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Next step for 24 MCAT & 3.5 GPA???

Discussion in 'Re-Applicants [ MD / DO ]' started by goodman, May 10, 2007.

  1. goodman

    goodman 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2007
    So here's the problem:
    Took the MCATs twice (21M: 6VR, 7PS, 8BS first time around and then 24P: 7VR, 9PS, 8BS the second time.)
    Biology major, graduated in 2006 with a 3.51 GPA overall, 3.33 science GPA from a highly selective private east-coast school (non Ivy).
    Good extracurriculars with 4 summers of research plus another year of research at college, as well as non-clinical volunteering and leadership in a few other clubs (although could probably use more clinical experience).
    Currently serving as a Jesuit Volunteer in the medical field for the year (ending this Aug. 8), working in Alaska with a non-profit organization that helps HIV-positive clients.
    Applied (somewhat late in the application process: sent in my primary in late July last year) to 18 schools and accepted to none (17 secondaries and 3 interviews: 2 rejections and 1 waitlist).

    It is already the 10th of May and the earliest primary application date of June 1st for next year is just weeks away.

    So now my questions are:
    What can I do to boost my chances of getting in next year?

    Should I definitely take the MCATs again, or should I apply to an SMP program? (Am considering Georgetown’s program.)

    Are post-bac programs even worth it if my grades are decent (my major pitfall being the MCATs)?

    If I take the MCATs again, should I take my time to study hard and take them next year and then apply to med school next year (losing yet another year), or should I try to take the test this summer and apply later this year (thereby decreasing my chances for acceptance by applying so late)?

    Is doing research for another year worthless at this point since I have so much research experience already?

    P.S. Just curious, most MCAT scores expire after 3 years, correct? Am I obligated to show med schools the bad, expired score or can I just select the more recent ones that are higher?

    THANKS for any recommendations you can provide!
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  3. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin 10+ Year Member

    Apr 28, 2006
    i think Georgetown has an MCAT cutoff

    You dont need a post-bac or SMP; you need to improve your MCAT score. If you feel you can do that by studying for the next few months then do that. But remember this is your third time around and not only do schools frown upon 4+ MCAT you need special permission to take it after the third time. So if you are unsure you can do well on the MCAT after a few months of studying, take the year off and study.

    Really though, a few months of studying should be sufficient. Your verbal score tells me that your major weakness is in your knowledge base so it is not as if you will have to spend months really improving your technique. Have you taken an MCAT prep course? Those can really help, if you have the $.
  4. prionsRbad

    prionsRbad Mooooo 5+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2007
    I agree . . . you just need to score higher on the MCAT. No need to do a SMP program or postbac. Other than that, your overall application is awesome! Also, applying at the end of July isn't too late, IMHO.

    Take as much time as you need to study, if it's in 6 months, so be it. I wouldn't take the MCAT later than late July, early August if you want to apply this cycle.

    Don't work in research if you don't enjoy it. Since you already have research experience, find a job that really interests you :)

    Lastly, med schools will see all previous MCAT attempts from 1993 and after even if they are "expired". Schools are the ones who deem scores "expired", not AAMC or AMCAS.

    Good luck :luck: :D
  5. UVABranch

    UVABranch one of 6000 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Actually you don't need special permission anymore since the CBT. You can take the test up to 3x per year. Maybe try a test prep and register for the july or aug test, and if you don't fair well in practice tests you can change the test date. G'luck
  6. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
  7. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    Your call, but I would focus on the MCAT (not plural). Everyone is expected to have clinical experience. Doesn't really matter if you have 100 hours, 1000 hours or 10000 hours of clinical experience. What matters is what you get out of it. You can have all the clinical experience in the world, and at the very least that says you have a general idea of what medicine is like. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll perform well in med school. Hence, the importance of GPA and MCAT. If you enjoy clinical experiences then by all means do it. But don't let it affect your MCAT score or GPA.

    Improve your MCAT. I'm assuming you are applying to MD schools. The average MCAT score for admitted students is a 28-30. If you are in California, then you're looking at 32-34. Of course it should be a nice spread too. Ideally, you want a 9-10 in VR. A 9-10 in other sections. If you are a science major then a 10-12 is probably better. Obviously the higher the better in all aspects. It must also be noted that the new CBT VR has a smaller margin of error. However the "curve" may alter this viewpoint a bit, but there are about 6 passages, rather than 9. Less questions to miss. Conversely less to read and suffer through too;).

    SMPs, especially Georgetown's program is quite competitive. Therefore I would focus on improving my MCAT, and if possible getting into an SMP. But its hardly a problem if you don't get into an SMP. As others have stated, the MCAT is a huge issue here. Especially with a 7 on the verbal. An 8 is probably average, but you're looking at 9+ to be "competitive" these days.

    There is no such thing as a "decent" GPA. Even a 4.0 does not guarantee admissions. GPA and MCAT are not interchangeable. Doing well in one does not make up for being deficient in the other. Most schools treat undergrad GPA and MCAT equally for this reason. Therefore I wouldn't rely on your GPA or anything else for that matter. You are not trying to win over the adcom. You are competing against the next best applicant. My undergraduate students have stats that send shivers down my back. Good GPA (3.6-3.8), good MCAT scores (31-34), and extracurriculars that boggle the mind. One plays sports at the NCAA Division I level, while doing medical aid missions in 3rd world countries several times a year (yes, this student misses class, but still gets a 3.8). Thousand of hours of clinical experience here in the US, research with my lab, and they have publications. Of course we're in California too, so these kids have to be like this just to compete for the limited spots at the UC med schools. However they will apply at other schools in the US.

    So will they get into med school? Probably. But not because of their numerous EC's. EC's can always be embellished. Adcoms can't confirm experiences like GPA or MCAT scores. Therefore they take it as a grain of salt. However if you get an interview, then they can surely ask about your research to see if you weren't a washer of glassware. They can look at letters of rec from your PI, or mentor, etc to confirm other experiences. The key to my students success is their diverse EC's COMBINED with excellent MCAT/GPAs. So take that for what you will. :thumbup:

    The question that comes to my mind is why didn't you take the time to study hard in the first place? We all know this is not a trivial exam. Statistically speaking, taking it a second time, and third time may not significantly improve your score. Many SDNers will profess that the verbal reasoning is a pain to improve, even by 1 point. Therefore you should ask yourself, realistically, how many more points can you improve by. You need another 4 points to match the median scores that admitted students are getting. Ultimately it may be more important for you to figure out why you are getting below average MCAT scores. Lots of self reflection here...believe me...i've done it;).

    Research should be done because you like it, not because you think its going to help you get into med school. 86-90% of the students that get into our med schools here in CA have research experience. To what extent, I do not know, but its kinda given these days to have research experience. What sets everyone apart is what kind of research you do, and how meaningful the experience was (e.g., publications, presentations, etc).

    They will see every single exam you took. Even if its expired. You're not only obligated to show the med schools, but AAMC reports EVERY score. Recall your MCAT print out shows all your scores on that strip of paper. AMCAS/med schools will see the same thing. Even voided exams will show up. Exams that are >3 years old acceptable for admission (as in having taken the exam). However to some extent or another, it doesn't look good to take the exam more than 3 times. Just like retaking a class 3 times:rolleyes: .
  8. Tired Pigeon

    Tired Pigeon 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    What is going on with your MCAT? There is a serious disconnect between a decent GPA at what you say is a highly-selective school and low 20's on the MCAT. Do you have test-taking issues? Is your school not strong in science? Is there serious grade inflation there?
  9. goodman

    goodman 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2007

    I did study very hard for both the MCATs I've taken so far. I also took the Kaplan Review Course twice (on campus), once for each exam. I did absolutely everything they suggested: homework, practice exams, etc. I put in a tremendous amount of time studying. I just simply do not do well on standardized tests, and I can't figure out why. :confused:

    I didn't do well on my SAT either (1120), but was fortunate enough to not only get early-admitted into my first-choice college (with a 4.1 HS GPA), but to also get separately admitted into their competitive Pre-Med Program. I graduated cum laude, yet I still can't seem to do well on a standardized test like the MCAT, which may be the only thing (or at least the biggest thing) really holding me up from getting admitted into med school at this point.

    I have no idea what to do differently and whether I can even bring up my score enough to be competitive. My biggest fear is scoring the same or even worse the third time. I definitely feel I have "test-taking issues" (as Tired Pigeon suggests) since my school's science program was extremely rigorous and grades were definitely not inflated there. I just have no idea how to approach things any differently this time. (I did, however, just order Examkrackers' MCAT Audio Osmosis 12-CD set for my third attempt, hoping this will help me more than Kaplan did.)

    Again, any constructive recommendations now would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. I am applying only to MD schools. Sorry, but a DO just doesn't appeal to me.

    P.P.S. I live in the Midwest, not California. Am applying only to Midwest and East Coast schools, not to any CA schools.

    P.P.P.S. If by some miracle, I do get into Georgetown's SMP, should I still attempt to retake the MCAT?
  10. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Absolutely, you should. If the MCAT is your problem, fix that, regardless of whether you attend a formal academic program, or not. Address your problem directly. It's largely a myth that one element can make up for a deficiency in another.

    FWIW, don't you need at least a 28 MCAT to get into the G'town SMP program? SMP's are, in my opinion, specifically designed for folks who need to prove themselves academically (i.e., lower UGPA).

    There is some test-taking issue here. Do what you can to get to the bottom of it. Use all of your resources, including tutors who rocked the MCAT and have a lot of experience diagnosing test-taking issues. Basically, this problem doesn't end with your MCAT. The medical school process is a long one and you have to take many more tests like the MCAT. If you don't correct your problem now, it'll only serve to continue to bite you in the a$$.

    Good luck! :luck:
  11. goodman

    goodman 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2007
    Where can I find such tutors?
  12. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    I don't know. Perhaps someone here can chime in on that? I do know that Kaplan, and probably the other major test prep companies, offer tutors. They are expensive, but worth it for something that will impact you for many years to come. If they can't help you, they may be able to direct you to another resource that can.

    Also, keep in mind that studying hard doesn't always help you. It didn't help me that much. You need to study intelligently. A diagnostic will suggest to you in what areas you are weak and you should direct your study to those areas. In your case, it may not be a lack of general knowledge, but a deficiency of sound test-taking skills, such as the ability to quickly digest complex text for what is vital, draw from your external knowledge to interpret graphs, data, or formulae, to answer the questions effectively. It may be that you are falling into the traps that the test sets up for you. It could be a timing/pacing issue. I don't know. That's why you need some good feedback from a knowledgeable source who has observed you.
  13. tacrum43

    tacrum43 Behold the mighty echidna 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Just so you know, the Georgetown SMP *might* let someone in with a 24, but Georgetown med doesn't accept people from the SMP with less than a 27 even if they end up with a 4.0 in the SMP. You could still be accepted to other med schools after the SMP, but I thought that was an important point that is not made clear to applicants.

    I agree with others that your GPA is OK. Your MCAT is what you should focus on, and a $1,500 Kaplan course is a lot cheaper than Georgetown's SMP. Your section scores are pretty balanced, so I don't think it should be too hard to improve by 2 points per section. A 30+ MCAT could really help.

    edit: I didn't see before that you have already taken Kaplan twice. Perhaps try Examcrackers instead? Hmm, this is a tough one.
  14. goodman

    goodman 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2007
    Thanks to all for your replies and extremely invaluable suggestions and recommendations. Here's yet another question for you all.

    If I take this next year off to prepare for the MCAT and try to bring it up to at least a 30 (therefore, waiting until next June to apply), what else can I be doing to help strengthen my application in the meantime? I've done plenty of research (which I enjoyed but am ready to try something different). I was thinking of perhaps teaching Biology at a high school level since there are so many openings in my hometown. I was also thinking of adding more clinical experience (either shadowing, volunteering, a paid position, or overseas aid). I did volunteer in an ER Dept. during high school, but that's the extent of my clinical experience. Since I'll have at least 2 years off before hopefully getting accepted, I'd like to be both productive and prudent in helping my chances of getting accepted into med school.

    Again, any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again. :)
  15. opusthecat

    opusthecat Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    May 19, 2006
    Umm, sorry to be a little pessimistic, but given the amount of studying you put into the MCAT already (Kaplan 2x!), what makes you think you can bring your scores up to 30 this time? I don't understand why you wouldn't consider DO. It's certainly better than no medical school and with your stats I don't see allopathic happening.
  16. bwells46

    bwells46 MD, MPH, MSM 10+ Year Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    Stony Brook, NY
    If you really want an MD and can't get your MCAT score any higher, you can always try Caribbean schools.

    SGU has a great tradition of being able to match students into good residencies. I have a friend that graduated from SGU this year and matched into Orthopaedic Surgery.

    Your MCAT is just a little low but your GPA is right where it needs to be. However, with your background, I'd bet good money that you would get in.

    Here are the average stats for SGU:

    Undergraduate - 3.4
    Undergrad. Sci. - 3.3
    Graduate - 3.4
    Verbal - 8
    Phys. Sci. - 9
    Bio. Sci. - 9
  17. Faze2

    Faze2 2+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2006
    Jessica Biel's Closet
    Kind of a shame, cause you would have probably gotten accepted to a few of them if you applied. But everyone has their preference and that's cool.:cool:

    Just hope you didn't decide that for the wrong reasons.

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