Friday, May 29, 2009

The MCAT Experience

So if you want to know what it feels like to have your brain contents scooped out and then slicked out with a spatula, take the MCAT. I highly recommend it! It is an interesting experience. Oh and practice tests don't count you have to take the real thing and muster up the energy to care how it goes even if you are doing it just to experience this feeling.

I took a total of 7-8 practice tests before the real one. But I am not a stressed test taker and in fact, I can find myself enjoying a good standardized test (yes there IS something wrong with me as if you needed more proof). It doesn't mean I do well all the time, it just means they don't mess with my head too much. So the practice tests were sort of a 5 hour cake walk. I was just bummed that I had to sit for 5 hours but once I got into them they were kind of interesting. Although they were hard I just did my best and let it go.

Somehow my brain yesterday KNEW it was a real test versus a practice test and I exhausted every last neuron on that thing. Five hours of 100% neuron flushing is quite the experience. Ten minute breaks between sections flew like 2 minutes while I shoveled sandwiches, avocado, chips and vitamins into my mouth. Then I watered it all down with 10 oz of water (yes, I figured out how much water I could drink without having to pee during each section). I visited the echoing bathroom. Then ran up and down the hall to get my blood going, that was so stagnant it was threatening to coagulate in my veins. Every time, no matter what, my computer scolded me in no uncertain text for taking more than my allotted 10 minutes.

Oh, you haven't taken the MCAT? Well here's what you can expect.

In the physical sciences which is Physics and General Chemistry there are 52 questions 13 discrete and 39 based on 5-7 paragraph fragments of scientific articles and you have 70 minutes to finish these. This works out to 16 minutes/passage and you better understand all that scientific garble since they will ask you about the minutia of it and 13 minutes for the discrete questions. Oh and you don't get a calculator so you better figure out how to do square roots in your noggin or if you're me, on your fingers and toes and be snappy about it.

Then you move on to sixty minutes of verbal where they go out of their way to find articles with the greatest mismash of big words all shoved into a 7 sentence paragraphs. But they cut off the beginning and end so its like reading 7 paragraphs out of the middle of an article and then answering questions, like infer what the author meant by this whole article half of which you didn't read. Or if the author makes this assumption about the economy and we make this other assumption about it how could it be applied to horses and cows (You think I'm joking? I had one like that yesterday really!) Not all of them are that bad but there are always some.

Next, are two essays on a surprise topic of their choice. Questions like, "In times of war, maintaining public support is often the most difficult battle," (this is one of the real questions taken off the MCAT test website... they give out examples). Now write for 30 minutes on when this is true, when this is not true and bring it together. This was my hour break. I love writing and can write LOTS about nothing. Can you tell?

Then it is the biological sciences section. I struggled the most with this section on practice tests and I don't know why. Biology and Organic Chem are my two favorite subjects and that is what it covers. It is similar to the physical sciences 70 minutes 52 questions 13 discrete and 7 passages with various numbers of questions attached. The passages tended to be more interesting to me and perhaps that is why I struggled... I actually read them, for fun. Things like x genetic disorder affected family g and h but their phenotype was different and here are the physiological affects this disorder has. Now answer obscure questions about them. Or this enzyme is cleaved through hydrolysis and then NaCl is added and it turns orange then we... ok I'll spare you... this would be organic. Please in less than a minute tell me what the intermediate molecule is. Why did it make this intermediate molecule etc etc... With a little more time these could be fun but I was constantly running behind. :D My triage efforts sort of died somewhere early on and got worse as the day worn on. hmmm I didn't even think of that. It doesn't bode well for my score. Oh well...

Anyway, we went out to eat after wards to celebrate it being done and because we were over an hour away from home and were hungry. I often just checked out in the middle of conversation staring through some customer with my mouth hanging slightly ajar. No, I am not exaggerating. Charles would have to almost shake me to bring me back from whatever empty corner of my brain I had gotten lost in. The waiter asked simple questions like, "do you want water." And I replied brightly, "no, I'm cold." It made sense to me... Fortunately a little food helped and I was able to drive home but once I sat down on the couch there was no standing up again. :D

I have highlighted the hard parts of the test for your reading enjoyment. It isn't too bad, time is the thing that makes it hard. I have taken the GRE and SAT and ACT and PSAT but this one is king of all. With that being said, a little practice and of course taking the prerequisite classes most people could do it. Just takes a little work.

Enjoy your day. I am!


Joelle said...

Talk about traumatic!!!! Hugest congrats for taking and finishing the REAL thing. Never in my life. I'll take your word for it that it's thrilling and fulfilling and life-changing and any other -ing words you want to tack on there. Love your writing, Heather-dear! So if you don't pass the MCAT, you could always write for a living. You'd at least have one fan (who would have to get a real job before she could afford to buy your books). Love ya!

Heather & Charles said...

Thank you Joelle. Hopefully someday I will get to write on the side. I can express what's going on better in writing than in talking and it has always been an outlet for me by journaling.

Of course I cannot let this time go by without saying that you write gorgeous poetry and that says so much in so little space. Perfectly delectable! You have the gift of picking just the right word for the moment. So I am a fan girl of yours as well. :) Perhaps you will be the next Emily Dickenson! :)