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To study or not to study, that is the question

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Mr. Z, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member
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    Suppose when you get your mcat score back in october it is not competitive. How are you going to handle that scenario? Most people on these boards, myself included, invested a lot of time and effort learning the material for the mcat this summer, should we let it go to waste? Most likely you will retake the mcat in April. Is it best to just keep going? that is, instead of doing nothing for the april test until jan or feb, do you keeping reviewing the material, just at a far lower intensity? Would that be easier than letting all those wonderful facts and formulas slip from your memory, and then being forced to relearn them in the spring?

    I realize this is not an example of the power of positive thinking, but, i like to cover all my bases.
     
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  3. Lactic Folly

    Lactic Folly Inedible Member
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    Try your luck with the LSAT? :p

    Seriously though, it depends on why you think you didn't do so well on the MCAT. I found the test to rely on basic principles and understanding of phenomena - so I'd say the best preparation is to have thoroughly mastered those undergraduate science courses while you were taking them. At least, that's what I felt most of the questions were based on - didn't need to know anything like the viscosity equation (the formulas for gravitational, electrical, and magnetic forces were even given in one passage I had).

    However, I do hope that the questions based on memorization that I missed won't cause a low score.. would be kinda bad if they did :p Just some things like nomenclature of complex ions and the stereochemistry of Br2 addition that are hard to catch unless you go right back and try to learn everything in your textbook. I admit it probably did help to have taken physiology this year. But, if you look at it the other way, if I'd taken the MCAT last year and taught myself all that physiology beforehand, I'd have done better in the course :p

    Well if bad scores are due to inadequate comprehension, I would probably work steadily and practice questions regularly. If straight memorization.. I guess the reinforcement couldn't hurt, but it might interfere with coursework in my case at least, as some of my courses are pretty memorization intense, and I don't retain stuff that well to begin with :D Things like F=ma I would find pretty hard to forget anyhow, having been drilled through countless problems in high school/univ...

    Low scores could also be due to verbal or writing, in which I'd definitely work regularly.. just think, you can do all of the prompts ahead of time and memorize them ;) Verbal can certainly be practiced by reading difficult material, and as a plus it'll keep you up to date with current events for the interview. Scores are also affected by illness, lack of sleep, testing conditions, test taking skills etc. so it really depends.
     
  4. Kry

    Kry cranky
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    I plan on just reading (Nature/Wall Street Journal) till October, and maybe review sciences once a month till the results come back.

    I will kick it up a notch once scores come if need be.
     
  5. chandler742

    chandler742 Senior Member
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    Z man, I recommend the "studying but not studying" approach. This is done by reading magazines weekly that reinforce what you have already learned. For example, I recommend reading periodicals such as Scientific American, Economist, Harper's, and Smithsonian(all at your school library).

    In the sciences, Scientific american is a very valuable source, it covers a wide range of current science concepts in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, immunology, anthropology, and cell biology. Plus, MCAT passages have come from this magazine before. the online version is free at www.sciam.com. Very fascinating reading, i promise.

    Similarly, articles from Harper's and Smithsonian have been in the AAMC verbal passages. Chances are you will not get anything you read to appear on the actual MCAT, however reading this will keep you in the mindset of the VERBAL reasoning section via articles in the social sciences(smithsonian), and the humanities(Harper's).

    For argument and logic, I recommend the Economist. This magazine is good for its pedantic(yawn!! ala MCAT) editorials on current affairs.


    Good Luck

    One last point, even if your worst fear is grounded on hard evidence. You will not know definitively until middle of October. Thus, I don't think it is a good idea to agonize over hypotheticals. Besides, there really is NOTHING you can do right now. I argue it's not worth your time.
     
  6. I really feel like I have the concpets down. But certain conditions may cause me to get a low score. If my score is lower then I would like I probably would only do light studying whenever I have some free time. I have EK Audio Osmosis so I might use those CDs during my office hours or when I'm driving to school. The one thing I am concerned about is that I've used up all the AAMC practice tests. Hopefully they will be putting out new material this year.
    I'm also thinking about the 1001 books from EK. I figure if I do a few of their practice passages here and there it will keep my knowledge base intact.
     
  7. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life
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    It seems to me that the MCAT is sort of a game. There's a lot to be said for knowing the rules, more so (I think) than simply knowing facts. I always tell people to do at least 5 practice tests, and do a lightly detailed review of concepts.

    You'll never know enough facts to be prepared for the test. But if you learn how to think through the MCAT (intelligently confronting somewhat familiar material) you'll do well, and in so doing I think you're building the skills that the MCAT is intended to test.

    I can't stress practice tests enough. The MCAT is also a test of stamina, and by doing a lot of tests without breaks I actually found the MCAT's pace relatively relaxed. Practice tests also prepare you for MCAT style questions and reasoning. The first few pratice tests I took, I ALWAYS missed the "From this passage, a reader might infer..." questions on the verbal reasoning. By the time I was done, I nailed those things pretty well. Also, I had not taken any physics classes prior to the MCAT. So I reviewed the material from old Kaplan books, and tried to reason through the sections. There were a few times where I just had to guess, but there were many more where I knew a general principle, thought the question through, came to an intuitive answer, and got many of them right. I ended up doing decently on PS, with no physics. I know several people who have done similar things, all by really utilizing practice tests.

    Good luck!
     
  8. Toejam

    Toejam Terminal Student
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    On a side note, Scientific American used to be a better rag, IMHO. I used to subscribe to it in the 80's and it seemed a little more hardcore. I just re-subscribed this year and was a little bit disappointed in the content. It seems to be a little bit watered down.

    I'm not going to do anything until I get my scores. The thing about studying is that I think that I had a good handle on about 90% of what was required, but still felt handcuffed through most of the test. I thought more than once during the test "I wonder how much of this studying was really necessary"? Whoever posted the thoughts about the MCAT testing basic principles only is right. But, you need to know those basic principles almost as well as the person who taught them to you.

    The one thing that I really didn't do (which I know would have made a difference) is that I didn't do too many practice tests. I kind of felt that between the studying I did for the April test and the time I spent for the August test, I wouldn't need to do a bunch of practice exams. I can see now that I was wrong. If I don't get an acceptable score on this one, I'm going to spend even more (tax deductible) money on the Examcracker 1001 questions (or whatever they're called).
     
  9. Wow people here read nature, wall street journal, Scientific american, and Harper's and Smithsonian. :eek:

    My subscriptions consist of Maxim, Stuff, and Sports Illustrated. I feel so unrefined. :laugh:
     
  10. IMHO = In MY Honest Opinion
     
  11. Lactic Folly

    Lactic Folly Inedible Member
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    Alternately, IMHO = In My Humble Opinion.
     
  12. djjj08

    djjj08 Senior Member
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    jeeezzzz......
    I guess I better cutoff playboy, rollinstone, and ESPN megs subscriptions...:(
     
  13. Toejam

    Toejam Terminal Student
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    Ok, Maxim (Cosmo for men), Stuff (cross between Cosmo/World Weekly and Teen Beat), Men's Health.

    I agree also with the poster who commented on the MCAT being a game. You need to learn, somehow, to be able to understand the fundamentals of bio, chem, orgo and physics to the point where you could explain just about any basic concept to a person of mediocre intelligence. How many questions were direct? I swear, I think there were about 10 out of about 300. The questions were more like, "just how far have you inserted yourself into these concepts"??
     
  14. djjj08

    djjj08 Senior Member
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    I READ 'Playboy' for article!
     
  15. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member
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    Who ever said it's a game was on the money!

    It's a damn word game, designed to see if you can read in between the lines. The questions seem to have been created by someone who knows very little about science. I have to say I was disappointed in the exam, I always thought it would test your science knowledge and your ability to interpret data, things which i feel are important traits for a doctor. But, the mcat is not testing those things to any large extent. It's mostly testing how you well you can make sense of their poorly worded questions and answers, also how well you can guess.

    What about the writing sample? does this really test how you write? I don't know anyone who writes an essay in 30 min, without time to formulate ideas, or edit your writing, or even make an outline. What is the point? this is not how people write so why would test like that? The results will most certainly not be representative of how that person actually writes.

    And they have the gaul to wonder why there is a very weak correlation between mcat scores and how one performs in med school! Here is a novel idea, how about creating a test that actually measures what a you will do as a med student? Maybe then you might see a hint of a correlation between mcat scores and performance in med school.
     
  16. tBw

    tBw totally deluded
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    oh my god, that's exactly the kind of [email protected] response I normally post!
     
  17. Lactic Folly

    Lactic Folly Inedible Member
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    Algebraic manipulation was also big I thought. But isn't making decisions based on incomplete and ambiguous information part of medicine? :p And sometimes based on intuition, i.e. hunches or guesses? ;) jk.. but I do think that the Writing Sample is helping me achieve the stereotypical doctor's handwriting.. or maybe I had that already. Will reserve thoughts until October.. the entire admissions process is a game, really.
     
  18. Lactic Folly

    Lactic Folly Inedible Member
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    Hahaha.. didn't know I was stepping on your turf. I recently discovered SDN forums after going into premed101.com withdrawal.
     
  19. Kry

    Kry cranky
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    After taking the exam on Saturday, I can say you hit it right on the nail.
     
  20. lady bug

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    danswu, how do you like EK audio osmosis?
     
  21. nero

    nero Senior Member
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    I think everybody should just chill a bit until October. You never know, the curve may be more generous than you think and you might do better than expected. You guys have worked hard over the summer, give yourself a couple of months rest, and then if you have to take it again in April, you have about 6 months until the exam, which is more than enough to strengthen your weakness and kick butt on the new exam

    best of luck to everybody and hope nobody has to retake that crazy test

    nero
     

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