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View Full Version : Anybody here take the MCAT? PCAT??



Screwball
07-10-2011, 06:34 PM
I know we have a few lawyers on the board, but I'm not so sure about professionals in the health care industry.

I'll be taking both the MCAT and the PCAT within the next couple months (MCAT August 6th, PCAT Sept. 14), and I was wondering if anybody could give me a heads up or perhaps some words of advice for either. I've gone through a few practice tests recently, so I'm starting to get a good idea of what to expect on each, but it'd be best to hear what the experience is like from the horse's mouth -- assuming of course somebody here has taken the test.

Additionally, I'd like to hear from anybody that's taken (and scored well on) an admissions test for any other grad school as well (LSAT, GRE, etc.). This could include any tricks to keep in mind on multiple choice, advice for reading comprehension passages, methods for staying relaxed, etc. I know I've learned one thing for certain from the practice tests: sometimes the hardest part isn't figuring out the answer, it's figuring out what in the heck they're asking you. :help:

MilotheMayor
07-10-2011, 06:39 PM
I'm taking the GRE in two weeks. I should probably start looking over material. oops

Honestly I'm more worried abut the Chemistry GRE subject test in October.

WMR
07-10-2011, 07:30 PM
Your first inclination on a question always stands the greatest chance of being correct. Don't allow yourself to "talk yourself out of" an answer, because it is easy to fall into that trap.

Practice tests are your best friend. I would also take Kaplan Study Course if you can afford it. I'm assuming they have an MCAT program...

Screwball
07-10-2011, 08:45 PM
I would also take Kaplan Study Course if you can afford it. I'm assuming they have an MCAT program...

They do, and that's a good idea, but it's well out of my price range. Not to mention I wouldn't have time at this point -- test is in a little less than a month.

I do, however, have a Kaplan Study Guide (along with Examkrackers), so I feel I've got all the material available to me that I'll need. I'm just kinda looking for test-taking strategies at this point (along with an idea of what the actual test(s) is like), much like the one you mentioned above.

WMR
07-10-2011, 09:06 PM
As to the pressure of the test... try to remember to take a deep breath every now and then. Just in and out and turn the page to the next part of the test. Deep, relaxed breathing will help you stay focused and calm.

How does the MCAT work? Can you take it again and wipe away your score or are they averaged together if you take it more than once?

paintmered
07-10-2011, 09:07 PM
How does the MCAT work? Can you take it again and wipe away your score or are they averaged together if you take it more than once?

You can take it again, but it doesn't look good to do so since both scores get reported.

WMR
07-10-2011, 09:09 PM
OK, yea, with the LSAT they average them together and that is your reported score if the test is taken multiple times.

Screwball
07-10-2011, 09:18 PM
Yeah, from what I understand it's best to re-take it only if you have an excellent reason to (e.g., you took the first one after suffering 17 stab wounds in the back). Otherwise, schools generally frown upon multiple test attempts even if you knock the second one out of the park (or, at least, that's what I've heard). Same goes for the PCAT as well.

KYRedsFan
07-16-2011, 09:13 PM
Ahhh, the MCAT. If you have the Kaplan book you pretty much have everything you need. Questions questions questions r the way to go. Some people need the course to study but if you're motivated to spend a couple hours a day or so, the course is a waste of money. Good luck. And answer the question and move on. Do not skip questions, do not go back. It only serves to stress you out, change correct answers to incorrect ones, and keep you in that damn exam longer than you need to be

Screwball
07-19-2011, 04:35 PM
Ahhh, the MCAT. If you have the Kaplan book you pretty much have everything you need. Questions questions questions r the way to go. Some people need the course to study but if you're motivated to spend a couple hours a day or so, the course is a waste of money.

Yeah, I've been doing a bunch of practice tests recently, with some areas going better than others, but my composite is generally the same for each test. Given that the practice tests are from the AAMC website, I'm fairly confident they accurately reflect the actual test.

Would you say your scores on the practice tests correlated with your actual score? Since this is a sample size of 1, I will use your answer as absolute conclusive evidence one way or the other... I just hope they don't test Statistics too thoroughly.

:thumbup:



Good luck.


Thanks boss.

PickOff
07-19-2011, 07:12 PM
I don't have experience with the MCAT, but did well on the GMAT. I only used the Kaplan book, Kaplan computer practice tests, and the Powerprep book and computer practice tests.

For me the key was utilizing the strategies that Kaplan provided for each type of question. In the GMAT there were 6 different question types, 3 of which were verbal and 3 of which were math. I found having a specific strategy for each question type was very helpful. Use the strategies and do it diligently, it will help you focus and not get tricked or lost in a question.

Good luck!

Will M
07-19-2011, 07:52 PM
I took the MCAT in 1985 so my memory is a bit fuzzy & times may have changed. I recall lots of folks stressing out about it, buying study guides & taking practice tests. I was young and carefree, I just showed up and took the test. I really wasn't even sure what was going to be on it. I did well & if I recall my score was what got me acceptance to medical school.

In retrospect I had 1.5 years of calculus, 1 year of physics, 3 years of chemisry & 2 years of biology prior to taking the test. That helped a lot. However it seemed to me that the MCAT was just as much a test of general IQ as it was a test of the sciences required for medical school.

I would concur with the advice regarding test taking. relax. its just a test. its not life or death.

BoxingRed
07-19-2011, 10:35 PM
4th year pharmacy student here.
PCAT: The thing to remember about the PCAT is that your final score is relative to everyone else that took the test. So if you ace the math section and everyone else aces the math section, then your final score is not really improved.
So, let's think about the kind of people that are taking the PCAT with you. Probably 95% are math and science geeks that couldn't string 3 eloquent sentences together without plagiarizing. My point is everyone in there is going to do pretty well on the bio and chem sections of the test, but not too many are going to excel in the verbal section.
If you want a higher score, do better in areas where your competitors may not i.e. verbal and logic. And, you are in luck, the verbal section is a snap. Probably the equivalent of low to mid level SAT questions.
Take it from a guy with a history degree that scored a 98 on the PCAT: Don't get so wrapped up in the science that you ignore verbal.

Cursh14
07-29-2011, 05:01 AM
I start pharmacy school in the fall at UC. What I did for the PCAT was to study about 4 hours or so a day for a week leading up to the test. I went through and read all of the Kaplan lessons on the subjects and then took as many timed tests as possible. The main thing on the test comes down to speed. Try and force yourself to take the practice test in test-like conditions. I have always been very fast at taking exams and finished the math section on the practice test in half the time. However, on the real exam I had to fill in the last few answers without looking at the questions! I still scored a composite 90 on the test.

Also, keep in my mind that in my experience there are 3 major factors involved in getting in to pharmacy school. You can be deficient in one if you excel in another. A PCAT score in the 90s helps offset a low GPA and good extra curricular(s). Work experience doesn't hurt either. On the other side, let's say you aren't a great test taker, but you have always been a very good student. A high GPA can make up for a PCAT score in the 60s.

The MCAT is an entirely different beast. I HIGHLY recommend putting considerably more time into studying for it. The MCAT has more in-depth questions. The PCAT is taken, on average, by a student with 1.5 years of college. It is designed that way. O-Chem is likely the only thing that a Pre-pharm student won't be entirely familiar with. The MCAT is targeted at students in their Senior year of college. Don't take the MCAT as lightly as the PCAT. Also, if you are prepared for the MCAT then the PCAT should be a breeze.

Finally, don't stress out too much if your first scores aren't amazing. UC's average accepted PCAT score was like 68 a few years ago. Not sure of the stats of my incoming class. Just bolster your application as much as possible with strong work history and/or volunteering.

GOOD LUCK!

oneupper
07-29-2011, 11:29 AM
I took a dare from my daughter, who scored a 1410 on the GRE, to beat her score in a practice test.

I almost did. I scored a 1370 (620 verbal, 750 math). I'm 50, and out school for over 25 years, had no prior preparation and can't remember when I last took a standardized test.

This is irrelevant to your dilemma, but I'm kind of proud of myself. :D

To add something to the debate, I'd say time management is the key. I found myself a little short on time towards the end.

Screwball
07-31-2011, 01:52 AM
I start pharmacy school in the fall at UC. What I did for the PCAT was to study about 4 hours or so a day for a week leading up to the test. I went through and read all of the Kaplan lessons on the subjects and then took as many timed tests as possible. The main thing on the test comes down to speed. Try and force yourself to take the practice test in test-like conditions. I have always been very fast at taking exams and finished the math section on the practice test in half the time. However, on the real exam I had to fill in the last few answers without looking at the questions! I still scored a composite 90 on the test.

Also, keep in my mind that in my experience there are 3 major factors involved in getting in to pharmacy school. You can be deficient in one if you excel in another. A PCAT score in the 90s helps offset a low GPA and good extra curricular(s). Work experience doesn't hurt either. On the other side, let's say you aren't a great test taker, but you have always been a very good student. A high GPA can make up for a PCAT score in the 60s.


First off, congrats on being accepted to UC's College of Pharmacy. My cousin graduated from there in 2004, and through volunteering at a local hospital I've gotten to know a few pharmacists that have graduated from there as well. They've all had nothing but good things to say, and that's a big reason I'll be applying there later this year as well.

Secondly, again, congrats on the excellent PCAT score. A 90 while only studying the week before the exam is rather impressive. A couple girls in my Orgo class (who were fairly bright) had taken the PCAT, and didn't even sniff a 90 on any section, much less a composite 90.



The MCAT is an entirely different beast. I HIGHLY recommend putting considerably more time into studying for it. The MCAT has more in-depth questions. The PCAT is taken, on average, by a student with 1.5 years of college. It is designed that way. O-Chem is likely the only thing that a Pre-pharm student won't be entirely familiar with. The MCAT is targeted at students in their Senior year of college. Don't take the MCAT as lightly as the PCAT. Also, if you are prepared for the MCAT the PCAT should be a breeze.


Yep, that's actually the entire reason as to why I'm taking the MCAT. It's the same logic I use when I want to improve rapidly at sports. If you play soccer (or basketball, or football, whatever) against a bunch of really good players, when you go back to lesser competition it makes it seem that much easier. Not only is the MCAT much more in-depth, but it requires superior critical thinking and analytical skills. Amongst others, I think this will really pay off in the reading comprehension passages on the PCAT. I just did a practice section on the RC for the PCAT tonight, and the passages/questions were a cake walk compared to those on MCAT practice tests.

However, I guess I misspoke a little earlier as to my reasons for taking the MCAT. While it is mainly as preparation for the PCAT, I also plan on using it as a tool to help me decide my career path. You see, I've long wanted to get into medicine, but took a slight detour my first go-through of college (by slight detour, I mean driving 1/5 of the way of the country in the wrong direction). I told myself if I can score well enough on the MCAT (i.e., a 36 or above), I'd change course from pharmacy and pursue medicine. I didn't really think that score was attainable -- especially given the fact that I haven't come close to completing physics -- but on my last practice test I was able to notch a 35. I suppose we'll see how things go in about 6 days.



Finally, don't stress out too much if your first scores aren't amazing. UC's average accepted PCAT score was like 68 a few years ago. Not sure of the stats of my incoming class. Just bolster your application as much as possible with strong work history and/or volunteering.


Yeah, average PCAT for UC is right around a 70. Without trying to sound too arrogant, I plan on scoring well above that. IMO, anything less than a 90 will be a disappointment. Gotta make up for the meh GPA.



GOOD LUCK!

Thanks!


And oneupper, a 750 on GRE math is an awesome score. Add in the fact you went in cold, and that number is downright ridiculous. Sounds like your daughter is pretty smart herself, though using my MCAT deduction skills, I think I can figure out where she gets it from. ;)