January-May: The Missing Months

So as I wrote in the last post, there is a huge gap where I posted nothing. Basically I got caught up in school work — at least that’s the good answer to give.

But there wasn’t much going on as far as medical school was involved. But in the next couple weeks I’ll post about what did happen.

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Well I notice that I have not written in here since December 15, 2005. Well ay back then, during fall quarter I got really lazy. So I only completed one application. It ended up being the one for Loma Linda University.

Anways, I received a letter dated December 17 that I had been accepted the Loma Linda University School of Medicine.

So, there you have it. I am officially accepted into medical school.

Oh the joy.

Second thoughts?

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Fall Quarter Finals

Today is the first day of finals for fall quarter. Most of the deadlines for supplementary applications have come and gone. At this point I have only completed one application — the one for Loma Linda University. Conventional wisdom says to apply to more than one school, and not to put all your eggs in one basket. Am I nervous? Definitely. I only have one application in for medical school. It’s a hit or miss thing. Maybe I should have sent in more.

Anwyas, I should get back to studying for these final exams… Spanish final in about 40 minutes….

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MCAT Scores & LLU Interview

Last week was a pretty big week for me as far as premed related things. On Thursday I had an interview with . I have had many ask how the interview went, but I am never really sure. They ask if I felt good about it. My answer is simply that I don’t know. I think I was pretty emotionless after leaving the interview. I suspect it was because I was thinking ahead to the MCAT scores.

Thursday night at 9 pm (PST) the scores were posted. Am I happy with my score? Well they say that if you score above a 30 that you’re competitive. So I suppose I am happy with my numerical score; I’m really disappointed in my essays though.

During the summer, when I was taking the Kaplan course, I did very well on all the essays that I had graded. So when I got the MCAT result I was very surprissed about what I got. Thought about asking for a re-score but it’ll take about 4 months. By that time it’s probably too late; most of the applications I send in will already have been discussed and considered.

Oh well…

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Secondary Applications

Last week my AMCAS applicaiton finally was processed. It took longer than I expected, but I’m glad it’s done.

I ended up applying to eleven schools and the secondary application requests have started trickling in. It’s kind of exciting, although I realize that secondary applications are given out to all applicants who submit a primary (at least for the private schools).

So now comes the though part. Do I fill out all the secondaries? They average about $90-$100 each. I am debating whether or not to wait until I find out my MCAT scores before submitting these applications…

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Kaplan MCAT Prep Course Review

It’s been a little over a week since the MCAT (August 21, 2005). I took the test on a Sunday at U.C.L.A. After about a week of semi-relaxing — I’ve had jury duty and computers to work on — I thought I’d take a few minutes to post my thoughts about the course.

First off, Kaplan’s Pasadena facility was definitely adequate. My only complaint is that finding parking was difficiult and it was a bit far from home. However, those factors did not affect the quality of the actual classes.

Although located in an office building, it was designed as a classroom. There were four classrooms and a lecture hall that could be split into two smaller rooms. A computer lab, conference room, and “student lounge” were also available to students.

The first day of class was spent with an introduction to Kaplan’s policies for their higher score guarantee, parking locations, and other relatively trivial things. Then we were all given a Diagnostic test to establish a baseline score. We did not meet our instructor until the second class session.

Our instructor met us on the second day of class. Fortunately, at least that’s the way I feel, we had one instructor for the entire class (although we did have substitutes a couple times). This was because the instructor scored high enough in all of the categories when He took the MCAT.

On a personal level my instructor was really good. He was really friendly and easy to get along with — and he kept us on our toes by randomly calling on people in the class to answer questions. He said that it was better to be embarrassed now and remember, than to… uh… not…

Anyways, while he was our instructor, he was not someone who had done extensive study in any of the four basic sciences. He was a person who had done well on his MCAT and was now teaching it.

Instruction-wise, the course was okay. I think it was a good reveiw for those who have already covered the material more fully in the school setting. I’d say that the strength of the course lies in the practice exams.

There are five proctored exams given as part of the course. In addition to the five, students may take six more Kaplan tests and 10 MCAT exams previously released by the AAMC. The additional tests are not allowed to be taken from the center and cannot be written on. So it would be best for one to print it out at home (from Kaplan’s website) so that the work can be done on the test booklet instead of scratch paper.

The practice exams are crucial to preparing for the MCAT. It allows students to practice pacing so that come test day, they will be able to finish the real MCAT in time. Being familiar with the length and format of the test will make it so much easier. The MCAT is not something to approach without preparation. A future career depends on it; it also costs about $200 ($210 for Sunday exams).

The Kaplan course I took did not cost me anything since I recevied a free voucher. However, had I not had the voucher I think I would still have taken it. The practice and the pressure to study the material for each class was a huge factor in the score that I will be getting. I’m sure that had I not taken the course, I would not have been as prepared as I was.

My recommendation? Well, the course is expensive. Can you review the material without taking a prep course? Yes you can. However, for some the structure of the classroom lecture is what is needed to push them to study. At the same time, others might be so highly motivated that they can spend hours a day studying and managing their own time leading up to the test. I think that if you need the help getting motivated to study, $1500 is a pretty big motivation. You don’t really wanna waste that much money.

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AMCAS Application

A couple days ago I just started putting filling out the online application. This application is used by most medical schools. One of the most annoying things about the process if that you have to enter the grade of every course you have taken in your college career. We already pay for the service. They could at least enter the data themsevles since they require an official transcript.

And to submit the application to a medical school isn’t cheap. I’ve been reading the book Ultimate Guide to Medical Schools by U.S. News and World Report. The suggest that each applicant apply to around 10-15 schools. The AMCAS fee for one medical school is $160 and then $30 for each additional school.

So, for someone sending the application to 15 schools, that would be $580. I’m not sure if there are additional costs yet or not… Oh well, let the fun times roll…

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