My AMCAS Strategy

My AMCAS Strategy

I took the MCAT! After a lot of time studying and crazy family issues that threatened to derail my focus, I DID IT. Now it’s time to begin the application process. Did you know that you can begin the AMCAS application before you receive your MCAT score and actually before you even take the MCAT? The application opens up tomorrow (May 1st) and can be submitted in June for early evaluation. So if you are planning to take the MCAT this year and want to apply for Fall 2015, my suggestion is to start working on the application now. Many students take MCAT preparation courses during the Summer, so before studying for the exam consumes most of your energy and brain power it would be a great idea to get your creative juices working, submit your application and ask professors for letters of recommendation. Find more information at https://www.youtube.com/user/amcasinfo

My plan is to finish the application, determine if I need to take the exam again and if so add a future exam date to my application. My pre-med advisor said that schools will be able to look at my application with the current exam score. If they are satisfied with my first score they will send me a secondary application, if they would like me to have a higher score they will wait for my second exam scores to send me a secondary. Either way, I benefit. This may be a good strategy to consider if you have decided to take the exam again for a higher score.

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For those who require a little inspiration

Love this study encouragement. Definitely helped me refocus and remember the importance of training for the things that matter! With that said, I would not suggest going All Blacks in front of the testing room on the day of your MCAT.

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Logging Verbal Progress

Logging Verbal Progress

Here is what my notebook paper looks like. I think it has really helped me to organize how I study for the verbal section. Already I have seen some improvement. I went from scoring 6/7 in the verbal section to a 9. I know it’s not where I want to be, but progress feels good!

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My Verbal Study Plan

My Verbal Study Plan

It seems to me that verbal is one of those topics that is easier to ignore, and a little more vague to study. It is something that takes time and practice to master, and unfortunately many premeds try to cram for it, which just doesn’t work. Hey, it’s worth 1/3 of your total MCAT score, so it’s definitely worth your time!

Here is the chart that I promised before that maps out how I am studying for the verbal portion of the MCAT. I have started doing 3 passages a day in the morning. The first one I do untimed and really focus on integrating the strategies I’ve learned from the TPR Verbal Review Book. The point is to get all the questions correct and master using the strategies.

The next two I record the time it takes for me to complete the reading portion and time it takes for me to answer the questions. Right now I am just recording the time, in two weeks I will probably begin to push myself to go faster.

Then comes the hard part: Analyzing your responses. It’s one thing to know your score, it’s another thing to know why you got that score. Knowing what you did wrong and what you did right is essential to knowing what to do on the exam. When I go over my score for each passage, I focus on each question. In the end I write a short summary of the overall passage. My summaries tend to answer these questions:

1. Which question was easy for me and why?
2. Which question was hard (usually this is one I got wrong, but it doesn’t have to be), and why was it hard?
3. What did I do well over all?
4. What do I need to work on?

Like I said, it’s a slow process, but I’m already seeing better results in how I’m doing on individual passages. I’ve also noticed that it’s not a topic you can work on, stop studying for a while, and then expect to pick up where you left off. Consistency is key!

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My Progress

My Progress

So I know that I am behind in posting my MCAT study progress on this blog, but perhaps that’s because I’ve been too busy studying to post 😉 Or it could also be that I didn’t have my computer for a time which limited my ability to post a picture of my progress, or maybe I just wanted it to look fuller so I waited. Whatever the cause, here it is as of today.

You may notice that I have fallen behind in Physics. It’s true that most student studying for the MCAT have a weakness with Physics (I am definitely not an exception to this), but my main issue was that I was not understanding the lectures. The TPR teacher was great at teaching mechanics, but seemed everywhere when it came to electrostatics (I got an A+ in my electrostatics course and my husband has a masters in electrical engineering and optics), so I’ve decided to figure out a different route to study for these Physics topics.

As far as good news. I was able to sign up for an MCAT exam!!! There are very few states that are still offering seats for the 2014 exam, so I am grateful that I got in. I’m set to take it in March in the next state over. It’s a drive, but could have been worse.

Also to note, I removed my verbal section of the study chart. This is because I found that verbal need more attention, and a different type of attention that this chart was not able to do to record progress. I will include my verbal chart with the next post.

Closing comments: I am feeling accomplished for getting this far, but definitely know that the fight is not over. I need to see more improvement when it comes to my actual scores on practice exams and have a lot of facts to review and consolidate in my brain. So bring on the flash cards!

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Week 7-ish of My MCAT Study

Week 7-ish of My MCAT Study

Despite being behind on my study plan, I consider the amount that I studied last week an accomplishment. I completed 11 squares, which is equivalent to 11 days worth of material. I did all of this and took Sunday off from studying to volunteer and spend time with friends (I must admit that a TPR online system failure did account a little for this break, but I’m glad I took it regardless).

Despite the victory of completing nearly double MCAT material last week, studying definitely had it’s lows. First, carving out THAT much time to study and take care of other needs has been a challenge. My home could definitely use a mop and vacuum right now, and going to bed at 2am is taking me back to undergrad finals week.

Another low, was that I scored 23 on the TPR2 practice MCAT exam. This is my lowest score yet. It made me really question whether the amount I’ve been studying has made a difference. However, in retrospect the practice test did cover a lot of material I have yet to review in my study plan. I will probably take the test again after I’ve caught up with week 5 material and see how it goes.

As I look ahead towards next week, there is definitely still a lot of work to be done to meet my study goals. However, the challenge seems a little less daunting. Even though I am behind and experienced a few lows, I am proud of my accomplishments. My hope going into next week is that I will be able to accomplish even more. It’s tough, but I have learned that life is filled with detours and disappointments. Although swimming against the current is tiring and can really suck, overcoming the challenge makes you stronger.

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Holiday Meltdown

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s certainly been a busy holiday season for me. My husband and I left Christmas day to visit family in Mexico and just returned. My husband’s immediate family had not been in one place in about 7 years, so there was a lot of catching up to be done. Unfortunately, that also meant that I didn’t sit down to study for my regular 5hr/day schedule. It was more like a few minutes here and there, and so I’m too embarrassed to post my usually calendar update. Instead, I will try my very best to catch up this week and hopefully my study calendar wont look as pathetic next Tuesday. Fingers crossed. Let’s do this thing!

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