MCAT Study Tips

November 10, 2014

MCAT Study Tips

  1. UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS TEST

Doing well on this test is important! It is not the only factor that determines a successful application to medical school, but it is a very important part of the application. Doing well on this test isnNot only for securing admission, but for securing admission and increasing potential for scholarships.   The cost of any MCAT prep course, qbank, or resource you purchase is an investment into your future. This is not the time to be economical. Paying $2000 for a live Kaplan class, could secure you the score that results in a full scholarship to medical school! It is well worth it.

 

  1. KNOW WHATS ON THE TEST

Before you can actually start studying for the test, you need to know the content.   Most students know that the MCAT tests knowledge of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, however, that’s not enough to know. It’s important to know specifically what concepts from those subjects you are responsible for knowing. Knowing the specifics will guide your studying. The AAMC details the specific subject matter that will be tested on the exam.

What’s on the MCAT 2015

COMPLETE MCAT 2015 content description:    (YOU MAY BE TEMPTED TO NOT LOOK AT THIS, DON’T YIELD TO THE TEMPTATION. KNOWING WHAT’S ACTUALLYO N THE TEST IS WELL WORTH YOUR TIME. IF THE AAMC THOUGHT IT WAS NECESSARY TO PRODUCE A 120+ PAGE DOCUMENT WITH WHAT’S ON THE TEST, IT BEHOOVES YOU TO LOOK AT IT)

 

  1. SET OUT TIME TO STUDY.

It’s recommended that students devote 4 – 6 months to prep for the exam.

Arrange your academic schedule so you have adequate time to study. As much as is possible take a lighter courseload during the semester during which you will be studying for the test. So, if your schedule for next semester has more than 15 credits, and the majority of those credits are science courses, consider swapping one for a general education/ prerequisite that will be not take up too much of your time. Plan to study every day and devote more time on the weekends.

 

  1. PREPARE MENTALLY

You will need to prepare mentally before you embark on this journey. The preparation isn’t just for you, its for your friends a nd family who will neglect for the 4-6 months during which you will be studying.   You have to be diligent about your MCAT study time; it can’t be negotiable.

 

5.  DECIDE WHEN YOU’RE TAKING THE TEST

There are 14 test dates for the 2015 MCAT, from April to September, attached is a copy of the schedule  and when scores will be released.  A select few of you may be able to take the May test, but that would require you to prepare NOW! If your schedule for the upcoming spring semester doesn’t permit ample time to study for they test, do not plan to take it ” and see what happens”. It is doable to get good preparation in between November and May, but you would just have to be diligent, disciplined and start now and have a schedule that would permit that.

 

If you are considering taking the July/ August test

1.  What else do you have planned for the summer? As much as possible, try to dedicate the whole summer to those final 2 months of test prep.  ( I say final two months of test prep because you should not be starting to study for the test during the summer.  If you can remotely afford not to work, don’t work.  I would not plan to do research during this time.  One feasible option to consider is to get some shadowing experience in. Anything other than that may prove to be too time consuming and will take you away from studying for the test.

2.  How will you study?  Prep class or on your own with materials.  If financially feasible, I would recommend a prep class.  The investment is worth it.

 

If you  are considering taking the May test

1.  Will you have a light enough schedule to study during spring semester?  If you won’t have time to study, don’t plan to take the test.

2. Is it more important to you to have the opportunity to take the test again or to have more time to prepare?  Keep in mind that there will only be about 9 weeks from the time the May MCAT scores come out (on June 30) and when the September** test is administered, so if you’re thinking that taking it in May gives you time to retake the test; it does, but there will only be about 9 weeks, so there really won’t that that much time to study.  There would only be time to address areas where you had specific deficits.

**I say September test, because by there is a possibility that by the time the May scores come out on June 30, there may not be enough time to register for the August test.  Registration dates have not yet been published**

 

6. MAKE A SCHEDULE!

In order to know where you’re going you need some direction, a roadmap, a guide. Same with MCAT studying. You can’t just decide, OK, today I’m going to study biology and then pick up your book , read for 2 hours and then close it. In order to cover all the concepts tested, it’s important to know what you specifically aim to cover within a period of time ( per day  or per week) You can create a weekly schedule, or you can go further and plan out what you hope to cover every day.   I would recommend studying for at least one solid hours per day with more on weekends and during breaks.  Utilize test prep materials now concurrently as you do your coursework.

 

7. DO TONS OF QUESTIONS

Do tons of questions, and then do them again. You want to familiarize yourself with the test, the testing environment and the material. Kaplan, Princeton Review, Exam Krackers all offer an online question bank. I would recommend that students buy the qbank in about 6 months before you hope to take the test and work on the questions during the school year. I would also recommend incorporating full length practice tests into your study schedule, especially as the actual test date nears and in light of the fact that test is about 7.5 hours long.  There is currently a full length new MCAT practice test on the AAMC website. I would do it, and do it again, and do it again. An additional one will be available in the new year.

 

8.  USE YOUR TEST PREP MATERIALS NOW

Use your test prep materials for your current coursework.  That way you familiarize yourself with the information and can apply the concepts to what you’re currently doing in class.  Obtain test prep materials during Thanksigiving and christmas break and use them along with text books and other resources now and during the spring semester.

 

To Do List

- Obtain the AAMC official MCAT 2015 guide

- Order Kaplan / Princeton Review / Exam Crackers Online course or plan to take a live course during the summer.

(Kaplan has live classes that you can attend online, that start as early as November 15th)

- Get a qbank

- Obtain the AAMC MCAT 2015 Practice test

- Set up a schedule

 


Prepping for the MCAT 2015

November 5, 2014

Current juniors who are preparing to apply to medical school during the Summer of 2015, with hopes of starting professional school in August 2016 are faced with the unique challenge of the “new MCAT”.

As most of you know, the MCAT is changing in length, content, and scoring.   The first administration of the new MCAT will be April 2015, with 14 scheduled test dates, between April 2015 and September 2015. One important question many students have is : how will I gain knowledge of the new subjects that will be represented on the test. Here are a few options and resources.

 

General Test Prep Recommendations

- For junior students planning to take the May or August exam, I would recommend that you obtain test prep materials to use during the school year.  Have a lighter load for the upcoming spring semester to allow yourself time to be able to study adequately for the test.   Take tons of practice questions / tests!  One deterrent for students when considering test prep materials is cost.  This is an investment in your future!  The cost of an MCAT prep course, question bank, books, etc.  will be well worth it when you secure a stellar score and are offered a scholarship for medical school :)

Here are a few resources:

  1. *MCAT Foundations In Biochemistry and Behavioral Sciences Course *

- Option for junior students who have not yet taken biochemistry and are planning to apply for medical school in Summer 2015.

- Online course

- Cost: $1099

- Course is offered in two segments from October 28, 2014 – March 7, 2015

 

  1. Khan Academy Video Series

- Especially prepared to fill the gaps in the knowledge base of students preparing to take the new MCAT, since new material is being covered.

- Created the Khan academy in conjunction with the AAMC

 

  1. Practice tests for the new MCAT

AAMC MCAT 2015 practice test

- Full length test with answers and explanations

- Second full length practice test will be available in 2015

AAMC MCAT 2015 Information guide with 120 practice questions and answers

- Available as a supplement of the MCAT 2015 information guide and also available separately for $10.

 

4. Meded icollaborative lectures

 

Additional Resources

AAMC: How to I prepare for the 2015 MCAT

FAQs about the MCAT 2015

Biochemistry Lecture Series

Biochemistry of Premeds

 

 

 

 

 


It Is Finished!

October 2, 2014

“I have finished the work, which You have given Me to do.” —John 17:4

Medical Doctor or Nurse Theme Graduation Cake Stethoscope _amp_ Syringe

Greetings future healthcare professionals!

After a very long hiatus, I am very happy to share with you the update on my journey as a medical student.

To those who have been following my journey, thank you for your support and kind words, spoken and unspoken. One of the many things I learned during my matriculation through professional school is that support is paramount. No man is an island, and if one tries to be, one area of your life will suffer for it. In short, ask for help when you need it. Seek a mentor, a therapist, a friend, a pastor, a financial advsior, and certainly seek God.

I have seen firsthand how not seeking help can be detrimental because I went through it myself. One reason for my silence in posting during my fourth year of medical school is due to an incident that occurred at the end of my third year.

After completing my third year clinical rotations in London, U.K, I realized I had some time left over to partake in a voluntary international elective. I am interested in global health and plan to volunteer as a medical missionary for at least a few weeks a year. For the first time, I was also in a prime location geographically to travel to Africa cost-effectively. As with all my major decisions, I wasted no time to research and sign-up for an amazing opportunity to rotate thru an inner-city hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with Work The World. I chose two weeks in Pediatrics, two weeks in OBGYN and one week in a faraway village. Those five weeks would take place in December/January, meaning I would be spending Christmas, New Years and my birthday in unfamiliar territory. How exciting!

Sub-Sahara Africa was definitely an eye-opener in more ways than one. I was emotionally taxed by the preventable deaths I witnessed due to the shortcomings of a 3rd-world healthcare system; however, I was increasing my medical acumen by being more hands-on with cases that are far more advanced in presentation than I would ever witness in the West. These cases included malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, HIV, gastroenteritis, viral illnesses, very premature infants, etc.

Then, the unthinkable happened. On December 26, 2012, I was preparing for a presentation that I volunteered to do for the residents. Unfortunately, my program’s accommodation did not have WIFI access so I went across the street to conduct my research. Only steps away from my home on my return, I rounded a corner and immediately saw the man who would attack me.

Let me preface by saying that only seconds before, a voice in my head told me to cross my cloth-bag, which contained my valuables, over my shoulders. I refused to listen because home was seconds away, but the voice was relentless. Therefore, I crossed my bag over my shoulder, and seconds later, the eyes of the man that would attack me is now burned into my memory. He reached out and grabbed my bag and my first reaction was to instinctively resist and scream. He pulled at my bag and I clutched it harder and screamed louder.

It was dusk, and the streets were filled with a large post-holiday crowd, marching down the street. I screamed in desperation for someone to help. Finally, I noticed a group of young men walking towards me. “Praise God,” I thought. They would help me.

To my utter shock and disappointment, instead of pushing my attacker away, they were also attacking me to try and get my purse. This brought attention to me, as a crowd of young men pushed, punched, and kicked me. Unfortunately, the extra attention brought on more vagabonds that were now removing my clothes in the middle of the street. In the end, there were about 20 men attacking me. I was numb and hovering above myself. I thought I would die that night. I just kept screaming, crying, resisting, and watching the gate of my home that was literally steps away, wondering why no one would help. Finally, out the corner of my eyes, I saw an old man yell something from afar in Swahili, waving them off, and just like that, all the men surrounding me dispersed, walking away as if nothing had happened. I never saw that old man again.

I limped home, crying, angry, disheveled, clothes tattered, clutching at my ripped handbag, which they were never able to take from me. That very night, I wanted to leave the country. I made plans to leave early after the necessary police/hospital/embassy runs, but changed my mind hours before my flight. I wouldn’t let those criminals win! I will finish what I came here to do! And I did.

The next three weeks in Tanzania resulted in my delivering 11 babies, saving a baby’s life that was born in distress, vaccinating a whole village, going on an amazing safari, swimming with dolphins and celebrating an unforgettable birthday. It was an extraordinary journey. However, the lingering post-traumatic stress was very evident when I commenced my fourth year in New York. Any man that walked towards me on the streets of NY were possible attackers. In such a crowded city, this was every day, and it affected my mood. I thought thru sheer willpower I could get through it. Unfortunately, it led to isolation and a depressed mood, which negatively affected my studies.   After much introspection, I decided I needed to take a step back, take some time off, recuperate, and seek help. This help came from my amazing church family in New York and although things were bleak on the outside, my renewed faith in God led to a calmer spirit.

I was worried about not graduating with my class, however, what kind of physician would I be if I didn’t take care of myself first. Studies show that a good number of medical students and doctors face depression or other mental health issues but keep it to themselves for fear of being an outcast and considered unstable. The results range from compromised healthcare delivery, troubled relationships, substance abuse and even suicide. The stigma has to end!

If you have read my previous posts on what it took for me to get here, you would soon understand that this journey was never meant to be simple for me. I was faced with major setbacks for years. It is not superhuman strength that allowed me to finish. It is a relentless tenacity and a remembrance of where God has brought me from in the past.

The song says: “I just can’t give up now. I’ve come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy, but I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me.”

He hasn’t left me yet, even when the enemy tries to whisper in my ear that God has. You are your worse enemy. Only you can extinguish your goals and desires. The moment you stop, it stops. I hope to encourage you that you may pause, but don’t ever stop. I was almost done with medical school when things went haywire. I was very discouraged and wanted to go into an eternal abyss and never come out. I plastered on a smile but inside I was shattered. My first semester thoughts of being an impostor came back full-throttle. But I was so close!

Therefore, like the last leg of a marathon on a hot, humid day, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

Step, step…pause…step, step…pause…step, sip some water…pause…step, step, final step…finish line!!!

I can proudly say that I am now Natacha Pierre, M.D, as of August 2014.

My journey is a living example of the old adage: “If I can make it, so can you!”

Godspeed!

~Tasha


Senior year timeline and and interview questions

September 15, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking at last week’s OBMA meeting. Heres some of the valuable information you missed.  Dr. Vanterpool and Dr. Moss provided their insights as well!  Please make an effort to attend the meetings arranged for your benefit!

For seniors, your prime focus is getting your AMCAS or AASDAS applications sent out, and preparing for interviews.  Attached you’ll find your tips and some questions for both traditional and MMI type interviews.

OU Fall Timeline – Senior

Feel free to contact us at healthou.org@gmail.com, with any questions.


Junior Year Timeline and Supplements

September 15, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking at last week’s OBMA meeting. Heres some of the valuable information you missed.  Dr. Vanterpool and Dr. Moss provided their insights as well!  Please make an effort to attend the meetings arranged for your benefit!

Juniors, this is an important year for you, tons to be done!. Two areas of emphasis for you are:  AMCAS activities and work page, and your personal statement. Attached are some questions to consider before you begin to write your personal statement and a sample AMCAS, activities and work experience page. The AMCAS activities and work experience section is a daunting section that will take more time than you think.  One way to save yourself the hassle is to start compiling a list of applicable experiences AS YOU DO THEM, rather than waiting till fall of your senior year to try and remember all the activities you participated in.  Attached is a sample activities and work page that you can save on your desktop and update as you engage in an extracurricular activity, while the number of house, project leader, and contact info, etc are still available .  Also, you can begin to reflect on the activities and start brainstorming ideas for a personal statement. Trust me, needing to fill out AMCAS is closer than you think!

 

OU Fall Timeline- Juniors


Sophomore Timeline and Sample AMCAS Activities Page

September 15, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking at last week’s OBMA meeting. Heres some of the valuable information you missed.  Dr. Vanterpool and Dr. Moss provided their insights as well!  Please make an effort to attend the meetings arranged for your benefit!

For sophomores, one additional focus for you should be beginning to/ continuing to be involved in extracurricular activities. The AMCAS activities and work experience section is a daunting section that will take more time than you think.  One way to save yourself the hassle is to start compiling a list of applicable experiences AS YOU DO THEM, rather than waiting till fall of your senior year to try and remember all the activities you participated in.  Attached is a sample activities and work page that you can save on your desktop and update as you engage in an extracurricular activity, while the number of house, project leader, and contact info, etc are still available .  Also, you can begin to reflect on the activities and start brainstorming ideas for a personal statement. Trust me, needing to fill out AMCAS is closer than you think!

 

OU Fall Timeline – Sophomore

Please feel free to contact us at healthou.org@gmail.com with any questions.


Freshman Timeline and Study Tips

September 15, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking at last week’s OBMA meeting. Heres some of the valuable information you missed.  Dr. Vanterpool and Dr. Moss provided their insights as well!  Please make an effort to attend the meetings.  Valuable information is shared that you don’t want to miss.

OU Fall Timeline – Freshman


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