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How Do I Realistically Tackle The Mcat As An Arts Student?


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I'm more than halfway through my degree and I recently just realized how much I loathe what I am studying. I will finish my bachelors degree but there is no way I want to do law school or pursue my masters/PhD anymore. There is no way I will enjoy working in academia, nor do I like research. If I felt this way 2 years ago I would have changed my major in a heart beat but I feel that it is too late for that now. I've done some physician shadowing and volunteered in a medical setting for a while, and I liked it. I know it's not at all as glamourous as some people make it out to be, but truthfully I'm a workaholic and I see myself being solely dedicated to my career in the future. I haven't taken any science courses in my undergrad fyi and I think the biggest barrier to medical school for me is the MCAT.

 

I just have no idea where to even begin with studying. All the "MCAT prep" books I have looked at I don't even understand besides the CARS/Psych sections because I don't have the foundations. I probably have 1.5 years left in my undergrad and my GPA hopefully by the time I am done will be about 3.8+ though I might need to take an extra semester but I don't know. I am turning 22 in late June and I want to get into medical school by the time I am 24. I can easily obtain an EU passport so I am open to going overseas and I don't care about having to return because I know it is very difficult to obtain residency here as an IMG. I just know I'd be much happier doing medicine than pursuing law/grad school and being completely miserable. I could use some advice I guess there is a lot of pressure on me and I just feel like I am screwed because I never initially started a BSc program nor did I get straight A's (a lot of B's/B+'s due to not caring much at the time). 

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I'm more than halfway through my degree and I recently just realized how much I loathe what I am studying. I will finish my bachelors degree but there is no way I want to do law school or pursue my masters/PhD anymore. There is no way I will enjoy working in academia, nor do I like research. If I felt this way 2 years ago I would have changed my major in a heart beat but I feel that it is too late for that now. I've done some physician shadowing and volunteered in a medical setting for a while, and I liked it. I know it's not at all as glamourous as some people make it out to be, but truthfully I'm a workaholic and I see myself being solely dedicated to my career in the future. I haven't taken any science courses in my undergrad fyi and I think the biggest barrier to medical school for me is the MCAT.

 

I just have no idea where to even begin with studying. All the "MCAT prep" books I have looked at I don't even understand besides the CARS/Psych sections because I don't have the foundations. I probably have 1.5 years left in my undergrad and my GPA hopefully by the time I am done will be about 3.8+ though I might need to take an extra semester but I don't know. I am turning 22 in late June and I want to get into medical school by the time I am 24. I can easily obtain an EU passport so I am open to going overseas and I don't care about having to return because I know it is very difficult to obtain residency here as an IMG. I just know I'd be much happier doing medicine than pursuing law/grad school and being completely miserable. I could use some advice I guess there is a lot of pressure on me and I just feel like I am screwed because I never initially started a BSc program nor did I get straight A's (a lot of B's/B+'s due to not caring much at the time). 

Pick up a few science courses as electives.  Then see how you do.

 

If you do well, then move on to prepping for the MCAT. A few of my classmates came from arts backgrounds, and picked up the science pre-reqs and did well on the MCAT.   Many schools in canada dont even have science pre-reqs anymore.  You can learn most of it through self-study. Internet has everything (khan academy!).

 

Foreign schools will be expensive, but if thats not an issue, then go ahead - you'll still likely need to take science pre-reqs and the MCAT. In fact many IMG programs are more strict about having these courses, than more liberal Canadian schools.

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I agree with JohnGrisham, take some science courses if you can! Take them in the summer if they don't fit in with your programs course schedule.

 

You may find taking a prep course would be beneficial as it will give you some structure and you will have instructors to go to for extra help when you don't understand something. I took prep101 and found all of the instructors to be very competent and helpful (though that could very by city).

 

Otherwise, give yourself LOTS of time to study and use as many resources as possible to supplement the MCAT prep books! Would highly recommend Khan Academy and other science youtube videos if you learn and understand this stuff better by seeing it rather than just reading it.

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You can self-teach most of it without courses, but it's a fair bit of reading to get the foundations. 

 

You'll want an inorganic chemistry text to start.  Once you finish that (cover to cover) you'll want to move on to an organic chemistry textbook, cover to cover.  By the end of the organic chemistry textbook they may be covering biochemistry as well, which is useful.  Personally I think an introductory biology textbook is optional; you can learn most of the basic bio you'll need from the prep materials.  But you will want to do a biochemistry textbook as well, although depending on the book you may not need to go cover to cover.  Physics textbook is probably a good idea too if you've never studied physics.  So there's several thousand pages in total.  Thankfully it's all available for free at a decent library, and will get you to a level where you can understand and benefit from the prep materials.

 

Of course you could do coursework instead and possibly learn the material better, but you (or your parents) would be paying a lot of money and also risking your GPA.

 

The MCAT is a fair bit of work if you're starting from scratch.  But entirely doable if you're willing to put in the time.

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You can self-teach most of it without courses, but it's a fair bit of reading to get the foundations. 

 

You'll want an inorganic chemistry text to start.  Once you finish that (cover to cover) you'll want to move on to an organic chemistry textbook, cover to cover.  By the end of the organic chemistry textbook they may be covering biochemistry as well, which is useful.  Personally I think an introductory biology textbook is optional; you can learn most of the basic bio you'll need from the prep materials.  But you will want to do a biochemistry textbook as well, although depending on the book you may not need to go cover to cover.  Physics textbook is probably a good idea too if you've never studied physics.  So there's several thousand pages in total.  Thankfully it's all available for free at a decent library, and will get you to a level where you can understand and benefit from the prep materials.

 

Of course you could do coursework instead and possibly learn the material better, but you (or your parents) would be paying a lot of money and also risking your GPA.

 

The MCAT is a fair bit of work if you're starting from scratch.  But entirely doable if you're willing to put in the time.

Im going to strongly disagree with this - avoid full-on undergrad textbooks. Way too much extrenous details and information that is way beyond the scope of the MCAT. Sure it would help get a more well rounded scope, but definitely NOT necessary to do well. The prep materials, and exhaustive problem sets and passages available, coupled with youtube/wikipedia is definitely enough to do well on the MCAT.

 

Myself and im sure many others, have never even bought or opened textbooks in undergrad science classes.  It is not a necessity.  You can refer as necessary if you feel you want more depth or details on a specific topic, but don't feel you need to do that, as if the prep materials won't be enough for the big picture topics.

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I agree with JohnGrisham, take some science courses if you can! Take them in the summer if they don't fit in with your programs course schedule.

 

You may find taking a prep course would be beneficial as it will give you some structure and you will have instructors to go to for extra help when you don't understand something. I took prep101 and found all of the instructors to be very competent and helpful (though that could very by city).

 

Otherwise, give yourself LOTS of time to study and use as many resources as possible to supplement the MCAT prep books! Would highly recommend Khan Academy and other science youtube videos if you learn and understand this stuff better by seeing it rather than just reading it.

 

 

Thanks for all the responses everyone. 

 

Can you tell me a little more about the prep101 course? I just looked it up and they allow free repeats so that could be beneficial. Do you think it would be helpful given my limited science background? Should I maybe study some of the basic sciences first and then take it? What would be your advice?  Thanks.

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Thanks for all the responses everyone.

 

Can you tell me a little more about the prep101 course? I just looked it up and they allow free repeats so that could be beneficial. Do you think it would be helpful given my limited science background? Should I maybe study some of the basic sciences first and then take it? What would be your advice? Thanks.

You have classes three times a week and before each class (except the CARS classes), there are readings from the Exam Krackers text books that you're supposed to do. Prep101 makes and distributes their own bound notes for each subject so that is what the instructors then teach out of. At the end of each class, you do several practice passages that you take up and discuss afterwards. The instructors I had were all very nice and willing to help when people had questions during or after class. They also give you their email addresses in case you have questions outside of class time. Lastly, there's an online component to prep101 where they post recorded lectures and I think there's a forum that's moderated by the instructors but I never used those resources.

 

You don't NEED to study some of the basic sciences first but I would highly recommend you make sure you do the readings before each class as the classes are not as detailed as the readings and you would probably be lost quite quickly. You would likely also need to supplement with other resources, such as Khan Academy (which I did even with a science background). Keep in mind though there is A LOT of reading to do each week so you would definitely need a lot of free time to do prep101.

 

It's definitely not necessary to take a prep course, whether or not it's a good idea depends a lot on the type of person you are, but I personally found it very helpful. I most liked the direction and structure it gave me and that each class we did practice passages and then discussed the questions and answers, which I found so helpful for CARS. I took prep101 in summer 2015 and 2016 in Kingston (woo free repeat policy) and last summer, they had a law student teaching it (the LSAT is basically all CARS I've heard) who was very good at explaining the reasoning for why each answer was right or wrong. I felt this discussion really helped me improve on CARS and I went from a 126 to a 129.

 

Anyway, whether or not a prep course would be helpful depends on how you learn best I think. I just do well with lots of structure. Feel free to pm me if you have more questions about prep101!

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You have classes three times a week and before each class (except the CARS classes), there are readings from the Exam Krackers text books that you're supposed to do. Prep101 makes and distributes their own bound notes for each subject so that is what the instructors then teach out of. At the end of each class, you do several practice passages that you take up and discuss afterwards. The instructors I had were all very nice and willing to help when people had questions during or after class. They also give you their email addresses in case you have questions outside of class time. Lastly, there's an online component to prep101 where they post recorded lectures and I think there's a forum that's moderated by the instructors but I never used those resources.

 

You don't NEED to study some of the basic sciences first but I would highly recommend you make sure you do the readings before each class as the classes are not as detailed as the readings and you would probably be lost quite quickly. You would likely also need to supplement with other resources, such as Khan Academy (which I did even with a science background). Keep in mind though there is A LOT of reading to do each week so you would definitely need a lot of free time to do prep101.

 

It's definitely not necessary to take a prep course, whether or not it's a good idea depends a lot on the type of person you are, but I personally found it very helpful. I most liked the direction and structure it gave me and that each class we did practice passages and then discussed the questions and answers, which I found so helpful for CARS. I took prep101 in summer 2015 and 2016 in Kingston (woo free repeat policy) and last summer, they had a law student teaching it (the LSAT is basically all CARS I've heard) who was very good at explaining the reasoning for why each answer was right or wrong. I felt this discussion really helped me improve on CARS and I went from a 126 to a 129.

 

Anyway, whether or not a prep course would be helpful depends on how you learn best I think. I just do well with lots of structure. Feel free to pm me if you have more questions about prep101!

 

 

Awesome, thanks again.

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If you aren't able to take classes, I would strongly recommend looking up educational videos on Youtube (Khan Academy especially, though you can google videos for the concepts you need to learn). The MCAT covers 1st/2nd year sciences, so many educators or students create informational videos on these topics which you can access if the MCAT books aren't helpful enough. What's useful about this is that: 1) It's free, 2) At your own pace and 3) allows you to see how you should 'think' about the science material. My only advice with this method would be that you HAVE to supplement with MCAT questions to learn how to apply the information you've learned. You should be able to re-call the info on the videos without prompting (ie. don't just passively watch & think you know something because you get the 'gist' of it each time you see a term pop up... learn to recall completely with absolutely no help). I practiced by purchasing the AAMC online question packs, which even simulated the real MCAT exam. Practice makes perfect -- and remember: you're studying for the MCAT, not 'general sciences'. There is a big difference, so make sure to learn the test too!

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I agree with JohnGrisham, take some science courses if you can! Take them in the summer if they don't fit in with your programs course schedule.

 

You may find taking a prep course would be beneficial as it will give you some structure and you will have instructors to go to for extra help when you don't understand something. I took prep101 and found all of the instructors to be very competent and helpful (though that could very by city).

 

Otherwise, give yourself LOTS of time to study and use as many resources as possible to supplement the MCAT prep books! Would highly recommend Khan Academy and other science youtube videos if you learn and understand this stuff better by seeing it rather than just reading it.

 

roughly how much time is LOTS of time, could someone realistically start from scratch and be ready in say one full summer?

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If you aren't able to take classes, I would strongly recommend looking up educational videos on Youtube (Khan Academy especially, though you can google videos for the concepts you need to learn). The MCAT covers 1st/2nd year sciences, so many educators or students create informational videos on these topics which you can access if the MCAT books aren't helpful enough. What's useful about this is that: 1) It's free, 2) At your own pace and 3) allows you to see how you should 'think' about the science material. My only advice with this method would be that you HAVE to supplement with MCAT questions to learn how to apply the information you've learned. You should be able to re-call the info on the videos without prompting (ie. don't just passively watch & think you know something because you get the 'gist' of it each time you see a term pop up... learn to recall completely with absolutely no help). I practiced by purchasing the AAMC online question packs, which even simulated the real MCAT exam. Practice makes perfect -- and remember: you're studying for the MCAT, not 'general sciences'. There is a big difference, so make sure to learn the test too!

 

 

Maybe this is a dumb question but I figure I'll ask anyway because I'm sure approaching the sciences and mastering/learning the concepts are different from what I am used to as an arts student. Do you have any recommended methods to approach this? Flash card/memorization or do you recommend other techniques?

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roughly how much time is LOTS of time, could someone realistically start from scratch and be ready in say one full summer?

If you have several hours a week you can devote to studying, then, depending on how fast you can pick up new information, you could be okay. I studied probably 15-25 hours a week for about 3.5 months and did fairly well on the MCAT last summer but I have a science background (though I did the basic sciences several years ago) and it was my second time studying and writing.

Honestly, the more time you can give yourself the better. You don't want to feel rushed to learn so much new information.

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Just putting it out there - one option as an arts student is to only apply to McMaster, at least initially. McMaster only looks at the CARS section of the MCAT and ignores the rest, and the school has no science pre-requisites for admission. For example, if you want to start applying this year and you don't have time to learn the science sections well, just prep well for CARS, and only write the CARS section sometime this summer. In essence, you register for the MCAT, and you guess all the questions that are in the other sections.  This might be a viable option if you have a good GPA and you have good critical reasoning/reading skills. This strategy is not that uncommon for arts students with no science background - I personally know three people who did this and got in to Mac.   I hear that, one downside though, is if you want to apply to the U.S. subsequently and need to rewrite the MCAT, they might not look favourably on low scores. 

 

Check out the McMaster 2019 class profile - your 3.8 GPA stands a decent chance with a good CARS score! http://mdprogram.mcmaster.ca/docs/default-source/admissions/classof2019.pdf?sfvrsn=2

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Just putting it out there - one option as an arts student is to only apply to McMaster, at least initially. McMaster only looks at the CARS section of the MCAT and ignores the rest, and the school has no science pre-requisites for admission. For example, if you want to start applying this year and you don't have time to learn the science sections well, just prep well for CARS, and only write the CARS section sometime this summer. In essence, you register for the MCAT, and you guess all the questions that are in the other sections.  This might be a viable option if you have a good GPA and you have good critical reasoning/reading skills. This strategy is not that uncommon for arts students with no science background - I personally know three people who did this and got in to Mac.   I hear that, one downside though, is if you want to apply to the U.S. subsequently and need to rewrite the MCAT, they might not look favourably on low scores. 

 

Check out the McMaster 2019 class profile - your 3.8 GPA stands a decent chance with a good CARS score! http://mdprogram.mcmaster.ca/docs/default-source/admissions/classof2019.pdf?sfvrsn=2

 

Thanks for the tip. I honestly have no intention on going to the US. If I went out of Canada I would go to either Ireland, the UK or New Zealand. This is interesting. I am hoping to bring my GPA up to a 3.8 in the next 2-3 semesters. FYI though I am not from Ontario so I am OOP. I am assuming that this will drastically slash my chances right or is there any way that can actually work in my favour? 

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I did pure Arts courses while in undergrad - Medicine was not on my radar at the time. When I decided to take the MCAT a few years later, it was a very difficult - but surmountable - task. I mostly self-taught, using Khan Academy videos as well as the Kaplan MCAT books. I also had a few friends who had done biology, chemistry, and physics whom I was able to ask for help when needed.

 

This route is definitely doable, but studying for the MCAT was my 'job' for nearly 3 months. I had quit my job and was not in school at the time, so I studied for 8 hours/day most days (I did do a bit of part-time work in a doctor's office). I got a passable grade, but it was definitely a weak part of my application.

 

So, my advice:

 

-Definitely possible without doing a course, but be prepared to take some time off and study full-time

-Find people whom you can go to for help when you need it

-Realistically the MCAT is not going to be the strongest part of your application, so make sure you have stellar GPA / extras / essay / etc otherwise to compensate

-Don't forget to take practice exams under test conditions. It's easy to focus just on learning the material, but actually writing the test is a skill unto itself you can't forget to work on

 

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