Non-trad looking for words of encouragement and some direction

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mily1229

7+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2013
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Hi,

I graduated undergrad back in 2013 (majored in Biology/minored in Chemistry, science GPA was around ~3.5). I then went on to complete a Masters of Science (Tropical Medicine and Public Health) in 2015 (3.8 GPA). I've been working in the healthcare data analytics/health information technology arena for the last 4 years (in a clinical setting). 2 years into the job, I realized I wanted to go back to school and pursue medicine. I had a sibling pass away suddenly and those aspirations took a back seat for over a year. Once COVID hit, I decided to take a huge risk...I quit a job I was good at (but unfortunately, wasn't passionate about) to pursue my passion to become a medical provider. I'm open to MD/DO programs (Internal Medicine is what I'm gravitating toward.).

As I do more research into applying for medical school, my two biggest worries/concerns are...1) Doing well on the MCAT and 2) My coursework being too outdated. I took gen chem in my first year of undergrad. However, most of my upper-level biochem/chemistry classes were taken in the last 2 years of undergrad.

What is the next logical step for me?

1) Focus my energy on studying hard to do well on the MCAT. Are there non-trads who were accepted with pre-req coursework that was slightly more than 10 years old? Did you find the MCAT that much more difficult to tackle having taken those pre-req courses so long ago?

and/or

2) Start researching post bach programs/CC courses to "prove" I can still do well in the academic setting?

Words of encouragement are also appreciated as 2020 has not been the most encouraging of years.

Thanks in advance, folks!
 

TragicalDrFaust

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May 27, 2017
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I took some of my sciences prereqs 6 before sitting for the MCAT. I recommend taking a diagnostic MCAT practice exam first thing to get a sense of what you need to study. The recommended amount of studying on SDN is 400 hours over 3 months. I did about 130 over 3 months and scored a 503. Definitely could have improved with more time dedicated. I don't think it mattered much about when I had taken the prereqs since I got a review set and relearned as much as I could in the months leading up to the MCAT. It came back pretty easily. IMO people are overcomplicating things when they say you should take pre reqs in a specific order or try to take them as closely as possible to the MCAT. Unless you're going to wing it, all of the important material will be covered again in your independent preparation.

I'm not sure if your pre-reqs need to be updated. I would email admissions at a handful of schools you're interested in and see what their policy is.

I don't have much encouragement to offer other than medical school is possible and there are plenty of people from non-traditional situations who are successful. Your GPA is already fine for DO and that's a big part of the battle. Get in the habit of gassing yourself up during this process! It's long and you will doubt yourself. You have to be able to trust that you will achieve your goals as long as you think ahead and work hard.
 
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Med201821

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Mar 21, 2017
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Man if I could go back in time I would approach MCAT the same way I approached Step 1.

Buy a question bank. Preferably one with thousands of questions. I don't know what the options are for MCAT. But I would buy the qbank start banging out questions. Depending on how far out you are will determine how many you should do.

I've used up my ability to cram so I have to space everything out. So I would do 20-40 a day staring like 4-6 months out. Make Anki cards on all the questions you get wrong. Start mixing MCAT anki revision with q bank questions. Six weeks out start taking full length practice tests once a week. Don't do any study couple days before test.

Standardized tests are games. They are a sport. You get good at a sport by practicing it.

My prep for MCAT was to do a three hundred question q bank twice. I got a good enough score for my school but if I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I'd take back those words that've hurt you and you'd stay.
 
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Man if I could go back in time I would approach MCAT the same way I approached Step 1.

Buy a question bank. Preferably one with thousands of questions. I don't know what the options are for MCAT. But I would buy the qbank start banging out questions. Depending on how far out you are will determine how many you should do.

I've used up my ability to cram so I have to space everything out. So I would do 20-40 a day staring like 4-6 months out. Make Anki cards on all the questions you get wrong. Start mixing MCAT anki revision with q bank questions. Six weeks out start taking full length practice tests once a week. Don't do any study couple days before test.

Standardized tests are games. They are a sport. You get good at a sport by practicing it.

My prep for MCAT was to do a three hundred question q bank twice. I got a good enough score for my school but if I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I'd take back those words that've hurt you and you'd stay.

This is exactly what I did (UWorld + Anki) and I managed to pull a 515.

OP - in my research I haven’t come across many schools that have firm cutoffs for when prereqs need to be taken by (Georgetown is one that does). On some schools pages they indicate they recommend having taken them within the past few years.
 
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Dec 10, 2019
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I got a good enough score for my school but if I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I'd take back those words that've hurt you and you'd stay.
I was really confused by your comment until I read this to myself again and started inadvertently singing out loud haha.

OP, I think the best course of action is researching the schools that interest you and/or emailing them directly regarding potential "expiration" of pre-reqs.

The MCAT is a strange beast. While I drew upon core/foundational knowledge gained from my pre-req coursework, I did a lot of "learning for the MCAT" self-studying. As mentioned by others, practice questions were paramount (U-World all the way).
 
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mily1229

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Apr 24, 2013
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Thanks, everyone! I'll try to take a diagnostic exam ASAP and get ahold of the UWorld Question Bank. I was never much of a study-er in college or grad school, so I find Anki kinda fascinating.

I'll reach out to the DO/MD programs that are in-state and ask them if pre-reqs expire. I was hoping to apply by the summer of 2021. But I may hold off until the summer of 2022 in case I need to retake the MCAT. I'll also be able to enroll in an upper-level Anatomy/Physiology course and scribe at an ER.
 
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MDToBe1989

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Oct 18, 2014
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Sorry to hijack this thread but the one I posted on seems to be really quiet and so I'll try my luck here:

Hi everyone. Student in Canada (Manitoba to be specific) looking at a 2nd retake as I didn't improve as much as I would have liked the 2nd time around and need to at least average 514 average for my provincial school to have a shot at getting in. I'm a nontraditional student working full-time (40 hour work week) and looking to see where I can improve.

Some background/intro regarding prior attempts:
1st attempt was July 2019. Studied 4 hours evenings during the week and 8 hours each Saturday and Sunday. Did this from February to July. I focused far too much on material, only took 2 practice exams from AAMC and did not use all AAMC section banks, questions packs etc. so got exactly the score I deserved: 502 (126, 126, 127, 123).
2nd attempt
was August of this year. Took a hiatus from studying between August 2019 and February 2020. Studied from February to August with 3 months spent studying full time. Invested in UEarth but did not complete more than 200 questions (I KNOW!) due to shortage of time. Did all AAMC content, flashcards I made from scratch. Scored AAMC practice scores of FL1 504, FL3 511, FL4 512, FL2 508 in the order completed. Final score was 508 (124,127,128,129). Saw an improvement after the little UEarth I did and can see that I have major content gaps in CP. As for the rest I'm not 100% sure how to proceed but I know I can do better! Graduated 2012 so had to start basically from scratch with revision in 2019. Used premed95 anki for PS and added terms after watching KA 300pg videos. Made own CP and BB cards and used Princeton Review books + used Jack Westin for CARS doing at least 2 passages per day.

Looking to retake in January or February 2021 with focus on brushing up weak content areas, finishing UEarth and focusing on utilizing AAMC materials to their full potential, i.e. reviewing more thoroughly and ensuring not to move on if unsure.

Maybe someone else can add to my list of issues but I've listed some I've identified below:
1. Weak CP content mastery
2. Ran out of time for all sections except PS; rushed BB, CP with at least one passage barely read; rushed 1-2 CARS passages every time including during real thing
3. Was aiming for 515+ but could not hit higher than 512 during practice

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
 
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