May 15, 2014

MCAT Summer Intensive Program 2014

Hello my summer-ready readers! I'm spending this week with a group of fellow teachers who are all getting ready to teach at the Boulder MCAT Summer Intensive Program (SIP) starting next week. For those of you who have been reading awhile, you'll remember that I taught at the Boulder SIP and San Diego SIP last summer. I'm super excited to be returning and working with some great new students!
What is the Summer Intensive Program? I'm glad you asked.
It's six weeks of nerdy, MCAT awesomeness. Basically, you get tons of instruction time, workshops and private tutoring with teachers who are incredibly passionate about the MCAT. You stay in student apartments (dorm-style) and eat in a dining hall, just like summer camp or college. Additionally, you get the opportunity to take proctored MCAT Full Length exams in a realistic test day setting.
Why do I love it?
I think it's a great experience for both students and teachers. As a student, you get access to a diverse portfolio of teachers. I'm a firm believer that sometimes you need to hear concepts explained by multiple people for them to make sense. At SIP that's readily available since you can get a lecture by one teacher, small group recitation with another and a workshop from a third teacher. You also get individualized attention with tutoring and study halls.
As a teacher, it's great to collaborate with other teachers. It helps you learn new, fun ways to teach things and reinvigorates the entire teaching experience. Also, it's wonderful to be able to spend so much time intensely with your students. You get way more hands-on teaching.
Basically, I love SIP. There are still spots in the Boston and San Diego programs if you're interested.
I'll be blogging from the SIP program for the next few weeks, so hit me up if you have questions!
Happy studying! more
April 29, 2014

Solid Preparation to Reduce Test Day Stress!

I'm sure you've all heard the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, "By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." As it turns out, this quote is incredibly applicable to your MCAT studying! One of the best ways to reduce test day stress and ensure success on Test Day is to plan for both the best and worst case scenarios. What things can you do to prepare for success? I'm glad you asked!

Planning for the worst:

1. Drive the route to your test center at the same time of day that you'll be taking your test. You want to make sure that you don't run into any unexpected traffic or construction. It's also wise to check the news to make sure that your route won't have any closures on your Test Day. In any case, plan a backup route in case of emergency!

2. Bring more than one type of ID. In some states, your ID expires around your birthday and if you happen to be testing near your birthday, your ID might not be valid. Bringing a backup ID ensures that you won't run into any unwanted birthday surprises on Test Day.

3. Prepare for unexpected health issues. You don't want your test score to be negatively affected by a headache or sore throat. I advocate for packing a mini-pharmacy to store in your locker including Advil, Tums, Kleenex, Chapstick, Claritin or anything else you could conceivably need during your test.

4. Bring ALL the snacks. One of my fellow MCAT teachers likes to say that whatever he usually eats for a snack, he instantly hates on Test Day. I recommend bringing tons of snacks so that whatever you're craving, be it protein, carbohydrates, fat, or sugar, you have a snack to suit your needs.

Planning for the best:

1. Have a fun post-test plan! It's much easier to sit through a long, stressful exam if you have something fun to look forward to after the exam. That way you can pep talk yourself by saying, "I might be taking a test now, but in three hours I'll be (insert fun activity here) "

2. Spend time with your loved ones. They've been supporting you during your stressful MCAT studying and it's time to show your gratitude by spending time with your friends and family! Chances are they'll also find you a much more interesting conversationalist now that you're not tempted to recite MCAT formulas to them.

3. Stop stressing about the MCAT! Once the MCAT is done, it's over and you have 30ish days to focus on your application before you get your score back. You can also revisit your hobbies and fun things you've been neglecting while you were busy studying!

What things are you planning to do to ensure your success on Test Day? Happy studying! more
March 21, 2014

REKAP – Key Takeaways from MCAT Gen Chem 1!

MCAT Rockstars! MCAT Gen Chem 1 is in the books! We had a unique opportunity to review some Chemistry that we probably haven't seen in quite a while! Some of the big takeaways from Gen Chem 1!
  • Preview Work is absolutely essential! I constantly remind my students as we are moving through Unit 1 how important the preview work and going back to some of the basics can be.
  • Content is King. When was the last time you reviewed Quantum Numbers, Electron Configuration, and the Periodic Table? Those all seem like simple straight forward Gen Chem topics but many people when beginning their MCAT studies forget they haven't looked at material like that in 2+ years! Make sure you go back and review the basics.
  • Set Priorities. Finding the time to study for your MCAT is tough! And now it is becoming even tougher. Whether you are in school or you are working, you need to set priorities and find time in the day to make studying work. I encourage students to make a schedule and really work to hit those study goals along the way.
  • Build Confidence. The time you begin studying is a scary time when considering how much information the MCAT covers. Now that we have begun we can start to build confidence in the fact that we are making progress and we are working towards a goal. Sometimes the hardest thing is getting started. We have begun and are now seeing improvements that will only continue!
Next up is Verbal 1! Many students can be frightened of Verbal, but we are going to lay some solid ground work on the best places to see improvement for verbal and how we can score more points! Stay tuned! More MCAT wisdom to come! more
March 10, 2014

Setting Expectations for Preparing for the MCAT!

Greetings MCAT Rockstars! Tonight I am teaching my Physics 1 class. This is the first content class Kaplan teaches when preparing for the MCAT. Before I begin my first content lesson I always begin class by setting expectations!  It is important to begin your MCAT preparations by thinking about your own study habits and things you could change to make your MCAT preperation as optimal as possible! Class Are you doing the preview work before class? Are you mentally alert and engaged in class? Homework  When are you going to do the homework? Have you scheduled into your weekly plans? Support Are you reaching out to your teacher during/ after class? Are you following the syllabus in the right order? These are questions I ask my students, not only for my own knowledge in order to better help and communicate with them, but more importantly for their self reflection, so they might be studying SMARTER! Are there things you can be doing better in your own study methods? "Success is when preparation meets opportunity!" Stay tuned for more articles that will help you when preparing for the MCAT. more
February 25, 2014

Choosing an MCAT Test Date: ReKAPed

Great! Now we are getting started on our MCAT prep journey and we are looking at the MCAT as an opportunity NOT an obstacle! The next thing that we need to start thinking about is choosing an MCAT Test Date.  Here on Med School Pulse we have written quite extensively on Choosing an MCAT Test Date and I am going to link back to some of my favorite posts that we have written. The first one is Choosing an MCAT Test Date: Part 1. Things to take away from this article...
  • Time of Year
  • Morning and Afternoon Testing
  • Weekday or Weekend Test
  • Personal Obligations
  • Testing Center Locations
The follow up to that article is Choosing an MCAT Test Date Part 2: MCAT 2014 or MCAT 2015 The things to ask yourself...
  • Is there enough time to prepare and take the old MCAT?
  • What if I don’t have the proper course background to take the new MCAT?
  • Which exam will be easiest for me to get a top MCAT score?
Lastly Emily Hause wrote a reminder post on the additional MCAT Test Dates for the current version of the MCAT! Let me know what questions you guys have! Friday I am going to be talking about building a proper MCAT Study Schedule! more
February 4, 2014

Fact from Fiction on This Month’s The Pulse

Are you excited as we are for February's edition of The Pulse? This month our theme is "Fact from Fiction." Out great panel of experts will dissect the MCAT and separate the truth from those horrifying myths. This month's panel includes Amit Raghavan, a full-time MCAT instructor who has heard every fear and myth there is in the MCAT book. Adam Grey, who you may remember from his spectacular, educational MCAT videos, will help dissect the toughest problems and how many students can misconstrue their meanings. And, of course, your awesome moderator Owen Farcy who will help lead the conversation to the answers you want to hear. Don't forget, you can ask your own questions via Twitter or Facebook to our expert team and we'll try to answer every one we can. So reserve your spot for Kaplan's The Pulse on  Monday, February 10th at 8 pm EST / 5 pm PST, and get the answers you need to succeed! more
January 30, 2014

Bonus! New MCAT Test Dates Announced

Hello my excited readers! I have some awesome news for you today! There are new MCAT test dates! If you are hoping to the the MCAT before the big changes come in 2015, but aren't quite ready to take your test in August or September, the AAMC has heard your needs. They recently announced that they are adding test dates in October and November! 
You can check out the new test dates and important registration dates here! 
This is an unprecedented, wonderful opportunity to get in your MCAT before the AAMC adds the social science information and lengthens the test overall. Check out this great Pulse video to see how and why Sociology and Psychology are integrated onto the new MCAT. People who are going to really benefit from these extra test dates are people who aren't applying in the 2014 application cycle, but in the 2015 cycle. By taking your test in October or November,  you can maximize your time studying this summer (potentially with a class or by attending the rockin' MCAT Summer Intensive Program) and early into the fall. You'll have your MCAT score long before applications open in June 2015 and you'll be able to take the shortened version of the test. Hopefully you can see why I'm super pumped about the opportunity for you! Anyone out there in MCAT-land as excited as I am about the new test dates?
Happy studying! more
January 23, 2014

Thank You for Attending January’s #KaplanPulse!

We would like to thank everyone who attended last night’s edition of the #KaplanPulse! It was a great event and special thank you to Dr. Shital Vora and Tanya Svidler for lending their insight on clinical experience and Global Brigades! Global Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Since 2004, Global Brigades has mobilized thousands of university students and professionals through nine skill-based programs that work in partnership with community members to improve quality of life in under resourced regions while respecting local culture. According to the organization, 6,100 volunteers from over 70 university clubs have traveled to provide health and economic development solutions to more than 350,000 beneficiaries. The organization has concentrated its efforts largely within Honduras, Panama, and Ghana. We are looking forward to the next edition of #KaplanPulse which will be on February 10th, 2014 with the focus on the top questions and concerns related to the MCAT. Remember, between now and then if you are looking for short ReKAPs of our pulse events be sure to check out our youtube channel. more
Applying to Med School
January 21, 2014

How Important is it to have Clinical Patient Experience? Medical schools want to better equip you to successfully work with patients as a new doctor and to better facilitate the patient experience. An integral part of this is improving the doctor-patient relationship. How can you use behavioral science backgrounds to help aid in clinical patient relationships? In this video, learn how important a background in behavioral sciences can be in the doctor-patient relationship. We are looking forward to the next edition of #KaplanPulse which will be on January 22, 2014 at 8pm EST with the focus on research! REGISTER NOW! more

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