Ah, spring break. I desperately wish I could head south like a (stereo)typical undergrad and go nuts for a week. For some reason, this semester is turning out to be a lot harder than the last one. I wish I had more time to study during the week, but I’m not sure what that would get me; there seems to be a point beyond which my brain just shuts down for the day and refuses to work the way it should. I’d be fine with that if I could get everything done before that happens, but I can’t. As a result, I end up working until some very odd hours at a glacial pace, just to minimize the amount I fall behind.

So spring break gives me a chance to catch up and try to regain some control over the semester. I’ve got about a chapter and a half of physics and orgo to cover. The orgo exam next Monday gives me plenty of incentive to review everything we’ve covered so far, after which I’ll have four days to prepare for physics. Not too bad, except that I need to find the time to prepare for the MCAT.

Oh yeah, the MCAT…I don’t know what to think about it. Test day (4/16) is coming up, and I can’t say that I feel prepared at all. I feel reasonably secure in my physical sciences and verbal reasoning, and the writing sample should go pretty smoothly. That leaves biology. I’m really worried about bio. I feel like my first-semester bio class didn’t cover enough material for the test, and that it didn’t go into enough detail for some of the topics it did cover. That doesn’t help me very much with the questions that rely on outside knowledge. The passage-based questions are more doable, but I tend to get caught up in the passage or too excited/nervous to read my way clearly through it. I’ve read through passages just minutes after reviewing the related material, and I’m still getting a lot of questions wrong. I know this is just practice, but it’s disheartening. There are days when I’m just a step away from punching a hole through the nearest window.

I’m consoled, just a little bit, by the fact that this is all just practice. I still have enough time to reinforce the topics that give me problems. There’s also enough time for me to get accustomed to the passages and calm myself down enough to read them carefully. People also say that the bio section is getting more difficult every year, and that people who take advanced bio courses are at an advantage over the rest of us. While that won’t improve my score, perhaps I shouldn’t waste too much energy trying to ace it. Then again, my practice scores fall somewhere between dismal and marginal at the moment. The next few weeks ought to be very interesting, to be euphemistic.

Of course, test prep frustrations only combine with all of the other uncertainties and realities of the application process. I have no idea how much my undergrad record will affect my chances, and no one I ask can give me a positive or negative answer. Objectively, I obviously know that a higher undergrad GPA would be better. But how much worse is it that I have a subpar GPA from nearly six years ago? Will it matter at all? Will it absolutely preclude me from consideration at some schools? Even though I can’t do anything about the past, I can control the future a little bit. There are some interesting degree programs at Georgetown and other places that would probably help my admissions chances, but even there there’s confusion. Would it make any difference for this year, when admissions officers would only know that I’m enrolled? I wouldn’t have any grades to report until the next application cycle. And if my chances were fine without the program, then why should I spend $30k for something that isn’t necessary for med school admission? If I really should do it, then should I hold off on applying until next year? There are so many permutations, and some of them are much more expensive — both in time and money — than others. As with everything else about this process, I vacillate between feeling determined to succeed and feeling paralyzed by the odds. School work tends to lift my spirits, while MCAT prep tends to drive them down. Planning out my admissions strategy pushes me in either direction, or sometimes both.

…So anyway, I obviously have a lot on my plate this week. Aside from all the school work and test prep, I should begin to gather my other application materials. I also need to work on a personal statement, and it would be a good idea to line up some more faculty recommendations. Besides all of that, there are some things around the house that could use a little work. And with spring coming up, that list won’t be getting shorter.

Ah, spring break.

No Comments so far
Leave a comment



Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)