MCAT Results; Starting the Application Process

Heyyyy,

I apologize for the delay in posts, a lot has happened in the past couple months. I have completed the MCAT, applied to jobs and accepted a position as a server/bartender, started babysitting, and started volunteering at a Kaiser hospital. I am really excited to have a full schedule now that the MCAT and studying are over. I like keeping busy!

Let’s talk MCAT: Overall, I achieved a score of 30. PS 11/ VR 7/ BS 12. I am really disappointed with my verbal score because my verbal practice tests averaged around the 10 range — but I knew I messed up in the exam. Even with all my practice, I was anxious during the test and spent too long on the first passage and messed up my timing for the rest, which only increased my anxiety. I was calm and focused for the science sections though, which will hopefully make up for verbal reasoning.

PLEASE, for all you out there studying for the MCAT, realize that so many things go into doing well on the real exam. Prepare with practice tests as much as you can and don’t waste too much time on one section.

Additionally, it is that time when the pre-health committee at Hamilton is asking for my resume, self-assessment, and first draft of my personal statement. The good news is, I was hired to be a server at a new restaurant in the beginning of February! I have worked at many different places (a coffee shop, a cafe, a law firm, dental offices, etc). I’ve really enjoyed working in a restaurant setting and I am starting to take on additional shifts as a bartender — so that’s exciting (trying to pay for med school soon).

Currently, I am going through an internal debate on whether I should apply now, for Fall 2016, or wait yet another year for Fall 2017. Going to school in Fall 2016 is ideal because I am so excited to go back to school and start learning, that waiting until 2017 feels impossible. On the other hand, because I was previously pre-dental, my internships and shadowing experience are not relevant for medical school. I just started volunteering at a nearby Kaiser hospital and I will start to shadow a DO there soon. My concern is that it will be cutting it too close to when I need to apply to schools if I want to be at the top of the application pool.

Let me know your thoughts/advice, working through this process is not easy.

Best,

Erin

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Getting Accommodations for the MCAT: Is it Possible?

I have done a lot of research on getting accommodations for the MCAT and I have seen threads on Student Doctor Network and other sites which state that accommodations are nearly impossible to get. Also, many people seem to have the opinion that if an individual needs accommodations, they will not be a good doctor, because doctors don’t get accommodations in the real world. The argument against accommodations for those that need it is limited and obtuse. I would like to put in my two cents on this topic:

First, let me just say that I was approved for accommodations on the MCAT by the AAMC. It is a long process to apply, which includes supporting documentation and it is not easy. The AAMC makes people jump through hoops to get approved (and in many ways, rightfully so because they want to make sure the individual actually needs the accommodation) and you must be organized and timely to make sure you have everything you need.

AAMC Website Accommodations:                                                                                                         https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/accommodations/application/

I believe that if one truly needs accommodations for one reason or another, they can receive them. The AAMC requires that any circumstance leading to accommodations such as extra time, a separate room, magnification, etc, is well documented in the individual’s educational history. I was diagnosed with a processing disability that slows my reading speed and mental math immensely.

It is expensive to get professional documentation on learning disabilities. Though I had some signs of a learning disability in elementary school that were documented, I did really well in school in middle and high school, which allowed my family and me to overlook my processing speed. The only times that my processing speed proved an issue was under strict time constraints and specifically for state standardized tests throughout middle and high school, which showed scores way below what my GPA would have suggested. When I was a junior in high school, my writing teacher, Mr. Wilson, asked me to take the AP Writing test even though I was not in the AP class. He knew that I was able to produce an essay within time constraints (writing, dishing out content, but not reading based), but he asked how I did on tests otherwise. I told him multiple choice tests and passage-based tests were particularly hard for me because I don’t have enough time to read everything. He suggested I get tested by an educational psychologist for any learning disabilities I might have. I am fortunate enough to have a mom that was able to pay for such testing, which can be a couple thousand dollars.  With the proper documentation, I was approved for time and a half on the SAT, but not for the ACT.

Let me say that with the extra time my score increased by 400 points on the SAT with no additional studying; this was a major indicator that I really did need extra time to get through the test to be on an equal playing field. For all those that are thinking, ‘well I would have done better with extra time too,’ think again. Because most people are able to get through exams and if they had extra time would be able to labor over difficult questions and get a few extra points, but generally the score would not have such a significant increase as mine, and others who truly need the accommodations, had.

Now, let’s think about the socio-economic issues related to this topic. Due to the high price tag on getting professional documentation along with all the expenses of taking the MCAT and applying to medical school, getting into medical school is made particularly difficult. For many individuals, it is intangible even if they have the mental and emotional capacity to become a physician. It is amazing how many hoops pre-meds need to jump through to get into medical school, and it is not all indicative of how intelligent someone is or how good of a doctor that person will be. I wish it was easier to filter out the people that would be good doctors from the people that simply have the money and want the title. There are many individuals that go to medical school for all the wrong reasons, and I only hope that the individuals that don’t have the luxury to not worry about expenses (my apologies for the double negative) and working while making their way towards their goals will have a chance. This is related to accommodations because I know there are many people out there that don’t have the means to get accommodations or that have a learning disability that has been overlooked.

The purpose of writing this post is to answer any questions someone might have on applying for accommodations as well as tell people that though I received accommodations on the MCAT, in no way do I believe that it will hinder my ability to be a good physician.

Best,

Erin

2 Comments

Filed under MCAT

What I Plan to Read in 2015

This list has a mix of medicine related books as well as physics, mystery, fantasy, and a few other genres. I am excited to be able to read the books I choose rather than what my professors or teachers tell me to read, and before I go to medical school, one of my goals is to read as many books on all different topics as I can. For me, this is an ambitious list and I know it will be hard to read everything before year end, especially complete book series such as Game of Thrones, but I’d like to at least start it! The stand alone books should be easier to read and get through. I will definitely alternate between books because I am used to reading so many different things in college that I don’t like to read just one book at a time. Right now I am reading Cuckoo’s Calling, A Discovery of Witches, Relativity and The Checklist Manifesto. Some of these books I have read before so they will be a re-read, some I started and did not finish, so they are a re-start.

THE LIST:

  1. Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) (currently reading)
  2. Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of Conventional Healthcare by Larry Molerba, DO
  3. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande (currently reading)
  4. Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
  5. Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen
  6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (re-start)
  7. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R.R. Martin
    1. A Game of Thrones
    2. A Clash of Kings
    3. A Storm of Swords
    4. A Feast for Crows
    5. A Dance with Dragons
  8. A Discovery of Witches Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
    1. A Discovery of Witches (re-read)
    2. Shadow of Night (re-start)
    3. The Book of Life
  9. Relativity: The Special and the General Theory by Albert Einstein
  10. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
  11. We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley
  12. The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson
  13. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
  14. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (re-read)
  15. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  16. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
  17. Cooked by Michael Pollan (re-read)
  18. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
  19. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  20. Waking Up by Sam Harris
  21. The Giver by Lois Lowry (re-read)
  22. How Dogs Love Us by George Berns
  23. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  24. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  25. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  26. Harry Potter Series (audiotape) by J.K. Rowling and read by Jim Dale (for walking and running)

What will you be reading?? I’d love to know, comment below 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The MCAT is done. What next??

On Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 I took the MCAT for the first (and hopefully only) time. I was studying for about 4 solid months and I feel so relieved to finally be finished. My boyfriend was able to come all the way from Boston and visit me, which made me feel so supported and special. I think the most important thing besides having a structured study routine, is to feel supported by family/friends/significant others while in the struggle. I now have to wait along with all those other pre-meds for a month to get my results. I feel relatively confident with how I left the exam, but I am obsessing about problems that I know I got wrong! It is painful to wait, but I am looking forward to seeing my performance so that I can be realistic about my next steps towards getting into medical school. In the mean time, I am going to be focusing on bettering myself via running/working out, and getting clinical experience for medical school and finishing my overall application.

Now that I am finished with the MCAT, I am starting to get down to business by doing the following:

  1. Get hired: I need to get a job so I can get paid (muy importante).
  2. Shadow a DO: I am late on deciding to apply to medical school, so this needs to happen soon!
  3. Volunteer at a hospital/clinic: Again, I need the volunteer/clinical experience to better prepare me for med school.
  4. Work on my personal statement/application: Working with the pre-health committee at Hamilton.
  5. Shadow a homeopath/chiropractor: For a better understanding of alternative/holistic medicine different from DO.
  6. Work on learning Spanish: Much of my family on my dad’s side speak Spanish and it’s time for me to join in on the fun. Rosetta Stone, here I come. Whoot whoot!
  7. Run my first half-marathon: I am training with my great friend, Dani, for my first half-marathon and am trying to run up to 15 miles before so that the race will be easy, breezy.

Upcoming Posts:

  1. Getting Accommodations on the MCAT
  2. Books I plan to Read in 2015

Please let me know how your MCAT experiences went or if you have questions! I would also love feedback on what types of posts you all would like to see from me in the future.

Cheers,

Erin

IMG_5381

Alexander & Erin, Post-MCAT

Leave a comment

Filed under MCAT, Medical School Application

Study Techniques for Success

Hello All,

As I have said before, my study habits in high school and college were weak. I have looked up advice for concrete study techniques and I have found a couple of things that I’ve been trying and that seem to work! As my last post was a reblog about this very topic, you all can just read that post and get Med. School Queen’s tips.

Ok, so my MCAT is in two weeks!! January 13th is the big day and I am starting to get down and dirty with the topics that I don’t quite have down. I am also starting to have panic attacks, but my dog helps calm me down (clearly this post is an excuse to put up a picture of my puppy).

IMG_5342On top of doing practice MCATs from AAMC and Gold Standard, my main study technique has been to make question and answer based study guides (pictures below) in which I go through chapters and study guides and write questions on one side of a piece of paper and answers on the other side. I started doing this after watching Andrea Tooley’s YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnLdugUzYyY) and reading her blog (http://a-doctor-in-the-house.com). The paper is folded down the middle so I can easily quiz myself and have other people quiz me. I also just got a dry erase board (black with neon markers!) so I can go through these study guides and quickly write down what I do and don’t know. This really forces you to articulate an answer so you don’t simply look at an answer right away and think: “Ok, I think I know this.”

IMG_5344(1)IMG_5345 I did this mostly for biology and equations because they are memorization based. I then went through topics I got wrong on practice MCATs and made the question/answer sheets for those as well. I am really excited to have found something so simple, yet so effective and I know I will continue to do this in medical school.

IMG_5346-1

For those of you about to take the MCAT, good luck and I hope this post helps! Back to studying I go….

3 Comments

Filed under MCAT, Study Techniques

How To Study in Medical School

I have found that my grades in college were not reflective of my intelligence and interest in my classes. This is because I did not have the proper tools to study. If you need tips and tricks, read Med. School Queen’s new post about studying in med school. Best of luck to us all to get to the point of DO or MD!

MedMarketingMom

Hi guys!

So I know I’ve promised a blog, I just haven’t gotten around to it. I figured I’d have time during fall break, but here we are 🙂 A lot of you have been asking for new study methods, how life is in medical school, and how I’m managing my time, etc. so I figured this blog will be a hodgepodge of sorts hopefully covering everything. My study methods and habits have changed dramatically and by this I mean completely different from what I’ve ever done before. I took a class that teaches you specifically how to study for medical school and pharmacy school, whichever pertains to you and I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned how to schedule, take tests, study in general, organize my space and time, and balance my life so that I can spend time with my friends and family and do well in school. I’m gonna give…

View original post 2,313 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under reblogs

Book Review: This Won’t Hurt A Bit (and other white lies) by Michelle Au

Michelle Au, M.D. is author of a very well known blog called “The Underwear Drawer,” which is on my links page. She is an Anesthesiologist in Atlanta, Georgia and is married with two kids. Her blog has been super helpful so I decided to get her eBook: This Won’t Hurt A Bit (and other white lies). Overall, I thought it was a great introduction into the life of a medical student turned intern turned resident. She has a great sense of humor which comes through in the brief stories she tells. My biggest criticism of the book is that the vignette-type moments she described seemed too brief, it was almost like the whole book was a quick synopsis of her experiences — which was likely her intention. Her snip bits were great, but I wish she had dug a little deeper and went into more details about the various stages of medical school and beyond. I would have liked to have a better idea of what the first two years of medical school where like and more about her rotations as well as her experiences after getting her medical degree. I would still highly recommend this book because it was enjoyable and she managed to make me laugh and cry through her stories of how it felt to graduate medical school, what it was like to be scared and feel the gravity of each situation a doctor is placed in, and even where she was when the World Trade Center fell–and yet, she balanced this with a humorous tone that shows she doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Fortunately, Michelle Au did not just write this book, she chronicles her experiences on her blog and is the creator of “Scutmonkey Comics,” which are comics about medical stereotypes. Her book is a great supplement to her blog, but her blog is definitely a must read!

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.22.28 PM

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews