Thursday, August 4, 2016

11th Hour - MCAT Final Prep

Or, sort of final prep.

I took the scored last weekend and let's just say my half-arsed way through it is not indicative of my capability but it is indicative of how I'd do on the real thing.

Many ask how to use the AAMC materials specifically after going through the myriad of prep courses from Kaplan, TPR, BR, NS, EK, et al.  What I will suggest is the following.

1)  Do the prep course work first but about midway do the Q-packs from the AAMC as they are a good guide to see where your content knowledge is.  The new MCAT is not a content test it is a critical thinking test but if you don't know the differences between physics equations and variables, or the SI units vs commonly used terms (Newton, for instance, rather than kg * m/s^2), you're going to want to use the Q-packs to find that out.  Use the mistakes there to shore up the content knowledge.

2)  Finish the prep work in the course.  Do all the CARS passages the course gives you, and then find more of them in EK or TPR or old AAMC exams.  If you're actually reading this ;), go to Reddit and search for old AAMC exams.  There is a link there to the material that someone kindly posted not only the exams but the solutions provided and explanations.  Let's face it, sometimes the AAMC's answers of "A is correct because B, C and D are wrong" doesn't really help.  Sorry, AAMC - you fail on that part.

3)  DRAW. I know, everyone who knows this blog is by "me" knows I draw. I draw all the pathways for gluconeogenesis, glycolysis, glycogenolysis, pentose phosphate pathway, hearing, eyesight, brain pathways, neurons, action potentials, etc.  At some point, I promise I will post them here and on Reddit using Google docs so that everyone can use to their advantage or ignore as you will.

4)  Finish the rest of the Section Bank exams - the biochem/biology, psych/soc, and chem/physics.  These are a beast.  Do not underestimate them.  They are hard, they are very research intense along with graphs and Y234D acronyms (that's a tyrosine to aspartic acid mutation at the 234 location, by the way; no one ever seems to explain that).  When doing the SBs, please, please, please - do them on accommodated so you can:

a.  Get the answer immediately
b.  Write down the question, answer and why you got it wrong
c.  DRAW the pathway if it is related to that

It is far more important than you know WHY you got something wrong instead of just the right answer because I'm almost 100% certain, the exact same thing won't be on the real MCAT... that said, it might be just slightly varied so you're still better off and ahead of the game if you follow my tips.

5)  Do the UNSCORED practice test on timed mode.  This is after the Q-packs, after the SBs... time it.  Then go back through and similar to 4.a, 4.b, 4.c - figure out why you got the questions wrong.

If necessary, go back through the SBs and Qpacks to polish the understanding and the content knowledge.  As mentioned above, I will be publishing my notes on all of this when I am officially done slaying this bugger.  You may be wondering how long this takes.  A long time. Give yourself 6- 8 weeks... and remember this:

6)  Take the SCORED AAMC test on timed mode.  Many suggest this the week of the actual exam. I would suggest 2 weeks beforehand because:

a.  if you do poorly, you have a full two weeks to polish up the weak areas
b.  if you do poorly, you have a full two weeks to get your confidence back up because nothing is worse than a crappy scored AAMC practice test to dump your confidence level to near zero
c.  if you do well, you can only get better - you have nothing to lose by doing it earlier :)

7)  If all of that is good, just review your notes and retake the SBs the week of the actual exam every other day.  The day before, obviously, is light review.

Last - go nail this thing!  Do not ever let anyone tell you, you can't, or won't.  Do not let anyone ever tell you, you're too old or too dumb or too slow.

If you got to this point, you are none of the above.

You, my readers, are MCAT Slayers.

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