delleyy asked: oh, and how did you prepare for the MCAT? and how'd you do (even though i'm assuming pretty well since you're already a med student!) :)
haha, delley, your flatter me! Actually, I took the MCAT TWICE! So I’ll tell you how I prepped each time.
ROUND #1 (between junior and senior year): I took a general prep course (Princeton Review). Just went straight, by-the-book, coursework, test prep, on schedule. But life (and myself) got in the way. I slacked off and did not take the prep course seriously. Also, I had a family emergency one week before the test, leaving me in charge of my younger sister and my dad (who doesn’t know how to use a toaster or the laundry machine. Yes.) while my mother flew out-of-country to deal with the emergency. This left me physically, emotionally, and psychologically off-kilter. Worse, I didn’t have strong test-preparation as a foundation or lifesaver. Suffice to say…score was not rockin’
ROUND #2 (after graduation): I got my act together. I did Princeton again, but this time, before I began studying, I analyzed my previous practice test scores (excel doc and all). I decided to sign up for one-on-one tutoring primarily OChem, Critical Reading, and Bio; a handful of sessions for Chem and Physics. So I went at my own pace, using Princeton review books and took practice tests again.
HOWEVER, I also supplemented with ExamKracker books (love those. LOVE. Huge pictures. Dead simple language.), flashcards (which did not work for me, but you might be a flashcard person :D), and…probably my weirdest but favorite secret weapon, an LSAT practice problem book for Critical Reading. I did questions out of that book with the help of my great tutor. For some reason, doing the vastly more difficult LSAT Qs helped me figure out how to do the easier, but still tricky, MCAT Qs.
Another important thing I incorporated in Round #2 was exercise and rigorous routine. I did yoga weekly and walked in the mornings. I studied in a very quiet, secluded library with very specific snacks: a bottle of Vitawater Energy, 2 Strawberry filling Kashi fruit bars, and a thermos of either hot green tea or water. Music was set to either BigBang, The Fray, or my Pandora AC/DC station.
Thank you for another awesome question, delleyy! Much love and appreciation!
delleyy asked: hi! I'm a junior in college and I'm applying to med schools this summer! What's your advice on the application process (personal statement, MCAT, recommendation letters, AMCAS, secondaries, resume) and the actual interviews? I'm pretty much a nervous wreck this semester =/
Hi there, delleyy! First of all, congrats on making this big decision. :)
Being nervous this semester is healthy; that means that med school and more importantly, your future, are significant to you! That being said, don’t let it paralyze your life because my advice regarding the app process boils down to one word: be SWIFT. Like a coursing river! ;)
Disney songs aside, let’s start with the things you should have ready BEFORE filling out your primary AMCAS application. When should you start? There’s no good answer. But the goal here is to click “SUBMIT APPLICATION” on the first day AMCAS is taking applications. SO…
- sign up for AMCAS. Fill in as much ‘easy’ info as you can (name, address, etc.). Because when you hit the resume and other thorny parts, you’ll want lots of time.
- resume: always in work in progress. But because your resume is 100% under your control, YOU can always have it ready and up-to-date. This is important for filling out AMCAS (makes the process more painless), finding ideas for your secondary essays when they arrive, and handing to interviewers when you go interview. Have friends who are working or mentors/adults in the field you trust assess your resume for organization, clarity, logic, and missing awards, things you’ve done, etc.
- Personal statement: If you’re not much of an essay writer, get started on this FIRST. Even if you are one, get started on this first, because many submit late or later than they could because they want their essays to be perfect. Not good. Your essay never needs to be ‘perfect’. It just needs to be you, your honesty, your strength and your passion, shining from the pages.
- Rec letters: give those who are writing your rec letters a minimum of a month to write your letter. They’re busy like you and me. I gave my recommenders a little ‘rec package’: A folder with a cover letter, thanking them for doing this, instructions for mailing or electronic submissions, and what was enclosed in my folder, my resume, and stamps, envelopes, and pre-printed labels with their address (if I knew it) and AMCAS rec letter submission address. You don’t have to do that, obviously, but give your recommenders as much info and courtesies as possible. After all, they are writing about how fabulous you are, so be fabulous to them!
- MCAT: I hesitate to say this, because everyone’s MCAT scores come in at different times. If you have them already, bravo! Plug them into AMCAS. If you don’t (I didn’t have them the first time I applied), fill everything else out on your AMCAS and wait for those numbers. When you get them, plug them in and hit ‘submit’!
Alright, so the goal is to hit ‘submit’ on the first day AMCAS takes applications. This is so schools will see your app first and remember you! And when you’re remembered, you hit…secondaries!
Do you remember applying to undergrad? Do you remember modifying through some pre-written essays? Same drill here. Also, submit those SWIFTLY! Don’t sit on any of them. The sooner you send them, the sooner you hit my favorite part…actual interviews! No sarcasm here, I really liked interviews.
For now, don’t worry about interviews. They are a long conversation that I am more than happy to talk to you about in the future! But because this is long, and I know I’ve been writing a tad too much now, I’ll leave it for later.
Best of luck this summer!! It’s going to be tough, but I’m cheering you on! Let me know how it goes, you can do it!