The new MCAT is graded on a scale of 472-528. When you research scoring and test prep you likely hear successes and failures of students shooting for top scores. But there are some programs that require a minimum score of 500 or so to get in. I worked with a student preparing for such a program. She hasn't taken many pre-req sciences classes and came to me with the goal of trying to hit a 500.
I found her story quite motivating and asked her to share her MCAT day experience with you. So when you read negative stories on the ‘big sites' and feel down, don't forget, there are many programs out there. I hope this inspires you to keep working towards YOUR goals.
Dear MCAT Student,
I'm writing this letter to let you know how my MCAT when on August 21. Its been about two weeks since I wrote the exam and I’m anxiously awaiting my scores.
The day of my exam was really rainy and the test center was about a half hour drive from my house. I was really grateful my dad drove me as traffic and the weather would have just increased my stress level!
You arrive pretty early, about an hour before the official start time. You check in and wait with the other students. They then call you in one by one, finger print you, scan you, let you drop your stuff off and bring you to your computer.
The tutorial at the beginning is about 10 minutes and I used that time to write down some formulas for the test (against Leah's advice)…I don’t even think I used them.
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
The first section I found pretty fair, there was lots of ORGO and really not a lot of physics! At the break, I had half a granola bar, some water and a bathroom break.
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
For CARS, I’ m never really sure about how I do. I did finish on time and found the passages to be pretty fair. My mom packed me a lunch, something that I normally eat (fish, veggies, chocolate milk, water and some chocolate). I did a few deep breaths and prepared for the second half.
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
For the third section, I was pretty lost! Definitely a lot of BIO, so I really wish I had spent more time on that! There were lots of very specific things on the test, and BIO is not my strong point. I haven't taken any college bio classes and signed up for the MCAT without enough time to learn it all.
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
As for the final section, I really wish I spent more time reviewing the AAMC sample exam! It’s really easy to get confused with terms especially when you are getting tired.
I am a mature, non traditional Canadian student. I am not aiming for a top score but rather a 500!
I don’t have Bio, Orgo, biochem, psych or sociology classes but really tried my best. With working full time studying can be a challenge.
I really recommend as many practice problems and exams as you can! The day of the test is your time to shine and having good confidence is important. After each question I told myself I got 100% so that I wasn’t thinking about it and focusing on the next .
(Leah's Note: I recommend Next-Step full lengths based on student feedback/ranking. Get 10% off when you purchase using the link on my MCAT Resource Page)
I used a mix of study materials, but mostly Kaplan. I did about 5 Kaplan exams and 2 Next Step. I really wish I took more time to review the exams but really felt like I didn’t have enough time between work and my test date, especially without the pre requisite courses.
I found the Next Step exams to be a bit more straight forward and fairer than Kaplan, but an exam is an exam. The AAMC sample test was also quite representative of the real test but there is so much information the actual exam can cover!
(Leah's Note: Kaplan's 2015 MCAT books are THE BEST. They are linked on the MCAT Resource Page along with the AAMC practice material)
If I have to do this over again…fingers crossed no…I think I will continue to work with Leah and join a study group. I spoke to a fellow student at my exam and he mentioned that is how he prepared for CARS and I think this would be a good idea. I m currently enrolled in a biochem course and bio course which will help with medical school, but also if I have to rewrite.
Good luck as you embark on this adventure. I still am in disbelief that I completed it but am pretty proud of myself!
A fellow student.