Taking a (Practice) Step 1 Exam

When I started my embarrassingly long trek toward medical school three years ago, I studied for and took the MCAT. That exam was hands down the worst testing experience I’ve ever had – a six-hour MonsterTest covering basic science. I wrote about the studying process while cloistered in isolation in my Charlottesville apartment, where I didn’t see the sun for three or four days at a time. It was often hard to stay focused, which I covered.

Periodically I would take a practice test, a soul-sucking exercise in self-flagellation that I, of course, also wrote aboutContinue reading

Show Me Something

A couple of weeks ago, the program director for my postbac program sent me an email asking if I’d participate in a panel discussion for this year’s current inmates (the kids going through the wringer like I did last year) about the interview process. It dawned on me that my cohort is exactly a year removed from when we began the application process last year.

If you’ll remember from my timeline post, The Long Haul Begins, the primary med school application doesn’t even open until June. On the advice of this same program director, we were told to start our personal statements over winter break – for me, just over a year ago. Continue reading

Performing Tumor Surgery, Or Why You Need Physics

I complained for the duration of my entire postbac program about physics.

Why do premeds have to take a year of physics plus the associated labs? What possible relevance does shooting metal balls out of a rubber band launcher, and tracking how far they fly, have for medicine? Why is my professor such a disinterested teacher? Why do I have to sit through an hour of tutorial a week?

This morning, all my questions were answered. I, with the help of the electronic circuits unit from second semester physics, successfully performed surgery.

Am I a doctor? No. Am I in medical school? No. But I, surgical instruments in hand, spent my early Sunday morning removing a tumor from a patient – an unsightly but benign tumor that was causing significant distress to the patient’s family members.

I am of course talking about the buzzer on my dryer. Continue reading

A Whirlwind Week… and a Surprise

The last two weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of stress, triumph, starting a new job, and a huge amount of writing. When I got back to the States, I had about a week to wait for my MCAT scores and convalesce from whatever bizarre mystery infection I picked up in Cambodia. And it took that full week.

You probably don’t care or want to hear about me moving, so I’ll skip that part. I also started a new job on Monday; I’ll skip talking about that, too, mostly because blogging about your job is a traumatically bad idea.

What I WILL tell you: the first date for “data transmission” to medical schools was June 29. If you remember The Long Haul Begins, you’ll recall that this was Step 3 – when your completed application goes out to the medical schools you’ve listed, sans any scores or grades you haven’t gotten yet. For me, this was before my MCAT score came in – so my twenty or so schools got everything but. Continue reading

Diary of a Procrastinator

I am a 24-year-old young person. This means that I am still within shouting distance of college, and since I just spent the last year taking more classes I can credibly claim to do what all twenty-somethings credibly claim to do: procrastinate like a boss.

My procrastination, though, is especially nuanced this month. As I’ve written before, the MCAT is a mere five days away (May 31!), and my desire to avoid studying, paradoxically, has steadily increased as the fateful day nears. A semi-true to life chronicle of the last few weeks is below, as dictated to a fictional diary.

(I DO actually have a diary, but I only write things in there when I’m emotionally compromised. This means the vast majority of the entries consist of transcribed feelings. Gross. It is the single most depressing collection of words in existence, including the Oregon Trail you-have-died-of-dysentery notification, letters of rejection from employers, and even the old UNC ticket email that begins, “Hello, you have NOT been selected to receive tickets to the Duke game, rendering your weekend completely worthless.”) Continue reading

What It’s Like To Take a (Practice) MCAT

You’re ready. As countless people have told you, this entire year has been preparation for this. You are prepared to prepare for the MCAT, the test that will determine your medical school admission chances. Well, that, and whether medical schools are willing to overlook that bio lab grade. Um.

You’re motivated. Your final exams are over, you unwound with dinner and drinks, and your batteries are recharged. Time to tackle this five-hour bastard head-on and show it what you know. Continue reading

The Struggle To Put On Pants

Studying for the barrage of science finals and the MCAT, simultaneously, is a relatively independent enterprise. You can try to study in groups, you can attend the review classes, and you can go to the library to be around others, but in the end the process involves you and a lot of text. I tend to avoid the library around exam time, because entering the chemistry library around now is like waiting in line at the drugstore for a prescription during flu season: you’re afraid to get too close to anyone because everybody looks like hell. As an avid people-watcher, I’ve found that coffee shops are too distracting, so my go-to work site is the desk in my bedroom. And I am good at it. I can sit down and focus for hours on end, plugging away at physics or organic chemistry or whatever is on the table that day.

Continue reading

The MCAT Begins to Loom

We’ve started our review course for the MCAT. I wrote about the MCAT back in October, where I attempted to defuse my fear surrounding the test by referring to it as an actual cat. Unfortunately, I have to treat it like a real thing now, with books and studying and practice tes- oops, I just vomited a little bit. The overwhelming scent of failure is nauseating.

If you remember the SAT Subject Tests, the MCAT is sort of like 5 subject tests all mashed together. It covers general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, and verbal reasoning/essay-writing. It’s about five hours long, computer-based, and evil. Continue reading