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Using ESL as an Excuse for Poor Verbal Scores

boomuntilnoon

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    I have often wondered why ESL applicants use their non-English backgrounds to rationalize their poor performance on the Verbal section of the MCAT. Seriously now, if they scored well on the Biological and Physical Sciences sections, then certainly there is some evidence that said individuals know how to read and critically analyze written information.

    Instead, I wonder if these ESL applicants are just cookie-cutter pre-meds in disguise... you know, those students who ***** themselves out in the sciences without ever establishing any real breadth in their education.

    A quote from an alum in my school's pre-med handbook: "I tell people that first they need to be interesting people before they can be good doctors."
     

    thanks_sdn_2005

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      boomuntilnoon

      Can you speak and write French ?
      Can you speak and write German ?
      Can you speak and write Spanish ?
      Can you speak and write Italian ?
      Can you speak and write Chinese ?
      Can you speak and write Laos ?
      Can you speak and write Japanese ?

      CAN YOU TAKE A VERBAL REASONING MCAT TEST WITH ONE OF THE ABOVE LANGUAGE ?

      I DIDN'T THINK SO !

      IF YOU CAN'T....THAN ARE YOU STUPID ? MY ANSWER IS NO !

      MY POINT IS........LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE IS HARD !

      SO STOP BEING A NARROW MIND AS* AND WHINNING LOSER !


      GO HIT THE BOOKS AND TRY YOUR BEST TO GET IN MED SCHOOL AND CONCENTRATES TO BECOME A GOOD DOCTOR TO HELP PEOPLE.

      JOHN.
       
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      redstar18

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        1) What does doing well on verbal reasoning have anything to do with being an interesting person?

        2) If someone is an interesting person but doesn't like people, can he/she still be a good doctor?

        :rolleyes:
         

        mosfet

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          Originally posted by boomuntilnoon
          I have often wondered why ESL applicants use their non-English backgrounds to rationalize their poor performance on the Verbal section of the MCAT. Seriously now, if they scored well on the Biological and Physical Sciences sections, then certainly there is some evidence that said individuals know how to read and critically analyze written information.


          Boomuntilnoon,
          I understand what you are trying you say, but scoring well in bio and phy sci sections on the mcat has nothing to do with scoring well on the verbal. If they ARE the same, then there would be no point in administering a verbal exam on the mcat, would it?

          Also, you said it yourself that people who score well on the bio and phy sci sections know how to read and critically analyze written information. Then, what the hell is the point of the verbal section??? I have heard **** like, "Oh, verbal tests your english language skills." But I am sure there are people who can communicate well with other ppl in english and STILL do poorly on the verbal....and communicating well is what is important for a doctor, not reading and comprehending philosophical and historic junk that's administered by the mcat.

          The bottomline is, verbal should go to hell.
           

          1996

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            I thinki boomuntilnoon doesn't really understand many of the reasons why non-native English speakers don't do well on the verbal section of the MCAT. It is not that they don't know how to read, understand, or critically analyze written information. Many of them probably read, write, communicate, and perform critical analysis of written material as well as, if not better than, native English speakers.

            The most challenging part of the verbal section for them is actually time. Imagine reading in a different language. You read the passage and the question, then your brain translates it into the language your brain processes in, then you analyze the passage/question and figure out the answer. There is always this extra step of translation going on in the brain. The time difference might not be very big (maybe 3-5 minutes per passage). But if you add that up, that could mean not finishing the test. When only a few questions can make the difference between a 7 and a 10, that can be the reason why non-native speakers don't do as well, in general, when compared to native speakers.
             

            1996

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              Originally posted by doc05
              spot generating excuses. medical education is in english. if your verbal skills aren't up to par, you won't be able to handle medical school, much less all the various licensing exams, etc.

              This is not generating excuses, but rather a reality and a disadvantage non-native speakers have to deal with. The imporant thing is, despite this disadvantage, they are still subject to the same standard as any native speaker when it comes to MCAT scores and admissions.

              Not scoring as high on the verbal section of the MCAT does not mean a person's verbal skill is not up to par. If a person can go through college and perform well on the other sections on the MCAT, all conducted in English, he/she should be well-qualified to handle the English involved in medical education, USMLE, and general medical practice.
               

              boomuntilnoon

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                I just knew someone would call me narrow-minded, yay!

                Redstar: 1) I included that quote as additional sarcasm to support the previous paragraph re: cookie-cutter pre-meds who score poorly on the verbal because they are not well-rounded. To me, a well-rounded individual implies an "interesting person" overall... at least that has been my experience in dealing with pre-meds at my school. 2) Yes, although I would reckon the real misanthropes would perform better in less-people-oriented specialties. Does not liking pre-meds count as not liking people? ;-)

                1996: That makes sense, but would this "time" factor not also be true for the other two sections?

                Mosfet: I like the verbal section, for it seems to level the playing field somewhat for us non-science people.
                 

                calebho501

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                  Sorry for the OP, but I'm gonna have to yell at you for being so insensitive to people from other backgrounds.

                  Surely ESL is NOT an excuse for low verbal score, but the fact that you're an ESL student will be taken into account in the decision. I'm sure the schools also look at your communication skills during interview and your course grades in English comp and lit.

                  I personally get A- for English courses at UCLA, and as all my interviewers have commented, my spoken English is excellent. The reason I got an 8 in verbal is quite simple: I spent less than half the time learning to read English than a native speaker, and studies have shown that the best ESL students can never read as well as native English speakers of the similar level of intelligence.

                  It's like if someone's working full time while taking classes, the expectation for that person to volunteer 20 hours/week will be unrealistic. It's just part, but not the whole picture.
                   

                  doc05

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                    Originally posted by 1996
                    This is not generating excuses, but rather a reality and a disadvantage non-native speakers have to deal with. The imporant thing is, despite this disadvantage, they are still subject to the same standard as any native speaker when it comes to MCAT scores and admissions.

                    Not scoring as high on the verbal section of the MCAT does not mean a person's verbal skill is not up to par. If a person can go through college and perform well on the other sections on the MCAT, all conducted in English, he/she should be well-qualified to handle the English involved in medical education, USMLE, and general medical practice.

                    too bad. If you expect to live and practice in the U.S., learn the language first. you don't get extra time in real life, why should you get extra time on exams?
                     

                    Fritz

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                      In general, the non english speakers are more interesting that the traditional premed, and I'll tell you why.
                      They have experiences that radically distinguish them from the american students. Most of them, not all, had to go through very difficult moments in their lives to achieve their goals. They generally have many outside of classroom experieces, from their countries of origin and from the their immigration experiences.

                      Relating ESL and MCAT: for ESL people it depends a lot when one has started to learn English. If you started at 6-7, it is different than if you started at 19 or if you started at 26. So don't try to compare all ESL people with one another, comparison does not hold.
                      I'll tell you one very simple reason why ESL score lower than the Americans on the Verbal portion. It is mainly because of the vocabulary and the complicated phrase structure. Imagine that you actually started to learn English about 4 years ago. Within a year I can tell you that you will be able to build an English vocabulary, without the slang, that would be comparable with that of any other less educated american. Then in the next few years, going to college, you start to add more, and more words to the vocabulary, become more proficient in English, etc. However, the level of English vocabulary proficiency that is required for the MCAT, the ESL person will not be able to achieve withing only 4 years of learning English.
                      Now why do they do better in the science portion of the MCAT? Simple, there are NO complicated words in that portion! Everything is simple, like "a ball is rolling on an incline..." or "find out the pH of a solution of ...". If you look at the verbal reasoning passages, there are a lot of words that are not used in everyday life, that are complicated for the ESL, because the ESL never heard them or read them before.

                      Now I speak fluently 4 languages, but please don't make me take the verbal reasoning in Spanish! Although I watch the Spanish TV channels and I can understand everything and I speak with my neighbors in Spanish without any american accent, I am not that proficient in Spanish to take a verbal test in that language. But, it would not be a problem to take the science part of the test in Spanish, because science is all the same regardless of the language, and one does not need complicated words to discribe the phenomena.

                      And for all the people out there that believe that knowing other languages is not important: What are you going to do when you get into a California school like UCSD or UCLA and find yourself with people that don't speak any English that you have to treat? What are you going to say? Hold on until the interpreter comes? Would you think that speaking another language is important then?

                      And by the way, this year in California the hispanic births outnumbered the white births, so pretty soon, if you want to visit California you will have to learn Spanish, and I would not be surprised if in 20 years from now the UCs are going to offer bilingual instruction. They already offer Spanish classes as part of the medical training.

                      I am sorry for the long post, but I could not believe that someone would actually claim that ESL is just an excuse for poor verbal score.
                       
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                      1996

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                        Originally posted by doc05
                        too bad. If you expect to live and practice in the U.S., learn the language first. you don't get extra time in real life, why should you get extra time on exams?

                        The notion that getting a low VR MCAT score has anything to do with not being able to communicate in English and live/practice in the U.S. is laughable. As I said, an applicant's ability to excel through college in the US, participate in extracurricular activities, and interact with others efficiently in everyday life serves as a living proof of the applicant's ability to communicate in English, to live in the US, and most importantly, to practice medicine in the U.S. Simply a low VR MCAT (I don't know what that definition is) does not really mean anything.
                         

                        Childe

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                          The question really becomes how low is acceptable. Beyond a certain point, the applicants communication skills are simply unacceptable. Whether this means a 4 or a 10 i cant say. But judging from some posts on this board from ESL students, communication (written) is often lacking (even aside from the informal nature of message boards/internet). I expect a certain competency in written and spoken english; you dont have to be able to analyze shakespeare, but I hope you can write coherent and grammatically correct sentences. This could cause numerous problems in the medical field..
                           

                          doc05

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                            Originally posted by 1996
                            The notion that getting a low VR MCAT score has anything to do with not being able to communicate in English and live/practice in the U.S. is laughable. As I said, an applicant's ability to excel through college in the US, participate in extracurricular activities, and interact with others efficiently in everyday life serves as a living proof of the applicant's ability to communicate in English, to live in the US, and most importantly, to practice medicine in the U.S. Simply a low VR MCAT (I don't know what that definition is) does not really mean anything.

                            of course not. but perhaps you should take a look at a medical textbook, or better yet, some USMLE questions. If you can't make par on the MCAT, forget about the rest.
                             

                            luverofpenn

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                              I am proud to be an ESL student. I speak four different languages fluently, with English being the third I learned. Its sad how narrow minded these some people are. My english might not be perfect, but it sure has gotten the job done. I have a 4.0 in the 4 english classes I have taken, including an A+. Sure my verbal might not be the best, but its better than what most people get. I do not use ESL as an excuse for me not getting a 14 on Verbal. For those you who are curious, my scores are V12 P14 B14 WS.
                               

                              Childe

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                                Originally posted by luverofpenn
                                Its sad how narrow minded these some people are.
                                If all ESL students made 12's it would be a non-issue. Is it narrow minded to be concerned about the communication abilities of future doctors? No one implied that all ESL students are incapable of communication, or even that they all need excuses. You obviously dont. But what about the ones that do?

                                Does anyone have any stats on matriculant ESL students average verbal score vs. non-ESL? I assume adcoms take it into account somewhat, but I still say there has to be a competency limit. Whether this competency is at all evaluated by VR section is arguable. Perhaps there should be a separate section for this. Scoring well on VR is certainly well and above the skills necessary to communicate. And for an ESL student to score very highly on VR makes them look even more impressive. VR is hard enough for native speakers, it shows just that more intelligence/perserverance if youre ESL.
                                 

                                1996

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                                  Originally posted by doc05
                                  of course not. but perhaps you should take a look at a medical textbook, or better yet, some USMLE questions. If you can't make par on the MCAT, forget about the rest.


                                  How do you define "par"? The average VR score for African American matriculants in medical school last year, according to AAMC data, was a 7.8 with an SD of 1.8. This means that there are plenty of them with 6's and 7's currently in medical school, and they are native speakers. Are you trying to tell me that these students are not going to make it through med school and USMLE? Or, are 6's and 7's still above "par" by your definition? Most of the ESL that I know, whether or nor they make it into med school, score at or higher than 6.

                                  I have read medical textbooks (too many of them) and done way too many USMLE questions (both practice and the actual ones, both steps I and II). If someone can do decently on the science sections on the MCAT (which, in case you haven't noticed, are passages written in English as well), they should have no problem with med school and USMLE, regardless of their verbal score. They have shown that they could read passages, understand, process, and answer questions adequately in English. In addition, I happen to know quite a few of my med school classmates, both ESL and non-ESL, who had low MCAT verbal scores but achieved great scores on step I (>240).
                                   

                                  1996

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                                    Originally posted by Childe
                                    But judging from some posts on this board from ESL students, communication (written) is often lacking (even aside from the informal nature of message boards/internet).


                                    Should I point out that many posts on this board by non-ESL students are just as incomprehensible and non-coherent as, if not, more so than ESL students?

                                    I can't stand when people don't know the difference between "you're" and "your."
                                     

                                    dramaqueen

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                                      using ESL as an excuse for poor verbal just doesnt make any sense to me

                                      i know a student that scored 9 on verbal
                                      he came to this country in junior high school
                                      and has a foreign accent

                                      he told his professor that he didnt score as well on verbal
                                      cuz he came to this country late
                                      so this professor - a respected person in the medical community
                                      wrote a letter of recommendation for him
                                      saying that his not very high MCAT score was because he was ESL

                                      this i think is complete BS
                                      there are US born students out there that score 9 or below

                                      i hate how people try to make excuses for their bad grades/scores this way
                                      it doesnt matter where you're from - your score should be looked at as is
                                      with no excuses attached

                                      i think it is kind of irrelevant that this person MAY ahave been able to do better on verbal if he had come to this country at an earlier age

                                      the fact is, he didnt, and 9 is his verbal score

                                      everyone needs to stop with this shouldve wouldve couldve nonsense

                                      its like saying i have a really high iq, and would have done well on mcats, but i didnt study, so i only got a **
                                      oh whoop!

                                      the fact is in the end, what u get is what u get
                                      no matter how great u think your potential is
                                       

                                      R_C_Hutchinson

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                                        this is a really strange post-
                                        here's my anecdote:
                                        often times the HIGHEST VR scores of my friends have been ESL'ers, i suppose because they learned the language systematically and so it's more ordered in their minds. maybe its different in other places, but i know at least two ESL UCLA premeds with 13 or better VR scores (along with lower PS/BS scores)
                                        hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
                                         
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