Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This is the future

This post is not very timely since Marty McFly went to the future on July 11th, 2012, and it's now the 17th, but I thought I should post it anyway.  Where has the time gone?  Great 80's flick except that we were all supposed to be scooting around in flying cars with our kids wreaking havoc on hovercraft skateboards.  Stupid lying movie.

My own future seems just as uncertain as did that of Marty McFly's.  After taking the MCAT on the 14th, I have had mixed feelings.  I'm sure my score will not be what I would like.  I was devastated when I left.  I've since come to terms with it.  Worse case scenario I have to retake it.  It's not the end of the world.  My family loves me.  I'm at peace.

As far as the MCAT went, there was a part of both the physical sciences section and the biological sciences section where I just stared blankly at the screen hoping upon hope that somehow an angel would appear before me and guide me to the correct answer.  Alas, no such angel appeared.  I was on my own.

The verbal section was okay I thought.  Those who took the exam the same day as I did have commented on how "easy" the verbal section was.  I think many of those same people will be dismayed by their score.  Sure it wasn't like reading something in a foreign language, yet the sheer length of the passages, and the complexity of some of the questions will certainly curb the enthusiasm of many, including me.

So what am I to do now?  I don't need to feverishly study random physics equations.  I don't have to balance chemical reactions, nor do I need to worry about stereochemisty.  I decided to read.  Yes read.  And not some convoluted textbook.  I have decided to read a book I have been referred to on more than one occasion: "The House of God."  And what a doozy of a book it is too!  I am thoroughly enjoying every scintillating page.  It is candy for premedical and medical students.  It shows that medicine isn't really what you find on "Grey's Anatomy."  And it's awesome.  I will review it in more depth later as I am currently but halfway through.

For those who have yet to take the MCAT, take heart.  You know the material.  Just show them.  To those who are done with the MCAT, find something you enjoy doing and do that.  Live a little.  You deserve it.  I know I do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


3 days...

Positivity?  You won't find it in this post.  You have been forewarned.

I'm tired.  Mentally and emotionally spent.  I've obsessed over this exam for months.  I've read hundreds if not thousands of pages of material.  I've gone over both my strengths and my weaknesses.  However, I'm not progressing as much as I would have liked.  I did finally just discover a trend in the answers I'm getting wrong on practice exams.  Apparently I suck at "Flexibility/adaptability in scientific reasoning."  The problem is that it's too late to really DO anything about it.  I mean my test is in 3 days.

I'm scared that this might not work out how I had envisioned it.  I'm scared that I will have done all this work, spent all this time, spent all this money, undergone all this stress, put my family through all this, all for nothing.  That prospect frightens me.  It keeps me up at night.  It messes with my internal organs.  I'm a mess.

I've always been an extremely good exam taker.  However, this is a horse of a different color.  I just hope that come Saturday morning I have some sort of divine intervention that allows me to perform better than I have thus far.  Unlikely?   Sure.  But there's always hope.

I sent a text just a minute ago to a friend of mine complaining about the same thing I am here.  He's taking the MCAT a couple weeks after I am (and will surely way out perform me).  His advice was "That's good.  You've exhausted yourself.  You will be satisfied that you gave it your all in preparing.  Take some rest before the final thing."  This is a lonely process.  It's good to know there are people out there who care about you and know exactly what you are going through.

I really have done the best I can.  I just have to hope that it was good enough...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'm Still Fighting

9 days...

I'm feeling a little bit better today, but not tremendously so.  I just completed another practice MCAT exam.  This time I scored a more respectable 28 (9, 10, 9).  Since I now have two AAMC practice exams under my belt, I now have a better understanding of where my deficiencies lie.  Hopefully I have enough time to continue this, albeit short, upward swing.  Hell... if I can improve by three points each exam that would surely be something to write about now wouldn't it!

This exam wants to beat me.  But I'm a fighter.  I will fight to the bitter end.  It will not beat me.

"One of the most difficult things everyone has to learn is that for your entire life you must keep fighting and adjusting if you hope to survive.  No matter who you are or what your position is you must keep fighting for whatever it is you desire to achieve."

                                                                     -George Allen

Monday, July 2, 2012

Am I an Idiot?

I have been humbled.  After all this hard work and studying, I received a much lower score on my practice MCAT than I thought possible.  For those interested, I got a 25.  The breakdown was 8,9,8.  This is so disappointing.  I am completely devastated.  I feel like I have wasted a ton of time and money.  Has this all been in vain?  I contemplated not even writing this update because I am so ashamed of myself.  But I suppose I need to be honest about everything, both good and bad.  So there it is.

I've come to grips now with the fact that I'm not going to score in the mid-thirties as I had hoped.  But c'mon!  I'm a smart guy, or so I'd like to think.  I guess this is something else entirely.  I just expected a better score considering the number of hours I've put into studying.  I am in the process of reviewing what I missed.  Hopefully by extensively reviewing everything, I will see some improvement.  Realistically, from the trends I have seen from others, this is more or less where I will end up.

I've got to figure out a way to increase this score at least a little to have any sort of a chance...  Beer may be in order for this evening...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Interview at Accepted.com


15 days...

I was recently contacted by accepted.com who asked if I would be willing to do an interview for their website.  I was asked me the following questions:

  1. First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?
  2. When do you plan on applying to med school? Do you know which schools will you apply to?
  3. What made you want to pursue a medical degree at this stage in your life? 
  4. I see on your Premed Progress page that you've already checked off a ton of items, but that you still have some biggies coming up. How are your AMCAS essays coming along?
  5. Why did you decide to blog about your med school application experience? 
  6. And last but not least, how do you get anything done with five little boys at home??

I'm not sure why they asked me, though I suppose I could email them and ask, and probably will now that I'm thinking about it.  But regardless, it was interesting to do a little self-reflecting about my medical school progress, my motivation for attempting this, and where I have come from.  I remember how my life used to be.  I don't want that life anymore.  I want something better.  Better for me, and my family.  I want to show my kids that they can do whatever they want to with this life.

Studying for the MCAT has me so focused on this task that it was nice to take a moment to reflect on what was, what is, and what is to come.  If you would like to read the interview in its entirety, it is available  here.  I just hope that I have done enough to get into medical school.  I hope I will be able to convey my passion and tenacity in my essays to them.  I hope that all of this has not been in vain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sick and Sick of Studying

18 Days...

Being sick sucks.  I had the flu this past week and it really affected my ability to study.  I guess there really isn't a good time to be sick though is there?  I mean would I have rather been sick during my MCAT?  Or during finals week?  How about during an interview for medical school?  I guess it could be worse.  It still sucks though.

My real question is how is it that when I get sick, I operate at about 20% of my original capacity whereas my wife operates at 80% when she is sick?  Can someone explain this to me?  Am I a wuss or is she superhuman?  Maybe both.  It seems like I should be able to derive a formula for this... hmmm....

My MCAT study schedule needs to be "customized" a bit more... In other words there is no way I will be able to finish all of these horrid books (and I use the word horrid with all my love).  I figure I'm strongest in the biological section.  I will spend the rest of this week going over just physics and general chemistry.  After that I will call my review officially done.  The next phase of this process will then begin.  I will start taking the AAMC practice exams and study from those.  I plan on doing one every other day.  Maybe every third day depending on how well or poorly I am doing.

I look forward to an update soon saying that I'm kicking the practice exam's butt...

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Happy Father's Day

26 Days...

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.  I was fortunate in that I only had to referee a few tussles instead of the several all out wars that tend to erupt in our little dwelling.  The little demons were really putting forth extra effort with being patient with each other because they know that fighting  amongst themselves aggravates me.  Sweet devils.  They got me several gifts... no tie... Wooo!  For dinner we went to Babes which was delicious and gross at the same time.  The food was awesome.  Because they give never-ending side dishes, the amount of food consumed by my 6'6" frame was disgusting.  However, my affectionately called "bacon pouch" that resides around my midsection seemed to relish the gluttony.  Good Day.

Now that Father's Day has passed, everything is back to normal.  The boys are at it like they need to make up for lost time.  Fists flying.  Nice.  Well it was good while it lasted.  It's also time to get back to studying.  Hydrocarbons are on the menu today in case you're interested.  It seems like something pretty basic that I should already have a good handle on, but we shall see.  Since it seems to be a frequent topic on the MCAT, I hope I'm able to crush this section.  Starbucks awaits... only this time, I will be able to block out any and all over-the-hill white rapping, Starbucks loiterers with my new headphones that block out all sound except the soothing tunes I choose.  Thanks Dear for the excellent gift!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

28 Days...

I really wish I had a smart phone.  For some reason, the phone I have does not take video.  I also didn't bring my laptop with me to Starbucks.  It's really a shame.  I would love to have posted a video of the guy that was hanging out there (of course I would first need to figure out how to post videos - if anyone knows how, please let me know).  This guy was white, in his mid forties, and was obviously jamming to some gangster rap as he played on his laptop.  He was loudly "singing," and I use the term extremely loosely, directly behind me while throwing in all the profanity that accompanied the piece.  Oh what I would have given to be able to upload the craziness.  It would have gone VIRAL!

My studying is progressing nicely.  I again got a 10 on verbal.  Today's 10 was a little more disappointing because I missed several questions due to misreading them.  I guess next time I will ensure that I get those pesky double negative questions a more thorough reading.  I also spent time going over physics.  I am now officially finished with the first physics book in the Berkeley
Review series.  Wooo! Sweet.  Score.  It really feels like I accomplished something.  When studying for the MCAT, there are so few times, at least so far, where I feel like I'm actually making progress.  I have to make sure to delight in the small victories that come along.

This really is an extremely tedious process.  I have to just take it one step at a time though and hope it all pays off.  Inch by inch life's a cinch.  Yard by yard, life is hard.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let the Countdown Begin

29 days...

I at least found something I'm good at as far as MCAT prep.  I've been getting so thoroughly discouraged with these Berkeley Review books.  However, I just breezed through the Stereochemistry chapter of the Organic Chemistry review book.  Woooo!  How awesome is it that I just crushed it.  I certainly needed that small shot of confidence.  Hopefully my MCAT will have several questions about stereochemistry on the exam.  But since they are psychic as well as sadistic (that's the word on the street anyway) I'm sure they will be maniacally laughing as they feed me a bunch of WTF kinda passages.

Another bright note is that I'm still solid on the verbal section.  I took another EK 101 verbal exam yesterday and scored a 10.  Nearly an 11.  And it's funny.  The questions that I struggled with are the ones I missed.  Hopefully on the real exam, I improve my intuitive reasoning and guessing (which will prove important for organic/biochemistry questions).  I would really like to get my verbal up to a consistent 12.  With all the reading I've done, and the fact that I'm majoring in a social science, I really should be scoring higher than I am currently.  Oh well... I'll take another practice test maybe tomorrow and see how that goes.  Until next time America.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One More Month

One month.  One month till the big day.  It's really sneaking up like a freight train.  I have so much more material to cover in preparation for the exam.  It's daunting.  It may not be possible to adequately cover everything.  I may just have to be okay with that.  What else is there to do?  I'm not going to postpone my test.  I have to know that I have done a ton of passages.  I know the MCAT will try to get me out of my comfort zone.  Fortunately that doesn't really rattle me.  I mean, how much worse could it possibly be compared to the Berkeley Review passages?  Some of those are really nutty.

30 days.  I need to be done with content review in 2 weeks so I can take a bunch of the practice MCAT exams.  Wow.  I'm already burnt out.  My kids are tired of me studying all the time.  I never see my wife.  This is mentally and emotionally draining.  The hardest part of my day is opening a review book.  I put it off as long as possible to just give my brain a break.  I don't know how many people feel this way, but I feel like my brain is completely full.  It's like training for a marathon.  I keep building up my endurance in preparation for the big day, but I feel like I'm ready to drop.  I need someone to hand me a cup of Gatorade before I pass out.

Ok.  I guess I've put it off long enough... back to General Chemistry I suppose...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Customizing my Study Plan

I've found that I will not be able to follow my previous MCAT study plan as laid out.  There just is insufficient time to do everything in that manner.  I have revised the plan to better fit my schedule.  I will be rotating between physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry.  Each day I will read a section (chapter) and do the passages in the Berkeley Review (TBR) book.  I think the Exam Kracker questions are fairly elementary but will be a nice review once I have completed my content review.  So I will save those for later.

I will squeeze in verbal every few days or so.  Instead of doing a couple verbal passages each day, I will do a whole one hour exam so I can get my pacing down.  I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the verbal section and hope I score well on it during game time.  

I'm also not really worried about the writing section.  Heck, this is the last year there will even be one so who really cares right?  I will peruse the writing book I purchased - don't wanna waste my money after all!  But I'm in no real hurry to do so.  Being that I'm a psychology major, I have written many essays and feel fairly comfortable with my writing ability.

What about biology?  Well funny you should ask.  I'm reading it before bedtime.  It's quite soothing and an enjoyable read.  I don't really know why everyone on Student Doctor Network bags so hard on TBR's biology section.  I agree that it may be overkill for what is necessary on the MCAT, but I enjoy biology in general and feel I have and am getting a better grasp of the concept by the day.  I will work in the biology passages as time permits.  All in all, it's a less intense schedule for sure, but all the relevant material will be covered without the pressure of making sure I'm sticking to "the schedule".  I've been doing this for a few days now and I already feel like I'm accomplishing more.  Confidence is key.  Anyone who knows me tells me that I certainly don't lack for it, but this studying is sure putting it to the test.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

9 year old says, "Hey Dad, I'm hungry.  Will you make me some dinner?"

4 year old interjects, "Yo mama can make you dinner.  HA HA!!  That was a yo mama joke :D"

Is it wrong that my four year old loves yo mama jokes?

Friday, June 8, 2012

"So did you know that if you shove a pixie stick up your nose, your nose will bleed?"

I really didn't think had to worry about my kids snorting white powdery substances at the age of seven.  It's a different world than where I'm coming from... yes it is now.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Show Me the Money

During a break in MCAT studying, I noticed my financial aid had come in for college.  Well, now I'm signed up for the fall semester already!  Next semester I'm taking the following classes:

Psychology - Biological Basis of Behavior
Biology - The Biology of Cancer
Psychology - Lifespan Development
Behavioral and Social Sciences - End of Life Issues

I'm very excited.  Now it's time to order the necessary textbooks so I'm prepared.  Fun times.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dancing formulae

Yesterday, while doing MCAT prep at my school library, I got a text informing me that I was to attend a "concert in the park" with fireworks afterwards.  Although I really wanted to take advantage of not being surrounded by a pack of wild animals (my kids), and instead focus on my content review, I acquiesced.  We saw the Old 97's and some cool fireworks.  It was also the twins first concert.  All in all, I'm glad I went. The music gave the formulae in my brain some rhythm with which to dance.

This schedule that I'm trying to follow is really intense.  I mean crazy intense.  I don't know why I have to do everything the hard way.  It would be sooooo much easier for me to take the three months and prepare for this exam like a normal person.  Instead, I want to push myself to the breaking point and beyond by trying to do all of this in double speed.  My initial thought process was that I have taken all the prerequisites within a very short period of time, so everything should be fresh; content review should be at a minimum.  Additionally, I wanted to be able to apply as soon as possible to theoretically increase my chances of acceptance.  Though I may have bitten off more than I can chew by attempting this.  If I had it to do over again, I would definitely take it a little more slowly.  Oh well... back to physics...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day One of MCAT prep... Again

I'm very excited!  My Berkeley Review MCAT books are arriving today.  I've read many posts on student doctor network that these are by far the best prep books available to simulate the actual MCAT.  So far I've been studying using resources from my school library.  I've delved deeply into McGraw-Hill's and Barron's, and some of Kaplan. I've honed up on my biology already so I feel great about that.  I thought I had a good handle on organic, after all I just finished two semesters of it.  However, I found out quickly that I do not perform well on organic MCAT type questions.

Right now I'm reviewing organic chemistry until my books arrive... Hurry up Fed Ex delivery guy. Once I receive my new material, I plan to study those along with the Exam Krackers books that I recently purchased but have not started to complete.  I will be following SN2ed (a frequent poster on student doctor network and the innovator of this study system) intense 3 month MCAT study plan in half that time.  This plan has been heralded from some extremely high scorers as the way to go.  At least that's my plan right now.  We shall see.  I will copy his study plan and post it here for those that are interested.

Day 1: Berkeley Review (BR) Physics Chapter 1 + Every third practice passage of all the corresponding practice passages for this chapter.  Take passages # 1, 4, 7, etc.  If you have a version with discretes, take descrete 1, 4, 7, etc. and spend about 1 minute per discrete. If you have the version with both "Review" passages and a practice exam, take 1/3 from the Review Passages and 1/3 from the Practice Exam.

** I'm eliminating the Hat Trick that he says to do as I will not have time.  I will include a link at the bottom should you wish to go to the original post**

For Instance:

Review Passages 1, 2, 3
Practice Exam Passages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

First 1/3: Review Passage #1;Practice Exam Passage # 1, 4, 7
Second 1/3: Review Passage #2; Practice Exam Passage #2, 5
Final 1/3: Review Passage # 3; Practice Exam Passage #3, 6

Day 2: BR Gen Chem Ch 1 + 1/3
Day 3: BR O-Chem Chapter 1 + 1/3
Day 4: EK Biology Chapter # 1 + 1/3 of the corresponding passages in the BR Bio book.  Although some of the chapters correspond well to each other, you'll probably have to jump around for some chapters.
Day 5 BR Physics Ch 2 + 1/3
Day 6: Re-read ALL of the previous week's chapters (Day 1-5). This means you re-read the ENTIRE chapter again for both BR physics chapters 1 & 2, BR Gen Chem chapter 1, O-Chem chapter 1, and EK Bio chapter 1.  Additionally, work through corresponding EK 1001 sections for the chapters you worked through last week (Day 1-5).  For instance, BR O-Chem chapter 1 goes over Organic Structure and Bonding; hence, complete the Molecular Structure in the EK 1001 O-Chem.  The topics probably won't match all the time, but go with the best fit.  Also, only do every third problem/passage in the EK 1001's.  Lastly, complete the in-class exam for the EK Bio chapter 1.  From now on, this day's work will be abbreviated: "Re-read chapters + EK Bio In-class exam"
Day 7: Break
Day 8: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages for the previous 5 BR chapters (remember this includes BR Bio).  I'm going to shorten this to: "Complete second 1/3 of BR passages"
Day 9: BR Gen Chem Ch 2 + 1/3
Day 10: BR O-Chem Ch 2 + 1/3
Day 11: EK Bio Chapter 2 + 1/3
Day 12: BR Physics Ch 3 + 1/3
Day 13: BR Gen Chem Ch 3 + 1/3
Day 14 Break
Day 15: Re-read chapters from Days 9-13 + EK 1001 for Days 9-13 + EK Bio In -Class Exam
Day 16: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 17: BR O-ChemCh 3 + 1/3
Day 18: EK Bio Ch 3 + 1/3
Day 19: BR Physics Ch 4 + 1/3
Day 20: BR Gen Chem Ch 4 + 1/3
Day 21: Break
Day 22: BR O-Chem Ch 4 + 1/3
Day 23: Re-read chapters + EK 1001 + EK Bio In-Class Exam
Day 24: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 25: EK Bio Ch 4 +1/3
Day 26: BR Physics Ch 5 + 1/3
Day 27: BR Gen Chem Ch 5 + 1/3
Day 28: Break
Day 29: BR O-Chem Ch 5 + 1/3
Day 30: EK Bio Ch 5 + 1/3
Day 31: Re-read chapters + EK 1001 + EK Bio In-Class Exam
Day 32: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 33: BR Physics Ch 6 + 1/3
Day 34: BR Gen Chem Ch 6 + 1/3
Day 35: Break
Day 36: BR O-Chem Ch 6 + 1/3
Day 37: EK Bio Chapter #6 + 1/3
Day 38: BR Physics Ch 7 + 1/3
Day 39: Re-read chapters + EK 1001 + EK Bio In-Class Exam
Day 40: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 41: BR Gen Chem Ch 7 + 1/3
Day 42: Break
Day 43: BR O-Chem Ch 7 + 1/3
Day 44: EK Bio Ch 7 + 1/3
Day 45: BR Physics Ch 8 + 1/3
Day 46: BR Gen Chem Ch8 + 1/3
Day 47: Re-read chapters + EK 1001+EK Bio In-Class exam
Day 48: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 49: Break
Day 50: EK Bio Ch 8 +1/3
Day 51: BR Physics Ch 9 + 1/3
Day 52: BR Gen Chem Ch9 + 1/3
Day 53: EK Bio Ch 9 + 1/3
Day 54: BR Physics Ch 10 + 1/3
Day 55: Break
Day 56: BR Gen Chem Ch 10 + 1/3
Day 57: BR O-Chem Ch 8 +1/3
Day 58: Reread Chapters +EK 1001 + EK Bio In-class Exam
Day 59: Complete second 1/3 of BR passages
Day 60: Break
Day 61: Hat Trick **
Day 62: Complete last 1/3 of BR passages for ALL Ch 1's: BR Bio Ch 1, BR Physics Ch 1, BR Gen Chem Ch 1 and BR O-Chem Ch 1
Day 63: Complete last 1/3 of BR passages for ALL Chapter 1's - From now on, I will abbreviate the last 1/3 of BR as 1/3.  I will include the chapters to cover.
Day 64: AAMC FL #3
Day 65: Review FL per guidelines + 1/3 Ch 2
Day 66: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 2
Day 67: Break
Day 68: 1/3 Ch 3
Day 69: 1/3 Ch 3
Day 70: Break
Day 71: AAMC #4
Day 72: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 4
Day 73: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 4
Day 74: AAMC #5
Day 75: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 5
Day 76: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 5
Day 77: Break
Day 78: AAMC FL #7
Day 79: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 6
Day 80: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 6
Day 81: AAMC # 8
Day 82: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 7
Day 83: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 7
Day 84: Break
Day 85: AAMC # 9
Day 86: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 8
Day 87: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 8
Day 88: AAMC #10
Day 89: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 9
Day 90: Review FL + 1/3 Ch 9
Day 91: Break
Day 92: AAMC #11
Day 93: Review FL + 1/3 Chapter 10
Day 94: Review FL + 1/3 Chapter 10
Day 95: Break


The original post can be found here.   http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=623898

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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Meemaw is recovering

Because my wife's mother, AKA Meemaw, is in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, I felt the need to remind people that the signs of a heart attack in women is different from that in men.  Thankfully she is doing well and has (reluctantly) agreed to take her meds.  Hopefully if and when she decides to discontinue their use, she will remember her grandchildren and rethink her decision.  (Yes this is a guilt trip if she happens upon this site :P )  Anyway, the following was copied from the American Heart Association:

Heart Attack Signs in Women

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
  • If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away. 


Monday, April 9, 2012

A Taste of the High Life

I was lucky enough to have my brother watch my team of kids this weekend so I could take my wife out to dinner and a movie. The movie never materialized however. We decided to go to Craft in Dallas because she got a discount there due to her current place of employment, and because one of the pastry chefs there is a friend of hers. After perusing the menu, we couldn't decide on what to order, so we asked the waiter what he recommended. With his help, we decided to allow the chef to decide. So everything was a complete surprise. The dinner went as follows:

Starter: Fresh bread and butter

Amuse bouche: Onion soup with balsamic vinegar

Course 1: Kusshi Oysters with lemons, Tabasco, and/or a vinegar sauce.

Course 2: Dish 1: Escargot & Duck Egg; Dish 2: Heritage Pork Belly & Huckleberry

Course 3: Dish 1: Rabbit Strozzapreti & Lingurian Olive; Dish 2: Poulet Rouge Gallantine & Celery Root

Course 4: Dish 1: Skate Wing & Gribiche; Dish 2: Heritage Pork Shank & Mustard Seed; Side 1: Asparagus; Side 2: Sugar Snap Peas; Side 3: Gratin; Side 4: Gnocchi; Side 5: Hen of the Woods

Palate cleanser: Iced apple pear cider wine

Dessert 1: A tasting of 8 ice-creams and sorbets; Dessert 2: Beignets; Dessert 3: Sticky Toffee Pudding; Dessert 4: Hummingbird cake; Dessert 5: Chocolate mousse with orange curd

Mignardise: Peanut butter cookies, pecan cookies, chocolate espresso fudge

To go (because we obviously didn't get enough food): Chocolate chip cookies, and muffins for breakfast the next morning.

Needless to say, this end of the world type feast took over two and a half hours to complete. We had 3 bags of food to take home. We also missed the movie I had planned on going to, but that was ok. What an amazing assortment of flavors. The entire dinner was sublime. Thank you Craft. Thank you Julie. Amazing dinner!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

No Turning Back Now

All of a sudden I couldn't control my shaking. My face flushed and my stomach churned like an unbalanced washing machine. Little beads of sweat appeared on my forehead. No I did not have the flu, nor did I have a food allergy. I just registered for the MCAT. I have known for months what day I wanted/needed to the test. I have been planning on taking it right before I go to my family reunion in July. I guess I've been putting off actually signing up for it because that would make it real. Once that money is plunked down there's no turning back.

Apparently it scares me more than I thought. I had thought I was cool as a cucumber about the whole thing. I mean, I've taken all my prerequisites within the last year. Everything is very fresh, and I've done well in all of the required classes. I understand them. I can see how they all are interrelated. But still the fear is there. This one test will determine whether a medical school will deem me fit to allow entrance into their school. No pressure... Yeah right. Well I can't really do much about it now. I just need to keep plugging away at my classes right now and need to worry about the MCAT later... when classes are over in May. The thing is, if I'm that nervous just to sign up for the exam, how nervous will I be to actually sit for it?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rest in Peace Granny

Last week I went to Saint Louis to give pay final respects to my grandmother. Although I did not know her well, I learned a lot about her from the stories of others. It was also good to see how her life was celebrated more than mourned. It also may seem selfish, but it was great to visit with all my cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews. Since I didn't grow up knowing the people on my father's side of the family, I am still learning who everyone is. They have made my and my immediate family's integration into the larger family a smooth one, and I thank them for that. By listening to their stories of granny, I am amazed at how one person could touch so many lives in such a positive way. I will make sure that I do not waste my time; I will make sure I get to know my family better and appreciate having them in my life.