2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2018
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  1. Pre-Medical
I will have a TL;DR at the bottom but I am looking for guidance, observations, experience, and recommendations while I plan my approach for the retake.

Background - I am a nontraditional student. Poor grades early in college (undeclared major without a goal or focus) and only went because I was told I had to go to college. After that did not go well, joined the Army. Had a back injury and was medically separated after 4.5 years (honorable discharge). Injury and rehab time got me interested in medicine. I started classes at the local university in biology and also became an EMT. Worked in an emergency department (24-32 hours per week) while full time. Biology was never my strongest subject but I wanted to tackle it. My GPA was not amazing but I finished around a 3.0 (depending on how you calculate retakes, pass/fail classes, etc). First MCAT at this time was 27 (10 both sciences, 7 verbal) - frustrating thing was on practice tests, my verbal score was consistently higher. Applied. No interviews. Became discouraged. Did graduate from university and also took a paramedic program. I have been a paramedic for 3 years.

I took the MCAT again May 5 of this year following a 4 month period of Kaplan self paced program plus 2 courses through UNE (Anatomy and Medical Phys). I took 7 practice full length tests (4 Kaplan then 3 AAMC) and broke each answer down afterward. My scores were Kaplan - 498, 503, 507, 508, followed by AAMC 506, 509, 508. My CARS score in particular was consistently 126-129 among these practice tests. I also did daily 1-2 Kaplan Qbank CARS passages with the questions usually missing 1 or maybe 2 questions but noticed steady improvement.

The results of my MCAT were pretty disappointing. I only scored 501 and had a 122 on CARS. Also, each of my sciences were about a point lower than expected. Leaving the test, I actually felt most confident with the CARS section this time. I do not believe I changed my approach with reading and answering the questions. I did not do the outline as Kaplan taught it but also did not do that with the practice tests because it felt like I was spending too much time with the outline rather than reading and comprehending the essay. What I have observed after reflecting on how to improve is the test environment was much different than my practice test environment. I'll pause and say I am not blaming my results on the environment. I am responsible for my score. The main observations I am making about test day vs practice test day, however, involve differences in environment for which I did not account such as other people in the room, noticably colder on test day, bulky noise canceling headphones that made my ears sweat, etc. I was a little nervous on test day but did not feel it was distracting. I may underestimate this factor though. I am open to other observations from anyone's experiences. I would like to go into the next test with confidence.

Current plan is to spend 5-6 weeks of doing weekly full length exams, breaking them down, and reviewing content. This time, however, I may go to the library and take the practice exams under those conditions rather than taking practice exams in an empty "controlled" house. This may help but any and all advice/suggestions would be appreciated. Probably test mid August. I have spoke with my kaplan mentor who has suggested this approach and will be speaking with a premed advisor soon. Just thought I would throw this to the forums for more input.

TL;DR: I went from ~507 average on practice tests to 501 on test day. CARS was the main problem, despite it being one of my better scores on practice exams. Anyone with similar experience, general observations, and/or advice would be appreciated.
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