May 22, 2014

Stepping up toward Step 1 and the USMLE

Hello my hardworking readers! I got a talk today in med school celebrating the near end (2 more weeks left!) of my first year of medical school, but also looking ahead to what next year holds.
Of course, one of the highlights of second year looms at the end- the USMLE. It's a big standardized exam, not all that different from the MCAT. It also happens to be a major factor in which residencies you can do and whether or not you'll be allowed to do clinical rotations in your third year. No pressure. I'll be taking it in April 2015, along with most of my classmates.
What's my plan of attack for studying? Well. . .
1. Reviewing over the summer- At this point, most of first year is a blur. I memorized and forgot so many different pieces of information that taking some extended time to review them over the summer will definitely be beneficial. I'm going to review content that I struggled with throughout the past year and hopefully improve my understanding.
2. Consistent studying throughout the fall- I'm going to institute Step 1 Saturdays in my house. I'll be reviewing, doing practice questions and generally prepping for the exam several months in advance. The USMLE is not a test that you can cram for, so I'll be laying down the knowledge base for months.
3. Taking a Kaplan class- It worked for me to take a Kaplan class for the MCAT, so I'm confident that taking a USMLE class with them will also be a useful and great experience! I know that I'll have access to the Q Bank with tons of questions and my instructor will be awesome.
How are you planning to study for the USMLE? If you're not in school yet, are you already worried about the boards?
Happy studying,
Emily more
Applying to Med School
August 28, 2013

What Is An Interprofessional Medical Program?

On this month's edition of Kaplan's The Pulse, experts join us as the discuss what you need to know about how Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act will affect future doctors and medical professionals. This is a massive change you need to know about. What is the difference between an interdisciplinary and interprofessional medical program? In this video, experts explain the differences and the benefits of interprofessional medical education. For more great videos, check Kaplan's MCAT YouTube Channel. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] more
Tests & Scores
August 27, 2013

Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts 7: Argumentation

In today’s Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses argumentation from Verbal Reasoning as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel. more
August 1, 2013

What to Pack for Med School

Hey my stellar students! It's quickly turning into August and I'm sure that all of you feel the same horror that I do when I watch TV and realize that they are already playing "Back to School" ads. Why horror? Well, mostly because summer doesn't ever really feel long enough and those ads seem to start earlier every year, but partly because the next time that summer rolls around I will be done with my first year of medical school and that's an intimidating thought!You might ask why I am watching TV in the summer in the first place. That's a great question! I'm trying to pack my apartment to move across the country to go to school and I need something to listen to besides Pandora.
That's what I want to talk about today. How does one decide what to bring to medical school? Here's my current thoughts about things to pack. Other people who are about to start their first year- I would love your input!
Books- Obviously I will need some books, but that organic chemistry book from sophomore year, that's probably not coming with. Pathophysiology textbook- potentially useful. Sure, why not? Trashy quick read books? Yes, but we'll winnow the pile down to a precious few.
Modes of transportation- I'm driving my car out to Colorado which means it is definitely coming. The two bikes are also a sure thing. Do I really need to also bring rollerblades (yay for the 90's!) and ice skates and skis? We'll ditch the rollerblades, but take the skates and skis. I am moving to another state that has winter after all.
Clothes and shoes- I assume medical school is a mix of professional apparel, must look good as I am a future doctor of America, and student shabby chic. That means the sweatpants and comfy study clothes definitely come with, and so do the fancy pants and skirts for preceptorship at the clinic. What do I eliminate then? Probably the clothes from my freshman year at college or anything that I haven't worn in the last three years. Goodbye undergrad clothes!
Family and friends- I wish these were things I could pack. Unfortunately none of them seem to want to make the trek permanently, something about having jobs, homes, children etc. So, I'll have to settle for packing my computer with Skype, Facetime, email, and Facebook. With the addition of my phone, I'm pretty sure that with so many methods of communication, we'll be able to stay in touch.
That said, I usually give test advice to you all, but today do you have any moving/packing/starting school advice for me?
Happy studying! more
June 21, 2013

My 1st Day Of Med School Is Almost Here! (Did I Make A Mistake?)

Hello my aspiring doctors! It's a big day in my world. I just looked at a calendar and realized that I will be starting medical school in less than two months. More precisely, my first day of orientation is in 53 days. I have 53 days until I start what I anticipate to be some of the most intense, challenging and hopefully fun years of my life.
Given that I have known that I wanted to be a doctor since I was five years old -back-up plan was to be a waitress or ballerina- in theory, I should be 100% prepared to actually begin medical school. However, I find myself worrying about the future. What if they let me into medical school on accident? I spent 6+ years  (three admissions cycles) applying to medical schools and telling AMCAS and admissions committees that I'm smart enough and capable enough to become a doctor. Now, I find that I wonder if I just finally fooled medical schools into believing me.
Now, you may wonder why I am blogging about this today. I wanted to share my doubts and uncertainties with you all because I know that they are doubts and uncertainties that you may face some day. As pre-med students, you focus on the goal of getting into medical school. You tell everyone that you're going to medical school and you're going to become a doctor. No one ever tells you what you should do once you get in or how you should approach actually going to school.
Sidenote- I seem to be in this glorious middle-ground where I can tell everyone that I have been accepted to medical school and they are instantly impressed, but I haven't actually done any work yet. I like to tell people that medical school is great so far!
That said, as I continue to blog, I hope to chat with all of you about what going to medical school is actually like. From the MCAT, to admissions, to first year and beyond, I want you to feel free to ask me questions! So, in you are curious about something, leave your questions in the comments section. What do you want to know about life 53 days before medical school orientation?
Happy studying! more
April 25, 2013

Something Is Better Than Nothing

It’s one of those days. I am exhausted. My body hurts because I’m so tired. My brain is full. I can’t concentrate and my to-do list is decidedly too long to even contemplate.

With the full schedule of a pre-med student (taking classes, volunteering, studying for the MCAT , working, shadowing and applying to medical school), I have a lot of experience “powering through” and “playing through the pain.” I have made it through the toughness of finals week with mono and the absurdity of finishing a half marathon on a broken foot.  But, there are just some days where even the smallest challenges seem insurmountable.

This may be the reality for a lot of you, intrepid MCAT students. There are just some rough days. I know that we already have blog entries about sleep, motivation and taking breaks, but today I want to focus on a slightly different aspect of studying.

What do you do on those days when you’re straight up exhausted and you have two hours of MCAT studying built into your schedule? A month ago when you created the schedule, those two hours seemed easy- a piece of cake- you thought. Now they seem like torture. You can’t imagine having the wherewithal to complete a topical test or focusing long enough to read a chapter of Review Notes material. So, what do you do?

Well, here’s the deal. Instead of throwing up your hands and giving up on studying for the day, do something small. Do fifteen minutes of flashcards or review some equations. Spend 20 minutes on Kaplan's Free Test Workout. Work on subjects which are comfortable or friendly. It’s okay to spend half an hour focused on your strengths or forty-five minutes getting faster at completing questions within your comfort zone. I know that as high-achievers, MCAT students think that not using every second to tackle their weakness or the most difficult material is synonymous with failure. However, on THOSE days, any little bit of productive studying you can accomplish is great. Something is better than nothing. more

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