Aristeidis

2+ Year Member
Aug 29, 2015
47
42
Status
Pre-Medical
Hi guys,

I need some serious advice from you guys as I am stuck in quite the pickle.

I just started my junior year of college for some back up info on myself. I studied ALL summer long for the MCAT and I was signed up for the test on September 12th. I knew taking it this early would be a struggle but I was seriously determined to push myself to the next level and get through it. I planned to take the MCAT by self studying biochem as that was the only class I had not taken that is tested on the MCAT. I started taking practice tests around July, started off pretty low at 490 on my first but one but that quickly shot up as soon as I realized what the MCAT was all about. I started to plateau however at about 503ish. My target score is at least a 508-510. The catch is that I was scoring fairly well on everything but I completed neglected verbal and its coming back to haunt me. I haven't been able to get above a 123 even once. My averages have come out to 127/123/127/126. Nothing too great, I just focused so much on the sciences. My biochem is not the strongest either. I have a good foundation now but I think it's no where near where it should be at for the MCAT.


My ideology was that I study for the mcat all summer, if I do bad, I can retake in the winter but my confliction is that I don't want a low score attached to my name. I know the chances of me getting that target score are very slim due to my low verbal and okay psych score.

My question to all of you is:

What advice do you have for me? Am I making the right decision? I feel conflicted but I just am not at the confidence level I think I should be at.

I think that if I make it a goal to practice verbal all semester long and just kill biochem (which I am enrolled in this semester) I will be at a MUCH better position come January. I'm still signed up for the september 12th test but I just stopped studying completely Wednesday night when I realized I wouldnt be able to lift my verbal to the level I wanted to be at and did not want to sacrifice my GPA as the semester started. It would be a good idea to go in to my test, just take it, get a feel for my anxiety and the testing environment, and then void it right?

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH IN ADVANCE!!!

I don't see this summer as wasted time because I've come to realize how brutal this test is. No way would I have been able to manage doing all of this and take the test by January if I started after the semester ended. My biggest objective is to truly apply EARLY this coming May.
 

gonnif

Only 389 Days Until Next Presidential Election
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2009
20,460
31,094
The Big Bad Apple
Status
Non-Student
Never take the MCAT until ready. You would better off pushing it off to next year
 

NotASerialKiller

2+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2015
1,457
6,866
Status
Medical Student
Never take the MCAT until ready. You would better off pushing it off to next year
This. You never want to plan for a retake it, your goal should be to take it once and only when you are 100% sure that you will perform as well as you can. This also means that you shouldn't feel obligated to write during the academic year. If you feel that the material will be freshest then go ahead, but if you think writing during next summer will result in a better score, do that instead.

edit: Also writing next summer won't stop you from submitting your primary early, keep that in mind
 

NonTrad16

2+ Year Member
Feb 2, 2015
893
967
Status
Medical Student
What practice exams are you using? For my June MCAT I used TPR and got three sub-500 practice scores, with a real score of 513. If you browse the MCAT forum I'm sure there are many others with similar stories, since the baseline for practice is... Poor.

If it were me, and you feel confident in the sciences, I'd use the AAMC cars question pack to simulate the exam section (same time/question length) and see how the raw percentage lines up with the predictor in the MCAT forum. CARS is one that can apparently be hard to bring up, so it's good that you're open to delaying the test -- and without biochem, you might benefit, although I self-studied biochem and did ok in it -- but if you're primed to go now and you can get it out of the way... That seems like a nice option.

I agree that you shouldn't take it until you're ready, but the benchmark to determine that is very fuzzy at the moment. Subsection scores above 125 and confidence left more than a handful of SDN folks above 510 on the real deal. But a poor cars would be a bummer of a reason to retake...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aristeidis

idontknowwhatnametopick

2+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2015
1,241
1,318
Status
Medical Student
What practice exams are you using? For my June MCAT I used TPR and got three sub-500 practice scores, with a real score of 513. If you browse the MCAT forum I'm sure there are many others with similar stories, since the baseline for practice is... Poor.

If it were me, and you feel confident in the sciences, I'd use the AAMC cars question pack to simulate the exam section (same time/question length) and see how the raw percentage lines up with the predictor in the MCAT forum. CARS is one that can apparently be hard to bring up, so it's good that you're open to delaying the test -- and without biochem, you might benefit, although I self-studied biochem and did ok in it -- but if you're primed to go now and you can get it out of the way... That seems like a nice option.

I agree that you shouldn't take it until you're ready, but the benchmark to determine that is very fuzzy at the moment. Subsection scores above 125 and confidence left more than a handful of SDN folks above 510 on the real deal. But a poor cars would be a bummer of a reason to retake...
I took the old MCAT so it's a bit different, but I was initially going to take it during the academic year, and decided to postpone it until I could study more for it (in the end I got a job and had to work AND study for the MCAT, but oh well life happens). Postponing was the right decision, you don't want to be stuck with a low score.

If you are in the semester system, you could sign up for an MCAT date at the end of July 2016, that way you'd have about 8 weeks to prepare over summer break. Just make sure to get your personal statement, work/activities, and secondary essays ready throughout this academic year, it is easily doable on top of school. That way in June, you can submit your primary on the first day, then focus on the MCAT, submit secondaries as they come along while still focusing on the MCAT (submitting secondaries if you've pre-written them is super quick), and then at the end of August all of your apps will be complete when your score comes out.

Also, if you are able to take psych and biochem this year, that might be a good thing. Reviewing stuff you already know is much easier than learning brand new stuff. Only if you can add them on to your schedule without sacrificing your GPA though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aristeidis

idontknowwhatnametopick

2+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2015
1,241
1,318
Status
Medical Student
Oh and I'd recommend just reviewing material super quickly, and then doing a bunch of practice problems until the material sticks. There's no need to memorize a textbook, doing practice problems will make you a faster test-taker, AND you'll automatically memorize formulas and content while you do problems and check your answers.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aristeidis
OP
A

Aristeidis

2+ Year Member
Aug 29, 2015
47
42
Status
Pre-Medical
Thank you guys for your feedback and its very very useful hearing such advice from you guys. I think ever since I decided to delay it, I completely stepped out of my "MCAT Mindset" and went into school mode. At this point its truly in my best interest to delay it. I know for a fact that cars WILL hold me back on my score even if I do end up doing well on the other sections. I don't think I've plateaued on cars yet and I think if I practice it, I can get to the level I want to be at. I just need to really study the question types, actively reading, and getting timing down. I see on SDN there is a bunch of semi-strategies to assist and want to really incorporate those into my studies. I completely neglected it and even on the the Q packs I wasn't at par with an average score.

I truly think my sciences are slowly getting tattoo'd into my brain so I'm not too worried about those. They seem to come back pretty quickly as I continually review.

Also!!! I've been trying to create a study schedule that is possible to incorporate throughout the school year but I cant seem to really figure it out. I've done the big chunk of content review and practice, I just need to spend more time fine tuning my weaknesses. Any advice on how to keep the studying I've done this summer from going to waste while still working towards progression for January?
 

idontknowwhatnametopick

2+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2015
1,241
1,318
Status
Medical Student
Thank you guys for your feedback and its very very useful hearing such advice from you guys. I think ever since I decided to delay it, I completely stepped out of my "MCAT Mindset" and went into school mode. At this point its truly in my best interest to delay it. I know for a fact that cars WILL hold me back on my score even if I do end up doing well on the other sections. I don't think I've plateaued on cars yet and I think if I practice it, I can get to the level I want to be at. I just need to really study the question types, actively reading, and getting timing down. I see on SDN there is a bunch of semi-strategies to assist and want to really incorporate those into my studies. I completely neglected it and even on the the Q packs I wasn't at par with an average score.

I truly think my sciences are slowly getting tattoo'd into my brain so I'm not too worried about those. They seem to come back pretty quickly as I continually review.

Also!!! I've been trying to create a study schedule that is possible to incorporate throughout the school year but I cant seem to really figure it out. I've done the big chunk of content review and practice, I just need to spend more time fine tuning my weaknesses. Any advice on how to keep the studying I've done this summer from going to waste while still working towards progression for January?
Maybe do a few problems a day. Or does Mcat question of the day still exist? I was using that and it was nice. Kind of a passive way to keep things fresh.