april mcat - to be or not to be?

firstly, i’m dreading the mcats.
i’ve studied for it previously but didn’t take it cause i was only getting 27’s on the aamc practice tests.
having gone through all the aamc material, reviewed with EK books i don’t have anymore really good practice material and have been looking at the ones i’ve practiced with previously. i’m running out of steam. all the stuff that i studied and learned now are vague and forgotten. my worst section is verbal. when i retook the aamc practices i got for the most part 10’s on ps and bs but lowly 7’s and 8’s on vr. (this is even after remembering the passages) in most of the verbal practices, i ran out of time and didn’t even finish the last passage. the new practice scores are definitely inflated cause i remembered some of the answers to the ones i missed even though i didn’t see these since last summer. i’m seriously thinking of postponing the test again for the 4th time. but at this point i’m just sick and tired of this.
i need some advice from someone out there who’s been through this. i’m shooting for a 35. (being in my early 30’s and not having made much of my life, i realize killer mcat is my only ticket to med school). any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

To be honest you do NOT need a 35 as a non-trad to get into medical school who ever told you that? sure a 35 will not hurt but many of us are in medical school with scores lower then a 35. I think that if you are getting high twenties on your practice MCAT this is great! I have no idea why you think that you are not ready yet?

i want to go to a strong medical school. i know that you have to have at least a 30 to be competative in most schools. so i figure a 25-29 won’t cut it.
the thing that gets me is the verbal section. i just don’t get the trick questions. what am i doing wrong?
i went through all the aamc’s 3-7. how the heck do people get 33’s? geez.
i feel like crying.

Hm…let’s see if we can work together and figure out what’s getting you off track.

What happens in your head when you use these two EK tips:

1. When in doubt, think of the main idea.

2. While you read the passage, build a picture of the author sitting in front of you. Get to know him or her. Let that voice speak to you out of the questions.

Do those work for you? For me, those were the best ones.

I know EK recommends going back over the verbal passages after the exam and writing down the main idea for each one. How did that go for you?

It does seem as if there is one or more TECHNIQUE for thinking about the verbal that’s not working for you quite yet, and if you can nail it down, you can get those extra two or three points you want. So, talk to me. We’re here to help each other. You’re not that far from where you want to be!

AAMC just released Test 8, but before you go there, let’s kick around verbal technique a little.

ok, so
1. when i run into a question that i absolutely have no idea on, i ask myself given the chances, which one would the author most want to expound upon? usually i REALLY have to use my imagination…and still get it wrong.
2. when i try to do that i usually get tripped up by the long sentences and convoluted flow of ideas and get completely lost…then i panic because i’ve wasted the last 3 minutes reading something i don’t understand…then at that point i’m so paniced i don’t know if i should reread it or go on to the questions.
most certainly, i don’t get the main idea…especially in ones that are really badly written (sort of like egyptian hyroglyphics)…when i run into those types of passages, i realize it and i freak out and can’t refocus and try to read it again. it’s either the vast amount of seemingly disconnected information that’s presented in the passage that panics me or i become overly conservative and try to understand every aspect that mars my reading and at the end i still end up not understanding or coming away with an erroneous main idea.

funny thing is when i’m relaxed and not under the pressure of the clock …(i.e. when i’m sitting in the bathroom doing #2 and looking over the passages, i understand it alot clearer…maybe it’s the lighting in the bathroom or some freaky fung shua in the bathroom…who knows).

i got my hands on aamc 8 but i’m debating whether i should even try it or save it for this summer.

Okay, so I’m going to suggest something really stupid here, but I honestly think it’s worth a try.
Go in the bathroom with a couple of passages and read them like you don’t give a … rip … and then ask the imaginary author, "Yeah, but what’s the point, you big windbag?"
Then try to write down a main idea.
Then come out of the bathroom with your written main idea and see if the questions make more sense. And when you get one, chant to yourself, “You’re so sly, but so am I!”
Because it sounds like most of your trouble is nerves. Okay, nerves are a big and daunting issue and they are holding you back. But if you understand the passages better in the bathroom than you do at your desk, then there’s nothing wrong with your reading skills or your smarts or anything. This is GOOD news! We just have to get that potty attitude working at your desk!
(And I’ll tell you a little secret: I don’t understand the passages perfectly, either. They pick passages like that on purpose to mess with your head. I say after the MCAT let’s go and find those people, tie them up, and read them long, intimate passages from our o-chem textbooks.)
I have some serious ideas in here, and some jokes, all mixed in because I honestly think if you can break the tension you’ll be in much better shape. It doesn’t mean I’m not taking you seriously. It’s just that I think a good laugh (or a weak tolerant laugh if that’s all my lousy jokes can inspire) can often help break that deadlock of fear and get your mind working at peak efficiency again.

thanks for the suggestion…
i tried it and i got slightly better outcome but it’s hard to tell since the ones i practice on are all ones that i’ve already seen (not very objective).
the main idea that i write down are sometimes totally off the mark or not quite what they had in mind.
i’m so freaking disappointed at this point, i need pep talk…today i tried to do the bio sec from 5r and during the last 20 minutes i just flat out lost total interest…more like indifferent to the whole thing and sort of saw how much of a looser i really am …i mean sure i want to go to med school and in order to do that i need a strong mcat performance but after studying and prepping 4 times already…i don’t see any improvement if marginal…part of me is eternally hopefull just like the beginning of each baseball season…but another part of me is really getting sick of all this studying without any improvement…i don’t know what i’m missing…i think it’s the way i attack or percieve the test…something very fundamental in my outlook that puts me into a certain mindframe without me even knowing that gets me to the same scores…25-29 range.
i especially hate the fact that i miss stupid questions cause i wasn’t carefull or thinking clearly doing simple elementary level math…when i ponder why and how i can eliminate such errors only thing i can do is resolve that i’ll be more carefull next time…but end up making the same type of mistakes (what ends up happening is i become overly paranoid and slow way down and still make the same type of errors or see that i’m running out of time and start to rush and make errors that way). i’m at my wits end.
i’m crying inside now…cause i know in my bones no matter how hard i try i’ll most likely get a 26/27 if lucky on the real mcat…with only a week away…i feel like dejavu…starting to think of postponing for the 5th time till august. i’m such a freaking looser. i can understand how some people can entertain thoughts of suicide at times like this.

Okay, here’s the thing. I honestly don’t think an 8 on verbal is going to send you to the showers. You may have to apply broadly; you may have to apply to a lot of DO schools since they’re reputed to be more likely to look at things other than just your test scores. But you don’t have to crawl in a hole and hide in shame. Look at the percentile rank next to those scores! A lot of med school applicants scored lower than you did. So did a lot of doctors. Besides, your BS and PS scores look VERY solid.
If you have grades, have some volunteer work, have something to talk about in interviews that make your eyes sparkle, you still have some great chances. If you don’t have those things, well, heck, you can still get them after you put this exam to bed! Remind yourself that if you get a 27 or 28, it’s NOT OVER. You can move forward with that and become a doctor. Heck, pretend it’s a practice exam. It’s not like you’ve TAKEN the MCAT 4 times and have a bunch of scores to explain. A first score of 27 or 28 is decent, nothing to be ashamed of, and you can run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.
I have been obsessing over my scores because I’m FORTY-one and I want to stay here in Milwaukee, which means getting into ONE medical school right here. And at that my advisor just told me to get a grip on myself and quit worrying. I’m sorry if I have added to your anxiety at this crazy time in our lives. We’re BOTH going to be okay.
If you’re coming to the conference in DC, I’ll buy you a drink. I think we BOTH need to cut ourselves some freakin’ slack!
Now go out there and blacken some circles!

I just went to http://mdapplicants.com and searched for MCAT greater than 26 and less than 29, not selecting for any other criteria. Out of the people who BOTHERED TO REGISTER THERE, there were 374 ADMISSIONS in the last two years with those scores.
Please consider this a big fat chill pill. I am also sending you a big hug, just because I need one, too.

I think there are a lot of assumptions built into your examination of your own MCAT score:
that you depend on it, because you "haven’t made much of your life"
that you need to go to a competitive med school
and probably more…
and also a lot of psychological factors going into your performance–like that you get the verbal sections better when you are relaxed…
and you even mention contemplating suicide, which is really serious business, and even when said off-handedly makes me really worry about your health. I hope that you are doing OK and that you are safe.
All of these sorts of things are things we all struggle with–but sometimes we beat them and sometimes they beat us. It sounds like right now these kinds of things–nothing to do with raw knowledge or academic ability, everything to do with values, cognitive frameworks, and emotional states–are beating you.
As a result, I strongly recommend that you consider counseling/therapy to help you start to beat these things back and start believing in yourself outside of the scores and the practice tests and the stress. As I would recommend to most OPMs, and as I have done myself.
Good luck.

…and 295 admissions with scores ranging from 24 to 27.

i was looking at that website…and saw that out of those only a dozen or so were actually between 31-40…that’s a steep dive in numbers …also most of those were accepted into OD not into allopathic schools…but i hear what you’re saying…from what i’ve seen on that website…for us nontrad premeds…even if we score a 45 and have strong gpa…odds are stacked against us to get into a top notch allopathic program. i guess i should get accustomed to looking at some no name OD programs or one of those carribean med schools where they accept anyone with a heartbeat.

I am not sure what you consider “top notch” but many non-trads are in great schools (Joewright at the big H comes to mind) and any school is top notch if you want to get your MD/DO. The bottom line is that you will be treating patients no matter where you go…


i was looking at that website…and saw that out of those only a dozen or so were actually between 31-40…that’s a steep dive in numbers …also most of those were accepted into OD not into allopathic schools…but i hear what you’re saying…from what i’ve seen on that website…for us nontrad premeds…even if we score a 45 and have strong gpa…odds are stacked against us to get into a top notch allopathic program. i guess i should get accustomed to looking at some no name OD programs or one of those carribean med schools where they accept anyone with a heartbeat.

Hey, I don’t think it’s true that the odds are against non-trads or that there’s some huge disparity in the quality of medical schools. They’re all really good. Just do your best and see where that takes you. You don’t need a 45 on the MCAT either!
As far as that website–take it with a grain of salt. I don’t think it proves anything that a small percentage of accepted applicants are in the age category you mentioned. Fewer people apply from that category!


what i’ve seen on that website…for us nontrad premeds…even if we score a 45 and have strong gpa…odds are stacked against us to get into a top notch allopathic program. i guess i should get accustomed to looking at some no name OD programs or one of those carribean med schools where they accept anyone with a heartbeat.

To begin with, are you sure you’re nontrad? I mean, you may be a nontrad chronologically, but have you really grown up yet?
DO (not OD), or osteopathic medicine, is equivalent to allopathic with additional training. Please do not refer to it as ‘some no name OD program’.
And, if you have good MCATs and good gpa, and present yourself in a potentially professional manner, you will get accepted into medical school. Many of our members are in top schools, from Harvard to Mayo to others with acceptances to places like Johns Hopkins. And yes, many of us are in osteopathic schools. The funny thing is, when we get done, we are all doctors.
Please try to show more respect for your possibly future colleagues.

I can say that Harvard has some people with low MCAT scores; and it has a few people who put so much importance on things like scores and rankings that they start to lose perspective; but there is no one here who has a combination of the two. You are in a position where you need to change one or the other.

I would suggest that changing the second will have many benefits to you, including a great likelihood of increasing your scores by reducing your anxiety about test-taking and allowing you to improve your own ability to assess and correct your own performance deficits.


i just took the ek 2f today and to my dismay got ps9, v6 (a stupid 6!!) and i didn’t even bother with the the bio cause i’m sure i’d most likely get a 10 or maybe a 11. i think the fact that i couldn’t find a really quite place to take it didn’t help (took it in a library…lots of foot traffic and talking…when did the thought of library = silence become obsolete?) part of me still wants to take it this saturday, but i can read the writing on the wall. feel like the last 3 months was a complete waste. i’m so blaza. what i need is to be with people of like mind and goal…i’m realizing why it’s so hard to go at this alone…hard to sustain myself.
looks like i’ll be postponing … again.
i know…i’m a looser.

Hi there,
If you took your practice exam and you really felt like you were not ready, you are doing a wise thing by postponing taking the actual MCAT. This is not a test to take and re-take but a test to take when you feel ready.
You need to make an honest assessment of where your problems lie. Do you have a knowledge gap or are you having problems taking the test? Figure out what you need and get it shored up before you spend the money in registration fees for the next exam. If you have a true knowledge deficiency, then you need to work on the areas that are weak for you. If you are having problems getting yourself settled so you can concentrate on doing your best, find a way to de-stress.
Preparing for the MCAT is just that, test preparation. Whether or not you are fully prepared makes no statement about whether you are a “loser” or not. Either you are prepared or you are not. If not, then do what you have to do to get prepared.
Throughout you entire medical career, you will be largely educating yourself. Medical school provides the tools for you but you have to master the material. Your undergraduate coursework provided the tools for you but you have to get yourself ready for this exam.
Do a gut check and figure out where you stand. Once you know what you have to do, then get it done. Postponing until you are ready is good but do realize that you are never going to feel 100% ready but take the test when you feel that you can do your best.
Finally, let your practice test scores guide you in your preparation and do not focus so much on the scores as where you have deficiencies. The only score that really counts is the one that you get on the actual exam. No prep test can 100% accurately predict your score.
Do what you have to do and then take your shot. If you elect to do more preparation, make yourself a schedule and stick to it. Figure out what you need to do and get it done with careful assessment of your progress along the way. Having a study partner is good but in the end, you will be responsible for your own education. If you are a bundle of nerves and this whole process is making you crazy, talk this over with a good counselor who can give you some perspective and stress reduction tips. This process is stressful enough but your worth as a person is not tied into this. Take words like “loser” out of your vocabulary and replace them with “autodidat” (self-educated) and " well-prepared". Work on your focus and concentration too. You may find that you learn better in an environment where you expose yourself the the material aurally and visually. Learn to do concept-mapping and practice this. You are going to find that being creative in your learning will help you focus on being able apply the material to problem-solving.
Good luck

you know those words were really helpfull.
i realize now that it’s more about nerves with me…i think you hit it righ on the head when you mentioned “settling in”.
everytime i sit for a practice test i get overwhelmed by the ticking of the clock and i get flustered and rush through it inevitably leading to wrong answers which only adds to my frustration. I mean once i take the test and i sit down afterwards to go over the test i find it easier to solve the problems and don’t loose my cool. i think this is my biggest hurdle. this carries over especially to the verbal section where i feel so pressured by the clock half the time i’m preoccupied by the running clock rather then on the actual passage.
any suggestions on how i can overcome this? much thanks for all you’re feedback people…it’s good to know i’m not in this alone and that there are others in the same boat. good luck to all taking it this saturday.