Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Well Deserved Break

So Friday I took a well deserved break from my studies to enjoy some good friends, good beer, and some marginally good poker.  I invited some old friends and new over to my house and allowed them to take my money in a good old fashioned game of Texas hold-em.  I had just received my final grades for this semester and needed a break.  My final grades break down as follows:

Psychology Research Methods: A
Neurobiology: A
Health for Today: A
Physics II: A
Organic Chemistry II: B

Although I did not get the straight A's I was shooting for, I feel satisfied that I worked hard and did reasonably well.  Since finishing the semester I have been studying for my upcoming MCAT exam.  I have realized something very interesting about studying for this fabled exam.  It sucks.  Yeah that's right - I said it.  Studying for the MCAT is mind-numbingly boring.  I keep going over information I have already learned.  I need to know all this information much better than I knew it when I learned it though.  And the sheer volume of information required to be retained in my brain seems overwhelming at times.

The only way I am able to continue pushing through is to not think about that.  I just make small goals for myself like "I will finish reading X number of pages in this MCAT prep book."  Or "today I will go over every question I got wrong, as well all those I got correct in my practice exam."  That's really the only way I know how to study for this darned thing.  But now my break from school work is over.  Back to the books....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Now the Real Work Begins

The semester is over.  I just finished my last final exam, that being for Organic Chemistry 2.  I may finish with a "B" in that class depending on the results of that horrific test.  Now the real work begins.  Beginning Monday, I need to take a few days to rejuvenate my mental faculties, I will begin my quest to crush the MCAT, or at least not let it crush me.  This semester was trying in that I took more credit hours than I ever have before.  But I still have the possibility of getting straight A's in the 17 hours taken.  I will update the results when they come out, which I think is next week.

Since my diagnostic MCAT exam was not nearly up to where it needs to be, I will be working 8 hours everyday to give myself the best chance possible of succeeding.  My weakest area is physics, so of course  I will put off studying that as long as possible because let's be honest - physics sucks.  Biology is so much more kick ass than physics!  So I will start with biology and get to where I am a biology master as fast as possible.  Then, because physics is the bane of my existence, I will move on to general chemistry.  Hopefully, by then I will sufficiently be into MCAT study mode where I can focus on the beast.  I've read several posts on student doctor network that organic chemistry is too low yield to study for, and considering I just took two semesters of it, I plan on briefly reviewing that section last.

If anyone has any study tips, or things that worked well for them, please let me know.  I plan on taking a practice exam every week, probably on Saturday mornings since my MCAT is set for Saturday, July 14th at 8 am.  I also will make sure to go over every answer I got wrong, and even the ones I got correct to make sure that I have as solid a foundation as possible.  I will be self-studying as I do not want to shell out $1500 for an MCAT prep course.  Fortunately, my school library has many resources, and a friend is letting me borrow her books when she finishes with them next week.  Good luck to all those applying this cycle.  It's been a lot of hard work to get to this point, and we've only just begun!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Diagnostic MCAT Exam

So I took a diagnostic MCAT exam yesterday to gauge where I stand before I start studying.  I realize this was premature considering I have not yet completed all of my finals for this semester, but I was excited and curious to see if all of my effort in my prerequisites was worth anything.  I made sure that I went through each section in the given amount of time.  Since I've always been a fast exam taker, I found that I was never really pressed for time; I was able to read through every passage with a firm understanding of the material, or so I thought.  I found this process to be a very humbling experience.  My score was not where I want it, nor need it to be.  However, I recognize that I have not studied at all for this exam.  That will come.

I read a post on student doctor network about a student who is going back to school and just finished up with his first semester of classes with straight A's.  He was overjoyed with his accomplishment.  I remember that feeling well.  It was empowering.  I was on top of the world; nothing could stop me.  I guess I'm struggling with the fact that as the first leg of this marathon is winding down, I feel immense pressure to perform.  I have worked so hard for this and the thought of this one exam putting into perspective what I have learned, how I think, and how well I will do in medical school is weighing heavily on my mind.  I miss that euphoria I felt as I was beginning this journey.  I no longer get the same pleasure from my success.  All I can think about is how none of it will matter if I don't score well on the MCAT.  The thought of all this time, money, and effort being in vain is almost overwhelming.

If I am to be a doctor, dealing with pressure is part of the job.  I realize that.  I have never been averse to it before.  In fact I typically thrive in such situations.  This time feels different.  This time it's not just myself I am letting down if I fail.  I have a family who is rooting for, and depending on me to succeed.  I have friends who look to me as an example of what is possible with hard work.  I guess the gravity of my situation has hit me like a locomotive, and I'm struggling to keep myself together.  I must keep forging ahead - one foot in front of the other.  Step by step, life is easy.  Yard by yard, life is hard.  Though it's hard not to think ahead, I must continue to focus on the present.  Right now I need to prepare for my finals.  I will work on the MCAT in due time.  But now is not that time.