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5th year, Masters, or work? Any advice appreciated!


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Hey everyone!

I'm currently debating whether or not to apply for a Masters program (leaning towards one year, but could be swayed to apply to a two year program) or do a 5th year (as a continuing student) to increase my GPA (minimally). I am in my 4th and final year of my degree. 

I am also looking to rewrite my MCAT (3rd time unfortunately) next year to improve my CARS score (124, downgrade from my first time writing which was a 125.. bit of a shock to me). I would say my EC's are above average. If I had to improve my application it would be being more involved in research (have held research assistant positions w/o publications for long durations before). 

Assuming I provost (4.0) the entire year (2019/20), the following would be my GPA for specific Ontario med schools (for next years application, 2020/21):

UoT w/ drops - 3.96

Ottawa wGPA - 3.925

Western/Queens - 3.975

cGPA - ~3.8

If I do a 5th year and do well, my wGPA for Ottawa would be much better. On the other hand if I do a 5th year and it doesn't go as planned, it could hurt my GPA for other schools. I'm a bit on edge with my wGPA for Ottawa because a 3.92 isn't very competitive nowadays (IIRC I did not see one person lower than a 3.93 wGPA get accepted outright or off the waitlist this year for Ottawa!). 

A lot of my friends are advocating that I go for a Masters and secure a potential back-up, while others suggest I work instead. I'm very reluctant to do a 5th year overall and more-so need to focus on securing a solid CARS score. 

I appreciate any and all advice!

 

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My insight on the MCAT:

My CARS scores were 124 (2016), 125(2017), 125(2018) and 129(2019), so I've been in a similar boat where I was facing a MCAT re-write for CARS.

I think its important to reflect on why you didn't get the score you wanted in CARS. I re-wrote it for CARS so many times because I knew it was possible that I could adjust my strategy, my nerves, my practice so that I could score higher. This summer, I changed my strategy and I made sure to do 4 (and later, 6) practice CARS every day.  I always did it timed. Previously, I would do 1-2 passages a day and I would not even take the time to review them. Be really honest with yourself here, because it will save you a lot of time and money. 

I think it would be beneficial for you to re-write if  you have scored higher on CARS on practice exams or if on test day during CARS something went wrong (i.e. could not concentrate on the first passage, went significantly slower or faster than usual, were more distracted by the test environment than you expected). Since you've done it twice I think you have a good idea of where you stand with CARS and whether or not it is something you can improve. 

This is anecdotal evidence and doesn't speak for everyone. However, it is hope that CARS can be improved upon and it is possible to score higher. Just some food for thought as you consider what to do. I'm just like everyone else so if I can do it, you can do it too

I don't want to comment in terms of 5th year or masters since I don't have much advice to offer there. Hopefully someone else will be able to chime in there. Good luck. :)

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 You are only one week into 4th year.   Spend your cycles now on getting that 4.0 so that your opportunity to apply next cycle is solid.  Keep up with a few EC's that you enjoy.  Then focus on the MCAT re-write next summer.   If you get the GPA you propose, don't do a 5th year.   

Only do the Masters if it something you want to do.  Don't do it as a way to straddle an application year.

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1 hour ago, Britesharpie93 said:

My insight on the MCAT:

My CARS scores were 124 (2016), 125(2017), 125(2018) and 129(2019), so I've been in a similar boat where I was facing a MCAT re-write for CARS.

I think its important to reflect on why you didn't get the score you wanted in CARS. I re-wrote it for CARS so many times because I knew it was possible that I could adjust my strategy, my nerves, my practice so that I could score higher. This summer, I changed my strategy and I made sure to do 4 (and later, 6) practice CARS every day.  I always did it timed. Previously, I would do 1-2 passages a day and I would not even take the time to review them. Be really honest with yourself here, because it will save you a lot of time and money. 

I think it would be beneficial for you to re-write if  you have scored higher on CARS on practice exams or if on test day during CARS something went wrong (i.e. could not concentrate on the first passage, went significantly slower or faster than usual, were more distracted by the test environment than you expected). Since you've done it twice I think you have a good idea of where you stand with CARS and whether or not it is something you can improve. 

This is anecdotal evidence and doesn't speak for everyone. However, it is hope that CARS can be improved upon and it is possible to score higher. Just some food for thought as you consider what to do. I'm just like everyone else so if I can do it, you can do it too

I don't want to comment in terms of 5th year or masters since I don't have much advice to offer there. Hopefully someone else will be able to chime in there. Good luck. :)

Heya! Thanks for your reply.

I definitely think I can improve my CARS score on my third try. The first time I took the MCAT, I also did not give much attention to reviewing and simply focused on the volume of passages I did. I would continuously make the same mistakes and on test-day hoped for the best which turned out to be a 125. I was also scoring in the 125-126 range the first time around. The second time around I made some changes like reading passages in a more "active" voice, and a big mistake I think I made, was increasing my pace (because on the first MCAT I was running out of time and had to guess some questions),  instead of slowing down when approaching passages. This year when I prepared, I did start to review and look after the type of mistakes I was making and tried to reason why I got certain questions wrong. I think I was more or less on track with this approach and it did work well because after re-taking the FLs, I was scoring in the 127-128 range. I definitely thought I would do the same on the second attempt, but I got two extremely convoluted passages, read them too quickly and did not capture the main idea or key supporting details, leaving me to guess a majority of the questions (which were probably all incorrect). I finished this year with a few minutes remaining which I ended up spending finalizing the last passage. This time around I'm looking to slow down my pace and be more decisive when I answer questions, because this is a problem I ran into on test-day. I was able to control my emotions well and was quite confident in both situations so it's not so much my nerves either.  Whether or not I can get up-to a 128 is going to be up to me. My only issue is the lack of practice available (I have re-done qpacks over 3 times, so I know a lot of the answers now). I will be focusing much more on CARS this time around, but I'll have to settle for 3rd party resources (TPR, EK, JW, Khan) for my primary practice. 

 

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41 minutes ago, Meridian said:

 You are only one week into 4th year.   Spend your cycles now on getting that 4.0 so that your opportunity to apply next cycle is solid.  Keep up with a few EC's that you enjoy.  Then focus on the MCAT re-write next summer.   If you get the GPA you propose, don't do a 5th year.   

Only do the Masters if it something you want to do.  Don't do it as a way to straddle an application year.

I am definitely putting a lot of my time to ensure I can do well this year and balance everything. I am currently leaning towards working right now and I think that a Masters is not something I'd like to do (it also doesn't fit me very well financially), so your advice is very reaffirming! I've also heard a Masters doesn't really help in one's application to some other schools (from my knowledge it only helps for Toronto if there's a publication & Mac?).  

Thank you for your advice and reply!!

 

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3 hours ago, sb88 said:

Heya! Thanks for your reply.

I definitely think I can improve my CARS score on my third try. The first time I took the MCAT, I also did not give much attention to reviewing and simply focused on the volume of passages I did. I would continuously make the same mistakes and on test-day hoped for the best which turned out to be a 125. I was also scoring in the 125-126 range the first time around. The second time around I made some changes like reading passages in a more "active" voice, and a big mistake I think I made, was increasing my pace (because on the first MCAT I was running out of time and had to guess some questions),  instead of slowing down when approaching passages. This year when I prepared, I did start to review and look after the type of mistakes I was making and tried to reason why I got certain questions wrong. I think I was more or less on track with this approach and it did work well because after re-taking the FLs, I was scoring in the 127-128 range. I definitely thought I would do the same on the second attempt, but I got two extremely convoluted passages, read them too quickly and did not capture the main idea or key supporting details, leaving me to guess a majority of the questions (which were probably all incorrect). I finished this year with a few minutes remaining which I ended up spending finalizing the last passage. This time around I'm looking to slow down my pace and be more decisive when I answer questions, because this is a problem I ran into on test-day. I was able to control my emotions well and was quite confident in both situations so it's not so much my nerves either.  Whether or not I can get up-to a 128 is going to be up to me. My only issue is the lack of practice available (I have re-done qpacks over 3 times, so I know a lot of the answers now). I will be focusing much more on CARS this time around, but I'll have to settle for 3rd party resources (TPR, EK, JW, Khan) for my primary practice. 

 

Awesome work, you've got this. :) I did a lot of JW's free passages because I also had run out of passages. There is also the Next Step 108 passages, but I do not think they are very reflective. 

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