The Study Strategy I Used To Get My Best Med School Grade (so far)

GUYS. I just did so well on my anatomy and histology assessment!!! This was definitely needed after the last anatomy written exam did not go as planned. I was excited to see how my assessment would go because this block I have been implementing a new study strategy.

A little side note: our semester is divided into blocks. Last block was musculoskeletal and this block is thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic cavities! The practical portion of the exams is not cumulative whereas the written portion is. So a new block = (sort of) a new beginning!

I got the idea from >> Dr. Andrea Tooley << who has been sharing tips her whole journey through medicine (she is now at Mayo for ophthalmology residency!). The video that inspired me is below:

I loved the question sheet idea! I tried it out and realized it just took too long for me. So I modified it a little bit. Instead of hand writing questions and answers, I do Quizlet! It’s much faster for me to type than hand write and I still learn while typing. Sometimes I even talk out loud while I type to make sure I am focused on the notes.

Then, when reviewing the flashcards I made, I would view them with both the “term”and definition” visible. I would read these out loud one pass and then would quiz myself with only the “term” showing the next round. I found this way super helpful! Information stuck easier and I even predicted a question that was on the assessment! 🙂

If you try this method, I’d love to know what you think! Or if you have any other study tips, please share!

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Undergrad Timeline for Applying to Medical School

Applying to medical school is a very lengthy process. So here to help is a timeline of things to do during your undergraduate career so that you are on top of the application when it comes time to submit.

Freshman year:

  • start taking prereqs
    • prerequisite classes generally include:
      • one year biology
      • one year general chemistry
      • one year organic chemistry
      • one year physics
      • one year English
      • one semester of biochemistry
    • to see the exact prereqs for each school, check out >> MSAR << from AAMC
  • join a few clubs you are interested in
    • these can be non-medically related
  • start volunteering early on
    • I would recommend getting early exposure to the hospital setting
  • shadow multiple professions in the medical field
    • this helps you see the options you have besides medical school

Sophomore year:

  • finish up prereqs
  • continue shadowing, volunteering, etc.
  • maybe take on a leadership position in a club or become a TA/mentor
    • leadership roles are great experiences
  • start research
    • again, this does not have to be medically related
    • keep an eye out for emails from your college, talk to professors asking if they need help in a lab, or email doctors at your school sharing your interest for starting research

Junior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
  • study for MCAT
    • I recommend taking a Kaplan/Princeton Review course
    • I bought mine in May of sophomore year and saved $500
  • take MCAT
    • I took mine in January after a fall Kaplan course
  • prepare personal statement
    • this is your big essay on why medicine, why a doctor!
    • try to make it unique – we know that everyone who becomes a doctor wants to help people… let the admissions committee learn more about you.
  • ask for letters of recommendation
    • if they were your teacher, make sure you got an A in that course!
    • ask my email if you don’t see them too often, ask in person if you see them all the time
    • ask for a positive letter of recommendation
    • have a CV/resume prepared to send to them, usually they ask for one
    • give 4-6 weeks for these letters
    • send thank you notes afterwards!
  • request transcripts
  • submit application first day AMCAS opens
    • it is a rolling admissions – meaning the sooner you get it in, the better chance you have!

Summer between Junior and Senior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
  • pre-write secondary essays
    • sometimes a quick google search can provide past secondary essays! 
  • submit secondary essays very soon after you receive them
    • but remember, you want your essays to be clear and coherent… so don’t rush your editing

Senior year:

  • continue volunteering, shadowing, research, etc.
    • this is important if you end up not getting in this cycle
  • interview time!
    • dress appropriately, be on time, review common interview questions, ask questions!
  • have fun! it is your senior year of college after all 🙂
  • May: make a decision if you are accepted to multiple medical schools

Summer after graduation:

  • do nothing
    • this is the last time in your life that will be able to do this – so relax and enjoy 🙂

 

All these steps might seem daunting. Just remember to take each day at a time, talk to professors, advisors, and mentors for help, and have fun! College is such a great experience and will help you grow in so many ways.

If you have any personal questions, comment below!!

 

You Don’t Get In. Now What?

You got good grades during undergrad. You were involved, volunteered, did research. You studied for and took the MCAT. You spent way too much money on med school applications. You interviewed. You got waitlisted. But that is as far as you got in this crazy process called “getting into medical school”. Now what?

If you are like me, and can’t see yourself doing anything else, you try again. But when? How? What do you change? Here are some tips for reapplicants so that you get an acceptance the next time.

  • During the year that you are interviewing, make sure to continue improving your application. I would recommend to continue shadowing, volunteering, and definitely continue getting good grades. If you don’t get accepted (which is probably why you are reading this), gaps in your resume will not look that great.
  • If you do not have an acceptance by May 1st, take some time to really look at your application. Take some time looking at your MCAT score, the schools you applied to, and what you have done in that past year. It might seem like you are ready to go ahead and reapply that June – but take a second look. Many schools actually recommend taking an entire year off before reapplying. For example, if you originally submit in June of 2017 and don’t get in to start fall of 2018, reapply in June of 2019. In that time, focus on your resume, building new relationships that could potentially serve as a letter of recommendation, and build up those healthcare experiences.
    • Personally, I found that I was too impatient to wait a year to apply. I submitted my first set of applications June 2014 and then my second set June 2015. I believe my decision to not wait a year did end up costing me. Some of the schools that I had interviewed the first cycle didn’t invite me the second cycle, I think due to the quick turn around of my back to back applications. I believe I should have taken a harder and more honest look at my application. In the end, starting med school 1 or 2 years later is not the end of the world.
  • Change your application. Admissions do not like seeing the same essay and activity descriptions. Like my first point stated, you should have new activities to add to your application that you completed during that year of interviews. Of course, some of the big ones will relatively stay the same – but I would recommend rewriting everything. 100% change your personal statement.
  • Have more people edit and read your essay. New perspectives may be able to point out something that didn’t come out clear like you had imagined.
  • Submit day 1. We all know about the rolling admissions. Help yourself out by applying early.
  • Pre-write secondary essays. I hated these essays. I found that I was so burnt out when it came to the last few I had to do. It turns out that a lot of schools will reuse essays so a simple google or studentdoctor.net search can help you find essay prompts ahead of time.
  • Continue working on your resume during the summer and fall months so that you can send in updates! I sent in updates to all my schools. I sent one in December and one in March. I made sure that each update had something substantial on it that would actually affect my application. It might come across as annoying if you send in an update every month with not so important information.
  • Talk to family and friends to help keep you sane during this terrible, terrible process. You will not feel so great when you see other people get interviews and you are still waiting for one. But know that you are not alone – there are a lot of people with similar experiences. Having someone to talk to will help keep your spirits high because in the end, getting into medical school does involve a lot of luck.

If you have any personal questions – comment below!

-Madison