JapaneseSakura

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I’m not sure if you have another thread like this, but if so, I am really sorry for double posting.

Anyways, how did you study? What did you do to get it so HIGH? I’m amazed, have studying tips you can share???
 

gatorfann14

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I’m not sure if you have another thread like this, but if so, I am really sorry for double posting.

Anyways, how did you study? What did you do to get it so HIGH? I’m amazed, have studying tips you can share???
God given intelligence combined with extreme laziness.
 

Cheshyre

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3.38, 35S here. Move to the bold part if you want to skip the backstory. BTW, this thread perhaps shouldn't be in this forum but I'll answer anyway.

First, let's dispel some myths - no, I'm not dumb as some people think. No, I didn't party all of the time. No, I'm not simply a good test taker.

For many people, poor grades are the result of something other than laziness or stupidity. In my case, there personal issues weren't really present for the most part either. I attribute my issues to a couple of factors. First, I had essentially no support because I had no idea what I was doing or where to go. I grew up in a rural area, excelled, never studied. Was pretty talented as a musician as well. I got into Johns Hopkins and WUSTL for undergrad but chose not to go because they were too expensive. I went to my 'backup', University of Michigan. Arrogant? Well, I wouldn't say arrogant. Just a guy set up for a textbook example of hubris in Classical literature. All my life, I'd just been told I was smart. All my life, things worked out perfectly.

I didn't do too badly at first, but, my grades slipped with each semester. Each time I tried to fix them, I'd do worse. I had never built study skills in high schools. Plus, I had never had to ask for help in my life. It sounds stupid, but the idea of asking for help never even crossed my mind until late in Junior year. The final straw came when I did poorly in biochem after working harder than I ever had in my life, staying in the library until 4am every single weekday. The problem was that I tried to memorize the whole book instead of focusing on what the professor wanted. Dumb, I know. I still believed that I would be better off by doing things "properly," aka learning far more than was necessary. Coupled with the constant sleep deprivation, I really didn't learn anything properly.

After that, I gave up. Pulled a couple Cs by doing the bare minimum. Found solace in a new relationship and in an a cappella I joined.

Fastforward to the summer between Junior and Senior year. I was miserable because I realized that I just wasn't going to get into medical school (longtime dream). I hadn't taken the MCAT, hadn't shadowed, and had no recommendations. I only had 3 upper level science courses left in my undergrad career and had to get rec letters from all of them to be safe (MD schools want 2 science letters, 1 nonscience - faculty letters very preferred).

That summer, I decided to change. It was hard, to say the least. I quit the a cappella. Studied for the MCAT for two months. Shadowed an MD and a DO. Note that this was happy coincidence - I was intending on shadowing the MD, but he worked with a DO in the same office so I followed both around.

Why do I think I did well on the MCAT? Well, I studied from a prep book (Kaplan). Other than that, I bought 3 practice tests from the AAMC and 3 Kaplan practice tests. I did the Kaplan tests first and put them in a rotation, eventually doing each test twice. Same with the AAMC tests (including the free one). People say that doing a test twice is worthless - bullcrap. Unless you're scoring perfectly on your practice tests, you still have more material to work with. Score as high as you possibly can because most likely, you'll do worse on the real thing. Don't neglect the writing portion. It's not that crucial, but I personally think it looks bad when someone gets a 33 and an abysmal writing grade.

Basically, the practice tests showed me what I should've been doing all along - reinforcing knowledge by thinking critically about it. I had tried brute force memorization most of my college career.

SO, TOO LONG, DIDN'T READ MY SOB STORY? MOVE AHEAD.
My tips:

Set aside at least 2 months to prepare for the MCAT. You don't have to do much each day - even an hour or two of reading / practice is adequate. For the first couple of weeks, focus on reviewing the material. Use the questions in each section of the Kaplan book to test your mastery of the material. Learn the equations. Do this quickly because I think you should spend as much time on the practice exams as possible. Do all of the exams you have. Then, do them again. If you don't have time to do a practice exam, do a section. Be sure to do the entire thing at least twice though. You want to get that "testing center" feel down. Done with everything? Get more material. I borrowed some Princeton Review stuff from a friend who had finished with the MCAT. If you can't afford materials, do this as much as possible. You should be able to find somebody who's willing to lend you stuff for cheap/free.

If you really need it, check out the MCAT forum for a test schedule. Somebody wrote a super-detailed one. Note that I didn't use it, but I think it's worth glancing at.

Test day - basic test rules apply. Sleep well. Get there early. Take a deep breath because the hell is almost over. Treat it like an endurance athletic event - I brought multiple water bottles and a ton of granola bars. At each break, I'd drink and eat a Quaker 90 cal bar to replenish my blood sugar. Use the bathroom. Stretch. Look at yourself in the mirror. This is your time, so go in, be a boss.

One disturbing thing - be wary of your testing site. I heard from someone a long time ago that their proctors didn't allow them breaks. Nobody argued because they didn't know better. As far as I'm concerned, that's totally unacceptable. I know I needed the breaks.

Good luck. The MCAT is a standardized test. In other words, 100% predictable. It's not an undergrad exam where the prof tests you on whatever they like. You have all the time you need to adequately prepare for this. Don't be scared. Own it.
 

rhoads

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Sep 16, 2008
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B.S. in Mech. Engr GPA = 2.9
MCAT 37T
Post-graduate work (med school pre-req's) GPA = 3.85
Got VERY few acceptances after applying just about everywhere east of the Mississippi.

I went to a very tough engineering school, took all the challenging courses I could get my hands on (a number of graduate level courses), I replaced a few technical electives with independent projects. I was part of an engineering / social fraternity and I took on some leadership roles in it. Not only did I have a good social life, but I dated my future wife for 3 and 1/2 years. I came in with no credits, and graduated in 4 years. It's an understatement to say I didn't sleep much. Great experience, did well enough to be accepted to the graduate program at said engineering school. Didn't like the grad-work (over the summer), and so I went and worked as an engineer for a while.

I got antsy, and decided to look into other options. Medicine looked cool after I hurt myself pretty good (and got worked on by a great ortho doc). Quit work, went back to school to do pre-req's, shadowed a ton, and took the MCAT.

Here's what did well for me:
I took the Kaplan lecture course. I had 4 giant books, and read them all the way through (we had to in the course). After the course I went back through the course material on my own taking notes over anything I didn't know well. For 3 weeks I would wake up around 7am, drive an hour to meet up with 2 study friends, take a practice test, take notes over everything I got wrong, study that material for about an hour or two. I would then eat lunch, continue my process of going back through the lecture material slower for a few hours, maybe nap 1/2 hour, eat supper, then sit at a coffee shop and re-hash the crap i learned that day with the guys I was studying with. Drive home around 11-12pm, wash rinse repeat.

Practice tests do great to keep you honest over what you DO NOT know. Study that. Eventually it gets smaller and smaller. Flash cards for dumb memorization of equations and whatnot, notes for the rest. Keep separate notes over what questions you got wrong so you can skim that stuff quicker.

Don't know what to tell you on the writing stuff, when I put time and effort into it I can write well. Got a 10 on read comprehension though, I still think I got robbed on that section (I'm a idiot I know).

PM me if you want to discuss further (if I have time).

All said and done though, I'm not doing great in med-school. Good, but not great. I hate having to rely on COMLEX/Step1 to distinguish myself (it's a whole 'nother beast). Wish I had the motivation now that I had in that month before the MCAT. I want to fix stuff, not memorize everything in the world...

TL;DR

Get comprehensive material, study everything once, then take practice tests, study what you get wrong, find good study partners (not necessarily friends), take it seriously, and put in the time.

Sorry it's so cliche.
 
OP
JapaneseSakura

JapaneseSakura

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Ooooh, thank you so much!! It was long, but I've enjoyed reading it!
I will pm you guys.
 

DbDan

I like Bones
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God given intelligence combined with extreme laziness.
+2

2.7 before retakes, 33... and I was disappointed w/ that score b/c my phys and bio scores were lower than any practice :( oh well I'm accepted so it worked out.
 
Oct 12, 2010
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God given intelligence combined with extreme laziness.
I'm gonna have to agree on this one... (although there are the 'personal' problems that can arise to hurt someone's grades) It took me a total of 6 months and 2 MCATs to break a 30 - oh, and that was only for the practice test. I couldn't break 30 on the real ones. But... 3.9 undergrad gpa and 3.6 grad gpa. :rolleyes:
 
OP
JapaneseSakura

JapaneseSakura

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Um...I thought I was talking to people with LOW GPA's. :p LOL
 

skatertudoroga

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I will agree with those long posts above. they said they did something wrong during their ugrad studies and did something right for their mcat.. same experience for me. to be more precise, i wasn't very efficient while studying for mcat either, but I did not take it until I felt i was prepared. it's not like studying 2nights for an exam in school and having 3 exams in 3 days, you can study as much as you want. here are some of the mistakes that i did to end up with a poor gpa:

1) double major. one of my majors had nothing to do with medicine and I could spend many hours on math hw and struggle in a subject in which i had no aptitude and completely forget about premed classes and my bio major. i think double majors are stupid. if you want to be an accountant or an engineer just do it, but double major means you're not good at anything unless you work twice as hard.
2) if i struggled in 1 class and went to sleep late I could not wake up for a biology lecture. if there was no audio recording i could just read the text and hope that it was similar in content to the lecture. in fact the text usually covered a lot of info that we were not tested on and missed the points stressed in the lecture. i did not know that the note taking club existed in bio... also i have no use for attending a lecture if the professor just goes through powerpoints and I have not preread any relevant notes or text chapters. i basically sleep through the lecture.

3) I had a serious problem with porn addiction. I could spend 8hrs/day watching porn. I have tried to quit many times. But you only need to go on a 2-week binge to screw up your semester. It's not just the lack of studing, but since you missed the lectures it's kind of pointless to attend new lectures which are based on previous material.

So basically all my problems have to do with time management and not knowing what to study.
 

skatertudoroga

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Tips on how to succeed on mcat:
1) obviously you want to set aside a lot of time to study for it. Can you set aside at least several hours per day in the library, without internet access(whether porn or other sources it's easy to get distracted) for several months? I think it's important to finish studying all the sciences and then have 3weeks left over just to take the real practice aamc. And you can take aamc9 and 10 in the last week. I actually bought the paper version of the tests(except for 10 which was only available online) because i find it much more useful to study without the use of a computer.

2) get organized. I used examkrackers. Their review books were good but not comprehensive. As you read their physics review, you might want to also use your freshman physics and freshman chem texts as reference. Take your own notes as you go through the book. For some topics I might use a problem from a textboo as a case study, write out the solution to the problem in my paper notebook and add it to whatever concepts you took from the EK review. obviously do some practice problems after each section and write out tough problems in your paper notes. but dont do the real mcat practice exam until after you've finished all your reviews. perhaps you can do an exam from PR or EK or some other test-prep company after you finished all of biology or all of physics. but take it only as a guidance to see that you've covered all the topics. For ochem I actually found that my professor taught very well. His lectures were videorecorded and I used a whole paper notebook to study his notes and to do well in his class. I just reviewed those notes when studying mcat. If your professor sucks, then a good review is Barron's review for Ochem by Suggs.

3) verbal section is the one for which it is most difficult to study. basically if you are not a well read person, if you are the type who can't tell between there and their you are in trouble. ideally you would like to read solid literature even before starting college. For example PR course recommends that you read the story of civilization(12volumes) to improve your english. Do that starting in freshman year and you problem will not even need to study for verbal... I never finished even 1 volume, but I still tried. I also read some other solid literature for "pleasure". But of course I started practicing with EK Verbal 101 passages over a year before taking the exam. I think my score on the verbal from the time I just started on the first practice EK test to when I wrote the real thing went up 7->11. Keep in mind I was not very efficient in my study habits, and I compensatd for it by taking a lot of time to prepare.
 

froggiepremed

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Um...I thought I was talking to people with LOW GPA's. :p LOL
2.7 GPA, both science and overall.

29P MCAT

took 2 months to study, used Kaplan - did all questions outsdie of Kaplan classes. Got lucky.

The MCAT is the last test you can "beat." it has tricks to it. Good luck
 

fahimaz7

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2.7 GPA, both science and overall.

29P MCAT

took 2 months to study, used Kaplan - did all questions outsdie of Kaplan classes. Got lucky.

The MCAT is the last test you can "beat." it has tricks to it. Good luck
Being a URM helps too.
 

Altruist

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I used the Kaplan books (both the regular one and the MCAT 45 one) and had a job (I was done with school by then) with a lot of down time that I could spend on test prep. I was extremely determined to do well and came out with a 39R. My GPA calculation depends on whether you count grade replacements but came out to 3.05 (I think) w/o and 3.4 something w/.

My opinion is that most of your GPA in undergrad comes from how focused/determined you are. My first couple of years of college were rough, with a story similar to Cheshyre's, and I just didn't work as hard as I should have.

In med school I'm doing substantially better than I ever did in undergrad, mainly because I like what I'm doing, so putting in the time on my classes isn't the chore it was then, even though the classes are substantially harder.

This is like 5 steps ahead from where you are right now, but if you do pull off a high MCAT, don't expect all doors to suddenly be open for you. There will be schools that will still flat-out reject you in favor of somebody with more consistent performance. If you're lucky enough to get some interviews, you will have to come up with a reasonable explanation for why your performance on the MCAT was so disjointed from your grades... it's the most obvious question in the world for them to ask, and probably the most important one as far as whether they will accept you.

Good luck.
 

skatertudoroga

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This is like 5 steps ahead from where you are right now, but if you do pull off a high MCAT, don't expect all doors to suddenly be open for you. There will be schools that will still flat-out reject you in favor of somebody with more consistent performance. If you're lucky enough to get some interviews, you will have to come up with a reasonable explanation for why your performance on the MCAT was so disjointed from your grades... it's the most obvious question in the world for them to ask, and probably the most important one as far as whether they will accept you.

Good luck.
I agree bad gpa puts a real dent in your CV. Schools never even asked about my poor gpa because it might be perceived as "too stressful" yet most of them judged me just the same. This is why I doubt that Step1 in med school will matter (unless you do poorly). And gpa in med school is also not as meaningful as ugrad because each med school has its own system. I guess being top10% gets you credit, but I personally don't expect to get a top10% gpa no matter how hard I study. So I think ultimately my residency choice will be determined by my LORs and PS and interviews:(
 

DbDan

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I agree bad gpa puts a real dent in your CV. Schools never even asked about my poor gpa because it might be perceived as "too stressful" yet most of them judged me just the same. This is why I doubt that Step1 in med school will matter (unless you do poorly). And gpa in med school is also not as meaningful as ugrad because each med school has its own system. I guess being top10% gets you credit, but I personally don't expect to get a top10% gpa no matter how hard I study. So I think ultimately my residency choice will be determined by my LORs and PS and interviews:(
Step I is incredibly important in residency placement from everything I've read, just an FYI. Obviously this depends on the type of specialty you are applying for as well.
 

fahimaz7

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I agree bad gpa puts a real dent in your CV. Schools never even asked about my poor gpa because it might be perceived as "too stressful" yet most of them judged me just the same. This is why I doubt that Step1 in med school will matter (unless you do poorly). And gpa in med school is also not as meaningful as ugrad because each med school has its own system. I guess being top10% gets you credit, but I personally don't expect to get a top10% gpa no matter how hard I study. So I think ultimately my residency choice will be determined by my LORs and PS and interviews:(
You couldn't be farther from the truth. LOR and PS mean nothing when it comes to the type of residency that you will get. Step 1 and clerkship performance means absolutely everything. After that, 2nd year grades and first year grades follow. Down around 6th is LOR and 10th is your personal statement, which no one really cares about reading in the first place.
 

surag

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breakdown- 14P, 11 V, 12 B (pretty sure I had highest MCAT for my class year at a top 20 science/math school)

why did I have bad GPA? Same as above reasons -laziness, lack of maturity, family personal issues. Why did I do well on MCAT? SAT-1520, IQ-136. I think it is intelligence.

But when it came to MCAT, because I had practice tests and because I knew what material to study I made a point to go over the material over and over again and study hard. I spent probably at least 5-6 hours a day going over the material.