Dismiss Notice
Hey Texans—join us for a DFW meetup! Click here to learn more.

Studying for MCAT while in Post-Bacc

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by LilyMD, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. LilyMD

    LilyMD Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    1
    I posted this thread on the MCAT forum as well. I'm trying it here too...but I'm not sure that it will get much response here since the post-bacc posts dealing largely with researching and getting into post-bacc program. Well, here goes:

    I will be starting a full-time intensive post-bacc this May. It is not a record enhancement/enrichment program; I will be taking the science prereq. for the first time. One thing, I have been thinking about is how logistically to handle the MCAT preparation while taking the intensive courseload. I will be aiming at taking the MCAT in April 2005. The program aims to cover the material you need to know and MCAT-ready in that sense by the April date. I know that the program offers the optional MCAT review but I believe it is taught by a former post-bacc who did exceptionally well on the MCAT themselves. I've heard from some that the whole post-bacc year in essence is preparation for the MCAT - and you don't have really spend too much time reviewing since you learned it so recently and/or presently. However, I've also heard from someone that taking the full-courseload did detract from their MCAT study-time and that he didn't have enough time to absorb it all. So I'm not sure how to handle it...it's sort of hard to review material you don't know...so I'm a bit tied up in terms of scheduling.

    How did you deal with preparing for the MCAT while doing the full-time/intensive post-bacc? Is there anything you did during the course terms in addition to the course work to prep. for the MCAT? For example, I was thinking that simultaneously and after completing each course, I might supplement the class material with an MCAT prep. material for that particular course - such as EK Biology, let's say. Does this sound feasible, helpful, or wasteful and likely to cause confusion? It's really hard to study something you haven't covered yet, but I also don't want to be stuck cramming at the end (which is my natural tendency, but usually doesn't get stellar results). As a non-traditional student, I really don't have the luxury of any weakness in my applications - either through the MCAT or have my coursework suffer. What did you do? Did you or your post-bacc colleagues come up with a technique/strategy that you feel paid off well? Thanks again for your advice. It is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Note: SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. LoneCoyote

    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Messages:
    1,218
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I ended up spreading post-bac (my first time taking the sciences) out over 2 yrs and just taking a very light load the spring of the MCAT. I am very glad I did because studying took a lot of time and I think both my grades and my score would have suffered had I been taking 3-4 heavy science classes and trying to study. I took Princeton Review which was okay. It was sort of a waste of money because the teaching was not the best, but it did give me a review of the material and gave me motivation not to procrastinate studying. I supplemented TPR materials with EK stuff. Overall, the EK Biology and O-Chem were invaluable. They give you exactly what you must know to do well. Once I started memorizing their books in those sections my scores on practice tests jumped 3-4 points. The EK 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal is the most like the real Verbal section of any of the books I used and I consistently got the same scores on the stuff in that book that I did on the real thing.

    I am a huge procrastinator and I learned that you CANNOT do that for the MCAT. The physical sciences was my hardest section and I wish I had worked harder on that sooner. Figure out what your weaknesses are and focus on that. I personally spent too much time on Verbal and Bio which were sections I was better at. I think it would have been hard to study for the MCAT while learning the material in class for the first time. So for me it was good to have finished all the prereqs before studying for the test. But I am sure it could be done if you had to do that for scheduling reasons.
     
  4. NapeSpikes

    NapeSpikes Believe, hon.
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,653
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    LilyMD, I guess we're in the same boat...I will also be starting a postbac program for the basic sciences in a one year program in a couple of months. With a structured program like Goucher's and Bryn Mawr's, we don't really have the option of waiting until after we learn the basics to take the MCAT. When I talked to a coule of current Goucher postbacs, they said they pretty much had to give up any volunteer/research stuff which they did first semester to make time for MCAT studying along with their current course work. They also said they take practice tests Saturday mornings this semester, that is, at a time when they were probably sleeping last semester.

    So it just seems like the postbacs just put in more study hours in the four months or so leading up to the MCAT. Scarey, huh?
     
  5. LilyMD

    LilyMD Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2004
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    1
    Nape, I also heard that those not doing the consort/link to medical school, bc of the glide year, they will take the MCAT in August. But doesn't that hold up your applications. Or am I misunderstanding something about the glide year and the MCAT timing?
     
  6. NapeSpikes

    NapeSpikes Believe, hon.
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,653
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    All of the postbacs at Goucher I talked to--linkers and non-linkers--were preparing for the April MCAT. I asked the Administrators how that's possible if the students hadn't even finished taking the basics by that time, and they said since everyone in the program is in the same situation, i.e. non-science premeds, the courses are designed so all the stuff for the MCAT is covered by then. They even said that the students had to come back a week early from winter break to take a week of physics so the profs could fit everything in to make sure the postbacs will be ready for the April MCAT.

    But if a non-linker wanted to wait 'til August, as far as I understand it, they could still take/retake the test in August of the beginning of the glide year and still make app deadlines, except for possibly Early decision apps. Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  7. kimberly

    kimberly New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2003
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's correct, all Goucher Post-Bac's have to take the MCATs in April. You have the option of retaking the MCATs, depending on your score in August.

    As for taking the full course load, while studying for the MCATs, it's quite a task. But I think after the summer session of Chemistry and the fall semester, you learn better time management than ever imagined! I took the Kaplan class, which I found was time consuming as it took up your Saturdays and Sundays (sometimes)... but they did teach you good strategies and "high yield" topics which tend to appear on the MCATs. While we do learn the information in class, I thought that the Kaplan class was a good review of the subjects- especially in only the detail you would need to know it for the MCATs.
     
  8. junebuguf

    junebuguf Yo ***...Pimp My AMCAS
    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    895
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Medical Student
    It really depends on how dilligent you are. If you're like me (and probably most other people) taking a full-time load of classes and trying to balance a social life and participate in EC's and do volunteer et. can get very tedious. To begin, those pre-req's are laden with busy work, so you'll spend a lot of time working on things that dont really make you learn the material any better, but are very time consuming and required to get an A. For example, I took Honors Bio and Honors Chem and we had to work on research projects and powerpoint presentations and write 'journals' that were just a waste of time--didnt learn much from them, and they took up valuable MCAT review time. Still had to do it to keep an A. You may find that your post-bacc classes have a lot of similar busy-work.

    I intended on reviewing material as I learned it by reading through the EK books, but it didnt happen--I was just too busy and couldnt review the way I wanted to. My advice is to not worry about reviewing so much as learning the material well--particularly since you dont have any exposure to it. Spend the time you would have spent reviewing on doing practice problems from the text for Physics and Chem. And trust me, half of the detail you learn in class wont apply to the MCAT--the MCAT tests knowledge only superficially, but what it does test, it requires you to know inside-out, forward-&-backwards.... The best prep for the MCAT is to take practice tests and practice questions....form a reputable source. EK, Princeton Review and Kaplan are all fine sources, and of course the AAMC practice materials. If you find you have the time to spend on substantial review, great, but otherwise dont worry about it until three months before your test date.
     
  9. medworm

    medworm Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm in the same boat. I am starting the prereqs this summer but plan to peruse the review books just to get familiar with the topics, terminology and diagrams. So far it keeps the topics fresh in my mind and hasn't been extra work (though it does compromises my magazines and other leisurely reading).

    I took intro chem last semester, and for the first time in my life, I read the material before class. And what a difference that makes! :idea: The lecture then becomes a review and the topics and I have become good buddies. :laugh:

    Oh, question: How on earth did you get into Honors classes as a postbacc? Are you in CA? I would love to know if I qualify since usually the difference between regular and honoros is some research project which I would actually find intersting.
     
  10. junebuguf

    junebuguf Yo ***...Pimp My AMCAS
    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    895
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Registering for Honors classes is simply a matter of legwork. Just call the Honors department at your school and ask them if they let non-Honor's students register for Honors classes, space permitting (theres almost always enough space). From there you will probably have to get the professor teaching the class to sign off on your registration. Its actually a pretty simple process--check to see enrollment in the Honors section, if theres plenty of space, just show up for the Honors class the first day with a Registration form and ask the Prof to sign it. Most of them are happy to see students wanting to challenge themselves in Honors courses.

    I HIGHLY reccommend that all post-baccs doing pre-reqs take Honors courses whenever they get the chance. First off, it shows initiative to ADCOMs that you are willing and able to do well in challenging coursework. Second, you get a MUCH BETTER req letter when you've sat in class in front of a FULL professor for a whole yar for Chem, Bio, O-Chem or Physics. They know you on a first name basis and can write much better letters that way. And lastly, the teaching is often much better than in the 250+ general lectures. As a result of the better instruction and the depth at which you have to know the material, you actually *learn* more than you otherwise would--this helps on the MCAT.

    The only negative is that there are often projects and papers and presentations and the like associated with the classes than bog you down. However, as counterintuitive as it seems, its often easier to get an A. I took the regular Bio class first semester and there were only two exams--the first exam covered 14 chapters of Campbell!!! Thats an atrocious amount of material to cover for one exam. I bombed it, studied my butt off for the next exam and got an A-. Next semester, I took the Honors section for Bio II, we had 4 exams, each of which covered roughly 4-5 chapters of Campbell, much more manageable. Plus, all of my Honors prof's supplied excellent notes (that they had written themselves, summarizing everything on the exams. All in all, an excellent experience.)

    One caveat however, if you take an Honors class and expect to get a req, attending regularly and participating in class is a must. I got A's in both Honors Chem I and II, had the highest average in class and when I asked for a req, I was flat refused!! Embarassing, but a learning experience. Prof claimed I didnt participate in class to much, which was true. Anyway, I still wholeheartedly recommend Honors courses whenever you get the chance.

    PS. I did my post-bacc at a private school in DC (arent the all?), not CA.
     
  11. junebuguf

    junebuguf Yo ***...Pimp My AMCAS
    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    895
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Medical Student
    PPS I just read my post, and I am convinced I'm dyslexic because I won a spelling bee in kindergarten. I need Ritalin! Stat!
     
  12. Febrifuge

    Febrifuge Grizzled Old Newcomer
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Messages:
    1,520
    Likes Received:
    22
    Status:
    Non-Student
    I'm starting at Bennington in the Fall (for the 2-year Postbacc), and so I'll have the smaller classes and the first-name basis with the professors -- but when I say I'd like to try to eliminate the glide year and take the August 2005 MCAT, I can hear them smile. Still, I think for people in our situation, if a two-year plan is feasible it should be significantly less nerve-wracking. By April 2006, I'll have had everything but my last O-Chem and Bio classes. And even if I tank it, I'll have August ahead.

    Stoopid glide year, though.
     

Share This Page