Tennille

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I am studying for the MCAT (taking it end of May) and I am running into HUGE trouble. The first time I took a practice test I scored mid 20s (not good enough) but I contributed it to me not finishing ochem II and physics II. I am currently taking those two courses/labs and working part-time. However, each time I take a practice test my score keeps going DOWN!!!! I have no idea what to do and I am so afraid that by May it will be just as bad!! I know my stuff but I do horribly on standardized tests not to mention I am so nervous to the point of getting sick. I guess I wanted some advice from anyone who just couldn’t get their score to improve and if they did—how did you do it? If you couldn’t score higher—could other aspects of your application make up for it? Worst case scenario, if I only say end up with a mid-20s score, will it be the make it or break it for me to get into med school? I have a lot of other things that make me competitive (current GPA 4.0, 4.0 M.S, 3.52 B.S; Honors/Advanced courses; research experience this coming summer and fall…does any of this count???) I’m so worried. Please help. :scared:
 

mspeedwagon

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I can't help you with improving your score. Familiarize yourself with this to answer your last question: http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/applicantmatriculant/table24-mcatgpa-grid-3yrs-app-accpt.htm.

With a 3.52 / 25 MCAT, you only have a 25% chance of getting into a medical school. If you are from California, then you are in trouble as I'd imagine that a lot of those with 3.5/25 are applying in states where their local medical school doesn't have insane stats. Also this data is from 05-07 and it has become more competitive.

P.S. - just realized you are from NY. Ignore the CA comment.

I am studying for the MCAT (taking it end of May) and I am running into HUGE trouble. The first time I took a practice test I scored mid 20s (not good enough) but I contributed it to me not finishing ochem II and physics II. I am currently taking those two courses/labs and working part-time. However, each time I take a practice test my score keeps going DOWN!!!! I have no idea what to do and I am so afraid that by May it will be just as bad!! I know my stuff but I do horribly on standardized tests not to mention I am so nervous to the point of getting sick. I guess I wanted some advice from anyone who just couldn't get their score to improve and if they did—how did you do it? If you couldn't score higher—could other aspects of your application make up for it? Worst case scenario, if I only say end up with a mid-20s score, will it be the make it or break it for me to get into med school? I have a lot of other things that make me competitive (current GPA 4.0, 4.0 M.S, 3.52 B.S; Honors/Advanced courses; research experience this coming summer and fall…does any of this count???) I'm so worried. Please help. :scared:
 
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Tennille

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Wouldn't most current GPAs count more though? As of now, in my pre-req courses, I have a 4.0 and also in my master's I received a 4.0. Wouldn't those two scores count more (because they are more recent) than my 3.52 that I received 5 yrs ago?
 

mspeedwagon

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Wait, I assumed the 3.52 was cumilative (counting the 4.0). Are you using the AMCAS spreadsheet to calculate your GPA. The 4.0 in your masters won't mean much (it's expected) unless this was an SMP. What is looked at is your cumilative undegrad GPA (including post-bac classes). Also, your BPCM (bio/chem/phy and math) GPA. An upward trend helps, but is not the primary focus.


Wouldn't most current GPAs count more though? As of now, in my pre-req courses, I have a 4.0 and also in my master's I received a 4.0. Wouldn't those two scores count more (because they are more recent) than my 3.52 that I received 5 yrs ago?
 

mspeedwagon

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How many practice tests did you take so far? Can you detect any pattern in your tests? I mean, were you missing questions because you didn't understand the content well or didn't have a enough time or you were just so nervous that you couldn't even focus much etc? Try to find what is really causing your score to go down. If you feel you are well prepared with material and mentally/physically prepared to sit 5-6 hours to take practice exams and still scoring mid twenties or low there must be something missing.
Physics II and O-chem II matters since they appear on MCAT, that maybe the cause...if you haven't mastered yet. How is your verbal? Any consistency? If everything is not consistent, then let's be serious and re-evaluate yourself, are you ready to take the real thing? If not, you can delay little bit (it may hurt your application timeline, but it's better than scoring real bad on real MCAT).
First of all, let's try to calm down before the real test which is very important (and it kind of comes with taking many practice tests that when you take the another practice test you are not as intimidated as much before). I understand you are not good with standardized tests, but we all have to go through MCAT one way or another. So, don't discourage yourself. Tell yourself you can do it. I'm serious, having confidence is huge factor when you take the real MCAT. I was freaking scared of this thing and was nervous about it, but that didn't help me. What helped was taking many practice tests and building confidence day by day. I still wasn't able to score as much as I hoped, but my other stuff helped and I got in.
BTW, are you only going for MD? Are you considering DO route? Sorry I just wrote my random thoughts...
 

Tennille

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How many practice tests did you take so far? Can you detect any pattern in your tests? I mean, were you missing questions because you didn't understand the content well or didn't have a enough time or you were just so nervous that you couldn't even focus much etc? Try to find what is really causing your score to go down. If you feel you are well prepared with material and mentally/physically prepared to sit 5-6 hours to take practice exams and still scoring mid twenties or low there must be something missing.
Physics II and O-chem II matters since they appear on MCAT, that maybe the cause...if you haven't mastered yet. How is your verbal? Any consistency? If everything is not consistent, then let's be serious and re-evaluate yourself, are you ready to take the real thing? If not, you can delay little bit (it may hurt your application timeline, but it's better than scoring real bad on real MCAT).
First of all, let's try to calm down before the real test which is very important (and it kind of comes with taking many practice tests that when you take the another practice test you are not as intimidated as much before). I understand you are not good with standardized tests, but we all have to go through MCAT one way or another. So, don't discourage yourself. Tell yourself you can do it. I'm serious, having confidence is huge factor when you take the real MCAT. I was freaking scared of this thing and was nervous about it, but that didn't help me. What helped was taking many practice tests and building confidence day by day. I still wasn't able to score as much as I hoped, but my other stuff helped and I got in.
BTW, are you only going for MD? Are you considering DO route? Sorry I just wrote my random thoughts...
Thank you for the reply and encouragement. I have taken 3 practice tests--and plan on taking more. How many do you think one should take? And the funny thing is, each time I think I will do better and I DON'T.

I can sit for hours on end studying and what not so I know that is not the problem. I think my main problem is I overanalyze everything (even in life haha). I can usually disregard 2 of the choices but then the other 2 seem like they could both work and I have a difficult time distinguishing between the two.

The verbal section kills me--THE PASSAGES ARE LOOOOONG and I have a hard time focusing on what the author is trying to say. Also, I feel it is very subjective. So that is difficult as well. I do much better on paper than on computer--even on my tests in school and HW I write all over them which is part of my thought process. It is difficult to transfer all my thoughts to scrap paper esp involving i.e., a large reaction etc. And yes, sometimes my mind just goes blank when I am confronted with something that I'm eh so-so on and I get super nervous which creates a domino effect.

I bought a Kaplan review book and EK books for each section. Do you think practicing verbal passages from an EK book will help with my concentration? And yes, I know there are questions that I get wrong because I have NO idea what it is talking about because I haven't gotten that far in org/phys. I think I have a lot of problems--lack of confidence also...ugh.

I am only applying to MD schools. Do you mind me asking (and if you don't want to answer it is totally ok) what your MCAT score ended up being? Did you apply to both MD and DO schools? Which type of school are you attending now? I am hoping-like you said-that the other strengths of my app (volunteer work, research, LORs, PS, GPAs, clinical exp, AWESOMENESS as a person haha) will help me just in case my MCAT score isn't stellar. Thank you again. It's nice to have support.
 

mspeedwagon

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A few words of wisdom:
- It's not wise to eliminate schools solely on the fact that they are M.D. or D.O. I would consider other factors (location, tuition etc.) All D.O. schools are not built equally nor are all M.D. programs (although, since after the UCs, I would prefer D.O. programs maybe you shouldn't apply... that's just the inner me wanting fewer applicants for the Fall of 2012 :p).
- I'm sure you are an awesome person, but volunteer work, clinical experience etc. are pretty much expected in conjunction with the 3.5+ GPA /30+ MCAT and will not substitute for it.

You still have time to prepare. I would advise posting some of the questions on the MCAT discussion thread that you are able to narrow down two and finding out how people narrowed it down. Sometimes people have innovative ways of solving problems and I find sdn member lovefororganic very helpful with organic chemistry (which I'm weaker in).

And you have full support from us :).


I am only applying to MD schools. Do you mind me asking (and if you don't want to answer it is totally ok) what your MCAT score ended up being? Did you apply to both MD and DO schools? Which type of school are you attending now? I am hoping-like you said-that the other strengths of my app (volunteer work, research, LORs, PS, GPAs, clinical exp, AWESOMENESS as a person haha) will help me just in case my MCAT score isn't stellar. Thank you again. It's nice to have support.
 

DrSmooth

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From your practice scores, it sounds like you are not ready to take the MCAT. Don't take the MCAT until you are ready, even if you have to push back your test. I think you need to take a step back and come up with a new plan of attack:
1) When will you be done with Gchem, Ochem, Physics and Bio courses? No need to waste more practice tests until you have at least finished the prereqs.
2) Consider ditching Kaplan materials and use TBR along with the EK and AAMC MCAT guide. They are much more thorough, especially if you do not have a solid conceptual understanding, which it sounds like might be the case from the practice scores.
3) Give yourself at least 4 weeks of full-time prep after finals and before you take the MCAT. Full-time meaning 10-12 hrs a day every day, with a break when you need it.
4) Postpone your test until at least June 17. Being a couple weeks behind the early birds beats a low MCAT score. That month can make a world of difference. And if you aren't ready by then, push it back some more, even if you end up having to apply a year later.

You basically need to find out what is not working and fix it. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and just keep plowing ahead, but what you are doing isn't working, change that as fast as you can and keep on tweaking as you go. Have you checked out SN2d's MCAT study plan, it might be a good place to start to come up with a new plan. Good luck and don't give up! In a few months you will be glad you put in the extra work and in a year you won't even remember what the hell a (I can't even remember the name right now) reaction is.
 

DrSmooth

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And take a deep breath. Approach this as a problem to be solved and don't let yourself get psyched out. In the end the MCAT is just another test.
 

Tennille

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Mar 3, 2009
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A few words of wisdom:
You still have time to prepare. I would advise posting some of the questions on the MCAT discussion thread that you are able to narrow down two and finding out how people narrowed it down. Sometimes people have innovative ways of solving problems and I find sdn member lovefororganic very helpful with organic chemistry (which I'm weaker in).

And you have full support from us :).
Thank you for the advice and the support. Makes me feel not so alone. I'm going to go through my most recent practice test I took and post some qs to see if ppl can help. Thanks again :)
 

mspeedwagon

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Just remember not to post full questions or you will be banned. Most people have the tests so refer to the tests and you can post the answer stems and ask about the concept being tested.


Thank you for the advice and the support. Makes me feel not so alone. I'm going to go through my most recent practice test I took and post some qs to see if ppl can help. Thanks again :)
 

Tennille

10+ Year Member
Mar 3, 2009
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From your practice scores, it sounds like you are not ready to take the MCAT. Don't take the MCAT until you are ready, even if you have to push back your test. I think you need to take a step back and come up with a new plan of attack:
1) When will you be done with Gchem, Ochem, Physics and Bio courses? No need to waste more practice tests until you have at least finished the prereqs.
2) Consider ditching Kaplan materials and use TBR along with the EK and AAMC MCAT guide. They are much more thorough, especially if you do not have a solid conceptual understanding, which it sounds like might be the case from the practice scores.
3) Give yourself at least 4 weeks of full-time prep after finals and before you take the MCAT. Full-time meaning 10-12 hrs a day every day, with a break when you need it.
4) Postpone your test until at least June 17. Being a couple weeks behind the early birds beats a low MCAT score. That month can make a world of difference. And if you aren't ready by then, push it back some more, even if you end up having to apply a year later.

You basically need to find out what is not working and fix it. It's easy to get stuck in a rut and just keep plowing ahead, but what you are doing isn't working, change that as fast as you can and keep on tweaking as you go. Have you checked out SN2d's MCAT study plan, it might be a good place to start to come up with a new plan. Good luck and don't give up! In a few months you will be glad you put in the extra work and in a year you won't even remember what the hell a (I can't even remember the name right now) reaction is.
I think you are right. I am not ready as of now. I have already taken all the prereq courses (currently taking ochem II/lab and phys II/lab) and the problem is I ace all the tests in school but there is a def disconnect btwn what I know and what the test is asking of me...but its difficult to know what I don't know bc the test can ask anything and in tricky ways!!! That is what is confusing to me. I still have almost 1.5 mo until the actual test but if it isn't working out I will def be pushing it back. I think my problem is also that I work and am taking classes right now so I'm getting slightly burned out. By the way, what is TBR? I don't know all the acronyms yet...Here is another question: Can one send in application materials etc before one has taken the MCAT? Or does one have to wait until the test is completed? I do need a new plan and I have to find out what that is because what I am currently doing is not helping. I know it is just a test but I feel I would make a great physician but will be overlooked bc of a test. Thanks again---also I CANNOT WAIT until the time when I can't remember and won't need to remember what reaction is what lol :)
 

Tennille

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Just remember not to post full questions or you will be banned. Most people have the tests so refer to the tests and you can post the answer stems and ask about the concept being tested.
WOW. Thank you. I totally had no idea. Thank you for the heads up. :thumbup:
 

mspeedwagon

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When it comes to MCAT material there is TBR (the berkeley review), TPR (the princeton review) and kaplan. Those are probably the most popular. And yes, you can send all your apps ahead of your MCAT, but they will not be reviewed until complete (with MCAT).

And unfortunately, it's the biggest test you are going to take in your life (no pressure). No M.D. program is going to overlook week scores unless you have an exceptional story (grew up in poverty and had to walk 10 miles in bare feet just to attend the only chemistry class in your area).


I think you are right. I am not ready as of now. I have already taken all the prereq courses (currently taking ochem II/lab and phys II/lab) and the problem is I ace all the tests in school but there is a def disconnect btwn what I know and what the test is asking of me...but its difficult to know what I don't know bc the test can ask anything and in tricky ways!!! That is what is confusing to me. I still have almost 1.5 mo until the actual test but if it isn't working out I will def be pushing it back. I think my problem is also that I work and am taking classes right now so I'm getting slightly burned out. By the way, what is TBR? I don't know all the acronyms yet...Here is another question: Can one send in application materials etc before one has taken the MCAT? Or does one have to wait until the test is completed? I do need a new plan and I have to find out what that is because what I am currently doing is not helping. I know it is just a test but I feel I would make a great physician but will be overlooked bc of a test. Thanks again---also I CANNOT WAIT until the time when I can't remember and won't need to remember what reaction is what lol :)
 
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Thank you for the reply and encouragement. I have taken 3 practice tests--and plan on taking more. How many do you think one should take? If you can take all the AAMC practice tests (there are probably 8 or so available) And the funny thing is, each time I think I will do better and I DON'T (Review the tests after scored, and analyze not only your mistakes but also the correct answers too, make sure you got it by correct reasoning, that's important).

I can sit for hours on end studying and what not so I know that is not the problem. I think my main problem is I overanalyze everything (even in life haha), Ok then let's try to minimize overanalyzing then :rolleyes:. I can usually disregard 2 of the choices but then the other 2 seem like they could both work and I have a difficult time distinguishing between the two (Go with your first answer or with your gut feeling, sometimes it works :p).

The verbal section kills me--THE PASSAGES ARE LOOOOONG and I have a hard time focusing on what the author is trying to say (Try with EK verbal and practice EK verbal 101, pay attention to overall feeling of passage, not just individual paragraph). Also, I feel it is very subjective. So that is difficult as well. I do much better on paper than on computer (me too)--even on my tests in school and HW I write all over them which is part of my thought process. It is difficult to transfer all my thoughts to scrap paper esp involving i.e., a large reaction etc. And yes, sometimes my mind just goes blank when I am confronted with something that I'm eh so-so on and I get super nervous which creates a domino effect (This where you have to control yourself, you have done so much studying, even if you don't know the answer you can reason out from what you know about the topics, so do not panic. Most of the time all of us don't know the answer right away).

I bought a Kaplan review book and EK books for each section. Do you think practicing verbal passages from an EK book will help with my concentration? (EK helps once you have basic idea of all of the topics, if you need detailed explanation EK won't help much, I used TPR, Kplan, EK, my used textbooks etc). And yes, I know there are questions that I get wrong because I have NO idea what it is talking about because I haven't gotten that far in org/phys (that means you're not ready to take the practice exam yet). I think I have a lot of problems--lack of confidence also...ugh. (Let's build up your confidence slowly, let's learn the all material first, and then let's practice it, then let's take the AAMC practice tests, then let's take the real MCAT)

I am only applying to MD schools (Consider other options if you're up to it because MCAT around mid twenties will get you nowhere in MD programs, they're very competitive and the average is around 29-30 I think). Do you mind me asking (and if you don't want to answer it is totally ok) what your MCAT score ended up being? ( I was slightly lower than MD average due to my very poor verbal which killed my whole MCAT, I'm speaking English only 8 years by the way). Did you apply to both MD and DO schools? (I applied only DO programs since that's what I interested in from the start). Which type of school are you attending now? ( I will start my med school in this summer in pretty good DO program) I am hoping-like you said-that the other strengths of my app (volunteer work, research, LORs, PS, GPAs, clinical exp, AWESOMENESS as a person haha) (Other things help but GPA/ MCAT take HUGE Place in Admission, Awesomeness might help you in interview if you do it correctly :laugh: )will help me just in case my MCAT score isn't stellar (My MCAT was not that great either mostly due to my language barrier but science part is very doable I scored 11 on both science just by studying them. But I was able to accepted in many DO programs with my MCAT and I have no regret). Thank you again. It's nice to have support.
(We all need support time to time, I was in your shoes year ago. So you can do it, but don't take MCAT unless you're ready!!! Make sure you're ready, it is very important)

Goodluck :thumbup:
 

Tennille

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Mar 3, 2009
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(We all need support time to time, I was in your shoes year ago. So you can do it, but don't take MCAT unless you're ready!!! Make sure you're ready, it is very important)

Goodluck :thumbup:
THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH. I have been going over the practice MCAT tests and looking at what I got wrong---most of it was stupid mistakes because of nerves. It's like it's a completely different test once it's all over and done with and the pressure is off. Crazy, I know. I know my stuff (well except for this tail end of the orgII and physII. I just need to get my head on straight. I think I'm going to push my date back a little to the middle of this summer and cut back on my research (?) so I can study more and get more comfortable in my own shoes lol. Thank you again and for all the well wishes. Good luck to you in all of your endeavors :luck: