catswym

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If anyone reads this, I would love thoughts.

I have my PhD in biochemistry and applied to schools this past fall. I didn't get my apps in until Sep/Oct because I didn't decide to definitely apply until April at which point I couldn't get anything earlier than July 31st MCAT.

I also only applied to four schools this past cycle because my partner is a grad student in Boston. I only got an interview at UMass and am waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime I'm trying to get ready to reapply in case I need to do so.

My undergrad GPA is 3.6 and I got a 31 MCAT, but very unbalanced (8P, 13V, 10B).

I really really don't want to retake the MCAT mostly because it sucks and I'm not sure how much I can really improve that 8P (although I'm fairly confident I could re-get the 13V and probably improve the 10B).

At the time of my application last year I had a lot of volunteer experience (working with homeless and underserved populations) but not a lot of clinical experience which I'm trying to remedy by volunteering in an ER. I'm also planning on applying more broadly this year since my partner will be finishing in the next year or two (all of MA schools plus, Vermont, GW, Rosalind Franklin, Loyola, Drexel, Jefferson etc). Probably about 17 schools in all. I'll also have my primary in June 1st and secondaries as quickly as possible.

Is there anything I'm missing? Thanks so much. Your stories on here are very encouraging.
 

CielloStelatto

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My first thought would be to try to improve your MCAT score, because it's the most concrete part of an app that is sometimes improvable though it would mean some dedicated effort and not just a shot-in-the-dark attempt.

Increasing your number of schools and applying earlier is a great idea for improving your chances if you don't get in to UMass this year (good luck, btw!).

If you're adamant about not redoing the mcat nonsense, then I agree it's a good idea to focus on clinical experience. From what I've read (please note that I've never really been in your position, so this is just my opinion), going from phd to md will require you to have a very clear life goal / professional goal / understanding how you might reasonably combine your phd work with future roles in medicine. You will have to show them that you are very driven to complete the pathway to medicine, and that you have enough clinical experience to show that you're sincerely interested in the field and know what it's about, and not simply switching fields because you change your mind often. I'd also say to make sure that this understanding is made very clear in your personal statement, as well.
 

Freak

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Applying early is a plus due to rolling admissions, but I would strongly suggest a retake of the MCAT ... most people are willing to look at a lower MCAT if the science is high, but verbal low. I would think you could up the MCAT physics as well as you generally want everything to be above 10 baseline (maybe try princeton review/kaplan ?).
 

catswym

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Applying early is a plus due to rolling admissions, but I would strongly suggest a retake of the MCAT ... most people are willing to look at a lower MCAT if the science is high, but verbal low. I would think you could up the MCAT physics as well as you generally want everything to be above 10 baseline (maybe try princeton review/kaplan ?).
On my practice AAMC exams I never scored above 10 in physics (I also never scored below it--got a 10 every time I did the practice) but I just have a real mental block when it comes to physics and am highly afraid of taking it again and doing just as badly...which I think would look worse than one bad physics section.

I studied using princeton review and EK books.
 

Freak

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I was actually talking about taking a course. The Kaplan books are actually quite conceptual/simple, so the Kaplan course might be a good one (used the books for USMLE, so I am making a leap of logic).

Disclosure: I was a PR MCAT instructor (post MCAT), and did not take a course when I took my MCAT (also used PR Books and Barrons back in the day). I did lots of questions which really helped me.


I know courses are a pain-in-the-butt / expensive, but I guess my thinking on the matter is that your MD / schooling is going to last with you for a lifetime ( ... you don't go to med school twice), so might as well give it your best crack for success.

If I were an ADCOM member, I would totally flag that MCAT (because physics is very important for physiology which is important for pathophysiology, esp. cardio and respiratory).
 

catswym

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I was actually talking about taking a course. The Kaplan books are actually quite conceptual/simple, so the Kaplan course might be a good one (used the books for USMLE, so I am making a leap of logic).

Disclosure: I was a PR MCAT instructor (post MCAT), and did not take a course when I took my MCAT (also used PR Books and Barrons back in the day). I did lots of questions which really helped me.


I know courses are a pain-in-the-butt / expensive, but I guess my thinking on the matter is that your MD / schooling is going to last with you for a lifetime ( ... you don't go to med school twice), so might as well give it your best crack for success.
Hmm, I hadn't thought of taking a course but it's probably a good idea considering I haven't the classes the MCAT covers in about 8-10 years.

However, if I wouldn't finish the class until mid july/ august (depending on what class I could take) is it worth the wait to not apply until my MCAT scores come out or can I apply and say, new scores will come out on X date?
 

dmblue

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Hmm, I hadn't thought of taking a course but it's probably a good idea considering I haven't the classes the MCAT covers in about 8-10 years.

However, if I wouldn't finish the class until mid july/ august (depending on what class I could take) is it worth the wait to not apply until my MCAT scores come out or can I apply and say, new scores will come out on X date?


you should take a class most definitely
 

BasilFawlty

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considering you were hitting 10s *consistently* in PS in your practice tests, I don't see why you shouldn't retake; this suggests that the 8 was just an aberration. Also, hitting that score regularly to me seems like you don't have any conceptual difficulties/weaknesses that are preventing you from hitting even a point or 2 more (sometimes it's a matter of 3-4 questions going your way). i too had a mental block against verbal, but i found that practice actually made me less fearful of it, and I ended up with a much better score in my second hit.

so i would just practice as hard as you can, take as many more tests as you can, and if you're still hitting 10+, retake the test - especially since you're confident of maintaining your VR and BS scores. Sure you need some luck too, but I think there's enough going for you that the gamble may be worth it.

That being said, good luck this cycle and I hope UMass comes through for you, so that you won't have to care about this at all :)
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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I see two major problems:

1) Application strategy: applying to too few schools, too late in the app season, and too narrow of a geographical spread. My suggestion is that you not only add more schools and apply earlier, but also that you consider adding several schools in the Midwest and South. There are many excellent research-friendly schools in the Midwest in particular that get far fewer apps than many coastal schools do.

2) ECs: having limited clinical experience is a huge problem. You should think of clinical experience as being a med school prereq, just like having a year of physics or biology is a prereq.

Your stats, while not amazing, are not total deal-breakers either. In fact, a 3.6 GPA and 31 MCAT are both dead average for allo school matriculants. With a 31 MCAT, I would not suggest retaking unless you have a good reason to think you can significantly bring your score up by several points. Examples of good reasons would be based on consistently scoring 34+ on timed practice tests, or knowing that you didn't prepare for the test properly the last time around. The AAMC's research shows that most people's scores do not change more than three points in either direction. Considering that your current score is reasonably competitive and going down a few points would put you in the high 20s, the risk may outweigh the reward in your case if you aren't fairly confident that you can improve significantly.

If you haven't seen it yet, there is a post with multiple links for PhD-to-MD applicants in the FAQs stickied at the top of this forum. You may find some of those links helpful. Also, feel free to PM me if you'd like to discuss more specifics about applying PhD-to-MD. Best of luck to you. :)