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Post by Dreamcatcher » Thu May 16, 2019 4:43 pm

Hey guys,

Nontraditional app here...late 30s. I'm applying to med school for the second time. Took the mcat for the first time last year with little knowledge of the application process and mcat testing (despite taking review course with different companies). Needless to say, it devoured me (lowest score ever).
I work fulltime in a stressful field but I'm trying my best to study when I can...because i need to do well like how I need oxygen. I just completed a chem and physics course but I'm learning that it's still completely different from mcat prep.

So if anyone has any advice/strategies that can help it is both appreciated and welcomed! I test in 1 month.

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Post by NS_Tutor_Will » Sun May 19, 2019 8:16 am

Thanks for posting! Hopefully some other people will chime in with their thoughts and experiences, but I also wanted to say there are a few posts on the forum focusing on nontraditional students. If you search "nontraditional" you should find a few of them. There is a wealth of advice here, as well, so definitely poke around and see what you find!

Good luck!
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Post by NS_Tutor_Mathias » Mon May 20, 2019 12:46 am

Hey there!

I'm usually a little bit hesitant to answer these kinds of threads because, in my experience, advice given with however little blindly prescriptive intent stills end up being applied as such, sometimes in conflict with the inquirer's true needs.

The only thing I know for certain about preparing is this: Preparing for the MCAT is essentially a training regimen, and like all training it works best when it is tailored to you and relies heavily on periods of rest. That said, training and practice of any kind are all about consolidation, realistic intermediate goals, incremental improvements and separate phases of skill-acquiring, skill-honing and ultimately also test-taking, the part where you refine everything you learned to do into a process optimized for the way you will be tested. The most common flaw I see in highly driven people is the temptation to do it all at once, right now: Cram content, practice hard, take an FL on week 1, have a nervous breakdown by week 3. This is not conducive to anything, and turns your strength, your drive, into a major weakness. Seven hours of focused sitting in which you read every last little detail carefully is just not a thing you do well without building up to it.

As such, maybe make a list for yourself:
  • What am I willing to sacrifice work wise? From time off, part time or quitting - up to you.
  • How much maintenance do my social relationships need, or which ones am I willing to put on ice?
  • How do my finances look? What am I willing to risk?
  • Where will I be studying for minimal anxiety? Do I have multiple places? Preferably a place that allows napping!
  • How will I de-stress? Stay physically fit? Avoid general major depression or burnout triggers!
  • How much error do I allow for? As a rule of thumb, at least 25% of things planned go wrong. Account for this in your planning.
  • In contrast to under-maintained relationships, what social support am I planning for? (Someone to study with can also be an excellent form of social support, for some people)
So if I was going to give that one prescriptive piece of advice that I'm trying hard to not give blindly: Avoid the temptation to work as hard as possible to prepare, and instead make a cohesive, holistic plan as good as you can afford (the unfortunate reality being economic constraints drive everything around us). Driving yourself harder doesn't make you learn better, it just makes you stay up longer and listen to the Mulan soundtrack more - and ultimately stress and over-reaching lead to mistakes, burnout, self-loathing and terribly low self-esteem. Considering that you are here, you asked for advice on how to approach a problem you didn't feel you really tackled well last time and you are doing all this well in advance - you're probably mentally well-equipped to excel on the MCAT. Now you just have to give yourself enough room to do so.
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