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3-4 months enough for MCAT prep with no background?


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Hi there,

I'm a 1st year Mechanical Engineering student although first year is just general. But, I do also hold a Bachelor of IT, Game Dev degree which I graduated from last April with a 3.81/4.3 GPA. I also didn't take biology in high school as I didn't express much interest towards it then until now but did take physics and chemistry.

As a background, I felt that Game Dev was not for me early in my degree but as I was being pressured to finish it off and also not having the grade 12 chem prereq at the time, I forced myself to go through with it but still finished with highest distinction.

I knew engineering was for me for a while which is why I pursued it now, aiming to work as a mechanical engineer in the biomedical/biomechanical field. But, I did have moments throughout where I felt that being doctor might fit me more from my life experiences but was always under the impression that it required many prereqs for med school so didn't consider it until I just realized now that McMaster doesn't require any at all.

I know that it is stupid of me to not find this out earlier before starting my engineering degree but my engineering prereqs were expiring so it was like now or never for that and I would've found it very risky to reject it as I know that getting into med school in Ontario is real competitive and if I would've failed at that, I would have no back up.

So, my plan now if I decide to apply is to leave my engineering degree for med school after my 2nd year ends next April if I somehow get in as doing so would back me up with engineering if I fail at getting into med school.

But, given my background and me dealing with a full 6 course load this summer, I don't know if it really is possible. One of those courses is chem and another one is a physics course, and I have already taken one physics already this past semester, so hopefully these should help. Also, I have taken courses such as Psychology and Sociology in my Game Dev major which may also help.

In terms of my study routine, I was planning on around 10 hours a week over the course of 3-4 months before my 2nd year of engineering begins.

Another thing is that I don't have much in terms of extracurriculars/volunteer work as I didn't consider med school until now so I was planning on getting some of those in the 2nd half of the summer but given the COVID-19 situation, that may or may not be possible. But, I read somewhere that Mac doesn't strongly consider ECs as much and mainly just care about other aspects like the GPA although I may be wrong which is why I'm asking for help here.

Below were my questions:

1) Is it possible for me to be ready for the MCAT in this 3-4 months time given my situation or am I just being foolish to even be considering it?


2) I read somewhere that Mac only considers the Verbal Reasoning component and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section for MCAT so given my limited time, would it be a good idea to just study those as I would only be applying to Mac?

3) Is it possible to just use Khan Academy and try to fill in any parts I don't understand through like YouTube or something?

I really prefer to not spend money on anything to prepare for it unless absolutely necessary as my chances of getting in seem real slim to me anyways.

Any help would be appreciated and sorry if I sound really dumb to even consider applying with my situation. I'm unsure as I've seen similar posts online with mixed responses.

Sorry for the long read, I was just trying to explain my situation as best as I could.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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I think your timeline for writing the MCAT is a little unreasonable, given your lack of background in the key subjects. Taking courses over summer is going to make it nearly impossible to dedicate enough time to prepping, since 10h per week is not nearly enough in my opinion. If you're just starting out in mech engg and have a few more summers at your disposal, I would suggest writing the MCAT next summer so you can dedicate enough time to get a high score. There is no point in writing it without having put in 110% effort into prepping, since a sub-standard score won't do you any good. You likely need time to develop more ECs for your applications anyways. This is a marathon not a sprint. Good luck!

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However, writing the MCAT just for the CARS section has been done in the past in order to apply to Mac. So you could try that. But maybe ask Mac first if they will judge you negatively for a low score in the MCAT sections, except for a high CARS. The MCAT is expensive though and applying with OMSAS too. Also, keep in mind that next year, people who didn't get an offer to Mac but were supposed to do the interview will receive an invite for the interviews next year for sure.

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Thank you both for your input.

I was able to confirm with Mac that doing poorly on other sections would have no negative impact as they only factor in the CARS score for the admission process so this may be my only option unless I have some remaining time to study for the other sections.

But yeah, the main downside seems to be that the MCAT would only be useful to Mac and wouldn't be able to use it in the future for other schools if I don't get in the first time. Also, as you pointed out, it's expensive so I would have to think it over on if it's worth it for me to apply now or sometime in the future like after my engineering degree depending on my situation then.

So, how long do you think the CARS alone would take me?

I would still go with the 10hrs/week plan and then if I have time, study for the other sections as well.

Also, would Khan Academy alone and maybe some other free resources online be enough for me especially as I would just be studying CARS for the most part?

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And Medicomage, I didn't quite get what you meant by people who didn't get an offer would get an interview next year.

Do you mean that those who didn't get an offer for this year but were supposed to do the interview will receive invites for next year's entry, hence making it even more competitive for those applying for 2020 entry?

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1 hour ago, _rvs_ said:

So, how long do you think the CARS alone would take me?

I don't know! Do you read a lot in your free time? The CARS section has nothing to do with science, but more with logic and reasoning. The passages cover a wide range of subjects from arts, to social sciences, to trivial facts, etc. I think the first thing you should do is a free mock exam, like Kaplan or Princeton Review, without even studying yet, to see where you are starting from, what are your sthrengths and weaknesses. To give you an idea, I got a 123 for CARS on my first mock exam, so I could manage with a few hours a week to improve that score if I wanted to this summer

1 hour ago, _rvs_ said:

would still go with the 10hrs/week plan and then if I have time, study for the other sections as well.

Again, depends on your sthrenghts and weaknesses. For me, it's biochem. So I would probably spend most of my study time on that section alone.

1 hour ago, _rvs_ said:

Also, would Khan Academy alone and maybe some other free resources online be enough for me especially as I would just be studying CARS for the most part?

I would buy at least the mock exams from AAMC as well. At least. Kaplan and Princeton review have free trials if I remember well. Magoosh is nice too. And there's a few nice apps on the app store as well. But first, do a mock exam.

1 hour ago, _rvs_ said:

Do you mean that those who didn't get an offer for this year but were supposed to do the interview will receive invites for next year's entry, hence making it even more competitive for those applying for 2020 entry?

Exactly!

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1 hour ago, Médicomage said:

I don't know! Do you read a lot in your free time? The CARS section has nothing to do with science, but more with logic and reasoning. The passages cover a wide range of subjects from arts, to social sciences, to trivial facts, etc. I think the first thing you should do is a free mock exam, like Kaplan or Princeton Review, without even studying yet, to see where you are starting from, what are your sthrengths and weaknesses. 

I would buy at least the mock exams from AAMC as well. At least. Kaplan and Princeton review have free trials if I remember well. Magoosh is nice too. And there's a few nice apps on the app store as well. But first, do a mock exam.

Exactly!

Agree with this suggestion. OP, you should start by doing a full mock exam, ideally one from AAMC, to see where you stand. Then you can direct your study time more wisely. I don’t think it’s necessary a bad idea to try to write the test this year, if you can get a test date this late in the game and with COVID limitations.

This may be most useful for CARS. I also agree with the above, that CARS is all about logic and reasoning. It’s essentially just a reading comprehension test, sometimes with particularly challenging passages. But you don’t need to know anything about the subject matter to answer the CARS questions - the answer is ALWAYS in the text they give you.  I did nearly no studying for CARS aside and I still got a 129 - but I have a BA and was used to banging my head against art history philosophy and other kinds of literature. So depending on your personal strengths and experience, you may do well at it, or you may really need to practice.

If it turns out you’re doing well in CARS then you spend more time on the other sections. The physics and chem classes will help. The psych and sociology from your last degree will also help.

Whether you can pull off strong scores on all sections with 3-4 months part-time studying depends on a lot of factors. It’s certainly possible (I had to self teach myself roughly half the content from scratch, studying evenings and weekends on top of a full-time job, for only 10 weeks. I pulled off a 514- 126/129/129/130). A lot of it depends on how quick of a learner you are, how well you test, and how lucky you are on test day (e.g. if the test plays to your strengths). 
 

And yes, you can use Khan academy. That’s the main resource I used to fill-in the gaps from the Kaplan books that I used. I preferred studying from the books as my main guide, as they were a bit less detailed than Khan academy but covered the gist of what I needed. But you could probably use just Khan academy as a study resource. You’d want to add some practice tests on top of that though.

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