Second MCAT (6:30am + Advice)

So I wrote the MCAT at 6:30am. It was a chaotic 3 months leading up to the exam 🤧 I was able to improve on every section, except for C+P (a coincidence that the section I bombed was the first section at 6:30am?!! I think not). Nonetheless, I wanted to share some study and exam prep advice that helped me improve my mark! Note that I used AAMC, Princeton Review, UWorld, JackWestin, and Khan Academy to study.

Chemistry and Physics

Funny thing is that I actually scored higher on my first MCAT in C+P (97%!). I found the AAMC material for both sections the MOST helpful. They were the closest to the level of difficulty on the actual exam. But if you have bad luck like me, sometimes you get dealt with some of the more difficult C+P passages (I confirmed with a very reliable source: Reddit). The Princeton Review and UWorld C+P materials went in-depth for various topics, sometimes more than necessary- for example, overemphasizing low-yield subjects. It doesn’t hurt to learn more things but don’t drown yourself in the more difficult, low-yield questions. That’s my word of caution.

CARS

I spent 3 months preparing for my second MCAT, where I did about two passages per day…In the end, I was only able to improve my CARS by 1 mark…No, I don’t think I cracked the CARS secret code. I tried reading the passages first before attempting the questions, then I tried reading the questions first, AND THEN I went back to reading the passages first. It also became difficult to find good passages near the end. I exhausted my supply from AAMC, Princeton, UWorld, Khan Academy, and had to resort to JackWestin passages. I think JackWestin passages are the least representative of the actual exam compared to other platforms. However, practicing CARS everyday did help me build my CARS endurance so I highly recommend doing daily passages.

Biology + Biochemistry

Wow, this section is so much easier if you have just finished two semesters of third year biochemistry, which was my case. The first time I took the MCAT I didn’t even memorize glycolysis, Kreb’s cycle, or any of the metabolic pathways; they all conveniently show up in third year bchm. This section is ALL about memorization and application of knowledge, which is a lot easier if you have them memorized by heart. I highly recommend taking extra time to memorize metabolic pathways (or at least the important steps of each), amino acids (ALL), and biological terminologies and cycles. I found AAMC and UWorld quite helpful in both bio and bchm. UWorld was especially great at grilling you on the details. If you think about it, the details are worth memorizing because they might be the questions that help you achieve a higher percentile.

Psychology + Sociology

I must have been blessed with an easy P+S section because I scored a 98%! I found the JackWestin P+S outline and UWorld quite helpful. UWorld was especially helpful with reinforcing the nitty gritty. They often provide answer choices that all sound plausible. Being able to identify the correct answer demonstrates how well you truly UNDERSTAND the materials.

OVERALL what I did better on my second MCAT compared to my first attempt:

  • DON’T RELY on third-party materials. My first time taking the exam, I solely relied on TPR and AAMC (AAMC was an angel). Little did I know that TPR left out a lot of low-yield content. It’s good to be aware of low-yield topics because there is still a chance they might show up on the actual exam. It’s best to review content from various resources, making sure you don’t miss out!
  • Refer to the official MCAT outline. How do you expect yourself to score good if you don’t even know what is being tested? Plus it’s free!
  • Join FB MCAT study groups and stalk the MCAT Reddit forum. The virtual MCAT communities are truly angelic. Everyone is so kind- sharing notes and offering genuine advice for improvements. I highly recommend if you want to feel all the love ~

My sole regret: taking a 6:30am exam. I regret choosing this time because I am not a fully functional human-being at this time of day. I also had to suffer from my decision to halt coffee consumption in fear of excessive bathroom breaks. It is all the wiser to pick a time that you KNOW favours optimal performance. Or at least prepare yourself earlier. Get used to waking up at a certain time and stimulate exam conditions. (Another lesson is not to simultaneously take on a full-time job that forces you to stay up late)

Best of luck to everyone writing the exam! Just remember this is only a minor hurdle in your med journey- for I have never heard of anyone who could not continue med because of a low MCAT score. Afterall, we each have 7 MCAT attempts in our lifetime (unless you reincarnate into another premed student).

Hope you enjoyed the coffee graphic 🤩 I decided to try a different style, and I think it turned out pretty good. It’s a(n appropriate) vibe…Best of luck! Bye for now.

My MCAT Experience and Advice

Hi everybody,

I wanted to share my experience self-studying and writing the MCAT in the summer of 2019. I heard the MCAT has been shortened this year…(Almost makes me wish I took the exam this year). Nonetheless, I want to share some MCAT advice from my experience.

  1. Plan ahead:
    • I set myself 3 months to study for the MCAT. And let me tell you first hand you will not be using all of that time. The first month will fly by with a blink of an eye. The second month might be filled with unexpected surprises. And the last moth is where things get serious. In fact, the last 2 weeks will make you stressed like no other situations.
    • From my experience, you need at least 3 months. 2 months to ease yourself into ALL the material, but the last month is when the real studying gets done.
  2. Plan less:
    • I had a part-time job on the weekends (so I can still fund my coffees and doughnuts). However, I do not recommend taking up anything more than ONE job or ONE volunteer or ONE summer course. People weren’t kidding when they said studying for the MCAT is a full-time job!!
    • One thing that helped me balance a social life and study grind was to make a checklist. Set yourself a study goal everyday. For example, “On monday, I am going to review all the metabolic cycles and review physics. On Tuesday, I will memorize all the amino acids and review psychology.”
  3. Have a study spot:
    • This is a given. Everyone has that one place where they are the most productive. For me, it was a library at UBC. And sure it took me more than A HOUR just to bus there, but I knew that my time there was the most productive. With regards to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are now limited to our homes. During the past finals session, I found myself most productive when I designated an area at home just for studying.
  4. Take a freaking break:
    • No one can study all day, everyday (okay, maybe some of us can…kudos to those folks because most of us can’t). Take a break! There’s no better way to refresh the mind and return to studying in a better mood.
  5. Face it, you might never feel “ready” but you will be READY
    • This last reminder is for the week/day before the exam. I was on the verge of tears the day before my exam. Partly because I was preparing myself for the biggest fail of my life. I felt so unprepared. My mock exam marks were in the low 70s. CARS was more terrifying than ghosts or an episode of Black Mirror. Even AFTER the exam, I told myself to take a L. Time is up. You weren’t meant for this path. And to my surprise, I got a decent mark (90 percentile)! That just goes to show that you are more ready than you think you are. Trust me.

Other information that might be helpful:

  • My study material:
    • 90% Princeton review
    • And a bunch of random books from Amazon that didn’t really help
  • Courses to take that helps with MCAT:
    • Psyc 100*** (if possible take it the class right before you start studying for MCAT and you will likely breeze through this section like it’s a review)
    • Biochem 200-300 level **
  • Course you don’t need to take: sociology!!! 🙅🏻‍♀️
  • Biochem and orgo: memorize the amino acids but you don’t need to memorize all the metabolic pathways.
  • Physics, chem, and bio: don’t spend too much time fussing about physics because it accounts for such a tiny portion of the exams.
  • Psyc and sociology: know your terms inside out.
  • CARS: This is the section that absolutely stumped me to the Mariana Trench. I studied the whole summer, and my mark did NOT improve AT ALL. Definitely seek out other people’s advice on CARS because I could not figure it out for the life of me. If I decide to rewrite the MCAT in the future, this section is definitely something I would emphasize the most.

Good luck to everyone writing the exam! For someone who didn’t think it would be possible to self-study all of this, I guess I proved my past self wrong. You can do it too 💪 and you are one step closer to your goal 🤩