For those of you that don’t know, I’m currently finishing a one year post-baccalaureate premedical program at UVA. That means that I made a career change, and along with the other 27 people in my program, am finishing all of the undergraduate premedical requirements so that I can take the MCAT and apply to medical school. Most of us had not taken a science course since high school, so this past year was a big kick in the pants filled with chemistry, biology and physics. But it’s almost over!
I’ve gotten a few questions about what happens now so here’s the dealio:
I cannot being medical school this coming fall because the application process for this year has already finished, and I am not even taking the MCAT until June! Instead, I will take a year off and work (called a “glide year”) while applying and hopefully interviewing for medical schools so that I can start school in August 2015, fingers crossed.
The medical school applications open on May 1, and can be submitted starting June 3. This is all new to me, but it’s a WHOLE huge organized process run by AMCAS (American Medical College Application Services). There are deadlines and secondaries and fees (ohhh the fees) and lots of strategy. Main strategy: APPLY EARLY! So I’ll be working throughout May to make my application perfect and submit it the first day. I am so lucky to have a great advisor in this program with TONS of med school admissions experience helping me.
I will finish exams the first week of May, and I am scheduled to take the MCAT on June 5th. That gives me about a month to study and work on my application. After I take the MCAT I will be packing up my apartment and getting ready to start work! (More on those two things later.)
MCAT STUDY PLANS:
- As part of my post-bac program, we are given the Exam Krackers books as well as Audio Osmosis. I will be using those primarily to review and study! We are also given the 8 (I think 8?) official practice tests. These are great because they are actual old MCAT tests.
- We have 12 optional group sessions with an MCAT tutor. These are great for practice problems, going over strategy, and asking questions.
- Overall, my strategy is PRACTICE PROBLEMS! I’m going to try to take a practice tests every 3 days in May, and then work on problems and reviewing material on the in between days. I’ll need to get myself on a good schedule, making sure to treat this like work and not just a “oh I can wake up whenever and get some studying in” month. That’ll be my biggest challenge!
From what I’ve heard (and you people that have taken the MCAT already can correct me and please offer advice!) the test is LARGELY a reasoning tests and only tests very basic science knowledge. While you definitely need to know the science, much of it can be figured out through the passages if you can reason well.
That being said, it’s a different style test than I’m used to! Most of the science problems aren’t just straight forward questions like I’m used to, but rather given as a passage with questions after it. Learning to answer those kinds of questions is a big part of studying.
I’m nervous, but also kind of excited to study, take practice tests, and hopefully see improvement!! It’s hard to apply to schools without knowing what score I’ll even have. There is a large difference between applying to schools with a 30 vs a 38 on the MCAT! (It’s out of 45 and generally a 30 is what you want to get to at least get accepted to a medical school. A 40 is freaking amazing and will give you access to many of the top tier school so long as the rest of your application is strong.) I am hoping that my last few practice tests will give me a good idea of the score I can expect.
So that’s that! 6 more regular school tests, then a teensy relaxation break to celebrate finishing my program, then hardcore MCAT for a month! THEN FREEDOM!!!