied that detail harder." Ah well, the good news is that none of it matters anymore! mwa ha ha.
     
  21. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    I'll drink to that! :D
     
  22. alibai3ah

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    He is completely right....The test is all about reading comprehension. The stuff you will see that day is gonne be crazy difficult and different from anything you read from review material. the point of the test is that you don't panic and you are able to decipher the concepts interwoven within the passages and use them to answer the questions. I completely agree!
     
  23. Revilla

    Revilla New Member
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    The thing is, while the exam is critical thinking, if you don't know the science, it's impossible to do well. It's a critical thinking exam based on scientific facts. Where people run into trouble is they either know the science and can't apply it or they're excellent critical thinkers who don't know the science.

    Case in point, I have a friend who was a law student who dropped out to go to med school. She's superb at critical thinking and has spent the last 2 1/2 years taking all the pre-requisites for med school, plus some upper level biology courses. She took a practice test last week and got a 13 in verbal reasoning, but a 4 physical science and a 5 in biological science. She used the same critical thinking skills on the sciences that earned her a 13 in verbal, but the fact that she hadn't reviewed the science material really showed.

    You can only get so far if you don't know your basic science.
     
  24. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    Thats dumb....for the MCAT you have to know all of whats in the review books (pretty Much) and then be able to apply that knowledge to a passage setting.......there is no way an english major without any science background would be able to score over a 27....(im assuming a 15 verbal, and 6s for the sciences.)

    So just memorizing your orgo, physics, etc. textbooks from cover to cover is not enough.....or being someone with super human deductive reasoning is also not enough, you need to have both.
     
  25. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    woop looks like Revilla beat me to it.
     
  26. Aladdin

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    It is very difficult. However, a majority of it IS critical thinking. You need fundamental basic science knowledge to answer very difficult questions.
     
  27. Acc1999

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    i believe it is entirely critical thinking. I got a 36Q after taking ochem, bio, physics my sophomore year and then taking it. It has nothing to do with intelligence, but rather a firm understanding of the basics, and then practice "juggling" those basics if you will. Once you have a very firm understanding of those basics, its easy to impromptu stuff. Don't try to get by with just knowing more stuff, you all that tells you how to do is prepared stuff that doesnt help you when u need to wing it a bit.
     
  28. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH
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    yo, dude...

    okay, so i def felt the way your friend felt. i didn't score a 35, but i did aight. i felt like all the hrs i spent memorizing random bullsh!t was ALL in vain. especially things like fungi, a lot of physiology, all the optics bull, random mechanisms (e.g. wolf-kishner)...

    but as much as i regret spending all that time memorizing that sh!t, i think i would have regretted it WAY MORE if it actully apeared on the test, and i didnt know it because i skipped it. that was my reasoning and motivation to continue memorizing the random, BS

    in regards to advance knowledge, you dont have to know it. but it can REALLY help. my worse score was my bio section. it didnt matter that I MEMORIZED THAT GOD FORSAKEN KAPLAN BOOK WORD FOR MOTHERFUKING WORD. when i got to the test, it was NOTHING like i had seen. one of the sections in my bio was one of those advanced operon passages that you learn about in genetics. i had taken genetics, but much earlier and the info was still shady. even with that, the passage was HARD. if i had taken more advanced genetics/bio i feel like i would have had an easier time with the passage and i wouldnt have been thrown off so easily. i guess some of the answers must have been in the passage. but i remember asking myself, "godamn, i know wat Oc mutation is but, sh!t, wat is it again?" now, if i had never seen it before, i imagine it would have been that much harder. with that said, for the new way the mcat is being tested i would recomend taking as muhc upper level genetics/biochem/physio as you can so you can be familiar with some of the topics they are taking. its not enough know to jus remember FLATPEG or be able to trace the flow of blood through the body.

    for verbal, no help here. practice a lot. read a lot. get your timing down. and pray for interesting passages :cool:

    for PS its all about number manipulation. im still pretty pissed at how this section turned out for me because like bio i went nutzo here and memorized EVERYTHING. i would def say that is NOT neccesary. no advanced phys/chem neccesary here. just get really good and manipulating variables and doing mental math (e.g. 235/.07). ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE are really important.

    hope that helps, i feel like anyone who can score a 32 can score all the way up to a 36 on a given day. or as low as a 28....the test really stupid in that regard :thumbdown:
     
  29. efitzpat

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    I think that anyone who says the test was easy is either an ass, a genius, or lying. It takes hard work. On the other hand, that work is best spent practicing the test (doing practice problems) and not memorizing the material. My friend and I studied at the same time for the test. She just read and reread the material, and I did sooooo many practice tests. She got a 30 and I got a 36. I think that really makes a difference. Its about learning the TEST and not some science material.
    I teach prep classes now and tell my studnets the same with much success so far.
     
  30. droshan

    droshan Waitlist King!
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    I don't think his friend is saying its easier than you think...but rather not to spend as much time memorizing ALL the tiniest details. If you use logic, you can figure out a lot of passages without having learned it previously. The best advice I can give you is practice practice practice!! Identify and work on your weaknesses. The best thing you can do is take as many practice tests as possible under timed conditions...of course this is after you have reviewed all the basic material. Study the material but don't forget to learn how to take the test. THATS the difference between high 20 and a mid 30, not a few more details.
     
  31. Caesar

    Caesar In Memory of Riley Jane
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    Moving to MCAT.
     
  32. WashMe

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    I have a friend who asked me a week before the MCAT:

    Do you know the name of the small lymphatic vessels that absorb chylomicrons? She knew the answer was "lacteals". I knew that it wasn't tested directly on the MCAT. I did EK, she did Kaplan. I scored 9 points higher on the MCAT.

    Everyone has their own experiences, but I think it is all reading comprehension and basic knowledge. The material isn't difficult, but sometimes you are asked to apply knowledge in an abstract way.

    Many people score 12+ on sections that aren't their undergraduate major, so they are doing really well without "advanced knowledge".
     
  33. elresidante

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    Having gone through med school, I think I might be able to shed some light on this topic. For starters, your friend is either very smart, very lucky, or some of both to have done so well on their MCAT's. I would imagine she is a very good test taker and/or has great grades. Regardless, her opinion probably doesn't reflect the reality of the MCAT, which is you should study your a## off and knock it out of the ballpark (30+ combined score). And it sounds like she did, although she walked out thinking she knew nothing (this is a common occurence after board type tests, as you will come to find out).

    Here are several things you must absolutely do if you want to have any chance of getting into a decent medical school:

    1. Ace the MCAT - it is by far the most important thing school's look at when screening/accepting applicants. If they say otherwise they are lying. I would HIGHLY recommend anyone who is serious about med school take the KAPLAN MCAT prep course. Don't worry about the cost/time. One test has never meant so much to your future, and believe me, the ends justify the means. I didn't, and it probably hurt me (score 27).

    2. Get good grades - 3.5+. I had a 3.9, which helped me. Most accepted average around 3.5, so you could stand out by doing better.

    3. Volunteer. This looks good, and shows the committees you are indeed a human and not a closet case or jerk.

    4. Do research. By any means necessary. If you can get hooked up cleaning rat cages in the summer, the PhD will likely write you a great letter of rec (I did, and so did he).

    5. Work in a health field. I worked as a nurse assistant emptying bed pans for 2 years in college. Great experience. Also gave me a tremendous appreciation for the intracacies and challenges of real life in medicine.

    6. Shadow docs. Also a great way to get a good letter of recommendation. If you have a connection with a doc or know one personally, they will probably write you a great letter of recommendation.

    It can be challenging to fit all these in, but try your best. Also, many applicants don't get into med school straight out of college, and had to go on to a masters programs to boost the CV. There is something to be said for this as well, because it's more experience and a masters degree can help land a nice residency after med school.

    So there are many things you can do to boost your chances. And apply to a lot of places - allopathic and osteopathic. Once you finish med school, it doesn't matter if your a DO or MD (unless going to a top 5 program is your dream), as most residencies take DO's.

    Just my opinions. Feel free to drop me a private note if you have any questions. I wish I would have had someone/this website when I was going through college (med school advisors or undergrad advisors are typically clueless about what you really need to do to get into med school).
     
  34. dhbighit

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    If someone did really well the first time, then they are likely going to say that it is easy and that you don't need to know a lot of advanced science.

    If someone took it 2-3 times before doing ok, they will LIKELY say that its really hard and you have to study super hard and know everything.

    I fall closer to the latter category. I took it twice before doing good enough. My advice is that you DO need to know the basic sciences REALLY REALLY well, however VERY rarely will they ask you a straight forward question that comes straight from your knowledge. Usually you are applying your knowledge in order to understand a passage, then you have to answer questions on the passage.

    Yes, much of the information is in the passage, but definitely NOT ALL OF IT.

    In my opinion you must (1) read the question, which may seem incredibly abstract and about something you have no clue about, (2) figure out what basic science topic they are wanting you to apply knowledge from (3) in order to pick out what is important from the passage to answer the question.

    Some people pick this up very quickly, some people don't.

    HOWEVER, sometimes it helps to have upper level sciences so that passages don't seem as foreign to you. The more comfortable you are with the passage, the less you freak out and typically the better you do.

    thats all I got for you. Study hard, its no walk in the park for the large majority of people.
     
  35. theown3rr

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    this pretty much sums up the whole point and answers the OP's question!
     
  36. phospho

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    you and your friend have too much time on your hands...
     
  37. FIREitUP

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    the confidence that comes along with the mastery of science allows you to more critically understand the passages, etc. it would be foolish to study content and not practice tests and vice versa. you must do both to be successful.
     
  38. halekulani

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    for someone who did really well on their mcat i'm surprised that you wrote this comment. a 34 is a really good score, but you didn't feel confident at all when taking the test? getting a 13 in a section is knowing pretty much every answer. when i took TPR and took the AAMC practice tests, i pretty much knew if i got a 10 or higher when i finished a science section. the only unpredictable part was the verbal, which i did horribly in.
     
  39. jh8cw

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    To the OP,

    Let me preface this by telling you that a friend of mine who received a 40 on his MCAT and 251 on his Boards told me that the variety of subject matters covered in the MCAT is more challenging than the topics taught in Med School. What your friend told you completely subjective, and you shouldn't use it as an excuse to downplay your own efforts while preparing for the test. It sounds more like an after-the-fact justification than anything else. If you want a score like your friends or even higher, you should know most of what is covered in the preparation books. Period.

    Perhaps I can understand your friend if he believes this task to be non-trivial compared to the course-load that he is taking.
     
  40. WashMe

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    I also agree with this. I think the max swing room for the same amount of test taking skill/knowledge is about 2-3 points. While taking practice tests, I got the same score 3 times in a row (out of 4 tests, the 1st of which was 5 points lower but was my first attempt) I think there is significant repeatability of scores in any range, be it low, decent, or high (36+).
     
  41. bennnythejet

    bennnythejet once is nonce
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    part of doing well is knowing how to take the test. at the very least, this means sitting down and practicing on old tests. if you really want an answer to your question, you should see for yourself and start by doing that. you should also know that it is impossible to do well or even finish an MCAT without knowing the facts and equations cold. at the end of each section, you may need time to look over and think about more difficult questions. you do not want to waste time thinking about which physics equation you should be using.

    i don't think it's in your best interest to put in any effort below the maximum you can take to do well. look at it as a one-time deal.
     
  42. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    I agree with most of what's been said here.
    You're friend is right in theory, and he/she has definitely hit upon what should be your primary concern for the MCAT: Critical thinking. However, you also need to know all the facts and understand how they fit together. In my opinion, both are important, with critical thinking getting a slight edge. I do not agree with your friend, however, that only a very basic science knowledge base is all you need to really do well. For very few people that is true. The rest of us should focus on learning as much science as we possibly can, but more important, learning to critically think about that science and to really understand the consequences of those facts and the concepts behind them.

    I think that everyone should aim to do both of these things:

    1) Know everything in your books. (Really, I'm not joking).
    2) Know how everything in your books fits together and the concepts at the heart of each fact.
     
  43. DrDre2001

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    To the OP:

    I would agree somewhat with your friend, but i dont see why you think what he said makes the mcat sound easy. All your friend said was not to get wrapped up in memorizing advanced information - i dont think he ever said or implied that it was easy.

    You still have to know the basics though...and you have to know ALL the basics. And that is pretty hard to do in my opinion. These fundamenalts are what would be in a Kaplan or EK review book. Get one of those companies prep books and get them down COLD and know how to apply the knowledge in there in every scenario possible. For me, that was not very easy.

    Just look at people's improvements from their diagnostic tests to their real test or last few practice tests. Most people i know improve by around 10 points. Most of those points are from knowing more of the content, ...its pretty hard to get that much better at critical thinking in 2 months.
     
  44. Superman78

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    The more you know the better, but the biggest mistake anyone could make would be to focus the majority of their time reviewing the material rather than taking practice tests. There are certain ways to "beat" or outsmart the test, but you won't get a high score just doing that. You do need to know all the nitty gritty details as well as know how to play the test if you're aiming to be the cream of the crop.

    FYI, an English major with little science background but great critical thinking and test taking skills would do very poorly on the MCAT. A Bio major who has taken and done well in all the pre-reqs but has poor critical thinking skills would do better but still below average.
     
  45. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH
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    thanx...but i was actually disappointed in my score (i kno i kno)...i prolly deserve my score becuz it fell within my range of practice scores, and i am by no means a genius/superstar academician....but the thing is, i put so much effort into preparing/beating the test, that i really thought that come test day i had it figured out and i would "peak" (38+). somehow i managed to get d*cked over and got a really crummy bio section (for me) and knew that i was screwed. i was really expecting anything from an 8-11. and that is coming from someone who who was busting consistent 12 and 13s and took well over 20 practice tests. i hope you can see why i was dissapointed with a 10, which is what i got on my kaplan diagnostic some 7 months before i started studying (actually, now that i really think about it, im a f*cking idiot and i well probably fail my boards bcuz ne1 who studied like i did and did not improve must be a f*cking dumba**, lol) that type of self-deprication is what plauged me for months after my MCAT. i really wasn't so worried about getting in, but i was really beginning to question my intellect and my capacity to be type of physician i would like to be.

    you are def. right about the phys sci part. during practice test i started thinking i got every question right, yet i never scored higher than a 13 bcuz of stupid mistakes. i got A LOT of 13s, so i was like, hey, on gameday, i should bring it and maybe ill score a 14 or even a 15. fat chance:cool:

    my verbal score i was actually really happy with. verbal for me would range newhere from a 6-13. but i usually got 10s. but even with that said i considered myself to be really, really good at verbal and the only reason why my practice scores sucked was because of lack of focus, and i thought on gameday id "bring it" (ha) and be super, duper focused. i was right, i was super, uper, duper focused and i walked out like dayuum i might have just got a 14. well, i was wrong but i did good enough. to be honest, if i had ended up with an 8 i wouldnt have been surprised either bcuz the mcat verbal is f*cking stupid as **** and half the answers are straight up bullsh*t and nobody talks like that in real life or in scientific journals.

    all in all the test is fooking stupid. if you study hard and smart and get lucky you should walk out with a 32+. if you study hard and smart and get unlucky i still think you should be able to get a 28+. in my case, i studied way too hard, kind of smart, got lucky in verbal and did reasonably well.

    okay, i really, really need to get a life. :laugh:
     

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