Studying for the MCAT: Day 7

My trip to New York was a complete disaster.  The lab that was contracted to do the testing was given a terribly worded set of requirements which made no sense at all and their test procedure, which someone else had approved, were completely wrong.  I had to rewrite a third of the test procedure and ultimately cancel the last three days of testing because the lab didn’t have any of the necessary equipment.  I came up with a new way to do the tests, but none of the old and crusty engineers in my group wanted to change since, “We’ve never done it that way before”.  The reticence of old-school engineers to do anything different is something that drives me absolutely nuts.  Seriously – I work with lead engineers that haven’t learned to type yet, insist on printing emails before reading them, and are completely unable to do anything other than write memos in MS Word.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I didn’t get a lot of studying done and I’m a little bit behind, so I’m having to double-time it this weekend to hopefully get caught up by Monday.  Next week, I have to head out to Connecticut for a day to do the testing which should have been done last week, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep from falling behind again.

One of the things I’ve learned since I started reviewing for the exam is that you can spend an eternity learning all the details of any simple topic on the exam.  One of the disadvantages to a deeper scientific background is that nothing seems simple to me anymore.  I need to make sure to keep the science simple or I’ll wind up spending an entire day on one paragraph.

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5 Responses

  1. Part of the reason I want to jump out; at previous employers, there was a huge amount of “oh, it’s always been done that way” with 0 room for argument or compromise. Pretty soul-crushing for a newer engineer, who eventually has to adapt to that way of thinking, or leave entirely.

    Granted, some of those guys are probably in the same class of engineer who designed a Mach 3 airplane (A-12/SR-71) in the early 1960s with slide-rules, and created a design that hasn’t been surpassed in 50 years. OT, but it’s amazing what a Cold War can generate and spur in terms of technical innovation…

  2. It sounds like you probably already have a pretty solid background on a lot of the science topics the MCAT covers, so why not focus on questions? I can’t remember jack unless I’m forced to by getting a question wrong, but maybe that’s just me.

    Work sucks. I totally hear you.

    • Funny you mentioned this. I had actually concluded something similar earlier today, although I’m not sure how solid my background might be in some of the subjects. I’ve never had physiology or genetics and my general biology course didn’t cover anything related to human physiology, so I definitely have some work there. I’m also lacking in a few core chemistry sections which are on the exam.

      But, by and large, I think you’re right. A much better way to prepare for the exam is to just keep working problems and passages and then reviewing them after the fact and figuring out why I got it right or wrong. Thanks for the advice.

  3. Having had the pleasure of writing the MCAT, I have to second oldmdgirl’s thoughts. The MCAT isn’t as much about content as it is about being able to understand the passages and extract the needed information from them. For me, the best thing I did to prepare was do lots of practice exams while adhering to the allowed time. It made the time constraints on exam day much easier to deal with. Also, don’t be like the people I saw studying at the coffee shop the morning of the MCAT! It’s an exhausting enough day without trying to cram in last minute studying.

    • I agree with both of you. I’m primarily trying to do lots of problems and review them afterwards and all problems / passages / exams are done under timed conditions.

      I’ve realized that I need to be a little more conscientious about reading the passages. Many of the questions I’ve been missing could have been correct, if I had read the passage a bit more carefully. I’m thinking that this just takes practice. Unfortunately, I’m still quite a bit behind due to having to travel all over the eastern seaboard these past two weeks.

      Back to battle.

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