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No love for acing the writing section

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by PagingDrP, May 6, 2008.

  1. PagingDrP

    PagingDrP Kind of a big deal

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    Anyone else wish the writing section actually mattered becase that was my best score (T!) lol! Dammit, wish I could swap it for my verbal.
     
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  3. BeardedRunner

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    It counts for Canadian med schools - look into it.
     
  4. Maxwell Edison

    Maxwell Edison Majoring In Medicine

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    I hear you. I got an R and almost invariably the first thing fellow students say is, "pfff, well no one cares about that part anyway."
     
  5. supafield

    supafield Dream Big

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    Being from Canada, it's interesting that we have to write a test written by the AAMC and then put a decent amount of emphasis on a section that Amercian's don't even care for.

    I know this isn't the case for everyone, but the general consensus of American pre-meds on these boards seems to be the WS is useless..... In Canada is counts, so in theory you have Canadians preparing more for the section inflating their scores... (in theory) Then these inflated scores are the basis for a cut-off...

    Queens School of Med a very good school in Ontario raised it's WS interview cutoff to an R this year.... just out of the blue.... it used to be a P.... haha you can only imagine the frustration felt by applicants with anything from a 33-39Q being flat out rejected pre-interview because of having a Q in WS.....

    Silly business if you ask me...
     
  6. physics junkie

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    You don't write essays in medical school. It's about as relevant as a math section.
     
  7. PagingDrP

    PagingDrP Kind of a big deal

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    Being able to write and communicate effectively and concisely is much more relevant to being a doctor than understanding how circuits work. Let's be honest, the MCAT is very much about weeding people out, not really giving you much relevant knowledge (except bio maybe). You also don't need to know how to read weird humanities passages as a doctor, but it gives insight into your communicative/analytical abilities outside of science, just as the writing section does.
     
  8. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me

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    You do write though. It is critical. Here is an example. Many doctors have a favorite radiologist to get their studies from. Part of it is the deemed accuracy and personality of the radiologist, but a HUGE chunk is how they write their reports. A properly written report that is concise and easy to sort through can save others tons of time, as well as reduce the chance of error.

    I didn't spent much time on the writing sample, but the scoring seems to be somewhat random for the WS. There were people on here that were professional writers. They def. knew how to write, yet they still scored low. On the other side, people who I KNOW can't write worth a damn (I proofread their papers) scored solidly. It is hard to give an accurate grade on something the grader gets about 30 seconds to grade. It is the only subjective-ish part of grading the MCAT.
     
  9. PagingDrP

    PagingDrP Kind of a big deal

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    Yea...I do agree it's pretty subjective, which is probably why it carries less weight and doesn't get scored on the numerical scale like the other sections. At the same time, I feel some of the verbal questions really split hairs at times.
     
  10. physics junkie

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    Strange, I never made mention of circuits. I'm guessing since you are pre-med your exposure to mathematics is limited(not meant as an insult, just assuming you never went more than 5 classes beyond calculus where it begins getting interesting and challenging) so I'm not going to argue with you about it's importance in developing an analytical mind. We can disagree about how valuable mathematics is compared to writing ability.

    I can't comment on your opinion that the humanities passages are weird. Personally I never found the questions unclear or difficult to understand except for a handful(I consistently missed 3-4 questions per test on the CBT VR's). Being able to understand what you read and infer things that aren't explicitly stated is an incredibly important skill. Personally I don't think it should make a difference what you're reading about because the whole point is to see how well you can hold words as placeholders for ideas that are being developed in the passage. In other words, how quickly you can pick something up.

    I've never read a radiologist's report so I don't know how they differ from other physicians. From what I've seen of other doctors though many have switched to a template system. Writing a clear technical report is very different from essay writing. Physicists and mathematicians have to publish technical papers too and plenty of them are horrible at writing. I could make a similar argument that it is important to know math otherwise you won't be able to calculate how much you should pay your secretary or what kind of loan would be best to take out for a new car. But the amount of mathematical sophistication necessary to accomplish these tasks is very low. Similarly, I would say that if you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree with a reasonably high GPA(>3.3 for med school) you have the requisite skills to write technical reports.

    The only thing I can think of that the writing sample could be used for is how well you can organize your thoughts on a question of opinion. Possessing the ability to write clearly and effectively(and by extension the ability to think clearly) is definitely an important quality for an individual and is the sign of a sharp mind.

    Who knows, maybe US adcoms are rigorous about how they weight different sections of the MCAT and they couldn't find a significant(or maybe just a weak one) statistical trend relating MCAT score to performance in medical school. Maybe there is a trend but the way they score the WS is not rigorous enough to identify it. Maybe communication between physicians is not a problem in US health care so they aren't concerned about it. Maybe they found a trend between poor performance on the WS and poor performance in medical school but no clear trend between average or superior performance on the WS and similar performance in medical school so they only look negatively at low scores but not positively at high scores. Maybe Canadian adcoms are primarily literature PhDs turned scientists. :laugh: Too many possible explanations to really say why US schools don't weight it heavily.

    And there, I've gotten my fill for arguing online for the day. I enjoy written debate because it helps me hone my own analytical abilities. :laugh:
     
  11. smeagol

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    Writing does matter, but maybe not as much as you would like.

    1) Witness the fact that the average writing score at Harvard is an R as opposed to Q's and lower at every other school. They ask for students to take writing courses as well (see MSAR) Warning: my MSAR is 2 years old.

    2) The writing portion might not exactly test what medical schools want. It has some strange time constraints whereas you can take your time writing a research paper or a grant proposal (assuming you didn't procrastinate).
     
  12. PagingDrP

    PagingDrP Kind of a big deal

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    ..and when in life will you need to read and analyze a dense verbal passage in 8 minutes flat? Of course it's timed, that's what makes the test hard.
     
  13. BlackSails

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    Math majors however, have the highest acceptance rate into med school.
     
  14. niranjan162

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    writing a concise scientific report is completely different from writing an argumentative essay
     
  15. digitlnoize

    digitlnoize Rock God

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    I actually just did a statistic project on this...

    Disclaimer: I limited my schools to the east coast because I'm lazy.

    The analysis showed that none of the MCAT sections were good predictors of a student from my state being accepted to a med school...The writing sample was actually the section closest to being significant, but it was still a LONG way away...

    Just thought it was interesting. It might not apply to students from other states trying to get into these, or other med schools, but still...

    I got an R on my writing sample too. I want to write to AAMC and ask for a copy of my writing sample because I'm really proud of my essays...

    Question 1: The rich have a responsibility to help the poor. Discuss.

    I began with this: "With great power comes great responsibility." Then went on to talk about the subject...I debated removing the quote, I didn't really need it, but I thought it worked, and I bet that whoever was reviewing my test would be a nerd (i.e. spiderman fan). This was a couple years ago, before the computer reviewing began.

    My second one was to discuss government censorship of art. I have an extensive music background, and was citing state supreme court cases and U.S. Congressional Hearings on music censorship, including Tipper Gore and the PMRC and Frank Zappa. I rocked it.

    I could not have gotten better questions. Now the other sections...sigh...
     
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  17. supafield

    supafield Dream Big

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    lol i wrote the same test....
    essay one... rich and poor was international aid...

    said the us had a duty to provide tsunami struck countries
    said the us had no duty to provide N. Korea with aid despite living conditions
    rules were rich had to help the poor only if they knew the money/aid would go to good cause

    art censorship.
    need to censor marilyn manson
    can't sensor michealangelo's david (haha simpsons)
    rules, depended on the target audience, kids needed censorship, art appreciating adults didn't...

    scored an R.... haha comparing manson to michelangelo, my markers must of been feeling good that day
     
  18. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    I went into test day cold, without doing one writing practice section. I finished the second essay as fast as I could and I used the rest of the time to relax and to think about my plan of attack for the bio section. How funny would it be if I got a T or S or something lol.
     
  19. LoveMyRam

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    PLEASE PLEASE tell me that you are joking because I am very gullible
     
  20. digitlnoize

    digitlnoize Rock God

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    Nope. Not joking. I wrote two awesome essays. I really want copies...I'm actually quite proud of them. I'd put them in a portfolio or something...

    I mean, I got an R...that's pretty good.
     
  21. smeagol

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    If you have a particular subject area you are interested in you might want to consider searching for essay contests.

    I recently won some money for a paper I submitted that was actually a class assignment. Free money I tell you. Free money.
     
  22. BlackSails

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    Physical science correlation to USMLE Step 1 = .491

    Biological science correlation to USMLE Step 1 = .553

    Verbal reasoning correlation to USMLE Step 1 = .397

    Undergraduate Institutional MCAT Scores as Predictors of USMLE Step 1 Performance


    BASCO, WILLIAM T. JR.; WAY, DAVID P.; GILBERT, GREGORY E.; HUDSON, ANDY, Academic Medicine, Oct 2002, 77(10)
     
  23. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    an admin at dartmouth came to speak at our school and flat out said "i could care less about your writing score. i really dont even look at it. i will be able to tell if you can write when I read your personal statement"
     
  24. PagingDrP

    PagingDrP Kind of a big deal

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    Who cares about writing? Psh more like who cares about Dartmouth! Ha.
     
  25. digitlnoize

    digitlnoize Rock God

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    There's a HUGE difference between writing a prepared personal statement over many months with multiple editors and writing the MCAT writing sample on a random topic while under a time crunch. What an idiot.
     
  26. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    i wrote my personal statement in a half hour time crunch so that it would best simulate the MCAT environment. so in my case, her reasoning makes sense.
     
  27. LikeClockWork

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    If you get a 27-R, all they'll ask is "Why only a 27?"

    If you get a 39-M, all they'll ask is "Why only an M?" ...then let you in anyway.
     
  28. HanginInThere

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    :thumbup:

    I had one interviewer (of 9 schools/19 interviews) mention my M.

    To paraphrase that part of the conversation:

    him "So what's up with the M?"
    me "You know, you're the first person who has asked about it. I honestly have no idea how that happened."
    him "Okay. Next question..."
     
  29. MJB

    MJB Senior Member
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    Got a perfect score on WS...Who knows if it mattered at all.

    All I know is how much MCAT scores matter after the first day of MS... :)

    I'd say writing and being able to think on your feet and communicate with people is WAY more impt. as a doc than knowing about some of the physics that was tested on the MCAT. :)
     
  30. CHAINCHOMPER

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    The verbal section is pointless for the MCAT. I didn't even attempt to study for it, there is no basis for reading...we are being scientific doctors, not poets. I think I fell asleep for 10 minutes during the actual exam, that is how boring those passages are.

    I disagree, I think that physics is much more important than art history or economics, or useless subjects like that. Physics can be applied to anything, art history is useless, and so is reading/writing.
     
  31. Chowdder

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    It's not the content VR is trying to test you on, rather it is your ability to digest new information. It's a test on your cognitive function, not on how much you know about Moliere. Vr is important because reasoning and digesting new information is important for practicing doctor whether they are on the OR or not.
     
  32. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    if you are referring to its importance in an application to medicine.... yes art history is pretty useless. but all of the equatinos and stupid **** they make you memorize in physics courses is just as useless. you only need a few basic physics concepts to really understand what is going on. the stuff they make you do is absolutely pointless and is not necessary to be successful as a physician. the same goes for organic chemistry.
     
  33. physics junkie

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    In your opinion what is important to be successful as a physician?
     
  34. MJB

    MJB Senior Member
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    This is priceless. Nowhere did I mention that art history is important in the study of medicine...but if you think you can be a success without being well read and being able to write, you're making me laugh.

    The point of the WS is to see how well someone 1. Follows instructions 2. can organize their thoughts quickly.

    Go on believing that memorizing those physics equations will get you somewhere. :)
     
  35. CHAINCHOMPER

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    But few people of us knows how to read and write well...that is why we chose science instead of English :smuggrin:
     
  36. amusedtodeath24

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    yeah no kidding...just took the test for the 1st time 4/19...got a 29T :(
    wish it did count for something...oh well, july 10 for a retake it is

    oh and the verbal section is more relevant i think than physics...you need to be able to comprehend dense, sometimes unfamiliar matter and be able to communicate effectively with your patients..knowing how to wire a circuit is just a way to weed out people in the app process
     

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