Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The MCAT, revisited

I guess it was the realization that I had a 10+ improvement in my MCAT score from the first time I took it in 1992 until this past Sept. 2011 which has prompted this post. Now as crazy as it sounds, the teens score I got the first time was a bit of a fluke in the sense that I'd NEVER thought it accurately reflected my intellectual abilities on the test (which was FAR easier than the current version), as much as it said how dumb an idea it was for me to party almost all night long, then try to take the MCAT first thing the next day.

What I think this 10+ improvement DOES say is that anyone who puts in the time and effort CAN improve their score. SIGNIFICANTLY!

Now anyone who's read my blog over the years knows that my retaking the test was more about wanting to improve my testing taking skills than it was that I hadn't scored well enough to be admitted to medical school. And the thought that thumped in my head constantly like a migraine headache was that the "cut off" MCAT score where folks I knew and knew of seemed to have trouble passing their USMLE's was around the same as I had previously scored. So I decided that not passing the USMLE's on the first try was completely unacceptable and if it meant taking the MCAT 15 times to master test taking BEFORE med school, that's what I would do........actually I'm not so sure about the 15 times, LOL!! Bottom line I was committed to "fixing" what was broken if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I could conquer the beast of an exam!

So how did I do that? Well, here's what I did:

1) I NEVER, EVER gave up on the idea that I could improve my score.

2) I used the time I had off from working to study for the exam. This is a critical and often neglected step of nontrads, minorities and anyone else who needs money and is no longer on their parents payroll. I absolutely, positively believe that 100% dedicated MCAT study time is best if you can manage it!

3) I invested ~ $700 in study materials, again another important factor many folks often can't realistically do.

4) I focused more on why I got problems wrong than anything else, which was closely followed by studying why my right answers were right.

5) I did HUNDREDS of passages, relating to #3 on the list.

6) I treated my science passage like verbal passages, and started my study off with verbal first, dedicating more time to that area overall than the science areas.

7) I stayed the hell away from that very popular premed website for reasons which are obvious to anyone who has been on that site. A bunch of neurotic 20 year olds is FAR from my kinda company at least in the premed stage of the game! Of course I was banned for being just a tad too outspoken, so that wasn't very hard to do, LOL!!!

8) I did at least one passage almost everyday even if that was all the MCAT prep I did that day.

9) EVERYWHERE I went I had some study materials with me so any spare time I had or if I ended up in a coffee shop for an extended period of time, I could easily pull out a book and review. This included things like doctor's visits, my kid's tennis tournaments, getting the car repaired ect.

10) Finally, I ALWAYS believed I could improve my score!!!!

So why the reiteration of points 1 and 10? Because I believe the right attitude is a must in prepping for this exam. And if you believe you can do well and throughly prepare, well is EXACTLY how you'll do!!


  1. Thank you Path! That was the advice I needed.

  2. Hi! You have no idea how appreciative I am of your post - and I know EXACTLY what popular site you are referring to. I hate it. It is like a horde of negativity-spewing, discouraging people and, frankly, I doubt that most of them are who they post they are or that they do what they post they do. Thank you for being positive and encouraging - something all of us premeds need in heaps!

  3. You're all are quite welcome! And Mi, you were who I had in mind when I wrote that post! But I forgot to mention the materials I used, primarily TBR but toward the end when my learning became more efficient, I mixed in the EK materials too! I actually only did a couple AAMC exams finding my time better focused on knowing the material/studying.

  4. Again, thanks sooo much for posting this! I most definitely needed and will use this. CONGRATS!!!!

  5. thanks for this positive post. very motivating and inspiring!