My Doctor Reading List

Saturday, March 31, 2012

To write or not to write....

The MCAT. My nemesis.

I've been studying pretty hard for the past two weeks and honestly, things are not looking good. At all. In fact, I had a mini break down the other day because I realized I was falling pretty behind in my schedule and yet still couldn't figure out how to do those projectile motion physics problems. I just kept getting them wrong and all I could think about was how the prep course physics instructor kept reminding us that its a majorly important concept for the MCAT and serves as a foundation for future topics.

I realized how much I still have to learn, not just review and honestly, I know I can't learn it all before the exam. Its physically impossible.

Jordan thinks that I should just not write in April and post-pone it till August and I'm strongly leaning in that direction. But on the other hand, I have already paid for the test and won't get a full refund if I cancel- so I'm also leaning towards just writing it and basically treating it as a trial run. Who knows, I might get lucky (though that's wishful thinking - I think the same thing each time I buy a lottery ticket and so far, the most I've won was $120). I don't think it would be a wasted experience and I think it will keep me more focused to still study and not lose steam by having to write it in 4 weeks. But I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'm going to have to rewrite the goddamned thing. And that sucks.

I'm just realizing how major of an undertaking I've taken upon myself and however optimistic I was about doing it all in a year, its just not possible. I've had to reassess some of my goals. Like the Life Science pre-requisites for one university that I was planning on taking. I still have 1.5 full-time course equivalents to go and if I need to re-write the MCAT, there is no way that I'll be able to do them. So I may actually just end up NOT applying to the one university that I wanted to go to the most. But its that, or NONE, because if my MCAT sucks, I have no chances anywhere.

In any case, please send out good vibes my way on April 28th. Cause I'm desperately going to need them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And...panic!

Ok, so I'm officially starting to panic. The MCAT is just over 6 weeks away and I'm no where CLOSE to being prepared.

I mean, yes I have been taking my prep course but for so much of it I'm learning these concepts from scratch - they aren't a refresher for me like for some many people in my course who have done a degree in the sciences. And when I think about how the MCAT is a relative exam, it makes me panic more. How the HELL am I going to be competitive when I'm going to be up against people for whom this will be second nature?

Ok, I'll be honest. My studying (other than attending my course) has not been as good as it should have been. I think a lot has to do with knowing how to focus my studying. Should I be re-doing my readings? Just pounding out practice problems (which is difficult if I don't fully understand the concept)? A mixture of both? I just don't know and I was hoping that the course I'm taking would give us more in that department. So I've kind of been doing a bit of everything and its just not been effective. Plus I just haven't been putting in the amount of hours that I should have. I'm still volunteering twice a week, still have a family to take care of. Balancing it all has just not been easy. Its an excuse for sure - but excuses aren't going to get me into med school. I know that its not harder for me than other people, or at least its not THAT much harder. There are others who have had way more hurdles to over come and managed to succeed, so there is no reason why I shouldn't either.

So I'm going to start stepping it up a notch. I think my aim will be to focus on a subject a day and spend a part of the day redoing the readings and refreshing the concepts and the other part just pounding away at practice problems. I don't know if this is the best approach, but its AN approach and I need to stick to something now before its too late.

But I'm still really, really daunted by this and where I'm sitting right now I don't have a good feeling about it. I'm going to give it my best shot and if I do really terribly at least I can try again before this application cycle. Though I'm slowly preparing myself that I'm just going to end up trying again next year.

STUPID MCAT. Honestly, if it weren't for the MCAT I think I'd have a fighting chance, I really do. But I guess everyone has a weak spot that if eliminated, would give them a better chance too - and since I obviously can't change the system I have to accept it and make the best of it.

Anyway, if anyone out there is reading this and has ANY suggestions, please send them to me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning something new

One of the hardest things about this process is that I really have no one to ask for advice - that is, I don't have any real people friends who are going through it too to ask for or have volunteer information. So I rely a lot on forums and blogs that I read for tips. And hope that what I write will help others learn from my mistakes and things I've learned along the way.

And I have to say, I've actually learned a lot so far - and  wish  I had known a lot of these things before. Like today, for example, I learned that I can do my prerequisite courses as Pass/Fail - especially since I already have a degree and these courses I'm taking won't affect it.

I'm glad I found this out because it really takes the pressure off me for my 1.5 credit course requirement remaining for one university. Even though the grade I get wouldn't count for the one university that has the requirement, for another university in my top 3 the grades for every course ever taken at the university level count, whether or not taken as part of your degree. But taking it as Pass/Fail is win/win - I get the credit and it won't affect my GPA for ANY program. Also, lets face it but I think a Pass looks way better than a 60. Both lead to credit for the course but a 60 = crap and Pass can mean anything - and the university can't judge you on it. Also, I ran the numbers and even if I did amazing on my 1.5 remaining course requirements (4.0) my cumulative GPA would hardly budge at all.

I only wish I had known this before I did my Biology course. I ended up with a B+ in the course which I know isn't terrible but it does lower my GPA ever so slightly. But also I spent so much time on labs and assignments, which, while were great for helping me learn, also took a great deal of time. So the benefit of potentially increasing my GPA is tiny compared to the risk of it dropping and the effort it would take to get the amazing grades.

Another benefit of knowing this is I may actually be able to take another course such as Chemistry or Physics which may help me with letting me apply more broadly since I won't have to worry about a terrible score.

I know I shouldn't get ahead of myself - I'd still have to actually pass the course and I have to do some research because many courses don't have the Pass/Fail option. But I think it would be much easier to pass 3 courses (i.e. get 50%) than do amazing in two courses (90%+) or even one.  Lets face it, its easy in general to pass, slightly tough to get over 70, even harder to get over 80 and damn right difficult to get over 90.