karen0723

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Jan 11, 2019
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I’m a Masters student in a biomedical sciences program. The program is essentially an SMP with linkage to their medical school. I have a strong GPA but need a 500 MCAT minimum in order to be admitted this cycle. I was a bio major in undergrad and most of my masters has been focused around biochem work.

I took the MCAT for the first time in Sep 2020 (shortened version) after a few weeks of studying. I knew I wasn’t prepared but was already behind everyone with my application and rushed to take the test. I got a 492 despite scoring 500 on AAMC FL 1 and 2. But this was expected because I found the test to be super hard (also not a surprise).

I retook the exam a few weeks ago, which was the normal length version of the exam. I prepared for about 5 weeks with Miledown ANKI for content, some videos, and working through all of the AAMC material. I got a 505 on FL3 and 503 on FL4. So, I thought the worst I could do on the real exam was a 500. But, I got a 492 again.

The difference for the second exam was that I felt really confident about B/B and P/S and thought I had around 10 missed questions for each section. I ended up with a 123 B/B and 124 P/S, so this really threw me off. I always struggle with C/P but CARS I did well on the first time, and assumed I would be fine because the full length scores were okay for that section.

I don’t get how I still got the same score when I was more prepared and was getting decent full length scores.

The chances of me being accepted this cycle are slim, but my research supervisor on the medical school admissions advised to retake the exam in may or June to still have a chance. I’m not going to rush this time and want to shoot for at least a 510 to make up for the past two **** ups.

I work 40 hour weeks in lab and don’t get any time off to study. I need help coming up with a plan to do better this time. I usually pull off decent grades with basically cramming for all of my exams so I think the long term studying is maybe throwing me off.

Can anyone recommend what they did to bring up their score? I know I can do better, but just need some solid guidance first.

Thank you in advance :)
 

KnightDoc

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You are in a tough spot. Do you have a deadline to hit 500, and is the school going to average? If not, why do you want to shoot for 510?

Unfortunately, it is going to be nearly impossible to improve 20 points in 2 or 3 months, even without working 40 hours/wk, let alone with.

Also unfortunately, as you have learned the hard way, the MCAT does NOT lend itself to cramming, and extended preparation over a period of time seems not to be your strong suit.

Where to go from here is a very tough call, since 492, twice, indicates serious content deficiencies, regardless of how well prepared you felt. I buried myself in review books for a few months before diving into QBanks and FLs. It really doesn't matter which ones, because different brands work for different people (Kaplan, TPR, TBR, mix and match, etc.).

If that's not going to work for you, a class might be in order, since it will give you structure and keep you on track if you are diligent. The bad news is that it's hard to see how you are going to go from 492 to 510 by June. 500 is possible, but who knows? So again, how urgent is it that you hit that now versus later, and can you take a leave from work to devote full time to this for the next few months?
 
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deleted1082375

"I work 40 hour weeks in lab and don’t get any time off to study. I need help coming up with a plan to do better this time. I usually pull off decent grades with basically cramming for all of my exams so I think the long term studying is maybe throwing me off."

stop doing the fluff like lab work if it's not required, get uworld, do every single question and read the explanations. get your hands on every single practice test you can and do those. check every single answer and make sure why you are getting stuff right and wrong.

getting below a 500 means you have foundational gaps or you're just a bad test taker. you've got to get this down to survive in med school. practice tests do not always correlate to how you'll do on test day, especially with anxiety.

there's also a good mcat anki deck floating around. look that up and do all of it.
 
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karen0723

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2019
7
2
Thank
You are in a tough spot. Do you have a deadline to hit 500, and is the school going to average? If not, why do you want to shoot for 510?

Unfortunately, it is going to be nearly impossible to improve 20 points in 2 or 3 months, even without working 40 hours/wk, let alone with.

Also unfortunately, as you have learned the hard way, the MCAT does NOT lend itself to cramming, and extended preparation over a period of time seems not to be your strong suit.

Where to go from here is a very tough call, since 492, twice, indicates serious content deficiencies, regardless of how well prepared you felt. I buried myself in review books for a few months before diving into QBanks and FLs. It really doesn't matter which ones, because different brands work for different people (Kaplan, TPR, TBR, mix and match, etc.).

If that's not going to work for you, a class might be in order, since it will give you structure and keep you on track if you are diligent. The bad news is that it's hard to see how you are going to go from 492 to 510 by June. 500 is possible, but who knows? So again, how urgent is it that you hit that now versus later, and can you take a leave from work to devote full time to this for the next few months?
Hi, thank you for taking the time to help me out!

So, I have essentially until classes begin (August) to get the 500 on the MCAT because with my GPA in the program I am guaranteed admission if I score at least a 500. I just wanted to score higher in the event that I don’t get in this year, and will have to reapply. If that happens, I will be applying to other medical schools the next cycle, so I need a better score regardless. I’ll be able to interview because of my GPA, but I will sit on the alternate list until I get my MCAT score up.

The Masters program I’m in is a two years masters where the second year is a research thesis. So, I am required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week based on the amount of lab credits I’m taking and then expected to come on in the weekends to work as well. My lab PIs are professors outside of our biomedical program, and they teach for the medical school, but they don’t give a **** about me and my lab partner’s med school applications, MCAT, doing extracurriculars etc. (even though one of the PIs is on the admissions committee for the medical school lol and this is an SMP) There are about 25 of us in this program, and most people are able to matriculate into medical school or dental school here if they choose their lab PIs wisely. Many of the students had a minimum of one month off to study and then more time off to work on their med school applications and whatever else. I got 5 days off the first time and didn’t tell my PIs I was retaking the second time because they want our attention only on research, and told us we would not get any more time off to study if we were to retake. They haven’t let us take our quarter breaks since we started the lab last year, so the only solid study time I had was over the holidays 🤷🏽‍♀️

I’m complaining and babbling at this point, but my PIs were supposed to be our mentors, and instead are just bosses that are just mentally abusive (typical academia setting) and only care about the money that’s coming into the lab with our tuition. I brought this to my program director’s attention, but I fear retaliation so I wasn’t completely honest about my lab situation.

I spoke with my academic advisor, who does interviews for the med school and is familiar with the process, and he just told me to study until I get the score I want, which is what I was getting on the AAMC FLs.

So, I’m on here asking for help. I’m feeling defeated after busting my butt in this program for 2 years to just to be rejected. Admission obviously isn’t guaranteed if you don’t meet the stats, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to get just a 500 on the MCAT.

My plan is to do a more thorough content review, but I suck at retaining material by just reading. So, I was thinking khan academy videos and picking a popular ANKI deck. I was going to go through UWORLD and buy the 10 NS tests.

I’ll study until I’m hitting a 510 so even if I do drop 10 points on test day, I’ll have some wiggle room? I don’t know.

Thank you again for taking the time to read all of this and for helping me. I appreciate it :)
 
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karen0723

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2019
7
2
"I work 40 hour weeks in lab and don’t get any time off to study. I need help coming up with a plan to do better this time. I usually pull off decent grades with basically cramming for all of my exams so I think the long term studying is maybe throwing me off."

stop doing the fluff like lab work if it's not required, get uworld, do every single question and read the explanations. get your hands on every single practice test you can and do those. check every single answer and make sure why you are getting stuff right and wrong.

getting below a 500 means you have foundational gaps or you're just a bad test taker. you've got to get this down to survive in med school. practice tests do not always correlate to how you'll do on test day, especially with anxiety.

there's also a good mcat anki deck floating around. look that up and do all of it.
Thank you for taking the time to respond and help :)

I graduated from undergrad in 2016, so I’m far removed from the premed coursework. I definitely need a more thorough content review, and will start with that. I’m going to buy UWORLD and the set of 10 NS practice exams. I’m hoping that’ll get me to where I need to be. I definitely won’t be cramming for a month either this time lol
 

GreenDuck12

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Mar 30, 2014
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This was your main problem the second time:
"I retook the exam a few weeks ago, which was the normal length version of the exam. I prepared for about 5 weeks with Miledown ANKI for content, some videos, and working through all of the AAMC material. I got a 505 on FL3 and 503 on FL4. So, I thought the worst I could do on the real exam was a 500. But, I got a 492 again.

The difference for the second exam was that I felt really confident about B/B and P/S and thought I had around 10 missed questions for each section. I ended up with a 123 B/B and 124 P/S, so this really threw me off. I always struggle with C/P but CARS I did well on the first time, and assumed I would be fine because the full length scores were okay for that section."


You're going to need a much more in depth review prior to taking the MCAT. Look into 3-4 months study schedules that emphasize materials with passage based questions and practice. I tell my students, and frequently comment on here, that the MCAT is less a knowledge based / fact recall test and more of a reasoning test utilizing chemical/physical/biological/biochemical concepts and frameworks. Trying to memorize your way to a goal score is a tall order indeed.

Focus instead on learning the concepts and then practice applying those concepts to reason through questions in passage form. As you noticed with your second attempt, the AAMC FL exams lose predictive values with subsequent attempts. You should look into additional 3rd party resources to supplement your preparation.
 
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deleted1082375

Thank you for taking the time to respond and help :)

I graduated from undergrad in 2016, so I’m far removed from the premed coursework. I definitely need a more thorough content review, and will start with that. I’m going to buy UWORLD and the set of 10 NS practice exams. I’m hoping that’ll get me to where I need to be. I definitely won’t be cramming for a month either this time lol
uworld has a two week free trial, at least it had it years ago when I used it. Before spending lots of money, try it to see if you like it.

I ended up scoring four points lower than I did on my practice exams even though I took the MCAT only once. Keep this in mind. Make sure you're above your target score by a comfortable margin before sitting the real exam.

good luck!!! :)
 
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Damson

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Nov 18, 2017
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Some advice running through my head
- finish up content review by mid-march. it's just not that important. putting too much emphasis on content review is a pitfall for mcat takers
- launch your ass into question banks right away. AAMC prep hub questions, Altius MCAT exam pack, reset AAMC FLs. if not enough, get kaplan/uworld questions
- review what you got wrong, fill in gaps in content knowledge
- practice practice practice review
 
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KnightDoc

2+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2019
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Thank

Hi, thank you for taking the time to help me out!

So, I have essentially until classes begin (August) to get the 500 on the MCAT because with my GPA in the program I am guaranteed admission if I score at least a 500. I just wanted to score higher in the event that I don’t get in this year, and will have to reapply. If that happens, I will be applying to other medical schools the next cycle, so I need a better score regardless. I’ll be able to interview because of my GPA, but I will sit on the alternate list until I get my MCAT score up.

The Masters program I’m in is a two years masters where the second year is a research thesis. So, I am required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week based on the amount of lab credits I’m taking and then expected to come on in the weekends to work as well. My lab PIs are professors outside of our biomedical program, and they teach for the medical school, but they don’t give a **** about me and my lab partner’s med school applications, MCAT, doing extracurriculars etc. (even though one of the PIs is on the admissions committee for the medical school lol and this is an SMP) There are about 25 of us in this program, and most people are able to matriculate into medical school or dental school here if they choose their lab PIs wisely. Many of the students had a minimum of one month off to study and then more time off to work on their med school applications and whatever else. I got 5 days off the first time and didn’t tell my PIs I was retaking the second time because they want our attention only on research, and told us we would not get any more time off to study if we were to retake. They haven’t let us take our quarter breaks since we started the lab last year, so the only solid study time I had was over the holidays 🤷🏽‍♀️

I’m complaining and babbling at this point, but my PIs were supposed to be our mentors, and instead are just bosses that are just mentally abusive (typical academia setting) and only care about the money that’s coming into the lab with our tuition. I brought this to my program director’s attention, but I fear retaliation so I wasn’t completely honest about my lab situation.

I spoke with my academic advisor, who does interviews for the med school and is familiar with the process, and he just told me to study until I get the score I want, which is what I was getting on the AAMC FLs.

So, I’m on here asking for help. I’m feeling defeated after busting my butt in this program for 2 years to just to be rejected. Admission obviously isn’t guaranteed if you don’t meet the stats, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to get just a 500 on the MCAT.

My plan is to do a more thorough content review, but I suck at retaining material by just reading. So, I was thinking khan academy videos and picking a popular ANKI deck. I was going to go through UWORLD and buy the 10 NS tests.

I’ll study until I’m hitting a 510 so even if I do drop 10 points on test day, I’ll have some wiggle room? I don’t know.

Thank you again for taking the time to read all of this and for helping me. I appreciate it :)
My pleasure. I feel really badly for you, because it sounds like you are under a lot of pressure and stress, and it's going to be really difficult to see the improvement you need while you have so much going on. That said, you have correctly diagnosed the problem, so are on the right track to solve it.

The common wisdom on SDN is to focus most time and energy on practice questions and mastering the exam, but that presumes a content foundation that you apparently lack, mostly because you didn't adequately prepare the first two times. If you do better visually, by all means, use the Khan videos before they disappear this September.

UWorld is a great idea, but don't jump in until you are confident you have the content down. As for NS, I don't know. They are a little deflated as compared to the real thing, and you've already been exposed to plenty of tests. I think if you work more on content and UWorld, third party FLs might not be what you need to get to 500.

Finally, your situation is very atypical, and the usual advice to not take the test until you are fully ready does not apply, because, for you, a 500 by August is a do or die proposition. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about getting a 510 for a future cycle, and would totally focus on getting at least a 500 now. My advice would be to find out what the absolute last test date they will take for this year, and the schedule for as close to that date as possible to give yourself the maximum possible time to prepare. Then just grind away at videos, Anki, whatever, plus UWorld and maybe one or two FLs just to see where you are.

Then take your best shot, and please let us know if you hit the 500!!! You are close enough that an 8 point improvement with proper preparation is very possible. The good news is that it is far easier to pick up 8 points from 492 to 500 than from 510 to 518, so I think you will be able to do this with a proper focus on content. Good luck!!! :)
 
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karen0723

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2019
7
2
This was your main problem the second time:
"I retook the exam a few weeks ago, which was the normal length version of the exam. I prepared for about 5 weeks with Miledown ANKI for content, some videos, and working through all of the AAMC material. I got a 505 on FL3 and 503 on FL4. So, I thought the worst I could do on the real exam was a 500. But, I got a 492 again.

The difference for the second exam was that I felt really confident about B/B and P/S and thought I had around 10 missed questions for each section. I ended up with a 123 B/B and 124 P/S, so this really threw me off. I always struggle with C/P but CARS I did well on the first time, and assumed I would be fine because the full length scores were okay for that section."


You're going to need a much more in depth review prior to taking the MCAT. Look into 3-4 months study schedules that emphasize materials with passage based questions and practice. I tell my students, and frequently comment on here, that the MCAT is less a knowledge based / fact recall test and more of a reasoning test utilizing chemical/physical/biological/biochemical concepts and frameworks. Trying to memorize your way to a goal score is a tall order indeed.

Focus instead on learning the concepts and then practice applying those concepts to reason through questions in passage form. As you noticed with your second attempt, the AAMC FL exams lose predictive values with subsequent attempts. You should look into additional 3rd party resources to supplement your preparation.
Thank you! I am definitely not familiar enough with the content, but I also feel like I just don't know how to be good at taking the test. I'm hoping that will come with more practice 🤞
 

karen0723

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2019
7
2
Some advice running through my head
- finish up content review by mid-march. it's just not that important. putting too much emphasis on content review is a pitfall for mcat takers
- launch your ass into question banks right away. AAMC prep hub questions, Altius MCAT exam pack, reset AAMC FLs. if not enough, get kaplan/uworld questions
- review what you got wrong, fill in gaps in content knowledge
- practice practice practice review
Thank you! This is exactly what I plan on doing. I hope this will get me to at least a 500!
 

karen0723

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2019
7
2
My pleasure. I feel really badly for you, because it sounds like you are under a lot of pressure and stress, and it's going to be really difficult to see the improvement you need while you have so much going on. That said, you have correctly diagnosed the problem, so are on the right track to solve it.

The common wisdom on SDN is to focus most time and energy on practice questions and mastering the exam, but that presumes a content foundation that you apparently lack, mostly because you didn't adequately prepare the first two times. If you do better visually, by all means, use the Khan videos before they disappear this September.

UWorld is a great idea, but don't jump in until you are confident you have the content down. As for NS, I don't know. They are a little deflated as compared to the real thing, and you've already been exposed to plenty of tests. I think if you work more on content and UWorld, third party FLs might not be what you need to get to 500.

Finally, your situation is very atypical, and the usual advice to not take the test until you are fully ready does not apply, because, for you, a 500 by August is a do or die proposition. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about getting a 510 for a future cycle, and would totally focus on getting at least a 500 now. My advice would be to find out what the absolute last test date they will take for this year, and the schedule for as close to that date as possible to give yourself the maximum possible time to prepare. Then just grind away at videos, Anki, whatever, plus UWorld and maybe one or two FLs just to see where you are.

Then take your best shot, and please let us know if you hit the 500!!! You are close enough that an 8 point improvement with proper preparation is very possible. The good news is that it is far easier to pick up 8 points from 492 to 500 than from 510 to 518, so I think you will be able to do this with a proper focus on content. Good luck!!! :)
Thank you! It's a crappy situation to be in especially not having the right guidance. One of my PIs taught for a popular MCAT prep company in the past apparently, and she believes that students should be able to score above a 500 just by taking a practice test once a week for 4 weeks. So, that was her advice to us students in the lab. I'm sure that works for some people, but I clearly can't pull that off.

I agree with you. I am going to focus on just the 500 for now otherwise I am going to dig myself into a deeper hole with all of the other responsibilities I have right now lol I bought UWORLD today and will start with content and move into the questions. I may buy more practice tests because I also probably just suck at taking the exam.

I was studying every day after lab from like 8pm to 3am, and waking up at 8am when I studied for my second attempt. I predict that studying over a longer and less crammed period will also help! I will likely take the test in about 3 months from now to ensure I am not too late compared to the students that are on the wait list.

I will definitely post an update once I have my new score :) Thank you again for your help! It's a relief to finally have guidance and support :)
 
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Hi,

I took the Mcat 3 times 492, 504, 509 (cars dragged me down)- The first time I wrote it, I also worked a full-time job studied for about 4 months, and was just tired every day.

I didn't have a score in mind when taking my first exam so when I scored below a 500 on practice exams, I thought that was okay... lack of knowledge. If you don't see the scores you want on a practice exam, don't take the exam.

The second time I took a prep course, but what really helped was doing a lot of practice questions from every platform everyday randomly. I also made sure not to work and just focus purely on the MCAT. I did more of the same the 3rd time.

My advice is you should take a break from the lab - maybe for a month closer to the exam and focus entirely on the MCAT - if possible.
Do practice questions from any platform you can. Does not matter practice exams every 2 weeks. Save AAMC till later - scores will be inflated now cuz you already did them. However, probably still useful.

Message if you need any specifics.

You can do this! I promise!
 
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