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Should I give up on MCAT/ UBC Med school?


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Hi Guys,

I just need some help from this community, and I would appreciate your guys honest input. I graduated last year from a biology honours/chemistry minor degree. My GPA is close to 91%. I did my MCAT this year and I got my score back and the break down of my score is 129/123/131/126 ( 509), I have applied to UBC this year but UBC has a cut off score of 124 per section so I am not receiving a full file review. My problem is my CARS score, I moved to Canada when I was 18, and learned the language  pretty much over the past 6 years. I practice a lot for CARS and I did over 400 passages ( finished AAMC, Khan Academy, UWorld, Exam Crackers, some of Next Step, free Magoosh passages, some Kaplan, **DELETED**) and I did improve from 121 to 122 to 123 but didn't break the 124 on my exam. My NAQs are below average, I have awards (one entrance scholarship $16000, research excellence award and ...,) volunteered in ER, senior resident centre, canadian cancer society, as a research assistant, played piano in different events,  helped with a family business, worked in a pharmacy for 4 years, tutored in university for 1.5 year.  I don't know if I should try again to do the MCAT to at least get a full file review by UBC but even then I am not very sure of my NAQs and chances of getting an interview/acceptance. I know for sure that I want to become a physician and I am extremely passionate about the knowledge of medicine and I am inspired by what physicians do but I don't know if I can improve more on CARS and I don't know if I will be admitted one day. Do you guys think that Medicine is a long shut for me? Do you think I should try to write the mcat again? Thanks and hope anyone of you out there who is trying to get in this year makes it in.

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Hi FF20, first of all, congratulations on all of your hard work thus far! Although your cars score may hold you back for some schools, medicine is certainly not out of reach and you do have a shot. This would be my advice to you:

1) For the MCAT, I would write it again if you can. If you can bring your CARS up just one more point to a 124, you'd be eligible for both UBC and u of T. I usually wouldn't advise this, but maybe consider finding a tutor, either MCAT-specific or even just an English-major student at your school who can help you improve your cars-related skills and interpreting difficult passages. If you don't have this 124 cars, there's really no point in applying to those schools since they'll just throw out your application

2) I would consider broadening what schools you apply to, and find the schools that play to your strengths. For example, uOttawa does not take the MCAT, and UBC and u of T use it as a cutoff so if you can get the 124 cars you could apply there as well. I don't know non-Ontario schools too well so maybe someone else could chime in on some other schools that may work for you

3) For your NAQ/extracurriculars, to me I think you have some really good experiences, so I think that your NAQ score is probably low because of how you worded your activities, not because your activities themselves are bad. To fix this, consider finding other people who can read over your application and give you feedback on how to improve the wording (med students are ideal for this, but any feedback helps)

I hope this helps! Cars can be an uphill battle for sure when English is not your first language, but it's not a deal-breaker and medicine is still an option for you if you can make the most of your application and apply to specific schools. Good luck!

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Hey FF20, 

I’m really sorry that you didn’t get the CARS score you wanted. I was exactly in the same position as you. ESL, low CARS and only moved to Canada at 18- I feel your struggle. Here is what I think 

- You definitely have a chance. Take some time to reflect on why you were not doing well on CARS. For me, it was the lack of vocabulary that held me back. Try to read more, and practice CARS passages everyday. I don’t think there is a huge difference in terms of your VR skills between a 123 and 124. You only need a 124 to get an interview at UBC and from what I’ve seen, there are many people that got accepted to UBC with a 124 CARS. 

- You have an excellent GPA, so once you meet the CARS cut-off, you chances are pretty good. 

- Lastly, I’m sure you have been told this many times and I have personally learned it myself too. Applying to med school is a long process, and it is okay to take some time if you need it to build your EC. I graduated undergrad with very few ECs for med school and with a lower GPA than yours. But there are so many opportunities out there that could increase your NAQ. Try to do things that you actually care about so that it doesn’t feel like you are only doing it for Med school applications. To answer your question, I think medicine is a long shot for everyone, but you can and will do it if it is really what you want. I have no idea whether I’m going to get interviews/acceptance this year, but if you want someone to talk to, or have any questions, I’d be more than happy to help! 
 

 

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2 hours ago, Psych said:

Hi FF20, first of all, congratulations on all of your hard work thus far! Although your cars score may hold you back for some schools, medicine is certainly not out of reach and you do have a shot. This would be my advice to you:

1) For the MCAT, I would write it again if you can. If you can bring your CARS up just one more point to a 124, you'd be eligible for both UBC and u of T. I usually wouldn't advise this, but maybe consider finding a tutor, either MCAT-specific or even just an English-major student at your school who can help you improve your cars-related skills and interpreting difficult passages. If you don't have this 124 cars, there's really no point in applying to those schools since they'll just throw out your application

2) I would consider broadening what schools you apply to, and find the schools that play to your strengths. For example, uOttawa does not take the MCAT, and UBC and u of T use it as a cutoff so if you can get the 124 cars you could apply there as well. I don't know non-Ontario schools too well so maybe someone else could chime in on some other schools that may work for you

3) For your NAQ/extracurriculars, to me I think you have some really good experiences, so I think that your NAQ score is probably low because of how you worded your activities, not because your activities themselves are bad. To fix this, consider finding other people who can read over your application and give you feedback on how to improve the wording (med students are ideal for this, but any feedback helps)

I hope this helps! Cars can be an uphill battle for sure when English is not your first language, but it's not a deal-breaker and medicine is still an option for you if you can make the most of your application and apply to specific schools. Good luck!

Thanks very much for the advices, I will write it again in January, but for my NAQs I have worded them differently on my application but here I just wanted to be concise, however, I will definitely check it with a med student. Really appreciate you taking the time to respond. The problem is I don't know what else I could do to improve on CARS and it is just extremely sad it is terminating my hopes and years of hard work to first become a permanent resident to be allegeable to apply (I was international student) to get 90%+ average in an honours program and more. I don't know but I feeling extremely hurt by it. 

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1 hour ago, Hopefulm said:

Hey FF20, 

I’m really sorry that you didn’t get the CARS score you wanted. I was exactly in the same position as you. ESL, low CARS and only moved to Canada at 18- I feel your struggle. Here is what I think 

- You definitely have a chance. Take some time to reflect on why you were not doing well on CARS. For me, it was the lack of vocabulary that held me back. Try to read more, and practice CARS passages everyday. I don’t think there is a huge difference in terms of your VR skills between a 123 and 124. You only need a 124 to get an interview at UBC and from what I’ve seen, there are many people that get accepted to UBC with a 124 CARS. 

- You have an excellent GPA, so once you meet the CARS cut-off, you chances are pretty good. 

- Lastly, I’m sure you have been told this many times and I have personally learned it myself too. Applying to med school is a long process, and it is okay to take some time if you need it to build your EC. I graduated undergrad with very few ECs for med school and with a lower GPA than yours. But there are so many opportunities out there that could increase your NAQ. Try to do things that you actually care about so that it doesn’t feel like you are only doing it for Med school applications. To answer your question, I think medicine is a long shot for everyone, but you can and will do it if it is really want you want. I have no idea whether I’m going to get interviews/acceptance this year, but if you want someone to talk to, or have any questions, I’d be more than happy to help! 
 

 

 

Thanks very much for posting, it truly helps when I see another ESL student who's done it, it gives me hope that it would be possible for me as well. I know I probably needed 2 more correct questions to get 124, but I will keep trying and I will keep reading more to increase my comprehension. I would love to connect with you to get tips on how you overcame CARS. Wish you all the best with your upcoming application.

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6 minutes ago, FF20 said:

Thanks very much for posting, it truly helps when I see another ESL student who's done it, it gives me hope that it would be possible for me as well. I know I probably needed 2 more correct questions to get 124, but I will keep trying and I will keep reading more to increase my comprehension. I would love to connect with you to get tips on how you overcame CARS. Wish you all the best with your upcoming application.

No problem. Feel free to PM me. :) 

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I'd agree with the sentiments above, keep trying, rewriting is hardly unusual, but would add that you may want to try branching out from CARS focused (only) prep. Try reading more Washington Post/Atlantic style features and opinion pieces each day to really grasp the "structure" of how non-fiction is written, maybe even look into some free "intro to non-fiction writing" classes to help you out in deciding the structure. With more prep you may just find CARS becomes easier when you do focused practice. Dont be afraid to try out new strategies and push off your test to the summer if you need to.

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1 hour ago, MedicineLCS said:

I'd agree with the sentiments above, keep trying, rewriting is hardly unusual, but would add that you may want to try branching out from CARS focused (only) prep. Try reading more Washington Post/Atlantic style features and opinion pieces each day to really grasp the "structure" of how non-fiction is written, maybe even look into some free "intro to non-fiction writing" classes to help you out in deciding the structure. With more prep you may just find CARS becomes easier when you do focused practice. Dont be afraid to try out new strategies and push off your test to the summer if you need to.

Thanks very much, I do definitely look into doing more Washington post/Atlantic articles, but I did do a lot of Economic articles in my prep, and I have improved but I don't know if I have reached a platitude or there is more room for me to improve.

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On 10/13/2020 at 10:36 PM, MedicineLCS said:

I'd agree with the sentiments above, keep trying, rewriting is hardly unusual, but would add that you may want to try branching out from CARS focused (only) prep. Try reading more Washington Post/Atlantic style features and opinion pieces each day to really grasp the "structure" of how non-fiction is written, maybe even look into some free "intro to non-fiction writing" classes to help you out in deciding the structure. With more prep you may just find CARS becomes easier when you do focused practice. Dont be afraid to try out new strategies and push off your test to the summer if you need to.

Honestly I can resonate with this, but for sure the section is made to challenge you. You got this!! I really liked the advice someone else gave about challenging yourself by reading more challenging texts and branching out with what you read. Besides practice tests, what I found helpful was reading scholarly articles and journals too - usually these texts have a structured thesis so I'm always jotting down notes to really hone in on trying to understand the thesis and key points. Other than that I would also recommend checking out prints like The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Economist, Harper's magazines, etc.

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On 10/18/2020 at 1:47 PM, wattsthematta44 said:

Honestly I can resonate with this, but for sure the section is made to challenge you. You got this!! I really liked the advice someone else gave about challenging yourself by reading more challenging texts and branching out with what you read. Besides practice tests, what I found helpful was reading scholarly articles and journals too - usually these texts have a structured thesis so I'm always jotting down notes to really hone in on trying to understand the thesis and key points. Other than that I would also recommend checking out prints like The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Economist, Harper's magazines, etc.

For sure I will definitely try to get more articles read per day and I am planning to write down the thesis for everything I read!

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On 10/13/2020 at 2:11 PM, FF20 said:

Hi Guys,

I just need some help from this community, and I would appreciate your guys honest input. I graduated last year from a biology honours/chemistry minor degree. My GPA is close to 91%. I did my MCAT this year and I got my score back and the break down of my score is 129/123/131/126 ( 509), I have applied to UBC this year but UBC has a cut off score of 124 per section so I am not receiving a full file review. My problem is my CARS score, I moved to Canada when I was 18, and learned the language  pretty much over the past 6 years. I practice a lot for CARS and I did over 400 passages ( finished AAMC, Khan Academy, UWorld, Exam Crackers, some of Next Step, free Magoosh passages, some Kaplan, **DELETED**) and I did improve from 121 to 122 to 123 but didn't break the 124 on my exam. My NAQs are below average, I have awards (one entrance scholarship $16000, research excellence award and ...,) volunteered in ER, senior resident centre, canadian cancer society, as a research assistant, played piano in different events,  helped with a family business, worked in a pharmacy for 4 years, tutored in university for 1.5 year.  I don't know if I should try again to do the MCAT to at least get a full file review by UBC but even then I am not very sure of my NAQs and chances of getting an interview/acceptance. I know for sure that I want to become a physician and I am extremely passionate about the knowledge of medicine and I am inspired by what physicians do but I don't know if I can improve more on CARS and I don't know if I will be admitted one day. Do you guys think that Medicine is a long shut for me? Do you think I should try to write the mcat again? Thanks and hope anyone of you out there who is trying to get in this year makes it in.

Hey, why don't you consider a prep course? **DELETED** works with a lot of ESL students that break the 127 barrier for CARS and he has a very simple approach but, it take time to practice it. 

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I agree with the above...it is not uncommon for people to write the MCAT multiple multiple times! I wrote it three times and struggled with the same section (was called verbal reasoning then). I would recommend practicing more for this section and rewriting when you feel you've had some time to Get a better feel for things. Your NAQs look fine to me, it really is how you sell it! 

Good luck!!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/24/2020 at 9:49 AM, PremedToronto said:

I agree with the above...it is not uncommon for people to write the MCAT multiple multiple times! I wrote it three times and struggled with the same section (was called verbal reasoning then). I would recommend practicing more for this section and rewriting when you feel you've had some time to Get a better feel for things. Your NAQs look fine to me, it really is how you sell it! 

Good luck!!

Thanks, I am getting ready to prepare to rewrite it, hopefully it is the last time, I am very nervous.

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On 10/23/2020 at 8:15 AM, InNeedofMD said:

Hey, why don't you consider a prep course? **DELETED** works with a lot of ESL students that break the 127 barrier for CARS and he has a very simple approach but, it take time to practice it. 

Hi, I did have a one-o-one tutor, to be honest I am not really sure if it's going to make a change, I even have attend one of his free sessions, and he is quit expensive.

 

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