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Conduct Offense While Entering Graduate School?

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for medicine and social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

I have a question about past conduct offenses. My freshman year I was charged with underage drinking. Since then, I’ve been a great pre-med with high grades and heavily involved in extracurriculars. Is this offense going to significantly hurt my chances? Should I wait a year after I graduate to expunge my record?

Hmm, it depends. Was the offense managed by campus security or was it the police? If it was campus security, you should look into your school’s policies. Some schools will not release information about certain offenses when you apply to graduate schools, but other institutions will. If this was an issue involving the police, you will have to disclose this on your application. However, you can write about the incident in your personal statement, and describe how you’ve grown and learned from your mistakes.


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What If I Don’t Get The Residency I Want?

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for medicine and social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

Hi Allison, I’m a current medical student and already worried about if I don’t get the residency I want and get stuck doing something I don’t enjoy. What are your plans if you don’t get matched with any of your preferences?

It’s actually pretty rare that someone doesn’t match, and when this happens it’s usually because they overestimated their competitiveness and applied to only super-prestigious programs. If this does happen, you enter what’s called “The Scramble.” In the beginning of Match week you get notified if you did or didn’t match. If you didn’t match, you can then ‘scramble’ to find an opening in a program that didn’t fill all their spots.

My school has a great program that sets us up with specialty-specific advisors. These advisors end up being highly involved in the residency selection processes in their respective subspecialties. When I met with my advisor she was able look at my CV, grades, and personal statement and tell me how competitive of an applicant I am, and listed some programs that I should look into (in the geographic locations that I’m interested in).

I would advise reaching out to someone in the field you’re interested in. Set the meeting up for the middle-end of third year so you’re sure you really know what you want to go into. This person will be able to help you identify programs that will best fit you.


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Pre-Med Extracurriculars & Admissions Committees

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for medicine and social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

I have a 3.5 GPA and decent MCAT score, but I’m really passionate about art, too. Is it OK to send admission committees a gallery or link to my website? Or should non-science activities be left out from my application?

Absolutely not! The AMCAS system has room for lots of extracurriculars, and medical schools DEFINITELY want to know about them – especially if you won any awards, are involved in leadership, or teaching others.

I’m currently going through a similar situation regarding my blog and freelance work when applying for residencies. Right now, my plan is to put a link to my blog (I even linked to my twitter) in my CV. When it comes down to it, Medical School admissions committees WANT people to have constructive hobbies and good personalities, not robots.


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MCAT Studying Advice and Resources

Have you checked out all of our MCAT Wisdom articles yet? If you haven’t, here is a nice compiled list of some of our more popular wisdom articles.

Overview of the MCAT

What Is The MCAT? – The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Learn more about the test.

The Road to the MCAT – Planning on registering for the MCAT soon? Learn more about the process of registering for the test.

What Happens on Test-Day? – Do you know what happens on test day? Read this article to get an overview of what happens in the testing center.

Studying Tips

Tips for Studying for the MCAT – Some insights on how to create a MCAT gameplan.

Kaplan & Princeton Materials Studying From Home – Studying for the MCAT with materials from home? Learn how to make your studying time more effective.

Is The Kaplan Course Effective? – Allison’s experience preparing for the MCAT her first time through.

Studying Aids

Time Management Tips For Pre-Med Students – Spend less time studying by studying effectively.

Managing Stress While Studying – Stressed out because of school? Learn how to manage that stress.

Applications

MCAT Extra Curricular Activities – Extracurricular activities are beneficial on applications. Read how to make them work.

Time Management Tips For Pre-Med Students

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for medicine and social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

Between school, volunteering, research, and my job, I feel I’m spreading myself too thin and it’s starting to burn me out. Do you have any advice on how to handle time management?

Wow, you sound like you’re super busy! While only you can decide what kind of lifestyle you want to have in the long run, if your grades are suffering or you are dealing with unmanageable stress levels, you may need to take something off your plate.

Personally, when it comes to time management, I always try and finish “busy work” sooner rather than later. For example, if I have a paper due late in the semester I try and do it early so that I can free up time for things that may pop up later on. Another suggestion is to always take one day every week for yourself. Don’t allow yourself to do any schoolwork, and take time to do all your “real person activities” like grocery shopping, errands, or just other fun things. This way, you won’t have to worry about them as your running around and doing everything else.

If you feel like you are spread too thin, you might consider checking to see if your college offers online courses, so that you can make your daily schedule more flexible. Many accredited colleges offer online versions of their best courses, for example there is SJU Online.


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Importance of an Interest in Research for Medical School?

MCAT QuestionsAllison Greco is a medical student in the class of 2013 and has a great passion for medicine and social media. You can follow her on twitter @grecoa3.

How important is an interest in research for medical school?

Research is one of those things that you notoriously hear “looks great” on medical school applications. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about it when I started looking in to medical school. As time moved on, several opportunities presented themselves throughout my other extra-curriculars and academic programs. I needed to do a thesis to graduate in my school’s honors program. In the end, I basically killed 2 birds with 1 stone in terms of my research involvement.

Different medical schools put more or less emphasis on research. This is something your pre-med advisor or the medical school itself can tell you more about.


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My MCAT Wake-up Call

This is a guest post by Alex Yu, Rhodes ’13. If you would like to be featured, send us an email.

Several weeks ago, I signed up to take a free practice MCAT in the comfort of my own home. It sounded like a perfectly productive way to spend a Saturday, and in it’s own way, it was. I haven’t really studied for the exam like I should be due to all the work at school even though I’m only taking 3 classes, and with several of my friends taking the prep course, I feel behind and overwhelmed. However, I thought that since it’s been about 3 years since I’ve taken a practice, my score should at least improve by 5-10 points since I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge. This thought was purely false.

Breakdown by section

The physical sciences section, the hardest in my opinion, went about as well as I thought it could go without studying. I thought the verbal reasoning was a blast, convinced it would be my highest scoring section, and by the time the biological sciences came along, I expected it to be great since I am more comfortable with organic chemistry and topics in biology. This was also false.

The biological sciences section was brutal. The experiments and display of results were on a level I thought was excessive. When I finished I was ready to see my score, anticipating to be pleased with my performance. Instead, I was greatly disappointed and in shock. Turns out, I did horrible on both the physical sciences section and biological sciences section. Even worse, I did awful on the verbal reasoning. I ended up making only one point higher than what I made three years before. Immediately I had a panic attack.

The aftermath

After stuffing my face with Memphis barbeque and going for an extended walk, I calmed myself down from the hysteria that followed the morning dream killer. I kept asking myself what went wrong, and why the verbal reasoning was a disaster. I could answer the first question easily. Clearly I need to study the material more, as well as become more familiar with the exam and what it wants from you. As for the second question, I still have no idea.

I’ve taken practice verbal reasoning sections before and while doing okay on some, others are pretty embarrassing. My biggest problem is that I don’t really see the logic in their answer choice. My answer seems perfectly acceptable, why should theirs be any more right than what I say? Often times the key will describe how their answer choice came from the author’s tone, highlighting maybe 3 words in a sentence as their justification. I find this absurd. I have friends that say, “But you have to choose the ‘best answer of the choices given,'” and I completely understand that, but where do you draw the line?

Whatever the answer, there is one thing I know for sure: don’t underestimate the MCAT. As soon as school is over, I am devoting 2 months to extensive studying and practice test taking. I am taking my MCAT on June 21, and will spend each weekday studying, with practice exams every weekend up to the real exam. Now that I’ve planned out my study schedule, I’m interested to see how others plan theirs. What’s your strategy?


Mr. Yu

I want to be a doctor and I think writing is fun and I love to read. When you have the mind of a writer, things can be pretty dramatic. Comment below or message me on Twitter @mryu90.

Research Works Act

We feature students who have a passions for medicine, science, entrepreneurship, and journalism. Want to become a featured student? Shoot us an email and ask for more details.

Nathan Georgette

You might have heard of SOPA, Congress’s most recent attempt to stifle the open exchange of information on the internet. With SOPA, the big guns mobilized. You heard about it from Google, Reddit, and even Wikipedia. But you might not have heard about a similar bill, which holds even graver implications for future physicians, biomedical scientists, and patients in general. It’s titled innocuously enough – ‘The Research Works Act’ – but a brief review quickly wipes away the varnished coat. To see how truly harmful this bill is, we have to take a step back.

The thing is that right now, all research that is funded by taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) needs to be freely accessible within one year of publication. Now, as many of our research-oriented friends well know, accessing papers on traditional publishers’ websites can be a very expensive proposition. To read even a single article might run upwards of $50. But within one year, that critical knowledge can be accessed for free on the NIH’s online database, PubMed. This way, we don’t have to pay twice for research funded by our tax dollars. And what’s more, patients and physicians can easily access possibly life-saving medical knowledge. The Research Works Act would overturn this policy.

Intensive study well ahead of time is important precisely because you only have these five hours. You know that, on test day, you need to be working at optimal levels – quickly, accurately, and confidently. And while classmates may attempt to convince us that we can handle the material with “just a couple of practice tests”, and we really should skip the study session today and go out for a bit, I think we all experience that little nagging sensation informing us that we do, in fact, need to prepare.

So you might wonder: why would someone want to reverse this taxpayer-friendly law? Well, let’s just look at the money trail. Co-sponsor Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) third largest contributor for this election cycle is none other than Reed Elsevier, Inc., a publishing house pitted against open access to scientific knowledge. While we acknowledge private companies might want to monetarily support like-minded candidates, the financial link is disturbing. Thankfully, researchers are taking a stand and boycotting Reed Elsevier.

While we might not have thousands of dollars to influence lawmakers, we can make our voices heard. To learn more, check out Prof. Michael Eisen’s blog, and then sign this petition.


Bio: Nathan Georgette is a Junior at Harvard College, with special interests in open access, HIV/AIDS, and infectious disease modelling.

Of Medicine and Motivation

Sophia is the first of many students to be featured on MCAT Question of the Day. We feature students who have a passions for medicine, science, entrepreneurship, and journalism. Want to become a featured student? Shoot us an email and ask for more details.

Sophia Glisch

If you are readying yourself to write the MCAT, then it is almost certain that you have previously met with standardized assessments. Earlier in life, you will have – if you are studying in the United States or applying to a U.S. college – faced the SAT: a three-part, three-hour-and-forty-five-minute test that leaves most students, in between ragged breaths, boldly declaring that they, uh, don’t need to go to college. Among others, the LSAT, GMAT, or MAT may’ve also, if you’ve considered paths other than those involving medicine, woven their ways into your undergraduate experience. In brief, these examinations are realities of any student’s existence. They quickly become particularly prevalent, however, in the lives of those who choose to take the road that, if not less travelled by, always nevertheless seems just a little wild.

To continue with the conditionals, if you’ve met with standardized tests, then you probably know that they take time to prepare for. This is primarily because all these exams demand that you sharpen skills that you may not have to regularly use. The MCAT has you, for example, facing quantitative problems calculator-less. While you won’t exactly be mentally evaluating partial wave integrals on the test, being rusty on your trig is definitely not an excellent idea. With its medley of this form of computational work, passage-based reading, and a scored writing sample, the MCAT asks that you prove you’ve mastered several of these subject-specific specialized skills in a variety of ways – all in about five hours.

Intensive study well ahead of time is important precisely because you only have these five hours. You know that, on test day, you need to be working at optimal levels – quickly, accurately, and confidently. And while classmates may attempt to convince us that we can handle the material with “just a couple of practice tests”, and we really should skip the study session today and go out for a bit, I think we all experience that little nagging sensation informing us that we do, in fact, need to prepare.

Why is then that the vast majority of us, despite our knowing that preparation is integral to success, don’t manage to adhere to a study schedule? I suppose life takes over. A particularly heated debate with a family member, the end of a relationship, an unfortunate result on a difficult problem set, a momentary lack of confidence in one’s ability to even write the test. All of this and more can be grounds for an unplanned break of days or even weeks.

I am certain that all those reading this are presently wondering how you go about avoiding the aforementioned things. You don’t, as again, they are aspects of life that will most definitely greet all of us at some point in time. What you should do, however, is strive to remain motivated when these things occur. Every student has a different method of doing this, but I think that one of the best has been, particularly for me, reminding myself of why precisely I seek to write the MCAT. This may sound like a question that has an exceedingly obvious answer, but it is surprisingly important to (despite the fact that this may seem a waste of study time) occasionally remind yourself, step-by-step, of why it is that you’re sitting this time-consuming, rather demoralizing examination.

When the going gets tough, I run through my reasons. As fabricated as this may sound, I have always wanted to learn more. Early in life, I found within science a means of understanding more and more about the fascinating universe within which I live. This, then – wanting to learn more – is my primary reason for doing most of what I do, and the most general reason for my wanting to take the MCAT. From it stems the fact that, in order to further my ability to carry out the protein folding and medical biophysics research that I am presently involved in, I constantly need to enhance my knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics. The MCAT requires that I check up on all my fundamentals, and successful completion of it, therefore, at least partially signals that my knowledge base and reasoning capabilities are adequate. Finally, though I am not presently contemplating a career in non-research medicine, writing the MCAT will assist me in presenting an interesting profile to universities that require successful applicants to showcase a broad range of capabilities. A good score will, too, permit me to apply to medical school should I later be interested in doing so.

Attempt to think of your reasons. If they seem obvious to you, all the better – work on simply ensuring that you don’t lose sight of them. If you find yourself in a patch of slightly nebulous thought where your priorities are concerned, write them down. Share them with friends. However you do so, ensure that you always keep in touch with your purpose. It is, after all, exceedingly difficult to truly do something if you don’t understand why you are doing it.


Bio: Sophia Glisch is a student currently residing in Toronto, Canada. Presently, though, she spends most of her days blogging, eating sushi, and working in a protein folding lab; for the past three months, she has also been preparing extensively for the MCAT.

Because Sophia is slightly younger than the average student writing the test, and because she has decided to make her MCAT journey an experiment in self-studying, some unusual challenges (and some useful insights) have come her way. She hopes that she can, through her writing, offer a perspective that will be somehow enriching, and somehow entertaining.

You can read her blog here, and follow her on Twitter.

5 Most Popular MCAT Physics Questions

Top 5 MCAT Physics Questions

With over 140+ questions posted on MCAT Question of the Day so far, we’ve had many questions that have been more popular with our readers than others.

You’ve read our 5 Most Popular MCAT Biology Questions and MCAT Chemistry Questions, now it’s time to cover our most popular MCAT physics questions, starting from the very beginning.

Here are our 5 most popular MCAT Physics Questions since we started:

1. Missile Velocity: Our second physics question ever posted happens to be a nice conceptual problem. I find the picture to be pretty funny as well.

2. Force and Velocity: Use the force, Luke. A great problem to go back and review, also contains reference to Star Wars.

3. Low Stakes: Funny title + good problem to grab a calculator for = popular question.

4. Whistle While You Run: How much do you know about the Doppler effect? One of the few questions that the majority of students got wrong.

5. String Fixed At Both Ends: Great conceptual question that many students forget. Also, as a bass player, I particularly enjoyed the picture.

Well, that wraps up our list & our “5 Most Popular” series! As you could imagine, this list was quite hard to compile because there are no popular physics questions. I kid, I kid, but in the meantime, you should definitely follow MCAT Question of the Day on Twitter and on Facebook.

Photo attributed to Equipo.