Health Professions

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The truth about medical school personal statements: a strategic view
What should I write about in my medical school personal statement? Well, that’s the wrong question.
Four traits Harvard Medical School looks for in applicants
There are four main qualities that Harvard Medical School looks for in its applicants. Highlighting the following aspects in your application will help you stand out to the Admissions Committee:
Regrouping amino acids for the MCAT
In my high school and undergraduate career, I often learned about amino acids based on their chemical properties; that is, on the basis of their polarity, acidity, or basicity. Those classifications, while important, don’t capture the full story. For the MCAT, I’ve found it helpful to think about some of the different functional properties of ...
Embracing Failure as a Premedical Student
Failure is an uncomfortable experience. Despite the knowledge that all humans are imperfect, when it inevitably happens to us, we feel shame, self-doubt, and even anger. This is especially true in premedical courses when we feel like there is so much riding on our academic performance. 
A simple approach to CARS questions
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT can be daunting for many STEM-minded examinees. While it's fair to say that CARS questions are challenging, it's unfair to say that they are unfair. With sentence structures like that last one, reading a CARS paragraph can be mind-numbing. I’m here to share one trick I used to cut ...
Linkage and association mapping in genetic analysis
When geneticists want to see how closely related two genes are, they have two main ways of doing so: linkage analysis and association mapping. 
Start early: tips for medical school personal statements
There are multiple pieces to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The one that most people dread, if you’re anything like me, is writing your personal statement. Thinking about personal statements for medical school can be stressful. You might find yourself asking: what do they want to know? 
Why medical students should care about the history of medicine
It’s undeniable that medicine and science have transformed our world. From novel therapeutics that combat various diseases, new technologies that allow us to better understand how our bodies function, to transformative surgical interventions. Yet, often, since we know that medicine and science “work”, we fail to interrogate and challenge the ...
How to interview for medical school when you’re not a strong interviewee
I remember the paradoxical mixture of both elation and fear when I received my first medical school interview. I was excited by the prospect of embarking on my journey to becoming a medical school student. At the same time, I balked at the idea of an interview being the barrier between where I was and where I wanted to be. At that point, I would ...
Writing a personal statement for dental schools
Is what I’m writing too personal or not personal enough? Should I be writing more about teeth?  How do I shorten my personal statement without omitting important details? Am I even answering the prompt!?
Navigating medical school as a first-generation college student
After starting medical school, I’ve realized that being a first-generation college student is one of my greatest assets. Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents’ sacrifices motivated me to excel, and the challenge of paving my own path through academia shaped me into the person I am today. Nonetheless, navigating medial school as a ...
7 tips to nail Zoom medical school interviews
Congratulations - you’ve been selected for a medical school interview! The school already thinks you’re qualified because of your GPA, MCAT, extracurriculars, and essays. Now, it’s time to prove that your personality meshes well with that school.
The one thing you need to know about Harvard School of Dental Medicine
If you are planning on applying to dental school, you should be aware of how different schools structure their program. It wasn’t until I got to the interview process that I realized how little I knew about the variations in dental curriculum across schools. I was surprised to find out that Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is one of the ...
Why I chose neurology
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) database, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 future neurologists looking to specialize in neurology each year. So what exactly does a neurologist do? How do you become one, and why should you consider becoming one?
How to tackle dental interviews
So you got a dental school interview...now what?
5 tips to make the most of your MCAT study time
John Wooden, the famous UCLA men’s basketball coach who won ten NCAA championships during his career, defined success as “peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” Maintaining this perspective can be invaluable as we set, plan, and work towards ...
How knowing units can help you remember equations tested on the MCAT
The chemistry and physics section of the MCAT is notoriously daunting. However, while questions may seem perplexing with complicated equations and challenging calculations, one can answer questions in this part of the exam quickly by knowing units of variables commonly encountered in chemistry and physics. 
Dealing with the deluge of secondary applications
They come slowly at first. A trickle, maybe just one for a time. But then it grows into a stream, and finally a surge. This accurately describes many phenomena, such as the first spring thaw in New England or medical students arriving at free food events. But I’m talking about medical school secondary applications. After you complete a universal ...
5 MCAT tips from a 520+ scorer
The MCAT is hard, and the MCAT is important. It’s likely that at this stage of your academic journey, the MCAT will be the longest exam you’ve ever taken, and your preparation will need to reflect that. But whether your goal score is a 500, 510, or 520, there are a number of tips you can follow to feel confident come test day without burning out ...
A guide to FlexMed
FlexMed is the early assurance program offered by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Any undergraduate sophomore is eligible to apply, and it does not have any requirements for what major you are pursuing. The beauty of the program is the freedom that it affords undergraduates after acceptance. While my peers were studying for the MCAT, ...
CARS misconceptions
The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section (CARS) is both the best and the worst section of the MCAT. The reason you must love it is that you aren’t required to store an inordinate number of CARS-related facts and figures in your head as you walk through those doors on test day. The downside of this fact is that you don’t get any free answers for ...
5 tips for taking the MCAT in college
I knew going into college that I wanted to go to medical school and that I did not want to take a gap year. It’s important to keep an open mind and be flexible about these decisions, but if you know exactly what you want, then you should make a plan and go for it. As such, I ended up taking the MCAT two weeks after the end of my junior year.
Some quick dos and don'ts for premeds
As an MD-PhD Candidate, I’ve spent a lot of time working with premed students on their journeys into medicine. Here are some dos and don'ts that I’ve gathered along the way - please note that this list isn’t all-inclusive! 
Concept mapping: your tool for tackling standardized tests
I’m not a visual learner. I’m not a “diagram person.” I was a skeptic when first introduced to concept mapping. It was not a tool I made use of until the very beginning of my fourth year of medical school right before I took my second board exam, but it was something I wish I’d known about long before when taking college exams or the MCAT.  While ...
The DAT: six weeks out from test day
During my junior year of college, I was taking five classes, working two jobs, and finishing up a year-long independent study. Without much time to spare, I delayed the start of my DAT studying to May 15, the day after my organic chemistry II final.  The catch? My test day was set for July 1, leaving me only six weeks to review all of the material ...
Buffering your MCAT studying schedule 
Planning your MCAT study schedule can be a daunting task. With so much material to cover for the exam, it’s impossible to know where to begin studying without a detailed plan and schedule. You need to know what you need to know! There are plenty of resources out there to help you navigate which test window to register for, how much time you should ...
MD-PhD credentials: what do I need?
You’re interested in MD-PhD programs, but you want some more information about how to prepare and what the process looks like. Since the annual applicant pool is relatively small, this information can be hard to find, especially if you don’t attend a large research-oriented institution.
Breaking down a Step 1 question
Step 1 is a beast - but a conquerable beast. Developing a broad knowledge base in pharmacology, pathophysiology and biochemistry is critical to doing well on test day. However, the process of taking the test—dissecting question stems to quickly apply relevant knowledge and identify the correct answer—is arguably just as important to reaching your ...
Things I wish I had known as a premed
Writing medical school applications is a prime time for self-reflection. Both during the writing process and in preparing for interviews, I’ve found myself reflecting on the things I wish I had known as a premed. Below are the things that I wish I had known in undergrad, especially as the first in my family to pursue a career in medicine. 
Tips on crushing your dental school interview
Alright, so you made it through the written portion of your application, and BOOM: an email from your dream school inviting you for an interview? CONGRATS! This can bring an immense amount of excitement—but also a ton of jitters and nerves.
How to review a full-length practice MCAT exam 
So, you’ve taken your first practice MCAT. Now what?
Medical School Admissions Timeline
The MD admissions process is long, and it begins even before you officially apply to med school. During your junior and senior year as a pre-med, be sure to stay on top of completing all of your pre-med academic requirements, reaching out to recommenders, and(increasingly) studying for the MCAT.
How taking a gap year helped me get into Harvard Medical School
I would not be where I am today, at Harvard Medical School, if I hadn’t taken a gap year after college. If you’re thinking about taking one but still on the fence about it, here are some reasons for why I took a gap year and how I feel about that decision looking back today.  
The role of insurance and common threats in health insurance markets
Growing up, the GEICO Gecko and Allstate’s Mayhem were frequent fixtures of TV nights with my family. “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” and “You’re in good hands” were slogans I knew for as long as I could remember. Clearly, the services these companies were selling – different types of insurance – were marketed as taking ...
What I learned during the first-ever virtual medical school interviews
During the 2020-2021 medical school admissions cycle, interviews were conducted on a virtual platform for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021-2022 will certainly use the same virtual format, and medical school admissions interviews are likely to remain virtual for the foreseeable future.
How to highlight your student-athlete experiences for med school applications
College athletics take a lot of time out of your schedule: student-athletes must reserve four hours per day for practice, multiple hours per week for rehabilitation in the athletic training room, a few hours per month for meetings, and several days per semester for traveling and competing. If you are a pre-med student-athlete, you might begin to ...
My MCAT experience (or how I learned to be more productive)
It was January 2019, and there was about a month left before my MCAT test date. I was exhausted by this point: the test prep was taking up the majority of my time outside of school. During a study break, I vividly recall looking at the data usage statistics on my cell phone and being shocked. These metrics indicated that I had been using my phone ...
How to crush MCAT content review
The MCAT is a monster of a test. Even talented test takers approach this exam with some degree of apprehension. Fortunately, the MCAT is all about how you prepare, and I'm here to tell you that you can absolutely hit your target score with the right preparation.
How to avoid burnout and achieve work-life balance
Work-life balance is a phrase that people love to throw around, especially in medicine, but it’s often not clear what it means or how to actually achieve it. And I’ll be honest, there is no perfect work-life balance. The balance may sway toward work more often that you like and life may happen in ways that you weren’t expecting. However, after ...
How the humanities can inspire humanism in medicine
As a medical student with an inherent love for science and the workings of the human body, my favorite class in college was one that offered little obvious translation to my current field. “Introduction to Poetry” was an Honors class of approximately 10 students that met twice a week for an hour of intensely cerebral analysis of various poetic ...
What NOT to do when applying to medical school
Applying to medical school can be a grueling process. It's a very competitive process, and candidates with nearly perfect metrics can be turned down. Keep the following advice in mind to ensure that you are successful in your admissions cycle. 
How to study for the MCAT while working full-time
Just as there is no one right path to medical school, there is no one right time to take the MCAT. And as it turns out, there’s never a perfect time to drop everything and study full-time for a six to seven-hour multiple choice examination. Studying for the MCAT is challenging even if you have all day to focus on it, let alone if you’re also ...
How to obtain strong letters of recommendation for medical school
Like it or not, letters of recommendation (LORs) play a key role in applying to medical school. In a the increasingly competitive field of medical school applications, you want to “load the bases” and make every component of your application shine. Letters of recommendation can seem like the part over which you have the least control –after all, ...
How to answer "What do you do for fun" in an interview
When I prep applicants for their medical school interviews, I always giggle to myself as I ask this question because of the inevitable deer-in-the-headlight look that follows. Applicants are often woefully unprepared to talk about the things that they do just for enjoyment. And I get it: when I applied to medical school I focused so much on ...
"Why medicine?" How to answer this common MD interview question!
For many applicants, the question, “Why medicine?” is an expected, yet challenging to answer when asked in an interview setting. Fortunately, you’ve likely reflected on this question when considering whether to apply to medical school and throughout the application process, particularly when writing your personal statement. But you might not have ...
Drawing the chair conformation of a pyranose ring
Welcome back! In this blog post, we will complete the following example problem:
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part II)
Welcome back! If you missed part I of this post, please check it out here. Now that you've made an MCAT study schedule, adjusted your lifestyle, and figured out the fuel your body needs, you're probably wondering...
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part I)
Summer is officially upon us, and some of you may be working on your ideal summer physique. No, I’m not talking about washboard abs or a chiseled upper back (though those are great goals to have as well). If you’ve found this post on your own (or read the title), then you already know what I’m talking about: preparing your body for the MCAT! 
Fetal circulation: three shunts, one rule
Hearts are pretty cool, and so are developing fetuses. Unfortunately for the student preparing for the MCAT, they’re also both pretty complicated, and fetal circulation differs from adult circulation in three main structures. In the next couple paragraphs, I’m going to break down these structures with one rule. If you’re not familiar with adult ...
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 2: SDS-PAGE is Still About Dinosaurs
Welcome to Part 2 of our foray into lab techniques! In my last post, we discussed the basic principles behind gel electrophoresis. In this post, we’ll build off the principles behind gel electrophoresis and talk about its cousin, SDS-PAGE, with a focus on how it is different from gel electrophoresis. If you need a refresher on gel electrophoresis, ...
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 1: Dinosaurs and Gel Electrophoresis
There are a lot of lab techniques tested on the MCAT. Many will be techniques you haven’t seen before in real life. They might have meaningless names like “Western blot” or “SDS-PAGE.” And the MCAT expects you to know not just what they are used for, but also how they work. Sucks, right?
Top 5 ways medical school applicants spend their gap years
Did you know that 56.7 percent of matriculating medical students this year decided by the time they finished high school that they were already set on pursuing a career in medicine? 22.8 percent of students knew a career in medicine was right for them even before they started high school. If you tack on the students who catch the pre-med bug ...
8 tips for MCAT success
1. Take a diagnostic test The MCAT is a monster of a test, and it will very likely be the most comprehensive exam you’ve ever taken. Everything from mRNA to Sigmund Freud will be on there, and it will encompass all that you’ve learned in your college science courses...and then some. So how do you even start? Well, we all have our own strengths and ...
How to make an MCAT study plan
When I taught high school science in DC Public Schools, my colleague had a saying whenever he would assign lengthy class projects. “There’s only one way to eat an elephant,” he would say, “one bite at a time.” Although his advice was intended for our class of grumbling adolescents, I found it increasingly applicable to my own extra-curricular ...
How to make the most of the two weeks before your MCAT
I’ve always been someone who gets caught between cycles of procrastination and wild activity when a deadline is impending. The MCAT was no different for me; however, I really made the most out of those two weeks leading up to my exam date. With the right study execution, the final two weeks can be used to sharpen your exam-taking skills, leading ...
Making your personal statement stand out in just the first two lines
A personal statement is the best (and sometimes only) chance you have to make your application jump off the page. Even if you have outstanding test scores, those scores alone do not guarantee you admission. Which brings us to the personal statement, your chance to show your readers how engaging you are, how you are a future leader in your field, ...
Pearls of knowledge: what my older pre-med mentors taught me
As I suddenly realize that I am halfway through my gap year and that 2020 has been swallowed by the gaping maws of that-which-shall-not-be-named, I find myself with more time than usual to sit still. To be quiet and reflect on the years that have led me to the point at which I find myself. 
“Tell me about your research”
If you did any research work at all before applying to medical school, you are likely to encounter this question. And if you apply to MD/PhD, you will encounter it multiple times at every institution. So it’s especially worth your while to be prepared.
“If you had to choose a career outside of medicine, what would it be?”
It’s interview season. You’ve spent at least the past six months writing, writing, writing to convince admissions committees that medicine is the only possible career for you, the one that will allow you to fulfill your personal and professional goals, the one your passions have driven you towards. So what should you make of this common interview ...
How to balance redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions
Balancing redox reactions is an essential skill for the Chemical and Physical Foundations section of the MCAT, the GRE Chemistry Subject Test, and the AP Chemistry Exam. Today, we will learn how to use the half-cell method for balancing redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions. We will first balance a redox reaction in acidic solution, then ...
"How would you contribute diversity to our medical school?"
During the MD admissions process, this question is often dreaded, as applicants reminisce on the mundaneness of premed requirements and volunteer experiences. As with questions of, "What are your strengths?", "Why should we accept you?", and "What makes you unique?", applicants may fear coming off too arrogant and self-promoting. In all these ...
Hormones of the female reproductive system
The female reproductive system can at times feel like a difficult jumble of hormones that all seem to be related, but fluctuate in unpredictable ways. To make sense of the particularities of the female reproductive system, especially for exams like the MCAT, it is important to not only know what hormones are involved, but also to understand what ...
Gametogenesis and spermatogenesis and oogenesis, oh my!
Meiosis is one of those processes that we all learned about in high school biology as a deceptively simple concept. You take the diploid cell, divide it twice, and it becomes four haploid gametes that are each capable of participating in fertilization. Easy, right?
How to tackle multiple mini interviews
Multiple mini interviews, commonly referred to as MMIs, are a major interview component in the MD admissions process. According to the AAMC, “the MMI is designed to measure competencies like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork that are important indicators of how an applicant will interact with patients and colleagues as ...
How to learn enzyme inhibition without memorizing facts
The MCAT contains LOTS of material that can often feel quite overwhelming. With this mountain before you, it can feel like the best thing to do is to memorize as many facts as possible to simply regurgitate on test day. I’m here to tell you: this isn’t your only option!
How to send a cold email for research or shadowing in 5 easy steps
It can be daunting to reach out to a professor or doctor you’ve never met and ask to work with them or shadow them in a clinic. In this post, I’ve outlined how I like to approach cold-emailing research and clinical faculty, usually to great success.
Mnemonics for memory: your MCAT best friend
Anyone who has studied for the MCAT will tell you: there is A LOT to learn. At times, learning new information about your own body can feel pretty rewarding. Other times, the sheer magnitude of information you are responsible for can feel quite overwhelming. At its best, conquering content related to the MCAT should feel like an ambitious ...
Answering the question: “why medicine?”
Whether it is for a personal statement, medical school interviews, or networking events, you will undoubtedly be asked: “Why medicine?” Though a seemingly simple question, coming up with a unique and comprehensive answer can be challenging. In this post, I outline how I approached this question by breaking it down into specific components. Use ...
Pituitary gland hormones made simple
What is the pituitary gland? Even though the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, it plays a very important role in regulating a lot of our body’s endocrine functions. Located in an area known as the sella turcica at the base of the brain and suspended from the hypothalamus by a stalk, the pituitary gland consists of two parts: the ...
Breaking down the Texas medical school admissions process
The medical school admissions process is long, confusing, and stressful. Having just finished my own cycle in which I applied to schools on both AMCAS and TMDSAS, I’m creating this post in the hopes that it could provide useful insights to current and future medical school applicants.
How to determine if an acid is strong or weak on the DAT
As someone studying for the DAT, you’ve seen this common problem before: which molecule is the stronger acid? When assessing the strength of an acid, the most important thing to look at is not the acid itself but its conjugate base. The guiding principle is the more stable the conjugate base A- the stronger its corresponding acid HA.
MCAT prep: first steps to a long-term study plan
A common misconception about the MCAT is that you should only start studying several months to a year before your expected exam date. In reality, some MCAT skills may benefit from a more gradual approach, over the course of months or years. Even a few minutes every day can add up over a long period of time and prepare you to ace the MCAT on test ...
Placed on the medical school waitlist. Now what?
Getting waitlisted at one of your top choice medical schools can be disheartening. After making sacrifices as an undergraduate, acing the MCAT, and putting your best foot forward at the interview, a waitlist decision may leave you feeling like you fell just short. But, it is important to recognize that a waitlist is still an open door, and what ...
USMLE Step 1: common pitfalls and how to make a study plan
My vision for the most effective, and least stressful, Step 1 study strategy is centered on the principle of balancing new material as you progress through pre-clinical courses while simultaneously maintaining your knowledge of past material in a time-effective way. It sounds simple, but it’s difficult to achieve!
Applying to medical school as an engineering student
You've made it through differential equations and crushed software development methods while taking organic chemistry "on the side.” Now what? If you're an engineering student interested in medicine, chances are you're wondering how to translate your academic experiences into a killer AMCAS application. Here are some ideas to get started:
Part 1: Recognizing that dentistry is the career for you & Key aspects of the journey to Dental School
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”: A seemingly innocent, simple question that you have probably heard from the time you were in kindergarten and every Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of enjoying sweet potatoes and stuffing. Yet, this ten-word, ten syllable inquiry might be a stress-inducing annoyance with an unfathomably complex answer ...
A comprehensive guide to AMCAS: getting started on the primary application
You’ve decided to apply to medical school. Congratulations- that’s a huge step! How do you organize everything you’ve done in the past few years into a couple hundred words on your primary application? My goal is for this post to serve as a comprehensive resource as you organize yourself for a writing marathon this cycle. Take a deep breath- you ...
I just want to be a doctor, so does organic chemistry really matter?
Imagine: you’ve made it through your first semester or two of undergrad and weathered all the storms that come with this transition. And, now you find yourself facing a dreaded academic giant that has stricken fear in the hearts of scores of pre-medical students. A chemistry course unlike any other. If you are anything like most pre-medical ...
Some ways to organize your MCAT biology review of muscle tissue
There are so many concepts on the MCAT, and sometimes it can be easy to get lost in how different concepts relate to each other. Notecards, flow charts or large maps, and teach-backs are all ways to make sure you solidify these complicated topics! One strategy to study for the MCAT and consolidate information is approaching biology concepts from ...
A perspective on the CARS section from an English major
One February morning in my junior year, sitting under the harsh lights of the reference room in my college library, I decided to open ExamKrackers’ 101 Passages in MCAT. While I bemoaned the fact that this moment heralded the beginning of the dreadful MCAT study period, I was secretly confident that CARS would be a feel-good start to my MCAT ...
Working with lenses and mirrors: how to draw a ray diagram
Ray diagrams can look intimidating, but they don’t have to be! In this blog post, we will tackle five examples of ray diagrams.
Three things that got me into Harvard Medical School
If you had asked me as a freshman in college where I was going to be in 4 years, I don't know what I would have said—but sitting in a medical school library (especially at Harvard) didn't even cross my mind. I was going to be a helicopter pilot. So, how did I ultimately end up in med school when everyone was saying that I had to be “perfect” in ...
Applying to medical school with a low MCAT score
Pre-meds all over the world freak about the MCAT. It’s a long, overwhelming test that functions as a predictor for how well you might perform in medical school. For some schools, it’s the metric for whether or not you are offered an interview. So, pre-meds study hard, and some do well, while others are less than pleased with their scores. Low ...
How to study for the MCAT when you're not done with science coursework
A lot of folks have asked me how to study MCAT material that they have never seen in class. It is a good and important question. Many of the topics covered on the MCAT—particularly on the Chem/Phys section—are covered in classes that students tend to take later in their college careers, such as second-semester physics (E&M). In this brief ...
Premed during COVID-19? How to put your time at home to good use
A common concern among undergraduate premed students these days is how COVID-19 may impact their application plans to medical school. Before offering some ideas for using this time productively, a gentle reminder: Most medical school committees are comprised of physicians, all of whom would much prefer that you practice social distancing and basic ...
How to choose the right medical school for you
The hard part is over. You got into med school! If you’re one of the lucky students who has multiple acceptances to choose from, you might be wondering how you’ll ever decide where to matriculate.
Studying for the DAT in the age of COVID-19
As many of us are finishing our fifth or sixth weeks of social distancing, the question becomes: what to do now? After getting into a more consistent at-home study schedule, I’ve realized that the key to a more productive mindset is thinking more along the lines of “what can I do with this time,” rather than “what am I missing out on with this ...
How to make the most of COVID-19 as a premedical student
We are living in a time of uncertainty. No medical school or hospital was prepared for how much this pandemic would affect our world. As a premed student, it can be difficult to prepare for an application cycle when this is uncharted territory for us all. Add on the stress and anxiety of the medical school application process and it can all feel ...
The-MCAT-subsection-that-must-not-be-named: CARS
When you’re talking about the MCAT, there’s one subsection whose name strikes fear into the hearts of science-oriented premeds: CARS. As someone who never took more than the bare minimum of required humanities classes and learned English as a second language, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
How to stay focused (and off social media) while studying for the MCAT
There’s no question that studying for a test like the MCAT takes discipline—from making a study plan to reading prep materials and taking those dreaded 7-hour practice tests. When I prepared for the MCAT, I struggled to stay focused for long periods of time: after doing just a couple practice questions, I would find myself on Twitter or Facebook, ...
How to answer 'Tell me about a book you’ve read recently' in a med school interview
There’s one common medical school interview question that doesn’t get nearly enough attention from prep materials: “Tell me about a good book you’ve read recently.” Answering this question well takes a little bit of thoughtful preparation, but if you’re ready for it, you’ll get to show off not just how well-read you are, but also how inquisitive, ...
How to join a research lab
Experience conducting research is an important criterion for admission to graduate school, medical school, and industry jobs, yet finding and obtaining a research position can be challenging for many undergraduates. Without background or experience it can be intimidating to reach out; however, by following some simple steps and tips outlined ...
Spaced repetition and why it’s important while studying for the MCAT
Spaced repetition at its simplest is the idea that the more frequently you’re exposed to information, the better you remember it. It’s more effective to repeat something 7 times over the course of one week than over the course of a single day. Your brain needs time to process the information you’ve learned and make connections with other stuff you ...
3 essential tips for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section
Studying for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section can feel daunting at first – there are so many terms to memorize, and often test-takers have never taken a formal psychology class. Though it may seem impossible to learn this on your own, there are several techniques that can make preparing for this section manageable (and even fun!).
3 essential questions to nail down before an MD/PhD interview
Congrats on making it to interview season! It’s been a long journey with the pre-med courses, long hours in the lab, grueling MCAT prep, and seemingly endless AMCAS and supplemental essays. You’re almost there. I found the interview portion really fun - I traveled to places I’d never been, got wined and dined by students and faculty, and talked ...
Building on existing reading skills to improve your MCAT CARS score
As an MCAT tutor and former test taker, I have often encountered a subset of students who struggle with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section (CARS) of the test. It can become a significant source of frustration during studying, and there are many students who may even have to re-take as a result of a poor CARS performance.
MCAT score plateaus: why they happen, and what to do about them
One of the most common frustrations that I’ve seen students run into during their MCAT studying is the dreaded score plateau. A student’s studying is going well, they are improving on their practice exam scores and feel confident in their content mastery, but then several exams in a row show the same score. It can feel demoralizing, but remember, ...
5 ways to improve your MCAT studying without studying for the MCAT
OK, let’s state the obvious – the MCAT is daunting. Just take a look at the MCAT topic list PDF provided by the AAMC. It is one-hundred and twenty-five pages of topics alone. And while there is no substitute for good old-fashioned content studying, there are strategies to improve your studying that have nothing to do with studying itself.
5 questions pre-meds should ask before committing to medicine
So, you want to be a doctor. Maybe you remember playing with your plastic doctor’s kit when you were little, examining all your stuffed animals’ fuzzy ears. Maybe someone in your family works in a healthcare profession, and you always admired what they could do. Or, maybe in school, you realized that you excelled at science and enjoyed learning ...
One tutor’s guide to MCAT study materials
One of the very first questions a student asks about a standardized exam is invariably, “Which study resources should I use?”. For the MCAT, the answer is far from simple. With the multitude of test prep publishers out there, each claiming to guarantee students the best possible score, it can often be difficult to find sources that are truly ...
Maximizing the gap years between college and medical school
If you’re a college student planning to wait 1-3 years after graduating before attending medical school, I was very recently like you. Yay, we were the same! Although you or the people around you may have doubts about prolonging your training or entering the nebula of a life unstructured, I think the time you spend during your gap years can have a ...
A comprehensive guide to MCAT resources
The purpose of this post is to update a previous I had written about MCAT practice tests. Since that post, my recommendation for practice tests has remained the same. AAMC tests (sample test, practice 1-3, in total 4 tests, practice 1-3 are scored) are still your best resource. After that, the next best thing would be the Examkracker tests for the ...
Imposter syndrome in medical school: recognizing and overcoming it
I don’t deserve to be here. These people are actually smart.  If they really knew me, they’d know that I have no right to be here. One of these days, people will realize that I’m a fraud. The admissions committee must have made a mistake.  If you’ve had any of these thoughts since matriculating into medical school, congratulations. You are a ...
Growth mindset: things to remember on your clinical rotations
It’s finally that time of your medical school career. The moment you’ve been anticipating since you matriculated. Upwards and onwards. The wards. Up until this point, you have been incubating in your safe and familiar classroom building, only dibbling and dabbling at patient care every now and again. Now you’ll be going through a year, the year, ...
How to ace the MCAT in 3 steps!
The MCAT is not a memorization test. Let me be more specific: it’s much more about recall than it is about recognition. When you’re prepping for the Psych/Soc section of the MCAT, you’ll learn about different types of memory—sensory, working, procedural, episodic—how memory is stored, and how it’s retrieved. You can retrieve stored memories ...
An inside look: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Today, we'll be exploring behind the scenes at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with one of our incredible MD coaches, Dan. Dan is currently a first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Bachelor of ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 5
Pssst... this is part of a series.  Be sure to read Cole's other posts on the MCAT by going to his profile here. We’re almost there!! Fair warning, this article is word-heavy, but bear with me. At this point, you are probably splitting your time between practice passages and content review (with a heavier emphasis on the former). Depending on ...
How to Choose DAT Study Resources
The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) is a standardized examination required for admission into dental school comprised of four sections: survey of the natural sciences, perceptual ability, reading comprehension and quantitative reasoning. Although it can be a daunting test to master, choosing the appropriate resources to maximize efficiency and ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: Phase 2
  Phase 2: Reviewing Content While Staying Sane Welcome back! Having learned about Period A and Period B from the Phase 1 article (see link), we will delve deeper into the structure of Period A. As mentioned, the major focus of Period A is content review (fun!). While the structure offered by online prep courses can help (again, I took the ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 1
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, ...
Surviving the MD admissions process as a student-athlete
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 ...
Behind the scenes of Harvard Medical School
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 ...
Behind the scenes at Columbia Medical School
This month, we interview Jonathan for a peek behind the curtain of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, Jon considers himself more of a New Yorker after living in the Big Apple for the past five years. He graduated from Columbia University in 2016, where he double majored in ...
Preparing for the tough questions in your med school interview
Last time we discussed the general approach to preparing for a medical school interview and went over a couple big picture questions. The ultimate goals are to, one, let the interviewer know how you are different than every other person they spoke to and, two, why you would be a good fit for this program. You want to convey these points in a ...
A guide to the best Step 1 study resources
Studying for Step 1 can easily become all-consuming.  A seductive pitfall is to see every moment not spent studying as time wasted.  The purpose of this post, however, is to hopefully convince you that the opposite is, in fact, true.  Time spent away from overt Step 1 studying actually enhances one’s ability to efficiently prepare for this ...
How athletes can strengthen their candidacy in med school applications
Whether you are a high school senior trying to decide whether to play sports in college, or a collegiate athlete beginning to fill out your medical school application, this post is for you.  When it comes down to it, admissions committees make their selections based off traits that they recognize tend to help students thrive through school and ...
How to prep for the MCAT as a full time student
The hardest part of studying for the MCAT isn’t the studying itself. Given enough time, most people could study enough to do reasonably well. The problem is, most of us don’t have all that time: the majority of MCAT-preppers are in college or work full time jobs. Both of these commitments are enough on their own, so trying to stack studying for ...
3 surprising reasons why Social Science prepares you for medicine
One morning during winter break, as I was sitting on my couch with a mug of coffee in hand, I remember reveling to my mom: “It’s incredible how much majoring in anthropology kept on proving itself useful in medical school.  Who would have known?” In college, I chose to major in a social science, anthropology—surely the less traditional route for ...
Mindfulness and the MCAT: 3 steps for avoiding burnout
Pre-Med students are no strangers to stress. From Physics midterms, to O-Chem lab reports, to the inevitable march into finals week, you have plenty of experience juggling assignments and managing that cortical response of your brain saying, Yeah, this is a little too much. Stress itself isn’t the problem. In fact, after a certain point it shows ...
My strategy for a perfect score: ACT Reading and MCAT CARS
If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re looking to improve your reading score on either the ACT or the MCAT and ideally, you’re in one of two boats: You are consistently a few points shy of that 36 on the ACT Reading or 132 on MCAT CARS and are looking to bridge that last gap Are struggling with the reading section in general, and are looking for ...
How to prepare for dental school: prerequisites & the DAT
Congratulations! You have successfully identified that you want to join the exciting field of dentistry and begin preparing for dental school. You will be joining a community of healthcare professionals that care about their community’s oral health and general well-being. It’s truly a rewarding career that will offer your many opportunities to ...
How long does it take to study for the MCAT test?
I am going to estimate how long a student might take to study for the MCAT test using the books I recommend for my students under the premise that someone is studying full time. This is an estimate, but I think it paints a decent picturse of what a fulltime MCAT student can expect. For part time students, they would spread this over a longer ...
CARS: proven strategies for the MCAT’s strangest section
  As a premed student, you’re likely comfortable with science questions. Even if you don’t know all the material, you’ve had plenty of practice answering experimental and knowledge-based questions, and generally know how to approach them. That experience will serve you well in the bulk of the MCAT.
4 types of MMI questions and how to ace them
  The days of traditional interviewing with 30-minute conversations about your favorite restaurants in Harvard Square are over. With more and more medical schools moving towards the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, it’s important to know what types of questions to expect and how to navigate each one.
How to take a systematic approach to problems on the MCAT 
Before I went to college, I was professional ballet dancer and I loved to practice pirouettes—turning around on the tiptoes of one foot.  One of the first things I learned about pirouettes is that if I tried something completely different in my technique every time I practiced, I wouldn’t improve. Occasionally I would get lucky and do a few more ...
How to create an initial list of medical school applications
Somehow, it is May again. In Boston, this means more sun, Swan Boats, and my personal favorite: the turning on of the water fountains along all of the Charles River running routes. To those of you interested in medical school, it also brings the time to work on your primary applications and initial school list. For more information about how to ...
How to make great flashcards
There are many different ways to learn information, but among my colleagues in medical school, flashcards are one of the most common ways to study. While making flashcards may seem simple straight forward, I have learned over time that the exact opposite is the case.
Essential tips for learning the anterior pituitary hormones
Learning the anterior pituitary hormones for your biology class or the MCAT can be a little overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the weeds and struggle to see how it all connects. One thing that helped me when I was learning the anterior pituitary hormones was to visualize the connections between the most important structures. This both helped ...
Total Justification: the best question strategy for the MCAT
What is Total Justification? Most students pick the correct answer on a multiple-choice practice problem, and think they have gotten the most they can out of the problem; they are wrong. Answering a question on the MCAT is essentially the task of appraising answer choices to see if they fit certain criteria, such as being factually correct or ...
How should I time myself on the MCAT? 5 essential tips
High on many students’ list of MCAT worries is running out of time. While time-management is an essential skill that you will need to master by exam day, it doesn’t need to be a big source of anxiety. Here are some tips for finishing your MCAT exam with time to spare!
Biology on the MCAT: how to simplify complex problems
Many problems on the MCAT seem quite complex upon first inspection, but can actually be reframed to be more simple. This allows a test-taker to manage their time as well as avoid the errors that come with repeated detailed analysis. To demonstrate this tactic, see the example below.
The four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by an expert
Are you ready for the four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by our expert MCAT tutor Weike?  Read on to get the essential list!
Why you're picking the wrong answer on the MCAT
While many students blame incorrect answers on a lack of knowledge or careless mistakes, these explanations don’t account for the many ways an MCAT test writer can mess with a poor unsuspecting test-takers brain. If the MCAT were a simple matter of knowledge and diligence, the studying process would be far easier. Knowledge is easily acquired ...
A guide to 4 medical school secondary application question types
If you’re applying to medical school this cycle and were able to get your primary application in by the end of June, July puts you in the first (of many) waiting game. As you are refreshing the AMCAS page to check the status of your primary application, you can make use of the downtime to prepare yourself for secondaries. Depending on how many ...
MD admissions timeline: 4 crucial things to remember in June
  As most of you who are applying to medical school this cycle are aware, the AMCAS opens during the first week of June. Typically, you are allowed to begin filling it out sometime in mid-May, but can't officially complete it until it opens in June. This is when you can submit the first part of your application - the personal statement, activities ...
Two study habits that will boost your MCAT score
Reflection is not what spectators see during a basketball game; spending hours watching game tapes and discussing strategic nuances with a coach does not make the high light reel on Sports Center, but it is essential to continued improvement and success. After every game, athletes and coaches discuss what happened: what went well, what went badly, ...
Why you should take the MCAT CARS seriously
 In my opening email to students, where I introduce myself as their tutor, I will frequently ask about their reading comprehension ability.  My exact words are “Think back to your SAT, ACT days and how you did on the verbal sections”.  The reason I do this is because verbal (or CARS, as the MCAT calls it, which stands for critical analysis and ...
When should you take the MCAT?
As all pre-med students know, the MCAT is one of the biggest (and sometimes scariest!) hurdles on the way to medical school. It is also steeped in uncertainty -- how do you study? What score should I be aiming towards? When will I be ready to take it? 
A comprehensive guide to MCAT practice tests
The MCAT is a daunting test. I think I have said this to every one of my students. These students then ask me what is the best way to study and my answer to that really varies student by student. Some students need more structure, a day-to-day agenda. Some students like more flexibility. But what has not varied from student to student is taking ...
Enzyme inhibition and Lineweaver-Burk plots: MCAT test prep
We’ve already covered a little bit about the basics of enzyme kinetics,  so now let’s move on to discuss an important application of enzyme kinetics in the body (and in medicine)...
Advice on MCAT breakdowns, depression, and stress
The MCAT is a brutal test.  Having taken it and tutored numerous MCAT students (as well GMAT and GRE students), I can say with absolute certainty that I seen more students break down over the MCAT than they have with any other test.  Every one of my MCAT students has, at some point, teared up over this test and cursed it to hell.
MCAT statistics crash course: what do I need to know? (part 2)
We already talked about Research Design and Execution, but there’s more to know about MCAT statistics! Here, we will be discussing topics that AMCAS wants you to know about Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning. Here’s what AMCAS wants you to know, and some tips to help you learn it! Use this post as an outline to guide your studying, and then come ...
A guide to enzyme kinetics on the MCAT
Enzymes are hugely important in the human body both for normal function and for drug therapies. Their kinetics (or function with respect to time) are also easily graphable, making them a very testable MCAT topic. Even more importantly, once you’ve aced the big, bad MCAT, you will need to revisit enzyme kinetics in every medical school curriculum, ...
MCAT statistics crash course: what do I need to know? (part 1)
As most of you know, the AAMC has published an extensive outline of topics and skills assessed by the new MCAT (the complete guide can be found HERE). It is important to look at this list before you start studying a subject, and going back to it periodically to make sure you are on the right track. This list is not exhaustive, and only covers ...
How to ask for a letter of recommendation for med school
For many students looking to apply to medical school, asking for a letter of recommendation can feel pretty daunting, especially if you’re requesting it from people whom you may not have seen for a couple of years. And since you often don’t get to see your letters before submission, this is the part of your application that is least in your ...
How to answer 'tell us about yourself' on a secondary application
Even though this seems like it should be a “gimme” question (after all, what do you know more about than yourself?), many applicants consider this to be one of the toughest questions on a medical school secondary. Aside from being very broad, many people just find it uncomfortable to sell themselves, recognizing that there’s a fine line between ...
What to do when you don’t understand a science passage on the MCAT
One overarching theme of the MCAT exam is its unusual application of basic knowledge (well, “basic” once you’ve completed four years of pre-med classes and studied for a few months). Passages will often present familiar phenomena in the context of complex systems, or expect test-takers to predict the outcomes of perturbations to the novel scenario ...
When to send updates about the medical school process
It's hard to decide what the hardest part of applying to medical school is.  There's the MCAT, countless letters of recommendations, drafts and redrafts of your personal statement, and a torrent of secondaries. After all of that, unfortunately, comes the waiting. Once you've submitted your applications, the ball is out of your court and you are ...
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