Sunday, July 7, 2019

My Path To & Through The MCAT

130/129/131/130 = 520

1986 GPA: 2.196

2019 GPA: 3.97 (BCPM, all post-bacc, DIY)

10,000 hours volunteering (ARC Disaster Services Volunteer, Meals on Wheels, Ronald McDonald houses, homeless shelters, cleft palate surgery group, water wells in Peru, clean water in Ghana, food shelves, inner city kids speaking no less than 20 different languages, dog transport/rescue/retrain/rehome - 250+ of them, horse rescue/rehab/rehome)

Rotarian, Board of Directors non-profit, former VP $2B public company reporting to company board of directors

Research: pH indications on flora/fauna of the Galapagos Islands visited (13 northern chain islands), cancer biology with mRNA; both non-published; pictures of the Galapagos Islands research trip were included in published book

School list:

  1. Mayo - Rochester
  2. UMN - TC
  3. UVA
  4. Quinnipiac
  5. NYU
  6. Jefferson
  7. Rosalind Franklin
  8. Chicago
  9. Cincinnati
  10. Cleveland
  11. Pitt
  12. Yale
  13. Harvard
  14. Johns Hopkins
  15. USF
  16. FSU
  17. UF
  18. UCF
  19. USC - Greenville
  20. USC - Columbia
  21. VT
  22. EVMS
  23. Wake Forest
  24. Rutgers
  25. NYMS
  26. Columbia
  27. Dartmouth
  28. Vermont
  29. BU
  30. Mayo - AZ
  31. UCSF
  32. UCLA
  33. Tulane
  34. Drexel
  35. George Washington
  36. WMU
  37. Wayne State
  38. Oakland Beaumont
Yes, 38 schools as suggested by adcoms from the schools themselves, places suggested by other adcoms.  Schools taken off due to online AAMC medical school fair:  Georgetown


Purchased entire set of Exam Krackers content review books.

Purchased 101 passages by EK for Biology, Biology Systems, Physics, Chemistry, Cars

Purchased FULL AAMC bundle set including: sample test, official guide test, FL 1-3, qpacks, section banks, AND flashcards

Purchased 1 month subscription to UWorld

Khan Academy videos when required (hi there orgo)


January 27 - Feb 28th: content review; painstakingly went through all EK content books except P/S and made over 3000 flashcards; purple for physics, red for gen chem, yellow for orgo (and later for P/S), blue and green for biology and research methods

Because I am older, I wanted to make sure that my content was solid.  On reddit, I scoured the /mcat page for questions on content to see if I could answer the questions by other premeds.

If I could, I did and if I could not, then I went to my content books and reviewed to make sure that in the future I could.

March 2nd - 13th - my son was suicidal with plan in hand; I found the plan, note and spend the next 2 weeks not sleeping or studying unless he was at work; studying was light if anything, and only Khan Academy review

March 14th - May 17th: alternated between passages in EK 101 books to Qpacks to Section Banks.  If there was a concept I did not fully understand, I review the EK content book, and made sure I could teach someone the topic.  

My son was less than thrilled with that aspect πŸ˜…

New cards were made or else I drew.

May 1st: I took FL 2.  Bombed it. (505) and realized taking a practice test at home with 5 dogs needing things at various times and other numerous interruptions (work calls) was not conducive to my best attempt.

May 2:- 3rd, reviewed EVERY question FL 2 in detail.

May 4th: SB C/P  (85%)

May 5th: reviewed every question I got wrong AND ones that I guessed on

May 6th: SB B/B (88%)

May 7th: reviewed every question I got wrong AND the ones I guessed on

May 9th: FL 1; 519 but I brushed that score off because I'd seen it before (circa Sept 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit FL where I live)

May 10 - 11th: reviewed every question I got wrong AND the ones I guessed on

May 12 - 15th: SB C/P again, SB B/B again; review

What did my review look like?


That is correct. Every wrong answer or correctly guess answer got screen shot and my own explanations written in the print out.

The AAMC explanations are terrible at best.  But they are the administrators so start with their explanations and then add in your own.

For the last 3 days before the exam, I read K/A psych/soc notes, went through the AAMC flashcards, went to the beach


The night before the exam, I packed the following (more carbs = more ATP for the brain and you WILL want ATP for the brain!!):

  • Nilla Wafers - into ziploc bag
  • Diet Coke - chilled and ice boxes frozen
  • Pasta salad - black and green olives, feta cheese, tricolor rotini pasta, Italian dressing, pepperoni chopped up, salami chopped up
  • Oreos - into ziploc bag
  • Forks
  • Spoons
  • Concerta (diagnosed ADHD in 2008)
  • Pink's Million Reasons on replay in car

On the way to the testing center site, I blasted Pink; drank my first diet coke, took the Concerta, at some wafers.  Arrived at 7:15, outside the test center door at 7:25.  Checked in at 7:45.  Began exam at 7:50.

Every break I ate the pasta salad and drank diet coke; plus bio break.  Because I am accommodated, I get "stop the clock breaks" and I used that to eat and hydrate (Concerta is hella-dehydrating)

At lunch break, I sat outside in the hallway by myself and zoned out.  Halfway through, and I felt like I was crushing it.

At 2:25, I walked out of the test center, got in my car and found πŸ‘‡

What do I wish I'd done differently?

Done the EK 101 passages WHILE doing the similar chapters.  EK does a great job of organizing the content review with the 101 books so that might have helped me get to 132 in CP and BB.

I never went into the exam hoping for a 528.  I went in thinking I'd given this everything I had, had done everything I could including giving up my $175/hr contract in NY to stay home and study.  My son had done everything he could to keep things afloat with my savings and his job so I didn't have to worry.

For all of that, 520.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Hope, Be Still

She is.  Forever my girly girl, my fluffy...

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And colors you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I'm with you
And I will say your name
If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill

If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

Hope came to my son and I in the middle of 2005 after an abusive relationship ended (I'd found him with my son's throat entangled in his hands; 10 minutes later, he was escorted out of my home by police)

Hope.  She ... nope, still have no words for what she meant to us for her name, said it all.

Girly girl, our hearts are still broken in shattered bits and pieces, flung across the universe.  Until we meet again...

Croix's Story of Our Times - Hope
July 2005 - January 2019

Best Ahead - Radiologist Retires

Several years ago now, I started this silly little blog as a much younger, starry eyed premed thinking I could be practicing by 50.


Somewhere along the way, I found Dr. Dalai a radiologist in the Southeast who kept his faith in me, kept cheering me on through gen chem and then orgo... eventually, I made my way onto Facepages or whatever that is called and linked up with him there.

From his pages I saw his travels and life (including the baby Ewok :D ) to far away places with his lovely wife, saw his son grow up and get to and through college and his daughter grow up and to/through med school, residency and wedding.

ME?  I'm still stuck at premed.  Not for long, I hope.

Anyway, Dr. D is retiring.  His blog is here:

If you're interested in radiology, he is king.

Dr. D, I wish you the best - always and of course, to your wife, J.

Ad2b (seriously!!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

#LifeGoesOn - 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

When one doesn't know where one is going or what one may/may not do about a certain exam and then sees others getting MD admission with the same score and lower GPA?

Well, one does what one does... life does go on.

I give you pics from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang (the actual city for the opening/closing and many sledding events was Jimbu; PyeongChang was the name of the county were the events were held as well as the city where some events were helad; Gangneung hosted the skating cluster sports like hockey GO TEAM USA!!! speed skating, curling (okay, not a skating sport).

Let's start by what I was doing on my 14 hour flight from Detroit to Seoul/Incheon, South Korea.  Orgo was 80% of my CP section and at least 50% of my BB section.  Orgo was an easyish "A" for me but I took it in 2011...  so... yeah. Orgo on the flight.  BTW, I wrote the note in the column of the book when I was taking the course.  Interesting to find it in 2018, on a flight, escaping.

Actual flight tracking from Detroit to Seoul/Incheon... no, we did not fly directly over North Korea though it did look like we might!

Actual flight path 😁

After getting through South Korean customs, the first sign we saw:

And then

We've been asking Hershey FOR YEARS to sell the Hershey's Cookies & Cream NUGGETS in the US again but no.  We had to travel over 14,000 miles to find them where???

Lotte Mart in Pangyo, Seoul, South Korea  (that's my son and his favorite candy)

He set out to search for food for me while I "napped" or rather, recovered from jet lag.  Son liked a lot of what he saw at the Seoul Times Square Mall and restaurants but was also guarded *knowing* ... so he chose the Mad Garlic

No idea what it was but this was my dinner and hella spicy!

Waiting at the Seoul KTX train station to take us to Gangneung where we'd stay for 2.5 weeks, or rather, thought we would (we left 3 days early and skipped the closing ceremonies for reasons, I may or may not every discuss on here)

Spectator guide on the KTX indicating stops for the Winter Olympics πŸ˜€

Everything was nicely packaged!!  and TASTY!  (First class cabin on KTX)

First time, I started to realize, "OMGosh, WE did this!!!" πŸ™Œ

First day at AirBnB, our host took us for a drive along the coast, showing us a destroyer that found the NK sub... 10 miles offshore about 10 years ago

And the sub itself. Ancient relic.

Got dropped off at the zone for non-official drivers and loaded onto the transportation bus for our first event (HOCKEY!!!)

Up in PyeongChang for the kamikazeπŸ˜‚ aerial events

View from the KTX and Gangneung - picture does not do the mountains justice.  Stunning countryside (in more ways than one πŸ˜”)

Due to not really knowing *what* was on the menu, we found Mr. Pizza just off the Gangneung KTX station and ate here every night... for 2.5 weeks.  The pizza is called "BBQ Spicy Chicken" and, truth be told, my taste buds will never forgive me.  

I LOVE hot, spicy, Thai food; Mexican peppers, etc.  But this???  Oh. My.

Yes, there's a reason curling is a sport.  Swiss v GBR = most fun was listening to the Swiss guy beller  "HOT SWISS"  (yes, I have a full video about to be posted on YT with this guy - entertained all of us there for the 3 hour event)

Headed up to Jimbu the home of the opening/closing ceremonies for the traditional picture of the torch.  Always inspiring and while this one did as well, it sort of reminded me of the thing in Zandarmarsh that squashed lowly 60's in WoW's TBC expac... oh, yeah, I'm a gamer)

Hoarse, PROUD, tone deaf... sang our National Anthem while our flag was raised, tears in eyes... 

Salty Canadians left this behind πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ (about that, Canada?!?!!?)

And due to ... *things* that I saw in Gangneung, Jimbu, and PyeongChang, we left early.

This was our 5th Winter Olympics (Nagano, SLC, Torino, Sochi, PyeongChang) and we were asked to be tour guides for both Tokyo and Beijing by the group responsible for touring the families of the US Athletes at the games.

Cannot wait!  #WontLeaveEarly

Because I Was Asked...

The blog has been made public.

Not sure why anyone reads this, as @gonnif told me, "drivelish POcrap" but here goes:

If you're reading because you're soon taking the MCAT know these things:

1.  It's not as hard as the AAMC Section Banks ALTHOUGH there are a passage or TWO that are equivalent - that separates the 528s from the 519s from the 510s...

2.  Know your AA's - the structures, the cycles (Krebs, Pentose) and I would suggest you know the number of carbons on each molecule in the Krebs - why?  Well, just look at the molecule changes and understand... if you need the drawing I have of that, let me know...

3.  Know the psych/sociologists and what their theories are... I would also tell you to line up Freud, Piaget, Erickson, Kohlberg theories by ages to see how they align and differ...

4.  DO ALL the AAMC materials - even the flashcards.  The flashcards help not only understanding what AAMC rationale (and not "Answer A is right because B, C, and D are wrong) but the format for discretes.  The flashcards are somewhat like discrete questions and... I can't say more ;)

5.  Read other material like The Economist, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, etc. and the opinion pieces contained within those magazines.  Why?  Well, start by asking yourself when reading, what is the tone of the author?  what would help or hinder the author's argument?  That is the reasoning you'll be expected to have come test day.

6.  Make sure you pack snacks, lunch and soda/water for exam day the night before.  Don't be like me and think you'll get up early and do it (I did this for the exam post-Irma and *epic fail* comes to mind :O )

For the first exam, that got postponed, I packed sandwiches (PBJ), chips, animal crackers, diet coke in copious amounts.  That exam, I think I would have nailed but...

7.  Leave early for the exam site.  More than likely you can sign in starting at 7 or 7:30 which gives you a slight advantage if you are taking it like everyone else (I was accommodated).  The room will be less full as you start your test and that is the CP section.  For some, that might be the strength but either way, you'll be cruising in test mode while others are still checking in.

8.  IF you are NOT getting close to your goal score on the AAMC materials FL1, FL2, and FL3, you have two/three choices:


Depending on how close you are to the exam date, you may also cancel with a partial refund BUT if you are not going to get a refund then either take the thing and void or score it.  A no-show counts against your total lifetime attempts AND you lose the money without getting anything.

At least get something for the money you paid!

LAST... breathe.  Unless this is your 7th attempt, and you are 80+ years old, this is not the end game.

You can retake it if you do poorly.  Remember, This is what you're looking for.