Author Archives: Alex Macnow

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Alex Macnow

About Alex Macnow

I graduated from Boston University with a BA in Musicology and am currently a fourth year in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. I took Kaplan to prep for my MCAT. After such a great experience with my course, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to teach and tutor hundreds of pre-health students for the MCAT, DAT, OAT and PCAT in both our Boston – Haymarket and Philadelphia Kaplan Centers. I am one of the Content Managers for Kaplan's new MCAT 2015 course. When I’m not preparing for residency or teaching MCAT, I enjoy playing classical piano, exploring new cuisines and traveling on road trips.

December 14, 2014

Application Essentials II: The Medical School Personal Statement

Let’s start today with a seemingly simple question that you are going to have to consider before applying to med school: Who are you?

It may seem simple on the surface, but this can be one of the most challenging questions that premed students encounter on the medical school application or the MCAT. Yet, it’s the basic question posed in at least one major part of your application: the medical school personal statement.

There are a couple important themes to keep in mind while you’re coming up with the subject matter for your medical school personal statement—or, what many

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October 24, 2014

MCAT 2015: What You Need to Know … Now!

With all of the buzz about the new MCAT 2015, Kaplan will be hosting a panel discussion tonight focusing on this test change, what it means for you as a pre-med student and future applicant, and how it fits into the current trajectory of medicine.

Sign up using this link:  The Pulse Series – MCAT 2015:  What You Need to Know … Now!

MCAT 2015:  What You Need to Know … Now!

Monday, April 8, 2013  |  8 PM Eastern

Big changes are coming to the MCAT in 2015. At this event, we’ll explore what those changes are, why they’re …

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October 24, 2014

A Tale of Two MCATs: Which Should I Take?

With the major MCAT revision coming up in 2015, many students are starting to ask:  which MCAT should I take?  Is there an advantage to one test versus the other?

The short answer is:  it’s possible to do either and score extremely well, but you’ll have to plan starting today.

What’s changing in the 2015 MCAT?

If you haven’t read our other articles about the MCAT 2015 exam, make sure to go back and check them out:

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February 5, 2015

Application Essentials VII: Interviews

We’ve all heard horror stories:  bizarre ethical dilemmas, not clicking with your interviewer, the old “window-being-nailed-shut” story.  But medical school interviews really aren’t that bad.  Perhaps the most misunderstood part of the application, these brief conversations hold the key in that final step of getting you from interviewee to medical student.

Why do pre-health schools do interviews?  What are they looking for?

The interview is all about your ability to communicate clearly and effectively with others.  Medicine is, at its core, a humanistic practice of care for one’s community.  To be a successful clinician, you will have to be able …

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October 24, 2014

Application Essentials VI: Letters of Recommendation

When you need advice on something, who do you turn to?  Your friends, of course!

Medical schools don’t have “friends,” per se, so the professional equivalent is the Letter of Recommendation.  In other words, the letters you aggregate become the medical school’s “squad,” each highlighting different attributes of what would make you a great candidate for their medical school.  Luckily, they’re actually serving as mutual friends:  since they know you, they can represent you honestly and in the best possible way.

Here are some of the commonly-asked questions about Letters of Recommendation:

What’s a committee letter?

While you’ll be …

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November 24, 2014

Application Essentials V: Non-Medical Extracurriculars and Experience

There are many things to consider on your path to becoming an excellent physician: preparing for the MCAT (the current or the new MCAT 2015), nailing a 4.0 GPA both semesters, or writing a killer personal statement for that AMCAS application.

And then there’s the consideration of maintaining a personal and pre-med life balance: I’m planning on playing the piano more in this coming year.  Given the daily grind of medical school, it’s gone on the wayside for some time, but it’s always important to keep up with your life outside of medicine.  Which brings us to today’s …

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October 24, 2014

Application Essentials IV: Medical Extracurriculars and Experience

The life of a pre-med student is busy, between the challenging pre-med courses you’re taking, preparing for the MCAT, and keeping up with your extracurriculars. Today, we turn our focus to that last category: what medically-oriented extracurriculars should you be doing before medical school?

Why are medical extracurriculars important?

In addition to the obvious (that this is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life), the significance of medical extracurriculars is the demonstration that you have explored medicine as a field — and you still love it!  Many students come into undergrad with an idealized …

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October 24, 2014

Application Essentials III: Secondary Applications

You’ve crafted a masterful personal statement, you’ve chosen your favorite 15 activities*, you’ve meticulously entered every class you’ve ever taken — verbatim**, and you’ve finally hit that blue “submit” button on your AMCAS application.

Everything’s going fantastically since you dominated the MCAT.

But now it’s time to turn your attention to that growing pile of letters:  not acceptances (just yet!), but secondaries.  These school-specific applications feature a host of essays — and they’re the next step on the  path to medical school.  As part of our continuing series on holistic review in admissions, let’s look …

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January 17, 2013

Application Essentials I: The Holistic Review Process

Earlier this month, I had the great fortune of attending the 2012 AAMC Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA.  This meeting represents one of the largest gatherings of medical educators, premedical advisors, admissions officers, practicing physicians and students in the country, all with one common goal:  your education.  This is the group that writes the MCAT, runs the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) and creates informative resources like Careers in Medicine to help you plan your future medical career.

One of the “hot topics” in medical admissions these days is holistic review.  While a full detailing of this …

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October 24, 2014

Pump Up the Jam – Kaplan’s New MCAT Study Playlist

Can Katy Perry (or Technotronic, for that matter) help you get into medical school?  Evidence shows that listening to music — especially uplifting music — can help you “show ‘em what you’re worth” on Test Day.

As a former musicology major at Boston University and as an Elite Teacher at Kaplan Test Prep, I’ve always been interested in the intersection of music, the mind and learning science.  While multitasking in the midst of studying (you know — social media, email, texing and the like) can lead to detrimental effects (see, for example, the Journal of Patient Safety article from …

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