May 17, 2020
1
0
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi people,

I am currently studying for the MCAT and wanted to share my struggles to see if anyone had any advice for me.

I started studying in April with a Kaplan class that got changed from an in-person class to an online class. I felt that my instructor was condescending and I was not keeping up with the rest of the class, so I became discouraged and stopped attending the zoom course.

When I tried to study on my own, I started with taking thorough notes from the Kaplan books and making flashcards, but I found that I was spending too much time on content review because I could barely get through one chapter a day, which is overwhelming considering the amount of material the exam covers. I also took a diagnostic exam to find out my weaker areas, and my results showed that I was weak in almost every category. I did a lot of researching and found that many people say the best thing to do is to do practice passages during content review and learn from the explanations of the questions answered incorrectly. However, I have found that I have an extremely hard time mapping the passages, understanding the overall idea, knowing what details are important, applying the difficult to concepts to basic concepts I know, and interpreting experimental data. When it comes to the questions, it's hard for me to know what exactly it's asking or applying a concept to the information in the passage. I'm not sure if I'm struggling to understand the passages or if I don't know my content well enough to understand them and interpret the info.

I studied extremely hard and achieved good grades throughout college so I don't understand why this test feels like an unattainable goal for me right now. I always took interest in the topics I studied, but now I am so overwhelmed by the amount of content I need to review for this exam and my anxiety gets so bad that I am losing sleep over it and become discouraged after about one practice passage.

When I tried to study on my own, I started with taking thorough notes from the Kaplan books and making flashcards, but I was barely getting through one chapter a day, so I became overwhelmed because I was spending too much time on content review. I also often struggled to answer the FSQ after each chapter, even though I felt like I was confident in the chapter. I did a lot of researching and found that many people say the best thing to do is to do practice passages during content review and learn from the explanations of the questions answered incorrectly. However, I have found it extremely difficult to map the passages and understand the overall idea of the passage and its paragraphs. I'm not sure if I'm struggling to interpret what the passages are saying, or if I don't know my content well enough to interpret the information.

My anxiety about this exam has because so bad that it has hindered my ability to study as hard as I normally do for exams; lately its gotten to the point that I can only study for an hour or two before I become discouraged, when I used to study for 9 or 10 hours endlessly for pre-reqs. I received good grades during my undergrad I've gotten good grades throughout college- so I don't understand why this test feels like an unattainable goal for me right now. I have the AAMC materials, Kaplan, Princeton, and UWorld, so I have more than enough resources to be able to do it.

My MCAT date was cancelled and I rescheduled for august which gives me about 2 months to study, so I was wondering if any of you had any advice for me. Attending Medical school has been my biggest dream since I was little and theres nothing I want more, but this test is giving me so much anxiety and is so challenging I'm starting to question whether or not I need to explore other options. Let me know, thank you.
 
Dec 17, 2019
22
26
Status
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
Hi! Before I start my response, I want you to know it's normal to feel discouraged. The MCAT is a big deal, and it causes anxiety in everyone. But you got this!

Starting with a diagnostic exam is a great place to start. It will show you what you need to work on, but more importantly, it gives you and idea of the timing, content and format of the MCAT. Your diagnostic exam is just a starting point.

The amount of material the MCAT covers is overwhelming, for sure. I was very overwhelmed by the exam and by my schoolwork when I took the MCAT my junior year and ended up with a sub 500 score. I had to really look at myself and find why I didn't do well and what I could improve on to do better. I knew I needed to nail content and do much, much more practice.

I found that what helped make studying less overwhelming was making a strict schedule, and sticking to it. I hate reading books to learn content, and do much better if I hear someone explaining something to me. I used MCATselfprep.com, which is free and sorts videos from many sources (mostly Khan academy) into subjects, so you have almost chapters of videos. I made a schedule to watch X number of videos per day and take notes, then write flash cards (most in question and answer format, not just definitions or equations). That probably took about 4 hours per day, and then I would do 3-4 practice passages.

I would agree that it's important to do passages while you're studying content review, especially CARS. I found that I was able to determine what was important in the passage by tackling paragraphs at a time. At the start of the passage, I would first read the passage questions and then number the paragraphs of the passage. Then I would read through the passage. I would only hilight key works or equations, and then at the end of the paragraph, I would write a one sentence summary of what it was about. That way, when I got to the questions, I wouldn't have to hunt to find the paragraph that contained the answer. Then, I I would check my answers and figure out why I got something right or wrong.

I studied my flashcards daily. If there was something I was consistently getting wrong, I would read about it or re-watch the videos. About 6-7 weeks before my test, I began to take a full length exam every week, on the day of the week my scheduled test was on, in real testing conditions. Meaning; get up early, get to your "testing site" (I used an empty classroom on campus), no phone, and take your scheduled breaks outside of the room, like the real test. Personally, I used 3rd party exams first (all full length) and saved the AAMC ones for last. However, I have read that the AAMC FL 3 has been the least predictive of your actual score, so it may be best to start with that, take 3rd part exams, then finish with AAMC FL 1 and 2.

The day after my practice exam, I would go through each section, figure out why I got each question right or wrong. I would make flashcards from those questions, and then review them daily with the rest of my cards.

I was able to increase my score 11 points and will be starting medical school in the fall! My study schedule may not fit how you study best, but that's okay. You CAN do it! Take a deep breath, plan out how you're going to spend your next 2 months and practice, practice, practice! And if you don't think you'll be ready to take the exam in August, it is much better to reschedule than to bomb the exam and have to take it again. Trust me, I would know.

Hope that helped (and made sense...)! Good luck!
 
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Reactions: 1 user
Feb 5, 2020
397
263
Status
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
In my experience, the MCAT is a test that also depends on your self-confidence. There are plenty of resources on this forum that can help you study for the MCAT on August. But I think you need resources to ease your anxiety and boost your self-confidence.
Here is my story that is different from your case but similar in essence. After taking my MCAT, I had to wait a whole month to get my score back. That month was grueling, and I would lose sleep from worrying if I bombed that synthesis passage in C/P section. I couldn’t keep my head straight and lost productivity at work. Two weeks after the test, I decided to practice meditation with Headspace, and it really helped relieve my stress. After a few days, I felt more confident and stopped doubting myself. Two weeks later, when I opened my account to check my score, it said I scored 98th percentile overall.
I really recommend meditation to ease your stress and stop doubting yourself. Try Headspace. You’ll be in a better headspace after a session. If you prefer in-person, try counseling or Better Help.
 
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HouseJC

If nobody hates you, you're doing something wrong
Mar 22, 2019
356
315
Toronto
Status
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
I'm not sure about your study strategies nor am I questioning your ability in studying. But, YouTube has a channel called Med School Insiders and the guy has quite a few videos on how to improve study strategies. I used a few of them and it helped me. Obviously, a technique that works for one person does not mean that it will work others, but sharing them won't hurt (in my opinion).

Also be wary of burnout too, as it can decrease your productivity despite your best intentions. I use the Pomodoro technique where I study/focus on a task for 50 minutes and break for 10 minutes. I find this helps to increase my endurance throughout the day.

Good luck!
 

PlsLetMeIn21

2+ Year Member
Dec 5, 2017
695
452
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi people,

I am currently studying for the MCAT and wanted to share my struggles to see if anyone had any advice for me.

I started studying in April with a Kaplan class that got changed from an in-person class to an online class. I felt that my instructor was condescending and I was not keeping up with the rest of the class, so I became discouraged and stopped attending the zoom course.

When I tried to study on my own, I started with taking thorough notes from the Kaplan books and making flashcards, but I found that I was spending too much time on content review because I could barely get through one chapter a day, which is overwhelming considering the amount of material the exam covers. I also took a diagnostic exam to find out my weaker areas, and my results showed that I was weak in almost every category. I did a lot of researching and found that many people say the best thing to do is to do practice passages during content review and learn from the explanations of the questions answered incorrectly. However, I have found that I have an extremely hard time mapping the passages, understanding the overall idea, knowing what details are important, applying the difficult to concepts to basic concepts I know, and interpreting experimental data. When it comes to the questions, it's hard for me to know what exactly it's asking or applying a concept to the information in the passage. I'm not sure if I'm struggling to understand the passages or if I don't know my content well enough to understand them and interpret the info.

I studied extremely hard and achieved good grades throughout college so I don't understand why this test feels like an unattainable goal for me right now. I always took interest in the topics I studied, but now I am so overwhelmed by the amount of content I need to review for this exam and my anxiety gets so bad that I am losing sleep over it and become discouraged after about one practice passage.

When I tried to study on my own, I started with taking thorough notes from the Kaplan books and making flashcards, but I was barely getting through one chapter a day, so I became overwhelmed because I was spending too much time on content review. I also often struggled to answer the FSQ after each chapter, even though I felt like I was confident in the chapter. I did a lot of researching and found that many people say the best thing to do is to do practice passages during content review and learn from the explanations of the questions answered incorrectly. However, I have found it extremely difficult to map the passages and understand the overall idea of the passage and its paragraphs. I'm not sure if I'm struggling to interpret what the passages are saying, or if I don't know my content well enough to interpret the information.

My anxiety about this exam has because so bad that it has hindered my ability to study as hard as I normally do for exams; lately its gotten to the point that I can only study for an hour or two before I become discouraged, when I used to study for 9 or 10 hours endlessly for pre-reqs. I received good grades during my undergrad I've gotten good grades throughout college- so I don't understand why this test feels like an unattainable goal for me right now. I have the AAMC materials, Kaplan, Princeton, and UWorld, so I have more than enough resources to be able to do it.

My MCAT date was cancelled and I rescheduled for august which gives me about 2 months to study, so I was wondering if any of you had any advice for me. Attending Medical school has been my biggest dream since I was little and theres nothing I want more, but this test is giving me so much anxiety and is so challenging I'm starting to question whether or not I need to explore other options. Let me know, thank you.

I think you need a reset. Walk away and come back in a week with a new plan. It sucks that your Kaplan class is trash, but you have to let it go. I think you could be using better materials than what you've listed, especially after you describe your situation. Look at the SDN 100-day plan and build from there. You have to take a positive approach if you plan to do well. Good luck.
 

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