acetylmandarin

2+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2014
1,107
213
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
So I'm coming up on my senior year, and my plans were to study this summer and take the MCAT on September 10th, take a lot of science courses through this year to boost my science GPA as much as possible, and apply to med school next cycle. My science gpa is currently about a 3.6, and my overall is about a 3.7 (had a low gpa at first, and had a lot of B's in my first two years). I was going to take 15-18 credits of science classes per semester for my senior year and hopefully do well, boosting my science gpa a little bit.

I was using a modified sn2ed plan for this summer, and I am not ready for the mcat. I was working a small side job and also auditing a bchm course to try and learn metabolism, which was the part of bchm not covered in the 1st bchm course I took for credit. I took much longer than I thought I would to study for the mcat; I was not able to cover a chapter a day as the schedule outlines. I would often get stuck on material and spend days researching and watching videos to try and improve my understanding as much as possible.

At this point, I might just stop the mcat studying altogether and focus on learning metabolism stuff first from this bchm course, which is going to end soon. I've had trouble juggling both the bchm stuff and mcat studying, and I have not devoted enough time to learning metabolism.

So what should I do? I am possibly considering 2 gap years instead of one, and maybe finding some kind of research position for that time.
I could drop a course and make this fall a little lighter and try and extend my mcat studying throughout the semester. However, I worry about my ability to study for the mcat along with school and extracurriculars. I don't even know if I'd be ready for a january test date. Maybe test next summer?

I still have several chapters in my berkeley review books for each subject, and I haven't taken any full lengths yet. I worry about extending my mcat studying too long because I feel like I will lose the momentum I've built up from what I have studied, but at the same time, I don't want to waste my final opportunity to change my gpa. Even if it is only a marginal boost in gpa, I think it will help to have higher grades in my upper level sciences to offset the many B's I got during my first two years.
 

narvik2016

2+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2014
258
261
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I would at least take one practice test if you have done a good amount of studying to see where you stand- you could be better off than you think. If you don't want to waste tests (which I understand- this is smart), try Next Step- I think they have a half-length diagnostic test you can take for free.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NeedACar

[email protected]

2+ Year Member
Mar 11, 2015
13
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Please, Take it next summer, you can take two years off. Take it when you feel ready and do not burn yourself out! I am in med school right now and many of my classmates have taken more than one year off, be flexible.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ThoracicGuy

Dagrimsta1

Current Representation of MS-3
5+ Year Member
Sep 14, 2014
798
906
New York
Status
Medical Student
plans never work out (unless you get lucky ironically). Just stay focused and push yourself to your OWN limits. What they are can only be found out by you.
 

AnatomyGrey12

2+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2015
9,285
18,771
Midwest
Status
Medical Student
I think I should finish content review before I start taking practice exams. Don't want to waste them
There are a ton of prep companies out there with decent practice tests. Get some and take one or two. You can't know where you stand without doing that.
 
OP
acetylmandarin

acetylmandarin

2+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2014
1,107
213
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Just to follow up on this; right now, I feel like I should push off the mcat studying and focus on learning metabolism. Should I do this, or just go back to mcat studying for every subject and then learn metabolism when I get to that topic in content review? I feel torn. On one hand, I feel like I want to keep working towards mcat studying, which I've been doing for the whole summer, but on the other hand, I feel like metabolic pathways are so high yield and important, and the fact that my formal biochem course didn't cover metabolic pathways, this makes me feel like I should focus the rest of my free time on learning this information first before going back to the mcat books again
 

Lawper

cat in a box
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
36,767
108,284
space chat
Just to follow up on this; right now, I feel like I should push off the mcat studying and focus on learning metabolism. Should I do this, or just go back to mcat studying for every subject and then learn metabolism when I get to that topic in content review? I feel torn. On one hand, I feel like I want to keep working towards mcat studying, which I've been doing for the whole summer, but on the other hand, I feel like metabolic pathways are so high yield and important, and the fact that my formal biochem course didn't cover metabolic pathways, this makes me feel like I should focus the rest of my free time on learning this information first before going back to the mcat books again
Metabolic pathways aren't difficult to learn. You just draw out the pathways several times until you finally understand what's going on. This is fairly straightforward in regards to glycolysis, citric acid cycle and electron transport chain. More complex pathways like nucleotide, amino acid, and heme metabolism can be approached similarly but all these stuff are better covered at the medical school level.
 
Aug 10, 2015
111
221
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I really think you should take a practice test. I took one before I even started studying, and I think it helped a lot, especially in putting things in perspective. Also IMHO, the MCAT is 60-70% critical thinking, 30-40% content.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sleepyhead22

Lost In Transcription

reports of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated
2+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2016
2,515
2,271
Probably still at work
I think you should definitely take a diagnostic exam for sure before your content review is over.

This helps you assess both your overall improvement and also capabilities (is 510 the best you have ever gotten or are you just only 2/3rds through review?)
 

HawkeyeLover26

2+ Year Member
May 18, 2016
24
26
Status
Pre-Medical
I honestly think both your cgpa and sgpa are just fine. Could be higher, but they're definitely high enough to be competitive at many schools. Remember, there are so many other factors. What kind of extracurricular experiences do you have? If you do have a lot of clinical experience and other unique ECs, plus strong LORs, I think you're fine and don't need to take 2 years off if you don't want to just so you can marginally improve your gpa. I think you should take a significantly lighter course load if you don't need that many credits to graduate and focus on studying and getting a very high score on your MCAT ,which in and of itself could offset any "blemishes" you have on your transcript.
 

Kpw101

5+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2013
366
459
Status
Medical Student
There's nothing wrong with taking more time to make sure you're ready. I plan on doing the same should I not feel ready for my Sep 10 test. If you rush and it doesn't work out for you, the road will be paved with obstacles you could have avoided.
 

Horse Apiece

2+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2015
194
230
Status
Pre-Medical
Metabolic pathways aren't difficult to learn. You just draw out the pathways several times until you finally understand what's going on. This is fairly straightforward in regards to glycolysis, citric acid cycle and electron transport chain. More complex pathways like nucleotide, amino acid, and heme metabolism can be approached similarly but all these stuff are better covered at the medical school level.
Well the MCAT does cover the Pentose Phosphate Pathway, Glycolysis, Glycogenolysis, Glycogenesis, Krebs Cycle & ETC, Cori Cycle (somewhat). Hormonal activation/inactivation, Substrate & Feedback inhibition are all fair game for these in a general sense too. You'd be surprised at the pseudo discretes and what they expect you to know, so probably shouldn't save everything for medical school.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Gurby

Lawper

cat in a box
Gold Donor
5+ Year Member
SDN Ambassador
Jun 17, 2014
36,767
108,284
space chat
Well the MCAT does cover the Pentose Phosphate Pathway, Glycolysis, Glycogenolysis, Glycogenesis, Krebs Cycle & ETC, Cori Cycle (somewhat). Hormonal activation/inactivation, Substrate & Feedback inhibition are all fair game for these in a general sense too. You'd be surprised at the pseudo discretes and what they expect you to know, so probably shouldn't save everything for medical school.
Still relatively straightforward except the pentose phosphate pathway, which comes off as a surprise. I'd figure the important part of it is NADPH production for reducing power for anabolism as well as glutathione recycling. It'd be surprising if the MCAT tests those complicated sugar isomerization pathways that lead to glycolysis and ribose-5-phosphate production.

I could see the MCAT throwing a few passages detailing a complicated metabolic pathway (say AMP/GMP synthesis) and ask questions about feedback control, enzyme kinetics, etc. But direct recall of several pathways beyond sugar metabolism seems a bit excessive (and sugar metabolism isn't all that easy but vitally important)
 

Kpw101

5+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2013
366
459
Status
Medical Student
Still relatively straightforward except the pentose phosphate pathway, which comes off as a surprise. I'd figure the important part of it is NADPH production for reducing power for anabolism as well as glutathione recycling. It'd be surprising if the MCAT tests those complicated sugar isomerization pathways that lead to glycolysis and ribose-5-phosphate production.

I could see the MCAT throwing a few passages detailing a complicated metabolic pathway (say AMP/GMP synthesis) and ask questions about feedback control, enzyme kinetics, etc. But direct recall of several pathways beyond sugar metabolism seems a bit excessive (and sugar metabolism isn't all that easy but vitally important)
+1. My book specifically mentions not to spend time memorizing the pathways. All pathway related questions I've gotten on the MCAT were questions based on the passage where they draw the steps out for you.
 

ed*26

2+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2016
305
275
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
If you're already not planning on applying until next cycle then what's the rush to take it on Sept 10th? Why not push back until January or May? The problem with your study schedule seems to be time, which you have months and months of. Now that you know your limits better and how long it takes you to get through a subject, pick a new date and create a new study schedule. Take a couple weeks off if you need it. And don't stress about taking 18 credits, because you'll get way more bang for your buck by killing the MCAT than doing well in a few more science courses.

Also, you should definitely not wait to take practice tests until after content review. Take all the practice tests you can. Half of the test is getting used to the pacing, the tricks, the critical thinking. At my school Kapan and TPR hosted free practice tests throughout the semester to promote their services, so you can look into those if you're being budget-conscious.
 

Lost in Translation

単純な馬鹿でありたい。
2+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2015
1,934
1,730
最上川
Status
Medical Student
There's no problem pushing the MCAT. I did that for mine, and instead of getting like a 26 like I would have, I studied for half the summer and broke 30. Take it when you're ready, not when your application schedule says you should.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ad2b
OP
acetylmandarin

acetylmandarin

2+ Year Member
Oct 20, 2014
1,107
213
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hey, just bumping this thread. I talked to my dad about what he thought I should do, and he said to focus on doing well in my classes while studying for the mcat if possible. If needed, I should just focus on my mcat. His reasoning made sense; I will not be able to fix a bad GPA, but I can just keep pushing off the mcat.

I feel like I should take 18 credits. I looked over my transcript, and honestly, I've been taking sort of light semesters all along (average 14 credits). I've seen somewhere else on these forums that 28-29 credits a year is considered light. I think I'm underestimating how much work these classes will be.
 

Mclovin0351

It makes sense if you don't think about it
May 4, 2016
281
442
Status
Pre-Medical
I think I should finish content review before I start taking practice exams. Don't want to waste them
I took my first practice exam without one minute of content review. I got all of my content review by thoroughly reviewing the 18 FL's I took. And by review I mean question by question, spending as much time as necessary researching the topics included to understand every part of the question. I ended up with a 517.
I currently teach for Kaplan and if you were my student I would tell you to start the process of taking FL's and reviewing them and try to take one a week or every other week. This should have you ready for January, or maybe some time in the spring.