Category Archives: MCAT

What now?

As the high and excitement of achieving the improbable wears off, I am left feeling-dare I say it- bored? Over the past four years my life has been manageable only through an impressive routine of time management. Nearly every hour was accounted for: working full time for an international health non-profit, attending science classes at night, studying, MCAT prep, work trips to Africa, clinical exposure at the local underserved hospital. I had a task to fill every moment, warding off boredom and bringing on an inner happiness and fulfillment.

As my schedule now goes from one extreme to the other, I am plagued by ennui. Is it possible to go through study withdrawal? Am I actually craving exams and review problems? Like Pavlov’s dogs, I have become conditioned to learning. Salivating at the mere thought of reading assignments. Most people reading this probably think I am crazy-who dreads free time? Go watch Bravo. There are three seasons of Downton Abbey to catch up on. Read a trashy magazine. All very valid options- yet none of which seem to appease me.

With 4.5 months to go until orientation, I have resorted to embarrassing tactics of re-reading my physiology textbook, watching free biochem lectures on iTunes, listening to emergency medicine residency lectures posted online. I am a sad, sad little nerd.

Most likely, I will look back on this time- my last moments of freedom- and want to kick myself that I didn’t enjoy doing not-much-of anything more. Perhaps I will. Or perhaps something in my brain has been permanently altered. My strange state is not unheard of. I recently came across this article, which may shed some light on my new found propensity for learning.

“Intense prep for law school admission test alters brain structure”

Altered or not. I cannot wait for medical school to start and the endless hours of new knowledge to follow. Only 143 days to go.


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Filed under Interviews, MCAT, Pre-Med Experience

31 Days

31 days. A month can seem like eternity. Or entirely not long enough. I’m leaning towards the second option right about now. Things at work have really picked up- it is busy proposal season time and of course I’m the lead technical writer on one too many of our submissions. By the time I wrap up for the day my mind feels like melting jello. But- alas- I must press on.  I’m determined to complete 50-100 physics/general chemistry practice problems a day. If I run out of problems, I’ll just do them again.

I need to consistently score a 75%- which I’ve calculated- will place me in the 10 range for the PS section on the MCAT. I’ll aim high and hopefully not fall too short. Of course, I feel like I should also brush up on my Biology/Organic Chemistry, so I will have to see when I can sneak in that review. I think I’ll have to start sleeping less.

I’m really feeling burned out by work but I can’t seem to forget a speech I heard this weekend by a doctor who was on the Stanford Medical School Admission’s Committee for three years. She said “our character is determined by what we do in the face of our failures.” That statement is sobering in that how I perform now on the MCAT may be even more important than how I did before. I am getting a second chance. Second chances are very rare and I am seriously determined  not to let myself down.

Checking my email has never been so exciting. Secondary applications are starting to trickle in- at least the ones that don’t do much applicant screening- which is an added source of anxiety. I’ve accounted for nearly every hour of my day. Writing more essays is not budgeted for. Hmm…I think it’s definitely time to cut back on sleep.

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Judgement Day

“You have no scores yet.” I keep clicking refresh with the vain hope that my scores will magically appear if only I click the button enough times. Today is my judgement day. I am getting my MCAT scores, which will unfortunately determine way too much of my future as a medical school applicant. I’ve worked for three years, taking night classes as a non-traditional medical school applicant so that I could get to this point. How cruel to think one exam could completely shut some doors for me. Sigh.

Tick, tock. Time is moving like molasses. Part of me doesn’t want to know. As long as I don’t know, I can keep hope alive that I stand a chance at any University. I clicked again. Nothing.

Just like the actual exam, the last three years are a blur. A conglomeration of note cards, organic reactions, heart and kidney diagrams, tests, weekends lost to studying and some of the happiest times of my long career as a student. I had no idea I would actually LOVE science. Not just enjoy. But LOVE. I mean the type of LOVE where you think about it when it’s not around, miss it when it leaves you for a few days. I would actually get sad when my courses ended and I again had free time. I guess you could say, that’s when I knew I was on the right track.

As a journalism undergraduate student I had no idea I would find the world of viruses, carbon compounds and physiology so enthralling. In undergrad I spent my days at the television studio. As fun as it was to work in-front of and behind the camera I knew it wasn’t what I wanted.

Since I was a little kid, playing doctor with stuffed animals, dissecting insects I captured, or running make-shift experiments with my poison ivy “vaccine,” I knew I loved medicine. In middle school, I went to a used bookstore and purchased medical school textbooks. I figured if I could get through them by the time high school was over, I’d be ahead of the game.  Somewhere along the way I discovered writing came easily. It was fun and  and when you are 17 years old and faced with doing something easy or tackling calculus and organic chemistry- journalism seemed like a no brainer.

Well, long story short, I didn’t come full circle with my desire to become a physician until after I finished my Master’s in Public Policy and International Development. At 23, I hadn’t taken more than a single introductory chemistry class. Which turned out to be totally OK because in the end I LOVED science and did extremely well in my classes.

I just hope my MCAT shows this.

“No scores yet…”

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