I am finally done with my MCATs and to my utter surprise I scored quite well in the famous DOW/SMC test which was held on 22 November. I wasn’t expecting much and was prepared to go for private; already had paid at a certain private university, hence, I am flying among the clouds at the moment. After six months of perpetual stress, the relief is overwhelming and reality seems finally so much better than my dreams. Apart from that, the sudden change in my schedule from having my head constantly buried in books to having absolutely nothing to do (I partied my heart out before the tests), I’ve been utterly bored.
So obviously, I decided to write a post for prospective med students of 2016. I didn’t have a mentor; most of my seniors had forgotten about a lot of stuff from their preparation and this led to a lot of confusion and false hopes. Hence, I am writing this post down, fresh after doing the test and the struggle of application process so that I can pass most of the authentic information before time weakens my memory too! Without further ado:
- Get your documents sorted out!
While the private universities do not demand a lot of government based documents, like your father’s domicile or PRC, the government universities do. So in the summer break of 2016 or in August 2016, get everything together from your domicile, PRC, father’s domicile and PRC and all your equivalences (this applies to the Cambridge students only).
My father had his domicile but not PRC and we got to know this only a couple of weeks before the submission of Dow applications, so you can imagine how stressed I was.
Other than that, the domicile office refused to issue me my PRC initially for simply no reason at all, saying that PRC isn’t necessary or shit like that. I got an extremely nasty surprise while submitting my papers at KMDC.
And my initial O’ Level Equivalence got lost by the IBCC so yeah; my mornings of September and October were basically spent in running around Karachi.
2. Decide a particular MCAT preparation institute
There are two leading institutes currently; Doctor’s Inn and Anees Hussain. Both are quite good but I chose Doctor’s Inn as par my seniors’ recommendations.
Now get this clear in your head; joining any tuition centre does not mean that you’ll ace the test. They do not have you covered. You can attend the classes seven days a week for 5 hours and it won’t mean anything. This is because they end up wasting a lot of your time. There will be 30-45 minutes prayer break or it might take 30 minutes for a teacher to come and even then, the teacher might be going through a topic you know perfectly well.
For me, as a Cambridge student, everything was gibberish initially. There were 5 students from A’ Levels to intermediate’s 35 students so obviously, the teacher used to skip stuff or teach briefly about certain topics like Skeletal System as the inter students knew it by heart.
The only good thing was that it gave me a certain amount of exposure and it was a bit easy to study intermediate books afterwards.
3. Deconstruct the text.
I am a visual learner. Unlike most of my friends, I need to make pointers from extremely verbose text in order to memorize the intensive intermediate vocabulary. It took me 1.5 months to deconstruct everything but it was worth it. I don’t have the patience to resort to the book for every single thing. Weaving through pages and pages of extremely dry and grammatically incorrect book would’ve killed me.
Hence, the colored notes and having a different theme for almost every page or topic kept my interest up. Remember, dedication is the key and you have ample time on your hands to actually enjoy what you’re studying.
4. Use multiple highlighters
I cannot emphasize on this enough. I am against coloring my whole book because that becomes overwhelming. Initially I borrowed a friend’s highlighted books and colored mine in the same way. Later when I started studying the text myself, I used a different highlighter to mark new stuff which I didn’t understand. And even later, that is after Bahria’s test, I chose to mark important points which I had missed earlier with a new highlighter altogether. The colors served as a reminder and kept me in check with my progress.
5. Watch videos
This should’ve been point no. 3 because to understand the utterly boring text, I used to watch lectures regarding that particular topic. Following sites helped me a lot.
b. KhanAcademyMedicine (Discovered this in the last couple of days before the test and it came handy for the Growth & Development Chapter.)
6. Keep everything at hand’s reach
Apart from all the mentioned above boring things, I made use of a small notebook of mine and noted down formulae for physics and other main ratta based stuff like tables, chemical formulae, angles and lengths and etcetera. The small size of notebook meant I could carry it with myself everywhere and just randomly study the main points no matter what the time was.
7. Overwhelming amount of paper is stressful
I am the sort of person who gets easily distressed on using up too much paper. While a lot of students encourage flashcards, I see utter wastage of paper. Hence, I adopted the following mode of memorizing difficult shit. It didn’t overwhelm me and kept all the information in one place.
8. Study Apps are the bomb
I am a champion at procrastinating. I keep checking Instagram or other social media websites for cool stuff. Then I end up spending hours reading novels because YOLO (is that even a thing anymore?!).
Study Apps kept me in check.
Any.Do (iPhone/Android) allowed me to plan out my agenda for a whole month or a couple of weeks depending how far each test was.
TimeSpread (iPhone/Android) organized my daily aims and also served as motivation because one just feels bound to go by the timetable that one was so optimistic about earlier in the morning.
QuizLet (iPhone/Android) is one of the best study apps around which lets you make flash cards without wasting paper (Haha) or you could use just somebody else’s stuff.
On the desktop version, it also supports multiple tests which help a lot in quick memorizing and keeps check of your performance.
9. Do a little bit everyday
My teachers have always chanted the horrifying mantra, ‘now is the time to study 8-9 hours!’ This has never worked on me. I tried it for my A’ Levels and even now for MCAT. No matter how guilty I felt, at night, for giving only 4-5 hours every day, I just couldn’t bring it to increase my study period the next day.
The method I adopted was to revise my previous day’s/week’s work every now and then so it would be on my finger tips. Apart from that, I solved a paper every morning because it constantly reminded me where I lagged. I also made diagrams of experiments so I could remember them easily.
Keep reminding yourself that even if you’re making a minute progress, it still plays a momentous role in pushing you towards your goal. Stressing yourself to study almost never works!