Brief Profile: I will try to make this profile as detailed as possible to help anyone out that is applying or will be applying in the near future. Hopefully someone will find this profile useful.
I am a traditional student attending a large public university in North Carolina. I will be graduating in May 2013 with double majors in Biology/Philosophy. I am also the father of an amazing little boy! Best of luck to everyone else that is applying in the 2012-2013 application cycle!
Letter of Recommendations (LORs) - Organic chemistry professor that I TA'ed for (also my instructor in organic chemistry I) - Tutor organization supervisor that I've worked under for 2 years - Organic chemistry professor that I TA'ed for (also my instructor in an advanced organic chemistry course) - Statistics professor who I got to know very well - Pre-professional Committee Letter from the university
Actual Exam: January 28, 2012 Score: PS 14 | VR 07 | BS 12 | Writing: P Composite Score: 33P
I studied for approximately a month and a half and took the exam in January of my junior year. I wanted to take it early enough so that I had time to retake if I wasn't satisfied with my score. I did not purchase a prep course because I thought they were unnecessary and costly. I was low on cash, but if you have $2,000 to blow on a prep course then you may want to purchase it as the resources that are provided can be helpful. However, take that with a grain of salt as I don't believe you NEED to take one to score well. I know plenty of people who didn't take a prep course and scored well into the 90th percentile. Instead, I used different review books for each section of the exam and will outline them below.
Physical Sciences (General Chemistry/Physics) I used books from a company called The Berkeley Review. These books are ABSOLUTELY gold for the physical sciences section. They explain everything that you need to know and provide tons of practice passages throughout the book which I believe is extremely critical to success on the MCAT. As you can see from my Kaplan diagnostic score, I had a weak background in these subjects and The Berkeley Review brought my score up by 8 points in that one section alone. You can purchase them from The Berkeley Review website at ~$130+shipping for both books. You can purchase the books HERE.
Another resource that I used for this section were videos from a guy named Chad. I'm an extremely auditory learner so these videos were incredibly helpful in reinforcing material as well as teaching me topics because I hadn't taken physics II yet. In regards to taking the MCAT before you finish your prerequisites, I DO NOT recommend it. It was horrible trying to teach myself an entire semester of physics in a month's time. The videos can be purchased for ~$45 a month and can be found HERE.
Verbal Reasoning This section was definitely my arch nemesis! I started to take practice test around a month into my studying and realized that my verbal score was really inconsistent. I scored a low of 6 to a high of 12 throughout all of my practice test and by this time it was too late to put any hard effort into this section as it is one of the hardest sections to raise. I really do not have any solid advice for this part of the exam but to practice, practice, practice! In retrospect, I should've been studying/practicing for this section two-three months in advance. I recommend getting your hands on an ExamKrackers 101 Passages book and do it from cover to cover. This will allow you to get used to the testing style of the verbal reasoning section and what questions are usually asked. The book is only ~$25 and can be found HERE.
Biological Sciences (Biology/Organic Chemistry) For the biology section I used the ExamKrackers MCAT Biology book. I liked this book because it was concise which allowed me to read through it twice. The book gives you everything that you need to know and doesn't add any superfluous information. I've also looked through the biology books from The Berkeley Review and I felt like they were filled with a massive amount of stuff that you DID NOT need to know for the MCAT. Therefore, I decided to just stick with the ExamKrackers MCAT Biology book which can be purchased for ~$30 HERE.
Given the fact that I served as a TA in organic for two semesters, I didn't really study that much for the organic portion. The section only composes a relatively small percentage of the MCAT compared to the other topics, so I recommend grabbing a copy of the ExamKrackers MCAT Organic Chemistry and just reading/learning everything in that book. However, don't think that you can slack off on studying organic chemistry because it DOES show up; albeit, more on certain test than others. Having a good background in organic can be the difference of 1-3 points in the biological sciences section depending on how much organic actually shows up. The book can be purchased for ~$20 and can be found HERE. Chad's playlist also has videos on the organic chemistry topics that will be on the MCAT (refer to physical sciences section for Chad's Videos link).
General Information Each of the books that I have provided links to all have practice passages/problems within them. I recommend doing ALL of the practice and reviewing why you got each question right/wrong. Towards the last few weeks of my studying, I started taking full-length practice exams. You can purchase them HERE for $35 a piece. These exams are from the makers of the actual MCAT so they are VERY representative of what you will see on test day. I averaged approximately a 34 on all of these exams combined (there are 8 total) and got a 33 on the real thing. After taking each practice test, you also want to thoroughly review every question and why you got it right/wrong. In my opinion, reviewing the practice test/problems was one of the key components during my studying. It allowed me to assess my mistakes and see which topics I needed to study more.
Overall, I spent about $500 total on all of my review materials which is a fraction of what a prep course from Kaplan or Princeton would cost. My last piece of advice is to study diligently because what you put into the test is what you will get out. As you can see, through hard work I was able to raise my score from a 21 on my Kaplan diagnostic exam to a 33 on the actual test day.
Extracurriculars and Activities
Below is a brief overview of the activities that I included in my AMCAS application.
Served as a camp counselor in a setting that offered a wide range of activities specially designed for children affected by neuromuscular diseases. MDA summer camp is a one-week non-profit camp that is offered to thousands of youth at no cost to their families. (144 hours total)
Provided assistance in the transportation of discharged patients to their vehicles. Also provided assistance in flu-vaccine campaigns by distributing general information about the importance of vaccinations while simultaneously recruiting flu-vaccination candidates. (120 hours total)
Served as the university's first "Lecture" Teaching Assistant for an organic chemistry course. Proposed the idea to professor of the chemistry department and with his help, we implemented the position in the 2011 spring semester. (2 semesters)
Served in an organization that provided free tutoring services for students, academic skills workshops, study skills coaching, and academic support to enhance student success. The overall goal of this organization is to enhance and improve the students' academic resources at the university. (180 hours total)
Worked part-time on a project that investigated multi-walled carbon nanotubes and their inhibitory effects on regenerative axonal growth/branching in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) of mice. Role in the project involved small animal surgery, histological analysis, and behavioral examinations. Entered the laboratory in the winter of 2011 with minimal lab techniques experience and slowly learned how to perform DRG extractions, axonal length/branching analysis, and various behavioral assessments. Presented two posters at a couple of local symposiums.
The University Honor's Program provides students with a diverse intellectual society for academically talented students of ambitious character. The Honors Program has provided a tough and rigorous curriculum that has allowed me to pursue my interests while concurrently gaining a deeper understanding of the material.
Participated in the Primary Care Physician Shadowing Program during the Fall 2010 semester for five weeks. The program provides students with exposure to several primary care fields such as family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, meds/peds, and pediatrics. Experience provided a total of approx. 20 hours in physician shadowing.
Also shadowed a cardiothoracic surgeon through the summer of 2011. Exposed to multiple cardiothoracic surgeries involving the da Vinci ® Si Surgical System. Accumulated approx. 25 hours of physician shadowing in this experience.
The East Carolinian is the University's official newspaper. A new issue is published every Tuesday and Thursday. Served as a volunteer photographer for various photo assignments throughout the school year. (2 semesters)
Spent the spring break week in Winter Haven, FL helping to build houses for the less fortunate. (March 2012)
January 28 - Took MCAT February 28 - Received MCAT scores - I'll take it as I don't want to put myself through the brutal studying again
MAY 08 - AMCAS receives first transcript 10 - AMCAS receives second transcript and FAP gets approved 11 - AMCAS receives individual letter of recommendations from Interfolio 17 - Submitted material to university's pre-professional committee for committee letter interview
JUNE 01 - Committee letter interview 05 - Submitted primary AMCAS application (09:30 EST) 07 - AMCAS verified 29 - Einstein secondary received/submitted
JULY 01 - Cornell secondary received 02 - Mayo fee waiver granted; Cornell secondary submitted; Brody secondary received; Committee letter uploaded to AMCAS 03 - Mayo LOR request received; Complete at Cornell; Hopkins secondary received 04 - Miami secondary received 05 - Hopkins secondary submitted 06 - Florida Atlantic secondary received; Complete at Mayo 09 - Cincinnati secondary received/submitted; SUNY Downstate secondary received 10 - NYU secondary received/submitted; Keck (USC) secondary received/submitted 11 - Complete at Keck 12 - Columbia secondary received 17 - Complete at Einstein 19 - UCSF secondary received 22 - Interview invite at Mayo 23 - UCSF secondary submitted 24 - Columbia secondary submitted 26 - University of Rochester secondary received/submitted 27 - UCLA secondary received 28 - Mt. Sinai secondary received/submitted 29 - UCLA secondary submitted 31 - Complete at Hopkins; Received/submitted UNC secondary; Received/submitted Albany Medical secondary
AUGUST 06 - NYMC secondary received/submitted; Complete at Sinai 08 - Drexel secondary received/submitted 15 - Complete at Drexel and NYU 23 - Interview invite at Einstein 24 - Interview invite at UNC Chapel Hill 27 - Submitted Brody secondary (FINALLY! -_-) 28 - Complete/Interview invite at Brody
SEPTEMBER 01 - Secondary received from Vanderbilt 03 - Decided to apply to Wake Forest as well 11 - UNC Chapel Hill Interview 18 - Secondary received from Wake 20 - Mayo Medical School Interview 27 - Brody School of Medicine Interview
OCTOBER 5 - Complete at Wake Forest 6 - Rejected from UCSF 15 - Withdrew from Albert Einstein 19 - Waitlisted at Mayo 24 - Rejected at Rochester
APRIL 2 - Waitlisted at Chapel Hill
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/04/2012
Undergraduate college: East Carolina University
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Summary of Experience:
Couldn\'t push myself to write the secondary essays. I would love to go here though. A stroll on the beach after a long day in the anatomy lab sounds amazing...lol -- I just got lazy towards the end of the cycle and couldn\'t really justify the OOS tuition costs.