Structuring and Strategizing your MCAT Studying

Posted by Cole on 6/20/18 5:49 PM

Phase 1 - Introduction & Scheduling the MCAT; Tips for Timing

Introduction

Right now, you might feel that even hearing the word “MCAT” may induce a full-blown panic attack. I get it, not too long ago that word (acronym, technically speaking I guess?) was the bane of my existence. It’s an exam that requires painstaking diligence, long hours, sacrifices, relentless studying and enduring patience. In many ways, having completed that journey, I found that it also requires much more. You might be thinking right now, “Okay, enough with this article it’s stressing me out.” If you feel that way, you’re not alone. To give you some numbers (albeit, slightly dated numbers), in 2015 and 2016 over 125,000 people took the MCAT {1} (yikes). What’s even sadder than the culminative stress generated by all those anxious pre-med students is this one tragic fact – the vast majority of them were structuring their study habits entirely wrong, likely causing them to receive a lower score than what they were capable of attaining. My goal, in this series of 6 articles, is to try and help you avoid that same fate.

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Tags: MCAT

How does the brain work anyway? A short overview on the future of neuroscience

Posted by Anita on 6/18/18 5:18 PM

If the ultimate goal of neuroscience is to understand how the brain works, how will scientists know when that goal has been reached? Is it by our ability to build artificial intelligence matching human capabilities? Our ability to treat or completely prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, or mental disorders like schizophrenia? Creating machines that can read our thoughts and actions? Neuroscience has made tremendous strides, but the goal of understanding the brain might be more of a moving target because the more we find out about the brain, the more questions we have. The following questions are the ones likely to be addressed in the next 50 years, but it is also possible that the most interesting questions have not even been asked yet because we lack the technology or need the future generation of scientists to look at old questions from a new angle.

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Tags: biology

How to Effectively Leverage the Five-Paragraph Model in the MD or DO Personal Statement

Posted by Emma ZC on 6/15/18 6:10 PM

We tend to recall the five-paragraph essay model from our middle school years with a certain degree of disdain. Why should a basic model easily championed by third-graders be applicable to a statement so important that it may determine the outcome of my entire career? Yet, as one moves on to more complex educational and pre-professional stages of life, sometimes a return to the basics is exactly the right remedy. 

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Tags: MD

How to Begin Planning for Secondaries Now

Posted by Martha C. on 6/13/18 5:10 PM

So you submitted your primary application at the beginning of the month, and you’re now stuck waiting for June 30th to begin the task of answering secondary prompts.  Though you should give yourself a big round of applause for submitting your AMCAS on time (hooray!), the work on your MD applications is far from over.  You should be using this down time to begin prepping for your secondary applications and make sure you’re organized and strategic about the next step in your admissions journey.

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Tags: MD

How Test Prep Works (and doesn’t work): A primer for mainland Chinese parents and students

Posted by Lev on 6/8/18 3:37 PM

The American education system and the Chinese education systems are structured in very different ways, and the standardized tests which are used to evaluate college applicants reflect those differences. If the Gaokao is a test (of memorized knowledge), then tests like the SAT and ACT are best labeled evaluations (of broad fundamental abilities).  Accordingly, there is an upper limit to how much one can improve one’s score on U.S. standardized tests through typical Chinese academic study techniques such as memorization of vocabulary words. To score your best on American standardized tests, you may have to move away from study techniques you’ve used in the past.

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Tags: ACT, SAT

Tutor Spotlight: Meet Latoya, New York MD

Posted by Martha C. on 6/6/18 4:57 PM

This week, we're spotlighting Latoya, one of our incredible MDs from Columbia.

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Tags: Tutor Spotlights

Behind the Scenes of Harvard Medical School: Part II

Posted by Logan on 6/4/18 6:57 PM

This week, we interview Logan for another look at Harvard Medical School.  Logan grew up on a horse ranch in Issaquah, Washington. His love for swimming and for the outdoors brought him to Dartmouth College, where he captained his varsity swim team and led Dartmouth’s hunting and fishing club. His research on sleep disorders and hypertension named him a James O. Freedman Presidential Scholar. After graduation, Logan traveled to Nepal, where he worked on several medical service projects. Logan is currently an MD candidate at Harvard Medical School and president of Harvard’s Global Surgery Student Association. As such, you will most often find him chained to a desk in Harvard’s medical library, studying.

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Tags: MD

Surviving the MD Admissions Process as a Student-Athlete

Posted by Cole on 6/1/18 6:12 PM

For those of us who are pre-med collegiate athletes, or those considering this route, there is one inescapable and terrifying truth: the day consists of only 24 hours. While I was playing NCAA ice hockey at Wesleyan University, 5 hours each day were devoted to athletics. Additionally, most weekends were spent traveling for games and sleeping in hotels. This wouldn’t have been an issue if the MD admissions officers didn’t expect so much on top of the normal course load. As a student-athlete, it felt like I was demanded to play my sport while also taking orgo, physics, chemistry, English, bio, labs, conducting research, tutoring, volunteering and winning a Nobel Prize all at the same time. We student-athletes spend endless hours competing on the ice, field or court, but we are also expected to compete with others as an MD applicant. At times (most times) this process seems overwhelming and impossible. You might be sitting there, right this second, thinking this process is impossible. Before I was accepted to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, I was right there with you. Student-athletes are presented with unique challenges due to our athletic and academic demands. However, we are also uniquely positioned with an edge over other MD applicants.

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Ants Go Marching: Fun Facts About How Ants Navigate

Posted by Ava M. on 5/30/18 6:50 PM

Desert ants don’t need to emulate Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs to get out of the forest; they can just count their steps! Ants who live in dense forests create scented trails home by squeezing glands covering their bodies on the floor. But the intense heat of the Sahara destroys these scents and there are few environmental markers to help the ant navigate back to the nest after foraging for food. Scientists from the University of Ulm discovered that some ants have an internal “pedometer” that helps them evaluate how far they have walked. Specifically, they use a strategy called path integration that uses vector math.

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Tags: biology

Behind the Scenes of Harvard Medical School

Posted by Morgan on 5/25/18 3:59 PM

This week, we interview Morgan for a backstage pass to Harvard Medical School.  Morgan is originally from Southern New Jersey, spent the past four years in Williamsburg, VA studying at the College of William & Mary, and is now in Boston as a first year medical student at Harvard. As an undergraduate, Morgan majored in Hispanic Studies and minored in Biology (inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, winning the distinction of most outstanding 2017 inductee of the Alpha Chapter at William & Mary). Her time was equally divided between research projects in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities - which brings a unique interdisciplinary nature to her approach.

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Tags: MD