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James kingston

MCAT full time Versus Research and MCAT

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Hello!

I have the opportunity this summer to have my own research project. It will likely be a 9-5 with about 3 hours of commute a day. Is it possible to perform well on the MCAT while doing this (520+ with a 129+ CARS)? or should I just use my summer to study full time (summer meaning may-august exactly, looking to write at end of august).

 

As a reference, by the end of this year (2nd year), I would have taken:

  • 2 courses gen chem
  • 2 courses anatomy/physiology
  • 1 course biochem
  • 1 course organic chem
  • 1 course physics (basically kinematics and dynamics only)
  • 1 course sociology

I have a choice to do my research the summer after, and don't have to do it this summer.

 

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I had a fairly strong background in science with a near 4.0 GPA. Took the whole summer off to study with some minor research/volunteering commitments.

Did not regret it at all and got a 520+ with a 131 CARS. 

Personally I would recommend to put your best effort forwards towards the MCAT. Even if you don't do as well as you'd like, you know that you put your best foot forward and there's nothing else you could've done.

However, if you have a near 4.0 GPA and you feel like you're either a) naturally brilliant at CARS (some are) and/or b) You don't need to study as much as others to perform well in courses, then you may be able to pull off working full time.

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9 hours ago, Ontario have mercy said:

I had a fairly strong background in science with a near 4.0 GPA. Took the whole summer off to study with some minor research/volunteering commitments.

Did not regret it at all and got a 520+ with a 131 CARS. 

Personally I would recommend to put your best effort forwards towards the MCAT. Even if you don't do as well as you'd like, you know that you put your best foot forward and there's nothing else you could've done.

However, if you have a near 4.0 GPA and you feel like you're either a) naturally brilliant at CARS (some are) and/or b) You don't need to study as much as others to perform well in courses, then you may be able to pull off working full time.

Thank you so much! and congrats on the amazing score. Do you have any advice for CARS? would you mind sharing which resources you used??

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Personally, I did research full-time summer of 2018 and for my first MCAT it wasn't ideal. Then again, I still got the 129 CARS, cut-offs and an interview&admission offer but that was mostly because of my research background, not the MCAT or my GPA (3.8 at the time) lol. 

But if you don't need the research because you have other meaningful experiences and don't think you'll get A LOT for your CV out of it (publications, awards and grants), I'd say go get that 520+ by doing MCAT full-time. Keep in mind that depending on your level of interest in your research, you're gonna want to do your best, put in more time and go for as many opportunities as you can and this will take away from an already thight MCAT schedule. 

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It might depend on where you're starting off in terms of your content understanding level and ability to interpret data and scientific passages I guess. I was working full-time on NSERC this past summer while reviewing content for the MCAT and only did the AAMC exams plus the free TPR one for practice prior to the actual test and I got a 520+. With that said, I know my C/P and B/B sections have always quite strong given my majors and just lots of general scientific knowledge and I just needed to familiarise myself with the test format to do well.

CARS is an entirely different story though. I studied full-time for it for 2 months 2 years ago and took only the CARS section at that time and only got a 128. This time around, I tried to do a passage every day for a year (without seeing a whole lot of progress though) before just clamping down on it when I started studying for the other sections this summer and I ended up with 130+ on the AAMC FLs. So I do think that CARS just naturally takes time to develop regardless of whether you work on it full-time or not.

TL;DR: if you already have a good grasp of your classes up to this point, there's no need to study full-time for the science sections to pull off a 130+. CARS requires a much longer commitment (at least for me who isn't very good at reading "critically" to start with), and studying full-time in a few months might not help as much.

Good luck!

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