Studying for the MCAT: Day 41

Figured that it was time for an update on the MCAT.  I’m about two weeks behind, but my confidence level has changed quite a bit.  I don’t feel as desperate as I did a couple of weeks ago.  I really wanted to spend weekends reviewing the previous weeks material, but at the rate it’s taking to get through the material, I just don’t have time to get all the practice problems done and reviewed while still having time to re-read through all the material.  Hopefully, this won’t have a negative impact on my retention.

At this point, I’ve largely given up trying to keep the schedule I’d set previously.  I was intending to start doing practice exams after content review was finished in early August, but it looks like I’ll probably finish up doing content review in parallel with some of the practice exams.  Not really what I was hoping for, but as long as I get all the practice exams done and reviewed, it should be sufficient.  I hope.

My test date is September 10 and I’ll start doing AAMC full-length exams by the first week in August.  There are 8 FL exams available from AAMC and I intend to work and review all of them prior to my test date.  As I’ve posted earlier, my target score is a 35.  If my FL scores aren’t within a point or two of that, I’ll strongly consider postponing.  Unfortunately, postponing my test day would very likely push back my application another year, since this is the last time the MCAT is given this year.  For some reason, I keep feeling like if I don’t score in the mid-30s I have no chance of getting into medical school.

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14 Responses

  1. “For some reason, I keep feeling like if I don’t score in the mid-30s I have no chance of getting into medical school.”

    I am not even to your stage of the game and that is already my feeling. Also I imagine those of us a little more “well seasoned” feel the possibility of a delay much more acutely than those fresh out of under-grad.

  2. I’d recommend starting those FL exams a bit earlier since there are 8 of them, and it’ll give you a good idea of what you need to study to help you redo your studying plan. I started doing FL exams from the beginning. I started studying 5 months before my exam. After the first month and a half, I did a FL exam every two weeks, and the last month did one a week. I’d then spend a fair bit of time the next week reviewing every question and understanding why I got it right or wrong. I was one of the lucky ones who got 9 FL exams.

    Don’t hate yourself if you wind up with a 31, that’s still a good score. Remember that a jump from 30 to 35 is a lot harder than a jump from 25 to 30. A 25 will put you (approximately) in the 50th percentile, a 30 puts you in the 75th percentile, so above that you are in the top quarter, that’s a good place to be. And if you’re curious a 35 puts you in the 95th percentile, a lofty goal indeed. The average score of admitted students is 32, so remember that means about half of them got below that and still got in.

    • Except, I don’t have a 4.0, my parents aren’t doctors, and I’m a white male. I’m more than a little concerned that a 32 isn’t going to give me much of a chance to get into medical school.

      • if you have over a 3.8, or heck, even a 3.6 and a 30+ MCAT you have a good shot of getting in somewhere…like a state school. but med school is med school. all US MD schools are accredited.

      • My state school has an average MCAT of 35. Think their GPA is something like a 3.6 or more.

    • I lot of people get into med school without a 4.0. I don’t have a 4.0 or parent doctors either. Be a little bit more optimistic and confident – it’ll go a long way and help you a ton in the process.

  3. I have no idea what the US medical schools are like, but at my Canadian school there are a lot of white males whose parents aren’t doctors. In fact, the vast majority of students in my class didn’t have parents who were doctors (myself included).

    My suggestion would be to apply even if your MCAT score isn’t as good as you want. It’s a lot of pressure to wait to apply and then go into an application year thinking that it’s your only chance to get into medical school.

    • I’m probably just being super paranoid – I’ve sort of convinced myself that without top grades and an MCAT score, my chances of getting into medical school are about as good as my chances of winning the lottery. Considering that I don’t play the lottery, you can imagine how high I think they are. This is probably not true, but it’s definitely something that I seem to have convinced myself of.

      Back to reviewing VR passages.

  4. Good luck! Thanks for visiting my blog. MCAT will be over soon and it will be fine. The hardest part for me was verbal, even though I was scoring well on them on practices which I thought was interesting. It will all work out.

  5. Sorry. What I meant by that was that my verbal score (ended up with a 10) was my lowest of the three, which I wasn’t expecting at all because I had always done so well on the practices. I wish I would have practiced the sections more evenly, that might have evened out my scores more. 🙂

  6. Starting full length practice tests while you’re still reviewing content is EXACTLY where you’re supposed to be. Well, it’s what I did anyway. I remember freaking out 1/2 through, realizing that the practice tests were more important than the content review, and I’d never get enough practice tests done unless I started them before I was done with content review. On my original schedule, I was going to just do content review until the week before, and then do practice tests. That would have been a huge huge mistake.

    Starting about 4 weeks prior to the real thing, I started taking 2-3 full length tests a week. Since I was working full time (probably not as demanding a job as you have, but still), during the week I’d split up sections (physical sciences + verbal one day, bio the next). Then I’d score myself, and go over results. Before I went to bed, I’d do an extra hour or two of content (in bed, just ask my husband). I’d wake up and do some content over breakfast too. On days I did only one section, I’d do extra content. Trust me, it can and should be done. You need to eat, sleep, and breathe this test, and practice as much as you can.

    You are going to be fine. If you’re not getting 30+ by the real thing, then by all means put it off. If you are, just take it. If nothing else it will be good practice. I’ll bet you hit your target even though you’re worried right now. My scores didn’t start really getting there until about 1.5 weeks before the real thing.

    • Thanks OMDG. Nice to hear someone else thinks I’m in a decent spot as long as I keep going.

  7. You’re panicking a bit over this. Not that that’s abnormal; I was there, too. I got into a top 20 school and “only” had around a 3.5 GPA and a 27 MCAT, and now I’m panicking about Step 2 boards and residency apps. Most schools look at more than just grades. If your grades are at least decent, you have good extracurricular experience, and your interview is solid, you’ll get in. Practice interviewing is the best thing you can do, because if you get that interview, you have a very excellent chance of getting in.

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