Preparing for Medical School: Part 1

MCAT

Preparing for any of the graduate and professional schools can be a lot of work. There are the exams, the applications, the essays, and interviews.  So if you’re thinking about pursuing medical school or the like. Fantastic! So am I. This winter break I will be immersing myself in preparation for the MCAT.

I will be discussing some considerations and tips before embarking on this journey.

Know thy enemy

The dragon to be slain is the MCAT, created by the AAMC. It is the official exam used to evaluate medical school applicants in North America. Not every medical school requires the MCAT (eg. McGill) but many Canadian and all American medical schools do.  Note that the MCAT can be written up to 3 times per year and 7 times per lifetime. All of the information regarding exam dates, locations, fees, formats, etc can be found on the AAMC website.

Know thyself

I decided that I would like to pursue further studies in medicine comparatively late (Summer before U2). I had toyed with the idea before, but I debated for some time if it is something I wanted for myself. It’s a long road ahead, plus the pressure and the commitments. People are complicated and diseases are complicated. Complications multiply and the health profession is not something for everyone. If you are considering a career in medicine, I highly recommend reading through this section of AAMC that discusses what a job in medicine is really like.

But starting later is by no means the end; it just meant several things:

  1. It’s been a while since I learned the first year science courses, on which the MCAT is based.
  2. The next round of applications start soon and the MCAT needs to be taken beforehand
  3. If the first try doesn’t go well as intended, enough time needs to be left to consider about retaking the exam

Know thy friends

The MCAT is not easy and there are resources around to help. I see that there are plenty of prep courses offered by third-party companies, but they charge exorbitant fees to talk about first-year science course materials, materials already covered by McGill. Many prep materials exist as well. I will be sticking with the ExamKrackers which have very good reviews from people who have used them.

Plenty of free materials can be found online as well. AAMC recommends these

 

I’m leaving myself with exactly 1 month to prepare for this exam, more to come on how that goes.

*Update: I have taken the exam now, checkout the next section.

Happy holidays!

 

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