phatty925

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hi guys,
i took my mcat for the first time this past august and scored pretty poorly. let's just say i didn't hit a 30 and got way below what i was scoring on my aamc diags (29-33).
anyway, so if there are any of you out there who took the mcat twice and improved by 5 or more points, let me know!
also, let me know what you did to improve before you took the test for the second time. it's just that i THOUGHT i studied my hardest over the summer and now i'm looking for new ways to study even harder.
thanks!
 
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phatty925

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thanks-
that's an interesting chart.
it's hard to believe that not many ppl improve by more than a point when they're in the mean range......:(
 
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Camden772

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I improved 10 points, but it was over eight years before I retook the MCAT. I took the MCAT in April of 1994 and scored a 26N (9v, 8p, N, 9b), I took it this August and got a 36R (13v, 10p, R, 13b). There were a lot of factors that played a part in my improvement, but study habits were the biggest difference. In 1994, I truly believed that I could not score well on standardized tests. My approach was to know the science inside and out, and not worry about trying to improve my standardized test taking skills. I thought you were either someone that could score attain a high score on the SATs, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, or you were someone that could not. Clearly, my assumptions were wrong. You can hone your test taking skills for the MCAT. I think many people who don't score well do not put in the effort, but I also think those that put in the effort often make one of two mistakes when studying for the MCAT. They either spend all of their time learning the material, and they don't spend enough time on practice materials, or they spend all their time taking practice tests without ever really gaining a firm grasp on the material. I clearly made the former mistake in 1994. The next thing that people need to do is identify your weaknesses. For me it was finishing. I was convinced in 1994, and even when I took the LSAT in 1995, that I was someone who could not finish most passage based standardized tests because I was too slow of a reader. In fact, I was convinced of that until this year. Now I am convinced that 99.9% of people can finish verbal on the MCAT. I have honestly never met someone who reads as slowly as I do (other than people with a reading disability). When I was a pre-med and throughout law school I was always the slowest reader. It can take a lot of practice and concentration, but I think anyone can finish the verbal. Well, I could drone on about all this for hours. I'm going to stop now. (I'm definitely going to get fired. I have not gotten any work done since last Thursday.)
 

dpark74

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My improvement was not as impressive as Camden's!:) Way to go Camden BTW.

I took the 8/95 MCAT and received scores of 8V, 10P, 9B: 27 total. My preparation was nothing to write home about...

Then I purchased Biology and Physics books at a local university and read over 1500 pages including solving hundreds of problems (took 4 months) while working full time just before my Kaplan class started. (My diag score was a 30: 7V, 12P, 11B)

After an additional three months I was scoring between 33-37. My scores from the 4/02 MCAT was a 34: 9V, 12P, 13B.

As for my advice for improving your score:
1. Read textbook chapters on whatever topics are relevant...time consuming but OH so worth it! ...with this technique you will establish a strong foundation of science knowledge...GUARANTEED!
2. Practice, Practice, Practice solving problems...very difficult problems will allow one to see if they grasp the material and concepts. Don't waste your time on easier problems...if you encounter the easy problems on the MCAT...all the better
3. Take many (>3) full length exams to build your physical and mental stamina. I didn't sleep a wink before the 4/02 exam and my stamina held up under real exam conditions...BARELY! I crashed for 14 hours after the exam. :)
4. Study, Practice, Take exams: do all of these in an environment that will simulate the actual exam day. That way you won't have to adjust too much on test day.
5. Visit your test site and spend 15 minutes or so reading a magazine article (e.g. Atlantic Monthly)...Get yourself acquainted with the room you will be in for over 8 hours.

Hope this helps!
 

Camden772

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After reading dpark74's post, I felt like following up a little.

I definitely agree with dpark that you should take a number of full length exams. At the very least AAMC III-VI. I also took EK1D and EK2D. I think Columbia Review, Berkeley Review, Princeton Review and Kaplan also have good exams, but I wouldn't bother with other exams you can get in the bookstores (i.e. ARCO, Barron's, and Petersons). You should take all of these exams under exam conditions. Take the sections in the same order, same time limits, same time for breaks and lunch, and even take the essay portion as well. All of this builds stamina and helps you feel prepared for the real thing.

I also agree that text books can be helpful, but I think they are best used as supplements to a commercial review book. The review books show you the subject matter you need to know, but if there are concepts you don't fully understand, go to a text book.

The main thing is you need to know the material and you need to develop your test-taking skills. BTW, I know I have said this on several posts but I am a big advocate for Examkrackers verbal strategy. You don't have to use all of their materials if you already have good review materials, but I would at least buy their verbal book. They sell it separately at their website. They also have a 101 verbal passage book for extra practice. I didn't use it though, so I won't say it's any better or worse than any other practice material. But I do know that it is already in the April 2003 format.

BTW, dpark74 your improvement is plenty impressive as well. Congratulations. I find it interesting that we both had such significant improvement and we both took the tests more than 6 years apart.
 

lady bug

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Camden, how did you improve your reading speed? Was it by doing lots of practice passages or by just reading a lot in general?
 

Camden772

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First of all, I'm not sure that I have increased my "reading speed," I just know that I increased the speed at which I took the test. However, my reading speed may well have increased too. If that's the case, I think that it would be attributed to going to law school and practicing law for three years. This required reading large volumes of challenging, and often esoteric, materials. I'm not certain this increased my reading speed though. It did probably enhance my ability to comprehend certain types of passages. I am still a slow enough reader that I believed when I started studying for the 2002 MCAT that I would not be able to finish verbal. I was orginally going to just resign myself to reading 7 or maybe 8 passages. This was similar to the approach I used for the 1995 LSAT. I think this approach did increase my score on the reading comprehension type section. However, I think practice and adopting almost any of the strategies taught by review courses will increase your score. But to get the highest score possible, I think that you have to finish. I didn't believe this was possible until I bought the Examkrackers materials. Even when I first read their materials, I thought, "they might think anyone can finish, but they're wrong. I cannot finish." Their advise for the most part is relatively simple. Just cut out anything that will slow you down. Do not underline, circle or mark up the passage in anyway. This does not sound like it will slow you down much, but it does more than you think. You can time it and check. When underlining etc., people have a tendency to read a sentence first, then decide it's worth underlining, then go back and underline it. This breaks up your rhythm. Another thing is going straight through in order, passage 1 first, and passage 9 last. Looking for passages that are easier or harder also slows you down more than you think. The most important thing is avoid going back to the passage. Most people don't finish because they read the passage, go to the questions, then go back to the passage to find the answer, often re-reading much of the passage. Try taking a verbal section without going back to the passage at all. You may have to guess at a number of questions, but with practice you get good at guessing (there are usually only two reasonable answers anyway). If you finish with lots of time left you can go back to the passage for a couple of questions next time. I basically learned I could go back to the passage for 2-3 questions per test, and I only went back to the passage when I felt I could not make a good guess and I knew I could find the answer in the passage. Another thing that slowed me down was looking at my watch too much. Again, it doesn't seem like this would slow you down much, but it can. For me, it really broke up my rhythm. I got to the point where I never looked at my watch, and I just developed a feel for the pace I needed to keep. Lastly I had to stay extremely focused and intense! If I let up my intensity, my pace would slow (this actually happened to me in the PS section during the test and I got behind and had a little trouble finishing). I was not a person who could afford bathroom breaks. I intentionally avoided drinking any fluids that morning, and limited my beverage consumption over lunch. This was something I learned to do when I took the bar exam. I am a person who needs every second in order to finish.
 

tryingagain

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Went from a 20 in 2000 to a 29 in April 2002. Studied my ass off.
 

dpark74

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Originally posted by tryingagain
Went from a 20 in 2000 to a 29 in April 2002. Studied my ass off.
Congrats!:clap: But I think the thread starter wanted to know what you did to achieve that big improvement.
 

Patrick Noonan

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I went from a 28 in April 2001 to 36 in August 2001. 8 to 14 in PS, alone. Worked my butt off-- about 40 hours a week for 2 months before the test. The key is getting into the groove, knowing all the traps. Utlimately, the test is pretty predictable (PS, at least.).
 
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