My Doctor Reading List

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MCAT prep

An important requirement for most medical schools in Canada is the MCAT, which is a mostly multiple choice based exam that covers biological sciences (biology and organic chemistry), physical sciences (physics and general chemistry), has a "verbal reasoning" section and a writing sample. I heard that in 2015 they are totally revamping the exam, however, as that is still like 4 years away, I'm not going to go into those details.

Anyway, given that currently I'm only taking Biology at the university level (and all the sciences will be tested on a first year university knowledge level) and the last time I took chem or physics was literally over a decade ago, I knew that I needed to take a course in order to prepare me for this exam.

A friend recommended one and said that you can go from zero knowledge (which is pretty much where I am in terms of knowledge) to a decent score.

I have to admit though that the MCAT is the one thing that really worries me. My GPA is ok, my extra-curriculars are decent (and I keep reading about stuff that others post and remember, oh yeah! I did that too! I also got that scholarship etc).

But the MCAT is a different beast and every school has a different requirement (along with their different GPA calculations). And its the one thing that is still undetermined and how I do on it will decide my fate. If I do poorly I may have to kiss my dream of med school goodbye. If I do well in some areas but poorly in others, I may have a chance at a school like U of T which only uses the MCAT as a flag (though still has a minimum requirement). Others like McMaster only look at the score of the verbal reasoning sections but then UWO has a strict MCAT score cut off (i.e. if you get even 1 point below their cut off you will automatically be disqualified).

I think MCAT wise, my best shot will be McMaster. I hope to do really well in the Verbal Reasoning section because its literally just reading a passage and then answering questions. Since I spent a lot of time reading in undergrad and also just for fun I've developed great reading skills (I'm good at picking up important info, I read fast etc). That being said, McMaster looks at ones cumulative GPA - of EVERY SINGLE university course ever taken. Which sucks because as part of my CA requirements, I had to take some online courses but I wasn't too concerned about doing well, I just wanted to pass. And I'm pretty sure most of the marks were in the 70s which will bring down my GPA quite a bit - and I'm nervous that I'll lose my competitiveness. For UWO on the other hand they calculate based on the best 2 years and my GPA there is quite high - but their MCAT cut off is very high and I'm nervous I won't do that well.

But I digress...back to the course itself. So far, its been good - but its also shown me that I'm quite behind in chemistry, especially. Plus I didn't love the teacher. He was nice and funny etc, and he's the only teacher I've had so far that is an actual medical student but he really rushed through it - some people (who've taken chem before) seemed fine but to me it was like he was speaking a different language. Sigh. It means more hard work for me.

The good news is though, that I've been so scared by all this stuff I'm definitely going to be intent on really learning it - whereas if I remembered a lot I think I'd probably get complacent.

Still, its going to be an uphill battle for sure.

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