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Should I postpone or push through?

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ChemCrazy

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Hello all,

Sorry for the length, I just want to give a full picture.
I need some advice. I've been studying for about two weeks for the MCAT and plan to take it January 19. That means I have about 77 days left.

Last night after a full day of studying (didn't get a chance to eat) I came home to my roommate's mess and for some reason snapped. I started crying and hyperventilating uncontrollably. This mental break hasn't happened in years. I don't know if it is because I'm constantly reminded by friends/family that I should have taken the exam at least a year ago or that time is speeding by, books have yet to arrive, and it takes me 8 hours to read a chapter so content review will take up 9 of my remaining 11 weeks... and that's if I don't take days off for the December holidays.

I graduated in May, so it's been about 3 years since most of these classes and I get bogged down in the details (even though I have yet to consolidate them anyway).

I've always been the kind who gets things done well, but closer to the deadline, so I gave myself exactly 3 months to study and I feel as though that won't be quite enough. However, I really want to move past this obstacle asap, or at least get to the phase 2, as I feel as though I'm back in college, but without the support system, resources, or distractions that make it enjoyable.

I've seen A LOT of the study schedules online and really just want to know if it's better to postpone by a couple weeks and reduce stress (but risk having to work in a hospital full time towards the end of it while studying) or take the hit to my mental stability and push through the next couple months? If I don't do well, I'm going to use all of my savings and pay for a one month prep for the next attempt, but I would hate for it to come to that and I'm a really hard worker, just apparently slow and inefficient.
 

redsox93

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Two weeks is definitely not enough time to do practice problems and practice tests before your MCAT. The biggest mistake I made taking the MCAT was putting too much focus on content review and too little on practice tests. You need to take at the very least every single thing AAMC has to offer which includes 2 full length practice tests, a section bank with 100 questions per section, and a question pack with 200 questions. On top of that most people take about 3 more tests offered through whatever review company they use. In my opinion, content review is secondary in importance to practice problems, and frankly spending 8 hours per chapter is a bit much however you know your learning style better than I do.
 
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ChemCrazy

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I have Kaplan full set, TBR, TPR P/S and Verbal Workbook, Examkrackers fill set coming , EK 101, and EK verbal passages- everything I've heard was good.

But some details are different between the books, so I've already learned about the nervous system 3 different ways and a few things seem contradictory, so I read into it to see if I'm just misunderstanding it. And is it better to take notes or just reread sections that didn't click the first time during FL reviews? I feel writing so much down slows me down terribly.
 

ChemCrazy

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There is no reason you need three different review books. That's overkill

Thank you, I really needed to read that. But then, what do people mean by supplementing books? I get Free-standing questions correct in any of the books, weirdly enough, because of something I remember from another company's material.
 

Kpw101

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I think you might be a little too focused in on the details. I was very neurotic when I first started studying and even memorized the weights in kDa of different ribosomal subunits. As soon as I took my first practice exam I knew that I was way too meticulous in my content review. I took on a broadened approach instead and rather than memorizing obvious things we have to memorize (amino acids, formulas) I just focused on developing an understanding rather than a long list of facts. It shouldn't take you 8 hours to read a chapter, you're either trying to memorize every little detail or it is a distracted 8 hours. There is also no reason why you should have TPR, EK, and TBR books. One you get through one set of books, you'll have extremely diminished returns going through the other ones. You're better off taking practice exams and highlighting topics you don't know yet rather than going through 3 sets of books.
 

redsox93

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I have Kaplan full set, TBR, TPR P/S and Verbal Workbook, Examkrackers fill set coming , EK 101, and EK verbal passages- everything I've heard was good.

But some details are different between the books, so I've already learned about the nervous system 3 different ways and a few things seem contradictory, so I read into it to see if I'm just misunderstanding it. And is it better to take notes or just reread sections that didn't click the first time during FL reviews? I feel writing so much down slows me down terribly.
I spent about as much time reviewing my full lengths as I did taking them. I went through every problem, even the ones I got right. The ones I got wrong I wrote down in a notebook and reviewed this about every one-two weeks.
 

Saigon

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First of all take a deep breath. This is your life, stop caring about what others think. The most important thing is for you to take the exam when YOU are ready. No one else matters. I believe the average age of grad school matriculation is like 25+. You are not even close to behind. This is your path, remember no one else we be there to help you through medical school.

Applications for this cycle don't open until June. You need to understand that you can take the test later if YOU want to. If you are feeling overwhelmed then it is not a bad idea to delay it.

As others have said don't be too obsessed with content review. Most of us were the same way. If I were you I would try to finish content review by 60 days left. Do one practice exam a week and practice passages on your weaknesses until 30 days left, at which point you turn to the aamc material.

A big part of doing well on this test is being a good test taker. It's not just about knowing the minutiae. Once you finish content review go over the aamc material outline from Altius to make sure you understand everything on there. I checked things off as I went through content review and it helped greatly.

Lastly, it's important to have time for yourself. If you are full time studying then split your hours up throughout the day. It is very hard to do 8 hours of focused studying in a row. I would argue that you could learn as much in half the time if you focus with ZERO distractions.

For content review, especially tbr, don't slow down and try to understand every little sentence. This test is a little on a lot of material. You can fine tune your weaknesses LATER. I challenge you to reas through each chapter without rereading a sentence. You'll be surprised at how much you retain since the material is most likely familiar. Do not take notes on what you are reading. The content review books are a reference themselves so when you get a question wrong/are struggling with a certain topic refer back to them.

If you feel like you NEED to write while you read then I recommend the MeVamp protocol which is stickied in this forum.
 

NextStepTutor_3

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Have you taken a practice full-length (or a diagnostic exam) yet, or do you plan to take one in the next few weeks? It sounds like you're focusing on content review right now, which makes sense so early in your prep process. But one mistake I've seen a TON of students make is finishing all of their content review before even starting to take practice tests. I highly recommend taking your first full-length around 4 weeks into your prep, for a couple of reasons, but mainly this one:

You're probably focusing too much on little details (I think someone else said something similar above). If you're writing a ton of notes down and comparing material from different books, there's a very good chance you're worrying too much about minor points. The MCAT is NOT an exam that tests a huge number of small details, although occasional questions (especially in psych) do so. Instead, it's vitally important to understand foundational concepts and main ideas, and to do as much test-like practice as possible. If you wait too long to take a full-length, you won't have a solid idea what the MCAT is actually like, and you'll risk focusing on the wrong things when studying. I also don't think you should worry about postponing before you've even taken a full-length - you might find that you're in a better place than you thought.

Anyway, good luck! The MCAT can be really stressful and intimidating, but it doesn't have to be that bad. Eat food that you like, try to occasionally have fun and not worry about studying, etc. You can do it!
 

ChemCrazy

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I was around 8-10 years out of my pre-reqs and followed the 10 week study schedule from EK and used 4 weeks at the end to really go through AAMC material/watch Khan academy videos
You needed 14 weeks, then? I'm already at fewer than that. Thank you for the advice. I just got EK and it looks more readable than the others. I'm just scared to change to this and find I never learned important topics.

@Saigon I really appreciate the insight. I was becoming overwhelmed by thinking my dread over the MCAT translated to me being unfit for this path. I'm alone 95% of the time in order to avoid being asked what I'm doing with my life. I do need to breathe.

The thing is, I'm a terribly slow reader. I actually have very few distractions while studying but my note taking and constant rereading is what takes so long. Ill try going TBR gen Chem today without rereading or notes. I was going to do to another TBR bio, but the chapter looked too dang long for the morale I have today. I can't imagine doing that without taking notes as I never took physiology to be conceptual, more memorization. Sorry for the details- it might be clear this is the extent of my socializing for the day. The best thing you said was that I can focus on weaknesses later- I was under the assumptions that everything needs to be learned right now.

Thanks @NextStepTutor_3 I'll take your test in 2-3 weeks then. I'll see how I can learn enough of the remaining 90% of the content before then so that questions actually make sense.
 

hubbsbubbs

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77 days can be enough if you're very committed. I did most of my studying within a two month period and was happy with my score. But if you feel like you don't have a strong support network or the resources you might need to succeed, then it may be a good idea to postpone.

I would agree with @redsox93 that practice makes perfect. I also spent too much time on content review. My MCAT had very few knowledge-focused questions, and many more "read the passage and put two and two together" type questions. Practice tests, however, tend to be more knowledge-heavy.

Ultimately, you know your limits better than anyone. You don't want to regret not having given yourself enough time. Also if you're applying in June, you can always take the test closer to applying. Do keep in mind that you get a smaller refund if you postpone close to the deadline, so I would encourage you to make a decision sooner rather than later. Good luck
 
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