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The Ultimate Guide to Getting Into Medical School By Sean Amos, M.D.
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I would like to thank the many premeds, medical students, physicians and admission committee members who have taught us the secrets of how to (and how not to) get into medical school.
Top Pre Med Guide. Top Pre Med Guide is a trademark of Veneratio Publishing, Inc. Copyright © 2010 by Veneratio Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Veneratio Publishing, Inc. is not associated with any product or vendor or website mentioned in this book.
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Table of Contents I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. High School College Life Letters of Recommendation Extracurricular Activities The MCAT The Personal Statement The Interview Bonus Chapter: Taking Time Off
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These students shine and glisten. there is only one quintessential authority to turn to. the dedication. After all.” If the previous statement caught your eye. few students comprehend what their ambition truly entails – the sacrifices. the glisten in the eyes of a proud parent. turns. The admissions committees have a keen eye for those who have sincere passion and motivation for applying to their medical schools. Did a defining moment during the course of your life solidify your medical objective? Perhaps a life-changing event nudged you toward this new path that you had not intended to take. then chances are you have expressed a similar sentiment at some point in your life.Introduction “When I grow up. To fully capture all the twists. What lead you to the resolution to become a doctor in the first place? Though it may appear to be a pointless exercise at the moment. a truly exciting adventure awaits you. and the ultimate satisfaction upon reaching that goal. “If you don't know where you are going. Whether it is simple and understated or shocking and wacky.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .” Figuring out your core desires will intensify your focus and eliminate any distractions you might encounter down the road. you might wind up someplace else. Nevertheless. the key to your future lies in your past. In other words. The great Yogi Berra. everyone has a story. the trials ahead can easily discourage you.toppremed. The goal of high school and college students to become a physician is common. a former baseball player and manager. being able to pinpoint that initial spark will help shape the choices you will make as a premed. the honor of donning the white lab coat. choosing medicine as a career craves a certain degree of reflection. Or perhaps you sprang from the womb complete with a monogrammed lab coat wielding a miniature stethoscope. I want to be a doctor. without solid understanding of why you chose this particular calling. and challenges that lay ahead in medicine. Think of it this way. and the intense satisfaction of helping others is exciting and seductive. Uncovering the “why” is half the battle. To borrow a philosophy found in countless superhero movies. once declared. once you have arrived at www. But once you have met that challenge. you must identify the source of your ambition. And while many have declared this aspiration. And though your voyage is Herculean.
One out of three of these candidates will be accepted. the rules of the game have not. the rest of the equation remains sketchy and nebulous. Secondly. You can even attribute it to the uncertainty of the nation‟s economic future as the financial stability of a medical career grows increasingly alluring. no straws are drawn. fun). undergrads fall into the same traps: major in biology. oxygen is your friend.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Schools are still avidly pursuing qualified. Why Read This Book? In any given year medical schools are flooded with approximately 35. They then sit back and expect medical schools to come calling. More daunting still. and effective. And while premedical students inherently understand that high test scores and excellent grades are part of the big picture. short of weeping hysterically. Rest assured. Blame it on the popularity of medical dramas glorifying the medical lifestyle with inconceivably gorgeous cast members and eleventh hour. and no rounds of musical chairs are performed.625 in 2002 to 42. Unfortunately. you will be awarded humanity‟s most meaningful reward: the chance to save a life. motivated. and clarify the picture.231 in 2008. Therefore.000 applicants.toppremed. Whatever the reason. what can a student do to fight these overwhelming odds? First. The theme throughout the book is to aid you in navigating around those www. fill in the missing pieces. take honors science classes. and volunteer in a hospital or two. Though times and numbers of candidates may change. the selection process is anything but arbitrary.your ultimate destination. no names are picked out of hats. this trend translates into new applicants facing a greater competition. resume reading. medical schools are witnessing a steady spike in the number of applicants over time: from 33. and exceptional candidates to grace their halls. the attraction to medicine as a career is growing stronger. Time and time again. Credit it to the myriad scientific breakthroughs and pioneering discoveries that parade across the headlines and into public awareness. What you have before you is not merely a guide but a powerful tool to make the admission process fun (yes. life-saving solutions. Regardless of any rumors you may have heard. breathe. What does it take to transform into a desirable applicant? The Top Pre Med Guide is set to unlock the secrets. Remember.
however. relax. help you discover what makes you that unique.and exaggerating . students are frequently repeating . On the whole. Princeton doesn‟t have a medical school. Over the years. and explain why you should audition for “American Idol”. and prepare to soak in the wisdom. cure the “Bigger Is Better Syndrome”.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .5. Take care in listening to the tidbits of information that pass through your hands. there are chapters dedicated to every phase of your premed life. but. We have compiled the most relevant and current advice.what they have heard. either from popular rumors or their second cousin twice removed who was supposedly admitted into Princeton Medical School. (FYI. We‟ll reveal the “5. and downright lies to one another in an effort to learn more about the application process. more importantly. and tips from the minds of students and alumni of the top schools in the country.5 Rule” of med school selection. then sit back.pesky obstacles. a handful of students may have some genuine knowledge about the actual process. www. students have unwittingly passed on some outrageous stories. experiences. myths. True.) Whether you‟re embarking upon this journey as a high school student or on the verge of submitting your application as an undergraduate.toppremed. Interested? If so. leap-offthe-page candidate that med schools salivate over.
Chapter One: High School
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” -- William Arthur Ward
One trait of medical career is that, while it is fine to start later in life, it is also great to start early. High school is, by definition, academically restricted. Much of your four years has already been charted for you without your personal input, from your schedules to your teachers to your courses. You rarely select your own assignments. Your presence in class is not only necessary, it is mandatory. To make matters worse, you can‟t even choose to skip those barbaric tests of survival in gym known as “Dodge Ball”. Fortunately, what you lack in educational freedom, you make up for in optimism, diligence, and confidence in your own academic aptitude. What you also have is a valuable ally: time. If you have flipped to this chapter, chances are, you are currently enrolled in high school (or you just love reliving the glorious days of braces, erratic hormones, and heinous curfews) and wondering how to gain entrance into medical school. A majority of admissions literature will neglect your high school years and cite college as the true start to your premedical path. We disagree. In truth, a student takes his first step down the premed path the instant he contemplates a career in medicine. But the most important thing premed students can do in high school is research. Explore all of your options while pressures are low, monetary concerns are slight, and time is on your side.
Majors, Minors, and Everything in Between Somewhere atop a frigid, craggy mountain top, accompanied by sinister claps of thunder and flashes of lightning, stands a stone tablet on which the ominous words “All premeds shalt major in science” are etched. Not surprisingly, this lore is more legendary and enduring among students than any mythical tales of Loch Ness monsters or Big Foot. Most premeds accept that a science major comes with the territory. These students then pour their energy into a subject which they may not sincerely delight in nor possess a natural flair for. But what is the point of such sacrifice? The issue is not whether a science major will impress the admissions committee. The question
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is: will my attempts create an impact if the end result consists of low GPA‟s and an unsatisfying college experience?
Premed Myth # 1
The road to medical school is paved with a science major.
Don‟t get us wrong, we are in no way knocking biology or science majors. Truth be told, few of us could have survived four years of medical school plus three sleepless years of residency without a strong affinity for science. However, unless you cannot imagine life without discovering what wacky principles that dreamy Isaac Newton holds in store today; unless you worship at the altar of your own Louis Pasteur shrine; and unless you find yourself doodling “Mrs. Albert Einstein” encased in miniature hearts on every blank canvas, do consider another area of study. In reality, most medical schools actually require only one year in each of the following science courses: Physics Biology General Chemistry Organic Chemistry English Math That‟s it. There is plenty of room left on your undergraduate plate for all types of academic exploration. Go on and delve into the world of Shakespearean theater. Discover your inner Poe in creative writing. Feel free to survey the practical uses of Native American tribe masks, probe into the lives of Nanook Eskimos, or even master a foreign language (or two). A high GPA will invariably outweigh and outshine any choice of a major. A sure-fire way to perform your absolute best is to get a kick out of the courses and subject you are undertaking.
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As an added bonus, should your career path one day steer you from a life in medicine, you will still possess a degree in a subject which you enjoy and prize. Though she meant well, Flo actually boxed herself academically into a corner by choosing her major out of fear. She left few opportunities to explore the area of study she wished and was compelled to focus on a less desirable and more demanding subject. She would eventually have squandered away a golden opportunity to hone her journalistic talents and socialize with experienced faculty members who could point her in the right direction, possibly walking away with a marvelous internship as a result. In short, Flo would have missed out on what college was really all about.
The Sobering Advantage The encouragement to major in a non-science will be taken to heart by some students, viewed with skepticism by others, and regarded as a challenge by the rest. Despite appearances, selecting a major requires plenty of self-knowledge and, to some degree, courage to veer off the beaten path. That‟s all right. We understand the premed compulsion to stick to the tried-andtrue and that nagging fear of displeasing the admissions committee. The problem is that students always fret that becoming a non-science major would position them at a severe disadvantage compared to their bio/chem counterparts. A belief, in reality, that is not only false, but a reversal of the facts.
Premed Myth # 2
Science majors have a higher chance of being admitted into medical school
Non-science majors possess the upper hand. Period. These candidates love their major, are passionate about it, and the result is a well-rounded student with a high GPA. Their unconventional major makes the applicants unique, and “unique” is the magic password to the land of medical school. The American Medical Association reported that only about 38-40% of science majors (biology, chemistry, biochem, physics, microbiology, physiology, etc.) are actually accepted into med school. Compare this statistic to non-science majors (English,
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not to mention more inviting. This will allow you to choose only the science courses that attract you. an alternative course of action is to dabble in biology as an elective or a minor. The Next Level Contrary to popular belief. economics.history.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . to the admissions committee. this trail is blazed with perseverance. high school seniors apply to top tier universities by the truckloads. Instead. philosophy. HALF of all non-science majors have a great shot of admittance. www. In other words. students who double major with science struggle more since they become consumed with serving two demanding mistresses. more timeconsuming workload than most of their classmates. and a healthy dose of sacrifice. Your college experience will be more gratifying and your application more exceptional. After a bit of soul searching and careful consideration about your major. Science majors naturally bear a heavier. Premed Myth # 3 A more renowned university always means a higher acceptance rate to medical school. anthropology. etc. Imagine the difficulty in trying to enjoy yourself or even pick up any meaningful extracurricular activities when you barely have time to lift your nose from the grindstone. Whatever your final decision.). In addition. Stunning Stats According to the American Medical Association. dare to take the road less traveled. If you still find yourself torn between science and another subject. who all boast a staggering 47-53% admissions rate. the subsequent step is to explore which college specializes in your subject. the road to medical school is not lined with Ivy League college graduates and students with perfect test scores. praying they are suited for the institutions. Every year. discipline. Only 28% of them are actually accepted into medical school. students who double major with a science fare the worst. Yet they rarely pause to consider that the institutions might not be suited for them. and not force you into a constrained curriculum.toppremed.
If you choose to attend a smaller or less well-known college. Chalk this up to a measure of premed ego more than a true indicator of your medical school chances. In other words.toppremed. the first two years for all undergraduates are nearly identical across the board: science. the temptation to pile activities on your plate will be powerful. What a collegiate decision then comes down to is a question of personality and major specialization. you will soon discover that in this profession of medicine. Do not attempt to juggle too many pursuits at once or you will risk fumbling them all. This idea will come into play later on. etc. With the exceptions of a few classes catered to your major thrown in. Students should evaluate whether they thrive best in a larger classroom or a more modest setting. Before deciding which college is perfect for you. They often boast higher student-teacher ratios. ego is one of the first things to go. In addition. Maintain your academic focus and keep your career goals in sight at all times. English. more “famous” universities typically enjoy a knowledgeable advisory staff that can help you navigate the sometimes choppy waters of undergraduate life. folks. Though these four-year institutes naturally have their benefits. they can also possess an impersonal climate and academically competitive atmosphere. smaller or less well know colleges offer their own unique set of benefits. Selecting the one that corresponds to your career choice will ensure that you obtain the best possible learning experience from professors who are experts in their line of work. humanities. a light must be shed on a dirty little secret. While this path may skirt the untraditional side. But first. larger.Students frequently despair about the improbability of their medical school chances when they are not admitted into the prestigious college. which means that your chances of connecting with instructors and fellow classmates increases. The name and reputation of a university makes little difference! (You may want to tattoo it somewhere. As an added bonus.) The logic is simple. math. do a few hours of research on different colleges prior to submitting your applications. Log on to school websites and inspect courses www. However. advanced repeat of your high school days … minus the embarrassing acne and unsavory mystery meat. a majority of colleges possess a solid background in a certain academic field.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . the curriculum is an accelerated. By the way. (or even a community college) understand that medical school is by no means out of your reach. These types of schools may also possess a more interactive classroom setting to enhance learning and a smoother high school-tocollege transition.
Though it varies by school. are teaming up with The Honors College to offer outstanding high school seniors automatic admission to their medical schools upon completion of the university‟s academic requirements. curriculum. Then compare the competition and eliminate according to your set standards. you‟re drooling on the keyboard).toppremed. Most universities also offer campus tours for high school students. and major specialization. such as the University of Pittsburg and Mercer University. 3. (Careful. Guaranteed Admissions Program (GAP) It is every ambitious pre-med‟s fantasy: acceptance into a prestigious university and a secured spot on their medical school roster – all before you graduate high school.and specialties. Although test scores and other conditions may vary by state. At least a combined SAT score of 1240 or an ACT score of 29. 2. At least a 3. distance.4 GPA. Apart from its rigid and demanding nature. Such programs are fantastic mediums for curious seniors to ask questions and determine the college‟s classroom environment and specialty first hand.S. Several universities. the GAP is not without its drawbacks.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . the GAP is designed for students who are committed to the path of medicine early. Citizenship Qualified candidates are then selected for two rounds of interviews and must submit personal essays as well as letters of recommendation. teacher-student ratio. With its apparent benefits. The requirement appears perfectly innocuous. the common minimum requirements are as follows: 1. here are a few conditions you should weigh: All undergraduate courses MUST be completed at that university Submission of an honors dossier before graduation www. which includes an exploration of campus grounds with a guide. and tailing a college resident for a day. U. the equivalent of deciding upon your favorite candy… before you set foot inside Willy Wonka‟s Chocolate Factory. such as cost. attendance of live lectures. Grab a handful of promotional pamphlets from your advisor‟s office.
5 cumulative GPA (trust us. repeated day in and day out. In short. most of all. Weigh all the alternatives. like Mr. Wonka‟s famous confection plant. analyze your passion for medicine and. The completion of classroom assignments is left www. talk with your school advisor and parents to determine whether programs like this are suitable for you. undergraduate life can also be one of the most stressful stages of a premed‟s journey. before hastily jumping aboard. For this reason. get plenty of helpful feedback! Good luck! Chapter Two: College Life “Success is the sum of small efforts. as you‟ll see later on) Complete required honor science courses (another chancy move) Therefore. Adjustment from the pace of high school to the accelerated pace of college requires speedy adaptation on your part. this is no easy task) Major in science-related field (a potential pitfall. Remember. Such a significant commitment should not be made on whim. and organize your own schedules. Some of you will experience this freedom physically as you load up the car and head off into territories unknown. this is simply an OPTION. Maintain at least a 3. not a requirement. from this moment on. college is a liberating experience. your life becomes your own.toppremed. But all of you will experience this independence academically as you design personal curriculums. will expose you to endless options and attractive varieties. College.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Finalizing a choice before experiencing a key chapter in your life may ultimately be a risky and problematic maneuver. Others of you may experience this liberty internally as your reliance on your parents diminishes while you learn to think critically and formulate your own decisions. A minimum score of 28 on the MCAT with no subject score lower than 9.Robert Collier Academic Life Without a doubt. choose professors.” -.
college offers a remarkable occasion to experiment. all students are in danger of succumbing to this affliction at some point in their undergraduate life.toppremed. Here. But for all its inherent anxiety.entirely up to you with no prodding or attentive supervisions from your professors or parents. This is understandable. You will join campus social clubs. You will connect with faculty members who will provide wisdom as well as help you network with other professionals. A Dangerous Affliction Premeds. perform better. You will run across a broad cross-section of the campus population – a variety of cultures. backgrounds. or sororities. it‟s not even a vocabulary term. Premed Myth # 4 Extra upper-divisions science classes automatically boost an applicant‟s chances of getting into medical school. and discover yourself – an opportunity that may not pass you by again. These students then carry that overachieving mentality over to their undergraduate life.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . We call this assumption the “Bigger is Better Syndrome”. Finally. constantly seem to be in a mental frenzy to achieve more. considering the level of competition for medical school. This ambitiousness is partly a throwback to the days of high school. more than any other students on campus. Your academic responsibility must then battle the temptation of procrastination on a daily basis. Unfortunately. deprived of any Advanced Placement classes to boost admissions chances. www. you must also learn to manage your time wisely by juggling academics. premeds decide to tackle additional upper-division biology courses to impress the med school board instead. forming life-long bonds with your fellow classmates while sharing similar interests. obtain knowledge. extracurricular activities. fraternities. and rank higher. All in all. and a social life (we realize that this may be a foreign concept to some of you). college also provides a truly unique and exciting experience. and beliefs that will each teach you something new about the world and about yourself. A time when academic success is routine for many premeds and failure is not only unacceptable. No one is immune.
represent fantastic social etiquette. this hideous disorder may be prevented by performing any or all of the following: 1.There are two main methods of contraction. unlike AP classes. Enroll only for upper division science courses that genuinely interest you. live it to the fullest. 3. Covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing 5. You will have your fill of science courses once you reach med school. as the student focuses mainly on their science classes at the expense of all other academic subjects. the last two rules really have nothing to do with class registration. (All right. The first is via premed-to-premed contact. You are much more likely to learn more and score higher. www. The result is development of tunnel vision. Left untreated. ultimately leading to denial of admission by the med school committee. When the Student B‟s obsession with boosting his science GPA triggers the “excessive-science”. They are. or “overachieving” cells to viciously assault the body‟s “common-sense” cells. But when will the opportunity to enroll in “Cult Films 101” or “Proper Graffiti Techniques” ever come your way again once you graduate? College life is short. Feeling abandoned and disadvantaged. save those sleepless nights for your residency years!) 4. however. Concentrate on excelling in the basic sciences. A more effective route: register for upper-division courses that do spark your interest. 2. The Student A witnesses his biology-major colleagues feverishly hoarding upper-division science courses like a rabid chipmunk. Wash your hands frequently.) Students rarely enroll in difficult biology courses out of sheer fascination for the subjects. Not surprisingly. (Hey. Student A begins itching to do the same. patients could experience premature burnout or decline of grade point averages. only a handful winds up with a truly impressive grade to show for their efforts. Prognosis: bleak. He or she wants to compete and hopes that such actions will thaw the glacial hearts of the admissions panel. Avoid registering for more than three science courses at any one time if at all possible.toppremed. The second means of infection can only be described as autoimmune.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . you do not receive bonus points for taking these classes. Even those who do obtain incredible marks hardly ever acquire an edge over the competition since. Fortunately.
If you‟re also relying on upper-division biology to boost your science GPA. Thus. In other words.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Unfortunately. Secondly. filled by a wide range of students. in their college years. Some are less adept at these subjects than others and will therefore lower the exam curves.toppremed. obtain an invitation to med school. Needless to say. upper-divisions frequently consist of complex theories that draw upon concepts introduced in the basic sciences. And since these strategies have rarely failed. any day of the week. Unfortunately. This policy frequently backfires. science prerequisites are usually part of a university‟s general education curriculum and are. quality will trump quantity any time of night. www. which proceeds to work in your favor. therefore. college (and medical school) is an entirely different ballgame. there has never been a need to change them. they possess specific game plans which they rely on to guide them through uncharted waters. you will eliminate the desperation to make up for your mediocre science GPA later on. ultimately. many premeds once again turn to their trusty high school practices to help them succeed and. If you perform well in those classes. Remember. These classes are primarily populated by science majors who regard their textbook as a learning tool and not a handy coaster or doorstop. Along the same vein of racking up gratuitous upper-division sciences is the compulsion to tackle every honor courses ever created to prove their intelligence and stand out from the pack. think again. Like skilled athletes. performing well in upper-division classes largely hinges on you having excelled in your introductory science courses in the first place. this advantage is removed in upper division science classes. with scholastic success often as familiar to them as a childhood friend. Premed Myth # 5 Honors classes are the keys to a med school‟s heart. stiffer competition will be headed your way. Old Habits Die Hard Students traveling the path to a medical career are industrious by nature. Your best course of action is to excel in the introductory sciences that are actually required by medical schools. For one thing.
but at what cost? Premed Myth # 6 Graduating early will improve your chances with the admissions committee. When reviewing college transcripts. Students are always encouraged to challenge themselves. you can still enroll in the challenging courses you wish and come away triumphant. diligence. (Such a curriculum would be barbaric… and a bit silly. and some very clever planning.Contrary to popular belief. the stunt‟s not nearly so memorable if gravity dictates that you plunge headlong towards the bottom. And somewhere along the way. then by all means.) In a way.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . premeds tend to take the advice as carte blanche to overload their coursework. wait another quarter or semester to take the class. balance it with one or two easier classes to protect your sanity and prevent burnout. break every bone in your body. grandiose exploits to outshine their competitors and win over the admissions committee. triple honor courses per quarter or semester are completely unnecessary to impress the admissions committee. A Rush Into Mediocrity The overachieving genes of premeds are notorious for leading them to attempt demanding. A three-year graduation may allow you to enter medical school quickly. Unfortunately. The consequence is a mediocre GPA belonging to one very worn-down scholar. With passion. That‟s all. all the committee wishes to conclude is whether a student is capable of carrying out the workload presented in medical school in a proficient manner. www. enrolling in all honors courses is comparable to jumping across the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle: a remarkable feat…but only if you can pull it off. Of course. if conditions are uncooperative. Evaluate your academic ability. run with it. and set evolution back another couple of decades. many students get it into their heads that finishing college sooner than their classmates is an impressive intellectual feat. If you possess the skill to consistently ace the honors curriculum. and. assess the classes you can handle deftly. If an honors course does pique your interest.toppremed.
ask yourself some important questions. A proficient student. a premed would brag. your focus is not on how many patients you can barrel through in a day. before finalizing the decision to do so. Will I be required to encumber my schedule? If so. as a physician.6 GPA and 0.toppremed. In the medical field. hey.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . This juggling act becomes even more crucial come exam time. You cannot presume to rush through a congested schedule and still retain some measure of precision and accuracy in medicine or any other areas in life. spiking their charts triumphantly on your way out the door like a victorious quarterback. Did You Know? Tackling a Different Animal Because premed students were typically successful in high www. how will this affect my work? For every class you enroll in beyond a full-time schedule (roughly 12 unit per semester). I graduated early!” Success in medicine does NOT work that way. by any means. Being a great physician (or a great premed) is not about overextending yourself into mediocrity. All in all. they conveniently leave out the other part of that story. chair committees.00 units of extracurricular activities… But. Graduating early is not. However. Every once in a while. are the key components to achieving remarkable works. “I had a 2. essential study hours must be deducted from one or more courses in order to fully devote to that additional class. your achievements are not solely predicated upon practicing at a high patient volume. knows that balance. Spreading yourself thin could cause unnecessary errors that would take extra time to go back and correct. “I registered for 25 units every quarter and I totally graduated in three years!” Of course. along with patience. which usually finishes with. especially during finals week when your congested timetable begins to take its toll. They are expected to attend conferences. a crime. educational experience by shortening college? Every hour spent in lecture requires at least three hours of individual studying time outside of class. Similar to college students.At what point did medical school suddenly transform into a relentless race to the finish? Students parade the number of units they enroll in as if these numbers were a Purple Heart medal or a pageantry sash. like an experienced doctor. physicians regularly wrestle with a full work load. and serve on boards in addition to daily hospital or clinical practice. In other words. the true issue at hand is: would you still have a satisfying.
Remember. the extensive reading. “I would like to do well on your exams. too. Breathe easy. however. You‟ll be brighter-eyed. twiddling their thumbs. really. we invite you to tackle a marathon without the benefit of proper preparation first…and please videotape the event then send it to us. One would not consider walking into it blindly in much the same way one would not consider conquering an entire marathon unprepared. if you find yourself still banging the snooze button by the crack of noon. lonely souls and pay them a visit.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . opt for a later afternoon to evening schedule. a smart study strategy will help you stay ahead of the game and stay strong. Know When to Read the Book www. by itself. Quite sad. What can I do to get the best possible grade in this class?” They will love you for it. No wonder students frequently struggle academically in college but are bewildered at why they do so. But most students are far too intimidated by their professors to ask for help and often hesitate to consult them due to fear of appearing stupid or annoying. College. Attend Office Hours Strolling into a classroom and being lectured at for an hour.toppremed. rarely helps you to ace those difficult exams. and more prepared to tackle the day…or night. try to register for morning to noon classes.school. Simply approach them and say. So take pity on these poor. and all the other nefarious distractions of undergrad life. professors are people. Nevertheless. they assume that the same set of skills that allowed them to waltz through high school will serve them equally well as undergrads. Rest assured that medical schools do not expect straight A‟s from their students. Know Your Nature Are you an early bird or a night owl? If you are most awake when the sun is up (sans the aid of caffeine). On the other hand. but I also want to learn a great deal. Moreover. instructors frequently sit alone in their office. the competitive atmosphere.) Freshmen decline to factor in the lightning pace. (For those who scoffed at the prior statement. and hoping today‟s the day a brave student would drop by and talk to them. is a different breed of animal that presents a new set of challenges. bushier-tailed.
Highlight in different colors. review your notes inside the realm of 24 hours after lecture via skimming. In contrast. and less addictive than Starbucks? What‟s not to like?. Whatever it takes to make these theorems stick. Summarize pivotal points. Go Over Your Notes To extend the memory shelf life of various concepts. This method will grant you the best of both worlds: the insight the skilled instructor teaches you but evaluated on the more lenient test curve provided by the more awkward teacher. you know that instructors vary extensively in clarity. If you registered for the awkward or monotonous types.ratemyprofessor. study the previous class lecture notes half an hour before lecture time (yes. ensure that you borrow or purchase someone else‟s notes from the inferior professor‟s lectures to eliminate any discrepancies in the lesson plans. nothing beats first hand experience. an intellectual wake-call that is cheaper. a majority of biology courses are conceptual in nature. your best chance to master them is to work out the practice problems ad nauseum. especially the upper-division ones. even if your class begins at 7am) is the ultimate method of brain stimulation. For every science course.Calculus. Emblazon theories onto your clothes. The types of exercises you encounter in the textbooks will reappear on your exams... Come on. except for the 7am part. Skywrite.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . www. more energizing. passion and hairstyle. But while such feedback sites prove beneficial. Shop Around For Professors If you have ever visited websites such as www. treat your manual as a supplementary source: refer to it for problem solving tips first. Thus. skip their lectures and visit their more enjoyable counterparts. Better yet. editing. attend each teacher‟s class (if possible) and observe the quality of his or her lecture techniques.toppremed. then scan the chapter afterwards if time allows. In this case. effectiveness. Annotate in margins. Reading the book thoroughly is a higher priority. and chemistry are classic problem-solving courses. Well. However. physics. or even redrafting them.com.
Harass the TA’s Figurative.” forever following your name. you still feel lost. Grab a list of every TA and a schedule of all the available sections. frustrated. Picture them as a futuristic version of you: successful course completion with an insight into the test materials. Others drop hints of possible materials tested on upcoming. As with professors.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . At least you‟ll find their friendly nature and knowledgeable attitude far more agreeable than staring at the same page in your textbook for three hours. then attend as many of them as you can. They are the ultimate mediators. non-medical school requirement classes pass/not pass Take classes in which you are genuinely interested in Take a few classes at the local community college. Some TAs supply useful handouts during their session. Consider the following PROVEN tactics that will improve your GPA and increase your likelihood of getting into medical school: Take less units per quarter/semester so that you have more time to study. of course. not literal harassment. Teaching Assistants (TA) are intriguing individuals – a professor‟s expertise of a subject filtered through the perspective of a student. For the sections you cannot frequent. Shelve Your Ego Even after going beyond applying all the recommended tips mentioned above.toppremed. find the personality and teaching style that suits you best.D. You goal should not be to impress your friends. perhaps watching the same concept explained seven different ways will suddenly turn a light bulb on in your head. Stop. www. Remember your goal is to wear a white coat and stethoscope with the initials “M. relax and reevaluate your strategy. do extracurricular activities or have fun Take a few non-major. Though larger classes may tend to assign TAs to your section. Who knows. do not allow this to restrict you. your parents or your ego. Pick their brain. or left behind. consider dropping by the TA‟s office hours to catch up on what you missed. others work out tricky homework or former exam problems.
Remember. A few community college classes or P‟s on your transcripts are largely ignored.toppremed. the most important factors that med schools consider are your GPA and that you show that you can excel in an academically competitive environment. a low GPA is not. www.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .
the better your chances of submitting your application on time – a key aspect in a successful admission. Premed Myth # 7 A letter of recommendation can only carry weight if written by a powerful or famous person. The consequence could either be a refusal for a reference or a brief.toppremed. Though schools will specify the amount and type of letters they will accept. the general rule of thumb is a submission of two letters from science professors with an additional letter www. Applicants scramble over one another in an effort to ferret out the most prominent and influential figures they can find. Secondly. between the months of September and January of the year they wish to apply. This interval will prove practical for several reasons. and generic letter from the instructor. your references may still carry considerable credibility without the need to raise Albert Einstein from the dead. First. Letters of recommendations is one such vehicle. roughly Pre Med Tips The ideal time to begin asking for letters is between December through March. the earlier you ask for a recommendation. bear in mind that you are not the only student to apply to medical school.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Students generally present their letters together with their secondary applications.” --Henry Ford (In)Credible References Few individuals in the world will dispute that med school admissions is hyper competitive by nature. professors are much more likely to remember early applicants and will appreciate the generous time frame you grant them to compose their letter. The longer you delay. roughly three months before submitting your primary application. inciting certain students to seek any area to set themselves apart. the more swamped your professor will be with other recommendation requests. from Oprah to the President of the United States. lukewarm. Happily. either way you are right. Third.Chapter Three: Letters Of Recommendation “Whether you think you can or you can’t.
they even hesitate for a moment. or interesting instructors or supervisors whom you would like to know better. choose the confidential file option. but heartfelt thank you note stating the deadline for the letter along www. Throughout your undergraduate journey. keep an eye out for amicable. Medical schools in particular need to feel that the glowing reviews they are reading have not been altered or edited like an airbrushed celebrity poster. or reveal a sharp personality trait. Building a relationship is often as simple as attending office hours. If not. you may combat your poor performance by obtaining a glowing letter from your English composition professor. Unless otherwise stated. or just chat about any issues that interest you both.or better). a persuasive commendation is a powerful tool in your arsenal that can be employed to corroborate your humanitarian efforts. Used strategically. Provide a packet of your personal information no more than two days afterwards. however. But more importantly. you will need to register with your career services or premedical student office. you suddenly came down with a touch of the plague. Once you have mentally selected the qualified authors of your references. students may feel free to send up to six references from other scholastic sources. be thoughtful enough to make their job a little easier. who will keep those letters on your behalf.obtained from either a non-science instructor or extracurricular administrator. if you feel that compelled to verify the contents. Here you can discuss lecture topics.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .toppremed. your references can go a long way in erasing any nagging doubts in the minds of the admissions committee. confirm your academic prowess. politely approach them and ask if they feel comfortable writing you a solid recommendation. meaning that you are not privileged to the contents of any of the references. which will testify to your creative aptitude. Your writers want the security of knowing that they can offer their opinions freely and sincerely. request the chance to become a teacher‟s assistant. If. reference letters may be utilized to conceal blemishes in your academic record. Besides. you can always register for other courses with the same professor. If for some reason. for instance. inquire into the professor‟s background. Prior to requesting your letters. When setting up your own file. If they happen to agree. charismatic. assure them that they are free to decline if unable to submit a strong letter. in the midst of the essay portion on the MCAT exam. it may be a sign that the author is not as reliable as you previously thought. If upon completing the course you found it interesting and did well (you received an A. which should include: a brief. Carefully selected.
a duplicate of your personal statement.with a short reminder of your history together. a copy of your AMCAS application. After the letter is submitted. and a stamped envelope addressed to the career services/premed office. www. send another concise note or card to express your gratitude. the med schools of your choice will receive a cordial.toppremed. meaningful.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . If performed with sufficient precision and consideration. and compelling expression of your achievements. a current transcript.
your experience is also rewarding for YOU. In short. real world experience operates alongside scholastic knowledge to craft an accomplished. well-rounded medical candidate. you‟re passionate. and befriending. In addition. sniff out a benevolent.Chapter Four: Extracurricular Activities Within the world of medicine. In a mutually beneficial relationship.toppremed. agreeable radiologist whom you can shadow or develop a project with. students should dedicate at least one year to this pursuit. Would you enjoy it? More importantly. For example. No wonder pursuits dedicated to areas beyond the academic sphere comprises the second branch of the premed building block. Extracurricular activities demonstrate commitment to enhancing people‟s lives as well as awareness of the difficulties afflicting the community today. but profound social insight dwells in the heart of a truly skilled physician. The opportunities for volunteering remain as limitless and thrilling as ever. it is not about being the best and the brightest. and you‟re sincere. consider working in a laboratory. Not your parents or your siblings or best friend‟s dog twice removed. terminally ill patients will open your eyes. intellectual expertise may be prized. Working with. But. All that truly matters is that you‟re involved. unlike your high school volunteering days. can you commit to it? Ideally. your ultimate choices should not be whimsical or random. And as much as you give back to those around you. This time frame will permit you to become well acquainted with your project as well as allow your manager to learn your work ethics (and hopefully recommend said ethics to a med school committee later on). assisting nurses at derelict camps will challenge your courage. your part. your endeavor must showcase your interests and personality and no one else‟s. for once. tackling these projects can arguably be the most enjoyable portion of your premedical journey because. The final question you should ask yourself is: will it fit with your story? If your reason for becoming a doctor is an affinity for science. Selecting ventures that are suitable for you again requires introspection on Pre Med Tips The ideal time to commit to a nonacademic endeavor should be five hours a week for approx one-two years. If you dream of staffing the radiology department. Gaining knowledge of diverse medical environments will engage you.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Your extracurricular pursuits must be carefully tailored to enhance or develop vital www.
very few of those hours will be left over for you to spend on supplementary projects. but you would be surprised how many volunteer works miss such a glaring characteristic.. Dispense vaccines in poor neighborhoods in foreign countries. Volunteer in a clinic. opt for work that administers free or inaccessible service for those in need of it. The Seal of Approval Once you reach campus. sports team. and other ubiquitous advertisements encouraging you to join every type of social organization. your time spent will be vastly more gratifying. and your experience will help you become a more compassionate and socially perceptive physician.qualities. posters. Therefore. Therefore. such as compassion and growth. A Real World Suggestion. Provide Relief This may sound like a no-brainer. Students get so caught up in acquiring impressive-sounding titles (such as “Assistant Junior Case Manager‟s Assistant”) that they are blinded to the fact that their designations officially translate into “One Who Fetches Files”. For instance. help provide free blood pressure screenings for impoverished individuals who cannot afford regular health care. And. and career club under the sun. No matter how modest your input. there are only 24 hours in a day. www..toppremed.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Performing menial intern chores is neither impressive nor rewarding. Avoiding overexertion and never seeing the warmth of your bed again requires skillful scheduling and a critical analysis of your outside pursuits. if your premedical coursework and overachieving personality have anything to say about it. you will no doubt be bombarded with flyers. The most desirable extracurricular activities should possess the following trademarks: 1. stickers. Unfortunately. which you may or may not currently possess – qualities that cannot be calculated by test scores and grade point averages alone. the temptation to participate in all of them will frequently overwhelm you.
the last thing you need is to get stuck stuffing envelope in a cubicle by yourself all day. For example. Join a crusade that brings awareness to certain epidemics Become an emergency medical technician (EMT) 3. if you are shy by nature. Aid Your Growth Your nonacademic pursuits should help you mature into the type of doctor you envision yourself to be.. amend a flaw. 2. Instead. In other words. Reflect on your story and pursue activities that might correspond with your background. Not only is the task mind numbing (not to mention requiring you to be only half awake).com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Such ventures should challenge you to forge a momentous experience.well. work with your supervisor and request to be gradually exposed to public speaking or interacting with a large group of people. “difficult” is the most polite term we could think of. you should learn something new about yourself (and others) that you never have before. or confront a fear. from the friendly to the …. Staff a shelter for abused women or runaways. You will also find that the responsibilities you undertake during this process will transform you into a sophisticated medical school candidate.. For instance. at the end of the day. from the affluent to the underprivileged. but there is little room to work your way up in and obtain more responsibility. Expand Your Horizons A physician is expected to treat and interact with a broad range of the public. if you grew up in a predominantly Middle Eastern neighborhood or wish to bring advanced www. Give a science or health presentation at a local high school. Tend to the daily needs of terminal ill patients.toppremed. from the grown-up to the newborn. A Real World Suggestion.
While a career in medicine does entail continual training.D. Gregory House in the television drama “House.” (We kindly suggest.. The coaching role also comes into play when instructing new residents at a teaching hospital a la Dr. You not only get to discuss a subject you are already passionate about. If your entire existence consisted of gated communities or comfortable lifestyles. however. why not pick up a foreign language to enhance communications with the people you care for? Another means of broadening your perspective is to get out of your comfort zone.. etc. medicine. you are habitually fixed in a position of learning from another person. being a physician also involves imparting newfound wisdom on others with concern and authority. and transforms you into an effective communicator. A Real World Suggestion. stimulate creative juices. tingling feeling inside. Demonstrate Teaching Skills As an undergraduate student and a volunteer. that you leave the gruff. What medical school wouldn‟t love that? www.medical technology to the penurious villages of Vietnam. water.) to needy communities or countries. then sign up to become a teaching assistant for that course. You will discover this communication skill to be vital when it comes to educating your patients about new procedures and medications. M. misanthropic attitude to the folks at Hollywood …unless defending lawsuits filed against you just gives you that warm. Merely changing one aspect of your environment could change your life.) A fantastic starting point to obtain teaching experience is to recall a class that you truly enjoyed.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . 4. Seek employment in a downtown free health clinic Enroll in the Peace Corps Enlist your services at a blood bank Assist operations that donate essentials (food.toppremed. but it also boosts your confidence. consider spending time in soup kitchens.
But it takes a touch of spunk – and a truckload of that famous premed ego – to be elected president or.. www. physicians are depended upon to formulate snappy decisions or spearhead risky operations on a daily basis. and dedicated. The truth is. Medical schools are enchanted by applicants who have attained recognition for their efforts. 5. gutsy. Admissions committees seek students who display a glimmer of this leadership quality early on. Anyone can join a campus premed club. Illustrate Initiative Extracurricular activity isn‟t limited to just volunteer or work experience. better yet. found an organization.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . In fact. If you are always shouting trivia answers at the television screen anyway.toppremed. you are half-way to becoming a member.. nothing shouts “overachiever” quite like a tacky plaque. After all.A Real World Suggestion. The ideal medical school candidate will apply his ambition and enthusiasm to all aspects of his life. why not grab a spot on “Jeopardy!”? Exasperated your amazing vocals are still reduced to singing in the shower? Demand an answer from “American Idol” (hey. Tutor high school students in after school programs Head a boy/girls scout of America Counsel for a summer camp program Act as mentor for a child in the performing arts Whip out those diplomacy skills as a resident advisor. matching t-shirts or have thought about health care at some point in your life. Let nothing stand in your way. if you can don goofy. bonus points for showing off to Simon Cowell)! Acknowledgement in any facet of your life is a fantastic sign of the type of doctor a candidate can become: resourceful.
Admissions panels can sniff out the difference between “laboratory contributors” and “laboratory janitors”. take the initiative to uncover the details of not only your job but also the project itself. Explain to your employer your desire to vigorously participate in the research and inquire how you might be able www. and also serves to enhance the applications of those wishing to pursue a medical career later in life. Premed Myth # 8 All lab duties are created equal. their contribution in that project. “…uhmm…. such Win the lead role in a play Perfect your musical talents at a concert or as part popular but requires handling on experience of a symphony will prove productive. comprehensive information regarding the research and.A Real World Suggestion. For instance. The “janitors”. or end? The answer will indicate to you the amount of time you would expect to devote to it. do everything within your power to make the ordeal worthwhile.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .” If you are fortunate enough to find yourself employed in a laboratory. the “contributors” will woo the medical school board with educated.. will most likely begin and end their sentences with the informative word. most importantly. Captain a sports team Become “Employee of the Month” Take over the school newspaper as editor in chief A Question of Duties Research is a tricky practice that some delicate your part. when inquired about the extent of their involvement in the research.toppremed.. students tend to become so dazzled by handling live active cultures or fiddling with advanced scientific gadgets that they rarely question what their jobs actually entail. True. middle. Upon your first interview. Having said that. educational. on the other hand. What phase is it currently undergoing: infant.
Whatever you do. if patient care is up your alley. if you enjoy your role as a hospital volunteer. Nothing erases doubt in an admissions committee‟s mind concerning your involvement and dedication quite like a published article at the conclusion of the project. Medical schools love students who follow through on a particular project. we simply cannot count the number of times reputable surgeons refuse to operate without receiving that special input only a candy striper can provide. but search for more gratifying and relevant work as undergraduates. Otherwise. it‟s a warning sign that your experience is not as productive or significant as you might believe. Or how many times medical students complain about tackling rigorous courses such as Anatomy and X-Ray Retrieval 101. Volunteering in hospitals make for great exposure to medicine during your high school years. If you have no clue about your location on the totem pole or how your responsibilities affect the program. A Clinical Partnership Every summer. and recognition. Research.to expand your current role in time. A handful of half-hearted hours a week www. Witnessing patients in clinical environments. knowledge. Again. should lead to personal growth.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . surrounded by dizzying emergencies and procedures. ensure that your duty actually requires human interaction on a daily basis! Do not get stuck filing charts by yourself or signing patients in and out of rooms. along with any other quality nonacademic activity. You know. For example. with the efficient clockwork of geese heading south for the winter. and rubbing elbows with the staff.toppremed. run with it for as long as possible. you will probably end up performing free slave labor with still no solid clue of what a physician‟s duty actually entails. sign up in an urban clinic and insist on acquiring an active position. Hospital work is only impressive if you execute it routinely and thoroughly. premeds flock to neighboring hospitals. what could possibly go wrong? Premed Myth # 9 Hospital volunteering will perfectly groom you for a medical career. lining up for a chance to partake in the mysterious world of medicine.
your first year of residency is not the best forum to discover that you actually faint with an effeminate sigh at the first sight of blood. Your advisors. such as Jonathan. After all. Also. are permitted to monitor their physician‟s daily activities – treat patients. Then request their help in meeting those expectations.toppremed. identify what you want out of your extracurricular and do not hesitate to ask around. do not be afraid to inform your supervisors of your goals – what (and how much) you wish to contribute as well as what you would like to take away from the experience. professors. attend meetings. premed society presidents. and enthusiastic in all of your endeavors. respectful. Above all. Undergraduates. be selective.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . University hospitals are great breeding grounds for wise and willing clinicians to partner with eager students. sit in on committees – in a variety of settings for a certain amount of time. A relevant alternative to clinical volunteering is to establish a mentorship with a doctor or a nurse.for a couple of intermittent summers will not cut it. Such a partnership is ideal for showing the admissions board that you fully understand what you are getting yourself into. and graduate students are excellent sources of information as they have helped many students in your situation before. The point is. Happy hunting! www.
a way to even the playing field. and communication skills of prospective medical school candidates. class size. Therefore. and academic specialty of the school itself. The MCAT is the third component which the admissions committee will use to evaluate an applicant‟s qualification for medical school. the MCAT is not an evil conspiracy dreamed up by the American Medical Association to make premeds miserable and take over the world…. but they only indicate how well that student is doing relative to others from that same school. For an exam cloaked in as much myths as truths. reading comprehension. The job of the MCAT is to measure a student‟s ability to think critically while remaining completely impartial to the individual‟s background. conducts as a means to measure scientific knowledge. Medical school applicants obtain their undergraduate education from a wide range of sources.well. including (but not limited to) the type of instructor. several factors do affect a student‟s learning experience. Of course. at least that‟s not their entire plan anyway. Since the exam is fashioned to predict the performance of an individual once he or she reaches medical school.Chapter Five: The MCAT “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .Thomas Jefferson Rarely have four simple letters struck such trepidation into the hearts of so many undergraduates. and all other external factors. from a small junior college to a world renowned university. or AMCAS. let us help you separate the hard truths from the rather imaginative fiction. if you will. educational origins. If you have ever flirted with the idea of attending medical school. then chances are you have already caught a smidgen of the horror stories swirling around this intimidating event. The MCAT is a standardized test which the American Medical College Application Service. GPA‟s tells the admissions board a lot about a student‟s academic prowess. why is such an exam necessary? Contrary to popular belief.” -. The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is possibly the source of more student nightmares than a zit on prom night. the AMCAS needed a more accurate frame of reference. But with so many sources of information – such as academic history and personal statement – that are used to evaluate applicants. And though premedical programs are similar across all types of schools. it will be one of the most www.toppremed.
We‟ll wait. Still. thus restricting students to either a fall or spring testing. do not despair just yet. the CBT is available 22 times a year. on the whole. go with it. many graduate school exams. You may Stunning Stats AMCAS reports that the CBT actually reduced the MCAT from an eight hour test to a five hour exam. which comprised of nearly six hours of testing coupled with two small breaks and an hour of lunch in between. The MCAT is a lengthy. overwhelming urge to run amok in the streets in slow motion to the song “Born Free” as you www. or last minute withdrawal often forced the individual to wait another six months or more before being able to enroll again. In 2007. thus throwing a wrench into that student‟s med school plans. students are advised to take the MCAT only once. underwent a major renovation. The most obvious and drastic modification consisted of condensing the time-consuming length of the exam of itself. The conventional paper-and-pencil technique required an entire day devoted to this grueling ordeal. On the other hand.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Therefore. A low score will reflect harshly on your image as a potential med school candidate. including the MCAT. and intellectually. (If you suddenly experience an joyously embrace complete strangers.crucial tests a premedical undergraduate will encounter. The CBT reduced the exam to roughly four hours of testing arranged around three optional 10 minute breaks in between sections. many students agonize nonetheless about the volume of test materials looming before them as they prepare to tackle this tremendous exam. the makeover. Late registration.) In addition. taking some of the pressure off of those who either registered late or decided to back out of the original test date later on. worked in favor of the students. Do not take this lightly. A Silver Lining…or Two Though the formidable reputation of the MCAT may induce you to crumple into a fetal position while clutching a plush novelty toy.toppremed. demanding ordeal that will challenge your endurance and tax you physically. bad timing. this abridged CBT version actually made the MCAT more accessible to premeds. This cutback omits over 30% of material from the original test. the customary MCAT was only offered twice a year. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Prior to the change. updating them from the traditional paper-and-pencil method to a more modern computer-based testing (CBT). Fortunately. mentally. despite the neat makeover. There will be very little room for errors.
The courses will have outfitted you with the basic knowledge essential to earning a favorable score. they must transform themselves into encyclopedias on legs. from the survival techniques down to the check-in process. finally. and study session has taught you to direct your time effectively. Many students assume that in order to excel. This ideal period offers a sufficiently prolonged timeframe to mold you into seasoned scholars. Your science courses have already trained you to apply memorized information to analyze advanced concepts in a limited time frame. cyclical-espresso-shots all-nighters have also conditioned you to cram entire textbooks into memory just before exam time. Besides. After all. the MCAT is steeped in mystery and mythology.find it hard to believe that you already possess a lion‟s share of the knowledge and tools necessary to score well. arcane medical material.toppremed. you have already completed a majority of your science prerequisite classes. your entire scholastic life has disciplined you to brave complex exams without breaking down or running screaming from the room. In addition. an exam of such lofty caliber must be as complex and esoteric to the prospective medical school candidate as the Klingon language at a “Star Trek” convention. You have the proper weapons at your disposal. All that is left are some impeccable insider‟s tips to help you craft an effective and shrewd battle plan to conquer your formidable foe and walk away with an exceptional score. But few features of the test receive as much imaginative conjectures as the MCAT material itself.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . By the time you are prepared to attack the MCAT. your own organization of academics. Only students with superior intelligence will perform well. Make no mistake. www. Premed Myth # 10 The MCAT centers on sophisticated. extracurricular activities. junk-food-fueled. And. Back to Basics Due to its formidable and momentous nature. Students love to speculate on every aspect of the exam. Most premedical students take the MCAT in their junior years. your last minute.
Unlike many other tests you have taken in your high school or undergraduate years.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . The truth is that. and whether or not the test date or studying time will interfere with your current academic schedule. the MCAT is an assessment of preparation and a test of nerves. around early fall since students had the advantage of summer break to prepare and their current undergraduate workload is still relatively light. most of which has already been covered ad nauseum by your introductory chemistry. you may find yourself transferred out of state in order to take the exam since the nearest locations are already full. more than anything else. plan www. physics. why would the MCAT have such a fierce reputation?” you may ask…that is. You must factor in how much preparation you feel is necessary. Therefore. and biology courses. the MCAT is not a competition to see which student can cram the most test material into his cranium before regurgitating it back on the exam. Once a decision has been reached. Come the big day. The exam will then bank on the fact that you will be distracted enough to enough to fall for the trap answers and nervous enough to completely unravel at the sight of the ticking timer at the bottom of the screen. the most popular test dates center Pre Med Tip The ideal time to study for the MCAT is roughly 20 hours a week over 4-6 months. “But if all the concepts are so basic. should you wait that long. you must then log onto the AMCAS website and sign up online at www.org. if you were the type of individual who often holds open conversations with inanimate objects. when you wish you apply to med school. On the contrary. your preparations for the MCAT will revolve around learning to retrieve and utilize the basic knowledge you already possess to interpret complex topics. If you can learn to do this with speed and accuracy – while keeping a cool head about you – then an exceptional score awaits you. the amount of time you have to devote. Though the AMCAS allows you to enroll up to ten days before the actual test date. Thus.toppremed.You may be shocked to discover that the level of science tested by the MCAT is actually quite fundamental. the MCAT will throw some long-winded passages at you containing foreign concepts and convoluted wording.aamc. However. A Matter of Time Scheduling the big day all comes down to clever timing. these dates fill up fast so plan to register early on.
toppremed. perhaps all you truly require to soothe your pre-MCAT jitters and ace this exam is the healthy glow of jet lag. Physical Science 52 multiple choices Six to eight passages with four to six questions per passage Up to seven stand-alone questions Designed to assess: general chemistry. depth.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .ahead! But then again. comprehensiveness. and syntax Time allotted: 30 minutes per essay Biological Science 52 multiple choices Six to eight passages with four to seven questions per passage Up to seven stand alone questions Designed to assess: general biology and introductory organic chemistry Time allotted: 70 minutes www. Sizing up the Enemy The MCAT consists of four subjects: three sciences and a verbal component. Here is the breakdown of what you can expect come test day. grammar. and data interpretation Time allotted: 70 minutes Verbal Reasoning 40 multiple choices Six to eight passages Up to seven questions per passage Designed to assess: reading comprehension and critical thinking skills Time allotted: 60 minutes Writing Samples Two essay prompts Designed to assess: organization. clarity of thought. basic physics.
you should know that hardly any school will accept any section score lower than a seven. Secondly. that a low Writing Sample score might keep you out of the med school running. the clearer the message you are sending to the www. all other subjects are machine scored and each section is then given a score between 1 and 15. and the more attempts you make. This scoring system also signifies that you may be able to make additional mistakes on the more challenging exams yet still earn an agreeable score. meaning that your score will be normalized against all the other students who also took the exam that same day. A Second Chance The MCAT is recommended to be taken only once. you will need a minimum total score of 30P. The scores of both essays will be combined and averaged once more to give you one letter grade.The Score Breakdown In a benevolent move by the AMCAS. every MCAT test will be graded on a curve. If you know your weakness in a certain section could make you falter below the double digit line. With the exceptions of the writing samples. and with good reason. however. do not allow your weakest subject to cripple you. Of the four sections. Fortunately. For that reason. so do not get the wrong idea. Keep in mind. If you prefer to shoot for more renowned universities. every MCAT exam you take will be released. The most obvious basis is that there are no guarantees you will score significantly higher the second time around. a master reader (let‟s call him “Jack Bauer”) will evaluate the essay and then all three scores will be averaged out. A poor mark informs the admissions committee that you do not perform well under pressure or have little aptitude for planning ahead. scores in the middle (from N to Q) are much too similar in the eyes of the admissions board to warrant a numerical assessment.toppremed. Each of the essays is reviewed by two human readers who (independently) grant a letter grade ranging from J (lowest) to T (highest). do not sweat it just yet. the Writing Sample is the most overlooked since your med school application will also contain its own writing segment called the Personal Statement.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . having said that. You may still have a chance of getting in if your scores in the other two sections can climb past the average. In order to gain admittance into most medical schools. If the scores between the two readers differ by more than one letter. However. The general rule of thumb to perform successfully is that you may make a mistake once every six questions. you will at least a score of 32P.
If you have not already done so. Take a breather and assess the damage. we suggest you only use this option under the most calamitous conditions…for instance. you feel queasy about your performance. Thus. discipline. do not give in to hysterics. like the decision to retake the test. If immediately upon finishing the exam. we caution the use of this feature as well. you have completed the biological science section and ended the test. it will be logged as one attempt. and the rest will examine your results – and external factors – and decide accordingly. A second party might give you the structure. Once you take the MCAT. an option which will appear on the computer screen after Stunning Stats Approximately half of all medical students have taken the MCAT more than once. whether the scores are distributed or not. others will look at the most recent (good or bad) score. much more effort www. As you can see. you will need special permission from the AMCAS to try again. Nevertheless. If you pinpoint the culprit to be inadequate preparations. In addition. still others will average your attempts. your leprosy choosing the middle of the exam to flare up (again). However. you have a final chance to “void the exam”. you may need to face the facts that another go may not change the results all that much. Remember.committee that you are ill-prepared and lack the confidence to be a great doctor. and support you require. Before you click on this button. You are not the first to do so and you will not be the last. just because you choose to erase the exam and not release the score does not mean you did not take the test that day. ask yourself whether you have a history of underestimating your own performance. If you believe the cause of your low score to be sheer panic during the exam. you may have erased a potentially great score.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Some medical schools will accept your best score. you will need to completely revise your studying habits. After three strikes. it is always better to allow the date to pass if you do not feel fully prepared than to take it and prove yourself correct. What went wrong? Did you feel you have done your best? If this is the case.toppremed. If you find this to be the case. if you completely tanked the exam the first time around. Finally. and performing this action more than once will reflect negatively on your premedical candidacy. the answer may lay in performing more timed practice tests under exam-like conditions to train yourself not to curl up in a whimpering ball at the sight of a ticking timer. ensure that you fully enlighten the admissions board in your application why you feel the second exam echo your talents more clearly. consider enrolling in a prep course or hire a private tutor if you can afford it.
mentally eliminate this option and prepare for the exam as if no other opportunities exist.is required on your part to obtain that second chance.toppremed. www. Therefore.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .
are not registered with the AMCAS and you will need to apply to them individually.org/students/amcas. You have mastered your science prerequisites. your premedical preparation is nearly complete. The primary application is accessible only online on the AMCAS website at www. The great news is that the application only needs to be filled out once before it is released to the participating schools of your choice. You have obtained the praises and commendations of your professors in written form. You have vanquished that nefarious MCAT exam. Kansas City o University of Texas Along the same vein as a college selection process. in the tradition of legendary heroes such as Beowulf or Odysseus. Bravo.S. in a pure premed rite of passage. These schools of medicine include: o Brown University o Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons o New York University o State University of New York o Texas A&M o Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center o University of North Dakota o University of Missouri. the primary AMCAS application is your best platform. deciding the medical school of your choice should not solely be based on school notoriety and rank. And. you have survived 48 hours on zero sleep and nothing but pure caffeine running through your veins at least once a quarter. your valiant. wacky adventures as a premed needs to be sung. And short of an epic poem or NBC made-for-TV movie.Chapter Six: Personal Statement Can you feel it? The electricty in the air that arises as you are closing in on the home stretch? By now. Unfortunately.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . The conviction that the institution you chose is the best in the country will be of little comfort when you discover that its www. a few medical schools within the U. But now what? Well.toppremed.aamc.
Applying to medical school is NOT a numbers game. The earlier you apply. be strategic in your selection. cost. and academic life. Worry less about the status of the school and whether the heaven and earth will collapse if Harvard is out of your league. Once you have a master list of schools that pique your interest. spans the length of one year. the better your chances! In fact. at the crack of dawn on the deadline date. Did You Know? The medical school application process. you should be plastered to the window of a post office. Once you obtain that invaluable degree.environment and curriculum clashes with your personality. For non-AMCAS schools. A little bit of research now goes a long way later on. but financially taxing. When assessing your master list. and run all the way through September. from application submission to interview. Not only is the move risky. cite a detailed reason for choosing that school and its pros and cons. During your research. your finger should be poised to strike the “submit” button by 11:59 pm on the 31st of May as your eyes stare intently at the second hand on the clock. Most importantly. are accepted starting in June. Getting into medical school is about becoming a doctor. Do not cast your net far and wide and hope for the best.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Choose five institutions – the safe bets – that you have the best chance of being admitted into. Due to stiff competition and application fees. Selecting the right institution is one of the most critical factors in being admitted. 5 Rule”. you must review it with a critical eye and narrow it down to a few strategic options.toppremed. And finally select five that are your “dream” schools. premeds are often advised to apply to an average of 15 schools. where acceptance would be a long shot. Then pick five that may be trickier to gain entrance to. Failing to do research is not sexy. The Early Bird… AMCAS applications are available beginning early April. little else will matter. Take note: apply EARLY!! We cannot stress this enough. med students. application in hand. if the AMCAS starts accepting applications on the 1st of June. Once again. Beside each name. associated hospitals. factor in aspects such as the type of program. your premed advisors. 5. brochures. mentors. and websites are excellent sources of information. One of the biggest peeve of the admissions board is interviewing students who are ignorant of their institution. employ the “5. www.
eloquent PS can catapult the most mediocre candidate into acceptance. But the PS grants you the spotlight to shine. No wacky sonnets. but often the most underestimated segment of the application. So strong is the impulse. All right. Therefore. If you are careless enough to submit anything by the time October rolls around. every single applicant appears nearly identical. The PS is possibly the most important. especially if you feel that you are not the strongest applicant out there. in fact. you will actually end up auditioning for the meager spots left on their waiting list. A thoughtful. put it down and back away slowly. we do plan on repeating this phrase until you start whimpering it in your sleep. And withhold on submitting that short film for which you starred/directed/wrote/catered. fewer spots remain open. that might be pushing it just a tad. The desire to separate yourself from the pack and emerge a unique figure is a powerful one. Do not let this happen to you! Apply early! And. and with each applicant that a school accepts for an interview. please refrain from composing a lyrical haiku. Fitting the Big Picture www. Abstain from painting a self-portrait. the admissions committee will gauge your application in an increasingly harsher light. a faceless entity attached to a series of letter grades and scores. as available space gradually dwindles. any excuse to rule you out as a potential candidate. Never dismiss a chance to make a solid impression. If it does not involve your brain or a computer. Apply as early as you possibly can. you‟ll thank us later … after the extensive therapy starts kicking in. Up until now. while a weak PS can cripple the strongest applicant.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. to show the committee that you are much more than a string of numbers. tacky skywriting. Putting a Face to the Name Within the body of the primary application is a nifty little section called the “personal statement” (PS). that we fear it will lead some of you to dream up some very radical ideas. In addition. Avoid attaching a crochet sweater.toppremed. or snappy love ballads.telepathically willing the doors to open. Hey. but the general idea remains the same. which is why we have dedicated an entire chapter to this process. The board will then be looking for any flaw. yes.
How are those events connected? What incident made you confident that medicine is your calling? How has the education you received in academics and extracurricular activities changed your attitude regarding the medical field? www. Now delve deeper. “To know oneself is the beginning of all wisdom. Take the time to reflect on the moments that had the greatest impact on you as a premedical student. English composition. A mediocre essay will arise. Unfortunately. it should come from the heart.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . The best personal statements are paved with moving narratives about incidents that shaped your life and contributed to your desire to become a doctor. we have provided you with several themes we have witnessed over the years. An excellent PS is centered on a single topic reinforced with a couple of illuminating examples. Your experiences. choices and their effects on your life make you exceptional. But to help you get started.Being unique has nothing to do with how radical and unusual your PS can be. however. A connection or bond with an inspirational figure The reason you wish to enter into medicine An event that changed your outlook towards the medical profession An observation regarding the state of medicine or medical technology A difficult situation and its impact on your life An observant premed might note that each of the topics above invites you to tell a story about specific events in your past. evocative conclusion. The PS should be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself. Digging Deep As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said. Worse still. What that topic will be is entirely up to you. Rogers and his neighborhood. “Everyone has a story. most importantly. while those sappy musings may appeal to Mr.” A personal statement should not simply be an exercise in storytelling. these students may toss in inflated.toppremed. or blatant self-promotion.” Remember that? Your personal statement should fit into the big picture and. they may actually come off as trite and artificial to the ears of the medical school board. when students merely chronicle an incident. The most memorable essays were those that were tailored to that specific student. but do not expound on it. sugary sentiment in place of a thoughtful.
Relate to them how you not only wish to perform Total Hip Arthroplasties. would be to disguise your lukewarm feelings and portray the experience as more much more monumental than it actually was. Recount your admiration for that physician. If such care already existed by the time you complete your medical degree. Offer the committee more of your sense of purpose beyond getting accepted into medical school. your grandmother broke her hip and had it fixed by a skilled orthopedic surgeon. ask yourself why that emotional tie was lacking in this event. Consider how the deficiencies have molded your perspectives and approach to medicine. they will provide a far more unique. And though you liked the job. you must incorporate the following features. You may even discuss your desire to help fight osteoporosis in the front lines as a primary care physician. but do not stop there. www. you will ultimately put forth much more effort than necessary trying to convince other people to swallow what you yourself could not even buy. perhaps you volunteered in the ER or worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for a year and a half. To fully flesh out your essay and supply it with the depth it deserves. and gratifying reaction than anything you can attempt to manufacture. For example. Thinking big will grab the medical school‟s attention and help them understand your passion for medicine and why you would make a successful candidate. by no means. tell the board you want to revolutionize that procedure. For instance. of course. it was not as life-changing as you had expected.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . be a simplified declaration.When discussing your dreams and medical aspirations. Whatever your responses to those questions may be. Your reflection may even lead you to unlock an emotion or belief you had never known existed. Spare yourself the frustration. Instead. Defining Qualities Your personal statement should. There is little use wringing a synthetic emotion from your story when you clearly do not share in the sentiment. but also intend to figure out a way to prevent hip fractures in the elderly. be idealistic. The temptation here.toppremed. But to what end? If you do not wholly believe in what you write. But the best favor you can do for yourself is to be candid. contemplative.
Your PS should illustrate your attraction to a medical career in a way that does not begin and end with the phrase “chicks dig it”. stand-up comedy. Your response will signal to the admissions board that you possess the confidence. how difficult to find a general.” – Albert Einstein A no-brainer. The admissions board needs to understand why you chose this specific field. Whether you are educating your patient or directing a team of nurses. you might as well be riding a bicycle on ice. Much like your extracurricular activities. 2. Perhaps you were elected president of your premed organization your junior year. most careers also consist of “helping people” – law.” --Chinese Proverb Nothing makes a med school‟s heart skip like beholding a student who can demonstrate initiative. Even if your time spent in the driver‟s seat was temporary. Leadership “An army of a thousand is easy to find. and capability to take charge. maturity. A passion for science will propel you when you‟re physically peaked. Maybe you only took over as laboratory manager while the director went on holiday. hold your focus when you‟re burnt out. Even if you decide to narrate an event that has little to do with healthcare in your PS. pet psychic to the stars. Medicine is arduous and challenging.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . but. www. Remember. accounting. and keep you going long after everyone else has collapsed in an exhausted heap around you. Did you slip into the role with ease or did it challenge an aspect of your personality? Reflect on what you have taken away from the experience and how it has altered your perspective. demanding long hours and plenty of delayed gratification. ah. Emphasize that event‟s contribution to your ambition to become a physician. Science Centered “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. it still bears noting.1. Without this affection. your essay should showcase an affinity for science and health care. medicine will constantly demand that you step up and take control of the helm.toppremed. make sure that you find a solid connection back to medicine.
sarcastic exterior fool you. precise thought process – a winning combination in a future physician. committees invariably search their candidates for this essential quality. discuss www.” – Albert Schweitzer Oh. for they co-exist seamlessly. separating humanity and medicine is no easy task. such as risking his medical career to allow an ailing woman with no insurance to obtain treatment. No matter a premed‟s background.3. motive. Like Siamese twins. throw in three to four examples per argument to drive your point home. don‟t let that infamously gruff. Finally. Even television‟s first medical curmudgeon. Any value below or above this number and problems begin to pile up. and to show compassion and the will to help others. Therefore.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . pencil out a definitive outline of the essay first. Your best bet then is to explore any displays of compassion in your personal statement.toppremed. 4. check to ensure that your essay contains a thesis statement and each paragraph possesses its own topic sentence. the premise of your essay should be easily identifiable and your point should come across loud and clear. before fingers ever touch keyboard. the conclusion should wrap everything up and stress the central theme in a deeper and more meaningful way. if your volunteer work involved supplying aid to downtown clinics. Dr. Then. is still moved to random acts of kindness every now and then. or aspirations. Perry Cox of “Scrubs”. Next. A well-coordinated paper signifies not only command of the English language but indicates a deliberate. Start with one overall theme. Nothing else shouts “Next!” in an admission committee member‟s mind like poor organization and convoluted wording. For example. Similarly to an affinity for science. Clarity of Thought “Every man who says frankly and fully what he thinks is doing a public service. One.” – Leslie Stephen No matter the topic you ultimately choose. Compassion “The purpose of human life is to serve. the common denominator will always remain a devotion to easing pain and providing relief to those in need.
Major Mistakes Perhaps you can solve a riddle for us. Hey. that would be just gravy. this is the perfect excuse to be www. You can no longer squeak by marinating yourself in caffeinated beverages. Med school does not work that way. Dig deeper and ponder how your work altered your perspective on the healthcare system. and years toiling in high school to obtain good grades. we have no idea either. don‟t worry. Procrastinate This is not high school. How do you envision healthcare should function? What will be your role in it once you have attained your dream of becoming a doctor? What improvements would you want to make? Remember. and receive it a week later with a shiny A. A premedical student spends hours.toppremed. If you are unable to figure out the answer. these sloppy blunders – easily remedied and repeatedly advised against – never fail to leave us scratching our heads. And if you could phrase your answer in the form of a question. you may still find yourself at a loss for words when forced to draw meaningful conclusions about your life experiences. year after year. Nevertheless. days. few physicians can operate effectively without empathy and kindness to guide them. days. then more hours.at the top. folks. turn it in. Sorry. He spends hundreds – even thousands – of dollars and months of sleepless nights cramming for that monster of an exam known as the MCAT.what this experience has taught you. Unlike your usual comparative composition. Producing a personal statement is a difficult. he happily prepares to flush all those years of hard work away by committing careless errors in his personal statement. Why is that? Please tell us because we would love to know.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . and years in college working even harder with the same goal. time-consuming process that is like no other essay you have written before. Even if you regard yourself a seasoned author used to churning out three papers a night in your sleep with both hands and a foot tied behind your back. frantically penning a ten page research paper overnight. We will reveal these (sometimes) obvious missteps so that you may steer clear of them. Yet. any effort less than a stellar performance on your part could shut you out of the gleaming gates of medical school.
But no matter how overwhelming the urge may be. you detract from the personal element of your statement. Therefore.toppremed. philosophical venting for a therapist or special “Girls Night Out”. This is why the primary application allows you to acknowledge and explain those less than outstanding moments. Never. save the long.a “meanie poopie head”. The result: your reader quickly loses interest. your life has no doubt been tinged with the occasional disappointments and grievances. Unless. your best bet is to avoid accusatory statements altogether. Trust us. preferably in your freshman year.narcissistic. Give your personal statement the attention and respect it deserves. in all honesty. We do. Well. and the next thing you know. you‟re off railing about the evils a syringe can unleash upon the human race. but the board will actually see it as bizarre and confusing. Hey. Life‟s not fair. ever construct an antagonistic declaration unless you can somehow counter it with a positive statement immediately afterwards. of course. take your time and start early. audiences rarely relate to a story they need to first decipher with the Rosetta Stone and a “Hooked On Phonics” tape. So. Overuse the Thesaurus www.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . One minute you‟re calmly discussing your hope to eliminate the need for intradermal injections to visualize tumors in PET scans. besides coming across as disorganized or slightly disturbed. You may think your ramblings reek of wisdom. your ultimate goal is to showcase to the committee how bitter and petulant you can be… Rant A surprisingly common mistake. Even so. Whining and directing the blame on others will only make you appear childish and petty. In other words. Sound Petty Over the course of your existence. ranting is actually a fairly easy trap to fall into. you run the risk of convoluting or obscuring your main idea past all recognition. such a risky maneuver requires substantial tact and finesse to successfully pull off. we understand. Plus. do refrain from labeling that O-Chem professor who stuck you with a C.
In the hospital. variations in sentence structure and diction are hallmarks of a sophisticated writer. A thesaurus is a tool. elite professions on planet Earth. People‟s lives are literally in your hands. we have witnessed some students abuse the thesaurus so abominably. these candidates mistook ornate writing style and fancy vocabulary for nuance and substance. proofread. not a crutch. you are hopelessly addicted. tragedy occurs when you get careless. simple declaration. Your very name could be mentioned in the same breath as William Osler … Jonas Salk… Doogie Houser! Admissions committee cry themselves to sleep when they see great grades. not a crutch. and unique extracurricular activities attached to an application riddled with typos and grammatical errors. It‟s a medical school application! You are not putting in for “Junior Fry Chef” at the Pup „n‟ Taco. After all. we nearly had them arrested for assault and battery. Joey Tribianni‟s heavy reliance on his computer‟s automatic thesaurus function led the application to ultimately alter his signature from “Joey” to “Baby Kangaroo” without his knowledge.toppremed. Attention to detail. A thesaurus is …. not to mention absurd. but substituting every adjective and verb with more elaborate alternatives is completely unnecessary. proofread.. You are applying to become a member of one of the most revered.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Repeat after us: A thesaurus is a tool. and before you know it. but it needed to be said. terribly difficult to stop once you start. folks. Never underestimate the force behind a succinct. incredible MCAT score. people die. (We apologize for that painful “soap opera” moment. Overconfidence www. Over the years. You will have the chance to stand alongside history‟s most iconic figures. the last thing you want to do is suffer a similar fate as a character on “Friends”. It is always excellent in moderation. True. We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.A thesaurus is the equivalent of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Those candidates get the thin envelopes. When you make mistakes. Unfortunately.) Proofreading is ridiculously easy to do and only takes an hour of your time for something that will pay dividends. Not Proofread Proofread! Proofread.
you must bite the bullet and allow three different people to critique it. Second will be a close friend. it even flowed smoothly into the rest of your essay! You are a genius! So after a quick grammar and spelling check. missed typos. or an application service. You are on your way to composing a fantastic.Sure. and show that mocking cursor who‟s boss! www. and syntax violations. Congratulations. a college dean. just to name a few. One of these individuals must possess experience in admissions. unfortunately not everyone thinks like you do. A sentence here or a phrase there could be confusing or strange to others. buddy. like your premed counselor. or journalism editor. While your essay made perfect sense in your mind. Hey. You are now carefully versed in the do‟s and don‟ts of the personal statement. who can confidently assess whether your essay suits your personality and aspirations.toppremed. insightful self-portrait. Your final reader must be someone with an English/literary background. not so fast. that sentence sounded creative and enlightened when you first composed it. poor organization. literature professor. warm up. So. Afterwards. They can effectively gauge whether your essay topic is suitable for the medical committee. you are on your way to turn that bad boy in! Whoa there. take a deep breath. such as a writing tutor. Their job is to analyze your statement and rescue it from bad grammar. To ensure that your personal statement enjoys universal appeal.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . be sure to send a thank-you note (and a couple baskets of baked goods slipped under the table) to make them feel all warm and appreciated.
Conversely. though. and fondness of Paulie Shore movies. Therefore. may surprise you. to quote “The Lion King” character Scar. know that for many students the interview can be a deal-breaker. The mundane sounds of the outside world dim. closed-mindedness. such as nerves or unexpected questions.Chapter Seven: The Interview Your breath catches. and they understand the qualities that define an effective physician. The second objective. All articulate speech dissolves as your brain latches onto one emotion: joy. a great interview may catapult an otherwise average applicant.toppremed. Your heart gallops.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . before you do a celebratory Snoopy dance. Like an anxious blind date participant. the medical school for which you are interviewing is also working to win you over. you might be fooling yourself if you start believing you can coast right the interview like a home run hitter on a victory lap. Med schools need to see that the time. many factors. their opinions carry a heavy weight. a negative evaluation from your interviewer can frequently trump those glowing reviews emanating from your letters of recommendations. personal statement. and resources devoted to transform you into a physician will go to a compassionate. how hard can it be to stick the other foot in. immaturity. Take a bow. “Be prepared. Wrangling an invitation from a medical school means that you have defeated daunting odds and survived the few nail-biting elimination rounds: your GPA.” The express purpose of the interview process is two-fold. right? Well. a word to the wise: make a good impression. worthy candidate. expenses. No matter how charming you believe Stunning Stats Fifty percent of all students interviewed are actually accepted. The interview process is the last leg of a lengthy premedical journey. Your interview invitation has arrived. can join forces to make for a very unpleasant experience. you are or how confident you may feel about your chances right now. primary and secondary applications. You have successfully managed to wedge your foot in the door. Consequently. The first objective is obvious: to ensure that you are as remarkable in person as you are on paper. These blemishes include egotism. After all. if you‟re already halfway in the door. Interviewers are members of the medical community handpicked by the school committee. So. Still. The admissions board will assess your personality for any flaws conveniently omitted from your application. In fact. mature. most of all. MCAT scores. If you have arrived this www. and.
arrived on campus. allow it to display its best side. and to the point. You may be confronted with one interviewer or a three-person panel. www. an admissions guide will give a brief orientation. shamelessly endorse the school to the best of his or her capability. Group Defining Feature: a panel of faculty members asking a pool of applicants individual questions Pros: o Time and volume of students will only permit the panel to ask each student roughly one question each.far. More than that. and. and you are expected to be prepared for any and all of them since they each come with their own set of challenges. o Group setting helps most students feel more comfortable. There are three main types of interviews which we will discuss.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . your efforts will not only contribute greatly to society later on. Cons: o Rarely occurs o One question per student means more pressure on you to make your answer insightful and memorable. Therefore. and let the mutual wooing commence. candidates are shuttled off to their interview sessions – up to three sessions per applicant. you already possess the intelligence. o Keep your answers short. in general. Afterwards. sweet. but your talents will hopefully increase the reputation of that school as well. inquire into the school. and leadership that make up a desirable applicant.toppremed. motivation. Once you have Pre Med Tips Schedule interviews early! Late interviews = fewer available spots. Then. Do: o Show courtesy. Types of Interviews Interview day will be a busy and exciting event. answer all your burning questions. a med student will lead you and other prospective students on a tour of the grounds.
toppremed. Do: o Recognize a weakness when confronted with it. Individual Open File Defining Features: o Your complete academic and admissions file is available to the interviewer. You never know when the panel might inquire your opinion of another student‟s answer and a “deer in the headlights” is not an attractive expression on anyone. Cons: o Access to your application may spawn many piercing inquiries about your life and academic experiences. o Questions will relate to your application. do so in a professional manner. o Discuss your plans to eliminate a character flaw in order to decrease the impact and showcase maturity. Don‟t: o Hog the spotlight. o An opportunity to further explain or defend a poor academic performance in the past. Don‟t: www. o Be honest. o Zone out while others are speaking. If you do disagree.o If you agree with another student.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Pro: o Relating a personal experience may amplify the unique aspect of your application and work in your favor. from your choice of major down to your favorite extracurricular project. o Reviewing your case history may allow the interviewer to form a potentially negative opinion of you before you even meet. It‟s the best policy. refer to him/her by name rather than “the girl in blue” or “what‟s-his-face”. o Insult or otherwise dismiss other people‟s answers.
o Ramble. Your Own Worst Critic Without a doubt. o Get defensive if the interviewer presses on a negative topic. one of the most recurrent questions we receive from premeds is: What kind of interview questions will we be asked? And while we would love to sit down with these students and rattle off sample questions to the furious scribbling of writing utensils. Do: o Prepare! Have questions for your interviewer. Individual Closed File Defining Features: o The interviewer has no access to your application prior to your meeting.toppremed. the simplest answer we can give them is “know your application”. Student files are the springboards which the admissions committee uses to generate a healthy helping of their inquiries. which includes “Tell me about yourself” or “Why do you want to be a doctor?” Pros: o The interviewer has no predetermined opinions of you. Allow the interviewer time ask supplementary questions. o Usually begins with an all-purpose question.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . o The opportunity to avoid delicate or negative personal issues. Cons: o Open-ended questions are difficult for many students to answer as they may not know where to begin. Don‟t: o Begin listing every accomplishment or activity you have never participated in. o Slip in a distinctive aspect of your personality or experience to keep your response interesting. o Requires additional practice to keep your answers succinct. Scrutinize your transcript and personal statement with a critical eye. Discuss only the ones you have enjoyed or benefited from.o Project blame on others for a weak grade or mediocre performances. Visualize yourself in the interviewer‟s seat www.
the interviewer will look at you funny. why did you quit clinic duties after only three months? How do you rationalize taking the MCAT three separate times? And. Recognizing a weakness in your application early on will help you anticipate some of the questions thrown your way during the interview and avoid spluttering your way to an explanation. if you spent twenty minutes raving about your undying passion Pre Med Tips Save money by scheduling interviews in the same area at the same time. Winging it at your interview signals to the committee that you may be unprepared at best and insincere at worst. what‟s that “W” doing in your transcript? Cut no corners and be brutal. yet records indicate that you probably cannot distinguish the exteriors of a laboratory from the interiors.and try to think objectively. Dress to Impress It only takes three seconds to make a first impression. Leave nothing to chance. appearance plays a pivotal role in how others perceive you. While your first meeting may not be a red carpet event. For instance. it is still important enough to warrant careful thought and pride in how you present yourself. Understanding your personal story as it relates to your academic history will lend you an air of authenticity that the admissions board will instantly bond with.toppremed. Remember. Interviewers immediately latch on to discrepancies between your file and your response. this is a medical school interview. Once the questions are compiled. For example.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Los Angeles. reflect on a mature. And for better or for worse. for scientific research. And by “funny” we mean “a bounty of thin envelopes will flash before your eyes”. Be prepared to answer the most challenging questions about yourself. not an audition for “A Night at the Improv”. But such honest vibes can only be derived from self-awareness and genuine familiarity with your application. According to a study at the University of California. Did You Know? www. hey. During the course of your scrutiny. honest answer for each. you would be amazed at the number of Tshirt and jeans combo that have strolled through our doors over the years. 93% of all communication is nonverbal. Although the fashion advice in this chapter might seem obvious to many. keep in mind that your application should closely parallel your own story.
close friend. too). err on the side of length. (We highly encourage you to rethink any “Braveheart” scheme of slapping on the war paint and charging blindly into the fray crying “Freedom!” as you go. seek as much feedback as possible in the following areas: delivery (Did you enunciate? Talk too quickly? Use an incorrect vocabulary term?). Avoid short. while you may have slightly more freedom in the style and color department. do stick to a formal dress or suit. Ditch the headgear and the sneakers (or any open-toed shoes) the instant you emerge from the house. We even recommend that you take it one step further and actually record each trial session. To elevate your self-awareness. A videotape allows your critic to pinpoint areas of needed improvement while also allowing you to visually document your progress. Before a mirror. and countless other premed literature will all tell you the same thing: the most effective strategy is practice. When in doubt. wherever. Voicing your answers will improve your attentiveness to the strengths and weaknesses of your response as well as promote creative thinking.Think of the med school interview as a formal first date and you should get the basic idea. in front of pets.toppremed. well-tailored suit with a smart. low-cut outfits. or wickedly smug sibling.) Advisors. If it’s uncomfortable change it early! www. body language (Did you slump in your chair? Avoid eye contact? Squirm like a pinned insect?). A clean and neat appearance sends the message that you take pride in yourself and are worthy of being taken seriously. a dark. admissions coaches will advocate staging mock interviews a week or two prior to the big day with a trusted adult. Steer clear of heavy makeup and an abundance of flashy jewelry (men. Strategies and Samples Possessing the proper mental attitude is the first step to making a strong first impression. and general poise (Did you exude a calm aura? Laugh Pre Med Tips During mock interviews. During these practice runs. in your room. But a strong mindset may prove insufficient without the aid of a solid strategy to help you ace the interview. wear the same outfit you’ll wear on the big day.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . on a bus by some suddenly empty seats – whenever. Gentlemen. For the ladies. this goes for you. tasteful tie is always a crowd-pleaser. in the car. parent. application services.
Candidate Questions Questions connected to the applicants – such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” – are often the most personal. We will acquaint you with those questions by highlight each by topic and explain their intent. But the greatest comfort the interview process can offer its candidates is predictability. 1. prudence.inappropriate or nervously? Repeat yourself either vocally or physically with gestures?). Hey. A more effective course of action is to minimize your flaws by discussing your plans to triumph over those traits and how your stronger qualities will help you achieve that goal. to the trained eye. then mysteriously develop an attack of acute tonsillitis when talk of any defects arise. Rehearse the event until you not only feel at ease in the hot seat. and elegance. The board only wishes to get to know you better and figure out how you see yourself. to be honest). and for many. but can carry yourself with aplomb. you may utilize the interview‟s predicable nature to your advantage by constructing eloquent. you may witness many standard questions cropping up over and over again like a med school‟s version of “Groundhog Day”. No matter the school. the faculty member.. Paint them as realistic a self-portrait as you can – strengths. and all. integrity. or the type of interview. Do you have any flaws in your record? What qualities to do you look for in a doctor? Why do you want to be a doctor? www.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Fortunately. Of course. The goal of the committee is to identify what qualities you will contribute to the school and whether you are candid enough to discuss your strengths with poise and acknowledge your imperfections with grace. flaws. the most challenging. The difficulty stems from walking that fine line between arrogance and confidence. enthusiasm.. A Taste of the Real Thing . and commitment. earnest. too.toppremed. they actually provide an excellent indicator of a student‟s personality. nobody‟s perfect. the knee-jerk reaction for most students is to rave about their assets. and creative replies to the most challenging questions ahead of time. the last time we checked. While these questions may appear unoriginal to the untrained eye (well.
To combat these types of questions. be sincere. your role as a physician will expose you to every type of race. A Taste of the Real Thing . As we have mentioned in previous chapters. with luck. The main objective of questions regarding underrepresented cultures is to gauge your sensitivity and social awareness of the people around you. There may be nothing more appealing. class.. Who are your role models? Who have been influential in your decision to pursue medicine as a career? How would you like to be remembered by your friends and family? 2. regardless of background will determine your success as a doctor. discuss any extracurricular work that brought you into contact with diverse groups of people and how that experience shaped your views. drunken adult. Who knows. (If you are a minority) What role does your background play in your decision to become a doctor? To what extent do you owe a debt to the less fortunate? How might you confront the needs of such a diverse population? What role does gender play in your pursuit of a medical career? www. creed.. you might be called on to treat a short. How will this perspective help you in the future? In addition. Minority Questions A career in medicine entails connecting with a broad range of the population – the young and the old. contain the urge to exaggerate! Embellishment will not make your story any more moving and you may come across as disingenuous.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . When in doubt. the short and the tall. and culture under the sun. How attentive and respectful you are of people. the drunk and the sober.toppremed.
Do you investigate the facts and then weigh your options? Are you honest about your own prospects? How committed will you be once you have arrived at a conclusion? Here is where your research will come into play. Also. Candidates who illustrate knowledge of medical topics display responsibility.0 GPA will make you appear arrogant and delusional. and depth of commitment – all invaluable assets to the field of medicine. A Taste of the Real Thing . Current event questions also measure a student‟s passion for science. maturity. Current Issues Current events inquiries conveniently assess many attributes of an applicant all in one innocently phrased question. if you are inquired about your decision should you fail to gain admission.3. Discuss the unique qualities that attracted you to this particular school. and new drugs on the market today.. Face it.. Rattling off Ivy League names when you actually fought tooth and nail to hang onto a 3. Medical schools are not fishing for compliments.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . what will motivate you to keep up with countless research papers just like it? Knowledge of topics in the www. Medicine demands that the medical community keep abreast of the abundance of literature published regularly. Physicians are continually educating themselves on recent scientific findings. The intent is to figure out your decision making abilities. Do not exaggerate about the amount or type of schools you have applied for.toppremed. Your education as a doctor does not end when you emerge from medical school. Medical School Questions Don‟t allow those sample questions below to deceive you. simply countering with “reapply” won‟t cut it unless you offer a strategy to go with it. Not the best foot to start on. if you can only regard a chemistry textbook as a cure for insomnia. Presenting a plan to enhance your candidacy will demonstrate awareness of your own limitations while still showcasing determination and drive. What kind of schools have you applied to and why? What makes this school desirable to you? How might your ideal school give you the skills you hope to achieve? What will you do if you are not accepted to med school? 4. the latest inventions.
toppremed. seek inspiration from health documentaries or those endless medical dramas on television... Don‟t worry.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . But do keep an eye out for important medical controversies making the headlines and read up on topics that happen to pique your interest. it isn‟t as though you need an excuse to watch five whole seasons of “Grey‟s Anatomy” in one sitting… A Taste of the Real Thing . Morality Few careers on the planet will grant its members the power over life and death. Besides. If newspapers are not your medium of choice. What is the most pressing health issue today? What are the limiting aspects of medicine? What are your thoughts on stem-cell research? To what degree do you stay in touch with current events? What topics in medicine interest you and why? 5. The interviewer is less concerned with your answer than in your actual thought process. They may even immediately contradict themselves when the interviewer takes the opposing side.field signals a deeper interest in medicine beyond merely getting into medical school. take a moment and think things through. Before you answer. no one expects you to absorb every medical subject that pops up on Google. they are unable to articulate their true opinion. The medical faculty is anxious to discover whether its incoming class is open-minded and objective enough to walk out of a moral impasse with its integrity intact. For this reason. ethical dilemmas are among the most challenging aspects of medicine. Here comes the tricky part. This process usually involves the interviewer presenting the applicant with a hypothetical situation or medical controversy. The candidates become so wrapped up in finding the “correct” answer and gauging the interviewer‟s reaction that. Are you receptive enough to consider both sides of the argument or dismissive of opposing opinions? Being www. in the end. The point is whether you can analyze the problem and then back up your decision even when it is challenged.
A Taste of the Real Thing . like nursing. Why medicine and not other fields where you can help others.toppremed. Now.... What are your opinions regarding euthanasia? How might you treat a patient who did not want your medical advice? Is “doing no harm” more important than “being of benefit”? If there are limited resources available in a critical emergency. you must reflect sensibly how your story and your medical goals relate and where they will intertwine. even when obstacles block your path. when adversity shadows your every move. We introduced this question early on and referred to it throughout to jumpstart you on thinking about your own story. A Taste of the Real Thing . (Keep in mind that the “How else can I afford a Porsche?” answer is your one-way ticket out the door. the question is assessing the depth of your motivation and ambition to succeed.) Rather..comfortable with ethical predicaments will instill you with the inner strength necessary to develop into a truly successful physician. Commitment It‟s the million dollar question: “Why do you want to be a doctor?” No student needs a premedical guide to inform him that medicine is as taxing and time-consuming as it is gratifying. who would direct to receive treatment first? 6. social work. or psychology? How have you tested your commitment to become a doctor? www. or when the odds conspire against you. The response to this question will separate the contenders from the pretenders. The deceptively simple inquiry is not really inviting you to share all the rewarding qualities that you love about a medical career.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .
After an eternity or three. the twenty minute interview process is simply 19 minutes too long. what the relieved student actually hears is. What would they most wish to improve? Giving interviewers the chance to contribute their views lets them know that you respect their perspective and that their opinions matter to you – a major ego boost for anyone. While others scramble for the parking lot. do you have any questions for me?” (Of course. for a majority of students. one-sided conversations with terrified students. www. Pre Med Tips During your interview. interesting question may be the key to distinguish you from the pack. interacting with your interviewer will not only break down the awkward barrier between both parties but help you appear more personable as well.”) The student carefully declines and abruptly. a free-flowing. if you are admitted to more than one school.toppremed. there are two roads to help you arrive at that answer. Do you have an alternate career plan? Talking Back Needless to say. Ask them to rate the strengths and weaknesses of the program. After hours and hours of rigid. light-hearted exchange will be a breath of fresh air. since your interviewers will be members of the faculty. the Law of Premed Physics states that all that positive energy will no doubt transfer over to you. And if your interviewer is at ease and talkative. Nowhere in the rule book does it state that an interview must be an uncomfortable interrogation. all that is left is a blur of motion. asking an intelligent. and a human-shaped hole where the door used to be. the interviewer finally nods and asks. Put yourself in the interviewer‟s shoes. you may wish to invite them to share their opinions of the school itself. this information will come in handy once a decision must be reached. Recall the research you did on individual schools or come up with new questions during the campus tour as excellent sources of questions. a cloud of dust. “You may now barrel out the door and hightail it to your car. So what should you ask? Fortunately. In fact. First. “So. After all. try to keep each answer under the two minutes.com Top Pre Med Guide TM .
How did med school best prepare them for their line of work? Who were their role models and mentors? Where did they do their residencies? If they moved to another school during that time. fire away. Always grasp any opportunity to ask a question. questions. students discover the identity of their interviewers on the morning of the big day. www. Inquiring about their work is an excellent way to break the ice.toppremed. balance the interview by asking an appropriate question. This is a chance to dig into their educational backgrounds and develop some appropriate Pre Med Tips If you find yourself talking more than 50% of the time. by all means.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . how did the residencies compare? Requesting their expertise on a variety of subjects will make them feel appreciated and help your interview run a lot smoother.The second method is to inquire about the interviewer personally. Have at least three ready to fire when you walk into that room. On the whole. Most faculty members have had projects that were near and dear to their hearts. What did they love most and least about their work? What kind of clinical opportunities can you look forward to? If the interviewer‟s medical practice intrigues or inspires you. You never know when the right question can unlock a fascinating conversation that is both spontaneous and memorable for the both of you.
all roads can lead back to med school. Medicine is not a race to the finish line. Did You Know? www. some students feel they need additional knowledge of the real world or of themselves after they graduate.Bonus Chapter: Taking Time Off A Break from the Norm Many students regard the path to medical school as a rigid line from A to B that must be traveled in the shortest amount of time possible. What hobby or work do you find most satisfying? What type of individuals would you most like to help? Whom do you most identify with? Classroom knowledge alone might fashion you into a proficient physician. Immerse yourself in a new culture by traveling or studying abroad. the average age of medical school matriculants is approx. do consider the option of taking time off.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . but only combined with your own experiences will you become an effective one. 23.toppremed.5 years old. Do something that scares you and challenges your passion for medicine. The following represents what a 3 people in one medical school class did prior to entering medical school: Do basic science research Teach High School Teach English as a Second Language abroad Enter a premedical summer enrichment/research program Become a parent Get a Masters in Public Health Degree Coach a junior high basketball team Become a stockbroker Volunteer at a methadone clinic According to the AAMC. Candidates desiring to proceed from college straight to med school typically begin applying junior year. but a journey of self-discovery. Elevate your social consciousness by working for some truly humanitarian causes. If you count yourself among them. much like the eternal city of Rome. Still. Utilize the occasion to explore a new avenue or perform charitable work. Even this idea stems from an unspoken worry that they might lack the motivation to continue to medical school if they veer off the path. Having said that.
I highly recommend it. have regretted their decision. Ultimately. you don‟t have to spend 24/7 in front of a computer or in an office. Not only will you have a fulfilling experience but Take some time required to figure out what fulfills your needs. When medical students/physicians are asked about taking time off. Thanks for reading! See you on the Pre Med Show. Perhaps their serenity is derived from accepting a break that only confirmed their commitment to a medical career. be certain to plan ahead. Sean www. Perform clinical research in South America Learn Spanish Perform volunteer work in Africa Here is a secret. few. and know that medical school is an avenue that will remain open. if any. stimulates your intellect. Have fun. Whatever your final decision. Most importantly. Taking time off can have enormous power in increasing your chances of getting into medical school. have fun. and motivates you such that work doesn‟t feel like work.toppremed. embrace the culture. But as someone who took 3 years between undergrad and medical school. and connect with people.com Top Pre Med Guide TM . Medical schools know that students who have taken time for selfexploration tend to be more composed and self-assured in medical school. the resolution to take time off is a personal choice. taking time off will not only explore different endeavors and have fun while doing it. If you go to Costa Rica to work on an initiative that aims to decreases pesticide use.
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