You may recall from my previous posts that a friend of mine is a Health Sci student at McMaster. She’s currently in the midst of the med school application process and in order to shed some light on it all, I decided to further exploit her expertise and ask her about her experience. It’s important to note that she’s applying to medical schools in Ontario, so this post will discuss application through OMSAS (Ontario Medical School Application Service), which likely differs slightly from the processes of schools in other provinces.
By now I’m sure most of you know that science is not my field of study, therefore I have little to offer in terms of information regarding science related research positions or careers. In an effort to balance out the subject matter of my blog posts, I’ve enlisted the help of a friend who is more than familiar with the field. As a third year Health Sci student at McMaster University who’s been working in a research lab for nearly two years, has taken an MCAT prep course, scored phenomenally on her MCAT and is in the midst of applying to medical school, she’s basically a treasure trove of information. She works in an immunology research lab examining the cellular mechanisms involved in allergy. Recently, I sat down with her and asked her a few questions regarding lab research.
Welcome to the last installment of my prep course review series. If you’ve been following my blog in recent months, you know that I’ve already compared prep courses for the MCAT, GMAT and LSAT. Last but not least, we have the Graduate Record Exam, or the GRE. In all honesty, I had never heard of the GRE until a few months ago, which is surprising considering it’s required by most graduate programs in the US and in Canada. With a little more investigation, Magoosh- a prep course company I had yet to come across in this entire series, and Kaplan- a series regular, seemed to be the most highly recommended.
When it comes to LSAT prep, the reviews of different companies and courses seem to be mixed. Even after scouring a number of different blogs and forums, I wasn’t able to identify any clear front runners. That being said, Kaplan and TestMasters were two of the most frequently mentioned.
Kaplan’s most popular LSAT course is their in-person course, which starts at $1,399. It’s taught in seven 4-hour sessions of comprehensive instruction and three full-length in-class proctored practice tests. In addition to the in-class sessions, the course also offers access to Kaplan’s LSAT Channel, which is an online resource providing hundreds of hours of live workshops.
Next in my review of prep-courses for various standardized tests is the Graduate Management Admission Test, more commonly referred to as the GMAT. Similarly to med schools and law schools that require MCAT and LSAT scores, most MBA programs also require a GMAT score. A lot of MBA programs require two years of post-graduate work experience, so preparing for the GMAT may see a little premature. But for those of you interested in pursuing joint JD/MBAs, it’s important to consider that both an LSAT and GMAT score are required. To be honest, I’m not at all familiar with the GMAT, nor do I have any friends who have experience with the GMAT or its prep-courses. But after conducting a little bit of research, it seems that the courses offered by Manhattan and Veritas are the most frequently recommended. Both companies offer a variety of different courses and study materials, but for the sake of comparison, I’ll be discussing their full-length prep-courses.
Prep courses are a huge investment of both time and money but with a multitude of different courses offered by so many different companies, all of which vary in length, depth and practice materials, choosing between them can be be confusing and overwhelming. For the next few posts, I’ll be comparing various prep courses for the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT and GRE. Disclaimer: I’ve never actually taken any of these courses and all of the information I’ll be relaying will be the result of external research and reviews from friends. First up is the MCAT. From what I gather, the two most popular courses are The Princeton Review’s MCAT Ultimate and Kaplan’s MCAT In-Person Prep Course.
The Princeton Review’s 3-month course is approximately $2,499. It’s taught in 2.5-hour sessions, three times per week for a total of 42 classes. In addition to the regular class sessions, the course also includes 20 hours of personalized tutoring. It also comes with 11 full-length practice tests.
Getting your hands on solid reference letters can be one of the most challenging aspects of the application process to navigate. Nevertheless, it remains an indispensable element of any application. The prospect of acquiring references can be so daunting, it’s often difficult to know where to begin. In my own experience, I’ve questioned everything from how many references I should list, to who I should ask, what qualifies as a legitimate reference, will so-and-so agree to be my reference, what if their letter is negative and so on and so forth. As time progressed and I began submitting more and more applications of various types, I’ve grown to appreciate the art of acquiring references. Along the way, I received tons of advice from friends and peers as well as having learned a thing or two on my own. The time has come for me to pay it forward and share the knowledge I’ve accumulated with you all.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m the type of person who fears rejection. So much so that I used to avoid applying for positions, jobs or even scholarships I was interested in. For whatever reason, I was convinced I wouldn’t get them and that I was better off saving myself the misfortune of rejection. I soon realized that this wasn’t a healthy mentality to maintain and that I wasn’t doing myself any favours.
If you’re like me and the thought of potentially being rejected gives you hives, I’ve got some news for you: you have absolutely nothing to lose from trying. Even if you don’t get the job or the scholarship, at the very least, you’ll come out of the process with more experience. As cliché as it sounds, what you learn from unsuccessful attempts will only help strengthen your applications in the future.
As I was lounging around and enjoying my break during the summer, I was suddenly struck by the realization that I should apply for some sort of TA, RA or grading position. I immediately started e-mailing all of the professors whose classes I particularly enjoyed and whose research work I found especially interesting. After a couple of weeks of radio silence, I slowly started receiving responses. To my dismay, none were positive. The bulk of the e-mails informed me that the department was responsible for assigning TA positions and applications had already passed. But one reply, from a professor I had briefly served as a research assistant in the past, explained that while she would not be teaching the course this semester, she would contact me in the winter to discuss a grading position. Thankfully, she forwarded my information to the professor instructing this semester and as it turns out, he was in need of an extra grader, which is how I ended up with the job.
Here we are at our final installment of the Canadian Law School series. So far, I’ve gone through the Ontario law schools who attended the McGill Pre-Law Society’s Canadian Law Forum, namely Osgoode, Ottawa and Queen’s. And I also discussed their shared application system, OLSAS. To wrap up the series, I’ll be relaying information provided by the representatives from McGill and the University of British Columbia.