Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Different Approach

Now that I am in the midst of studying for the MCAT again, I have decided to reevaluate my approach and make some modifications.  Last year when I studied for this test I focused on assimilating as much information, and running through as many questions as possible.  This seemed to be an okay approach, but I still did not do as well as I wanted to.  This year I have decided to switch my approach.  Instead of trying to slam through tons of information as quickly as possible, I will do my review carefully with one thing in mind.  As I do the example questions, and practice tests I will extensively study why I have missed each problem and then categorize them into two different categories.

The first category will be for "silly" mistakes.  That label is sort of a misnomer, since any mistake technically isn't silly.  I expect to see a pattern emerge for the type of questions I miss in this category.  Most likely it will be due to a particular approach, missed conversion or not carefully reading what the question is asking. The second category will be for deficient knowledge.  These questions I will have to take, and review the particular subject matter that I am deficient on so that my knowledge base is complete going into test day.

The reason I decided to do this is because I feel like I subconsciously avoided subjects I didn't like or understand, and I rushed through many questions I missed with the simple explanation of "Oh that was dumb, I should have seen that stupid mistake.  I'll get it right next time lol."  In hindsight this is not a very good approach to studying for the MCAT, which is a test that purposely gives trick questions to test your knowledge.

I have already started this approach with my Chemistry review and after getting through 2/3 of the first chapter I am getting problems right, that used to challenge me.  This is all because I took the time to really look into why I missed the problem, and then carefully document it.  The going is slow right now, but I have a suspicion that these common "tricks" are going to keep popping up again and again.  Actually I know they will, since this will be the third time I will sit for the exam ><

I no longer believe that I am missing any of the fundamental knowledge necessary to take this exam.  Now I just need to refine my test-taking skills so that when I go into the test in May, I am ready to take the MCAT as they present it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Medical School

This year I worked hard to make it into Medical School, but alas it did not happen.  I scored one point below my average this time on the MCAT for a 29.  I was pretty happy with that, but I think it was a naive score to "settle" for.  Over the last year I have taken more courses, and I feel like I know so much more than before.

I decided to pick up this blog again more to document my struggle to get into medical school than anything.  I have been working towards this for almost five years now, and have been extremely serious for the last two and a half years.  I wish I was more serious from the outset, but that is water under the bridge now.

It is now mid-January and I need to start studying to take the MCAT a third time.  Most people have told me that 29 is good enough and that I shouldn't "risk" taking it again.  Honestly I am not satisfied with that number and I believe I can do much, much better.  Last year I had a pretty good study schedule, but I think I will be even more aggressive this time around.  It is going to require a sacrifice of nights and weekends, but I am okay with this.

The bitterness of getting rejected this year somehow galvanized my spirit into wanting to try even harder.  I want to prove to myself that I am able.  I want to prove to everyone who thinks I am full of crap, that I am not just "talk".   I have made solid steps, but I feel like it isn't enough.  The last 2.5 years I have maintained a 4.0 GPA, but somehow I feel like it is "too little too late".  Or course that is the self doubt seeping in. 

Last year I recorded a 7 point improvement from my first MCAT.  That is a huge difference when you think about it.  I know people who have taken the test several times and each time only had a variance of one or two points.  With the hard work I have put in over the last year, I feel confident that I can push it up another seven points.  That would put me at a 36, which is a score that a lot of the top tier schools would be impressed with.  I know my GPA would keep me out of those schools, but my goal isn't ivy league.  My goal is to be in Medical School, and I think that is very attainable with what I have already done.

When I called the admissions board after my rejection I also found out that I needed to Shadow more physicians.  Somehow I thought that being a medical interpreter in a clinic was just as good as shadowing, but I was wrong.  I am probably most bitter about this "weakness" than anything else in my application.  I still find it hard to believe that interpreting between doctors and patients in a clinical environment isn't as good as or even better than simple shadowing.  Deep down, I feel like I got shafted on this aspect and I will probably go to my grave believing that this assessment was extremely obtuse and short sighted.

With that being said, I also have to be practical about the whole thing, so guess what I will be focusing on this year?  You got it!  I will be shadowing as many physicians as possible.  In my next post I want to post a tentative study schedule that I will follow, that will allow me to maximize my time usage and help me attain the highest grade possible.

Folks!  For the next 5 months I am going to be LIVING the MCAT.