Common Misconceptions about the MCAT and a New Tool from EK

Session 311

Examkrackers’ Janis Stott joins me to talk about the common misconceptions she sees from students about the MCAT. We also talk about EKs new MCAT Hotline. Janis has been in the MCAT game for a decade now. And she’s bringing her experience talking to premed students everyday about the MCAT and their struggles.

As well, we’re going to talk about the misconceptions students have with the MCAT and MCAT prep, including a new service they’re offering. This is a very great service especially for those who need a bit of extra tutoring. You can call them four nights a week for two hours at a low fee.

[03:45] A Bit About Janis’ Background

Janis Stott has over ten years of experience with Examkrackers and is now the National Program Director. They’re an MCAT prep company that helps students with their MCAT. Janis used to be a musical theater major in college. Her dream was to be on Broadway but back in the real world, she worked with another corporate company for a while until she found Examkrackers. She helped manage concerns and issues of students. Basically, she has learned the ins and outs of being a premed student.

[08:00] The Most Common Misconceptions About the MCAT

Students think they need to prep or they feel as though the material they’ve gotten through their college education has already prepped them for the exam. Yes, you’ve had an excellent education. But for this test, you’re going to get hit pretty hard by the MCAT pretty fast.

Not actually getting yourself familiarized with the actual exam itself and what this crazy critical thinking exam is all about and how to approach it – it’s such a misconception to feel like you don’t need to do anything, and that you just jump in and take it to see how you can do.

Sure, you can take the MCAT multiple times, but why would you even put yourself through that in the first place? The worst case scenario is you’ve wasted a little bit of money because you voided it. But the worst part about voiding a score is that you never know how you did it. It’s just that infinite question mark of was it okay or wasn’t okay. You’ll never know because they’re not going to tell you. You’ve voided out your score.

[11:22] Misconception #1: It’s Just Another Test (Or Is It?)

Janis says people are naive about what the exam is actually going to ask from them. It’s not their fault. As students, we’re put through standardized testing since our 3rd or 4th grade. So we’re sick of this already. We follow this testing all the way up through college and you’re rewarded for trying to predict what the questions are going to be. So we follow this certain pattern and it just continues.

Because of this, sometimes students feel they’re going to be a good test-taker and because of that, they know they’ll be fine. But with MCAT, you’re not going to be fine. It’s not about speed reading, it’s not about reading for keywords. It’s about reading for content and reading for the main idea, what this person is trying to tell you in a very interdisciplinary approach which can be extremely confusing for students who a lot of times like to stay in one lane.

It’s learning those skills of the interdisciplinary science. Together, the overall critical thinking side of the exam and basic reading comprehension, which unfortunately a lot of students have sometimes lost by the time they hit the time to take the MCAT.

[14:00] Do You Need to Prep with a Prep Company?

Janis’ job at Examkrackers is working with students all day long and not everybody works with Examkrackers which is fine. But making sure that students understand what it is they’re up against or how to best get through the exam and come out with the score they’re looking for is really how Janis would do her job. Ultimately, she wants you to get the best score you’re trying to achieve. Regardless of whether you become an Examkrackers student or not, you definitely have to prep for the exam.

To say the least, get your hands on some prep materials at your advisor’s office. Do your research on the AAMC website. Grab a couple of practice exams. That’s baseline. That’s without even really getting into actually prepping. Do your research. Figure out how you want to tackle this exam and then set aside some good solid time to prep for it.

[15:52] Practice Exams Are HUGE!

Although there may not be an AAMC data that shows this, Janis knows there’s a huge percentage of students who never take the full-length exam because they’ve talked to a lot of them after they come with a bad score. That being said, Janis points out that shouldn’t even be a thought.

You really have to practice how it feels like to sit there for long hours – when is your butt going to start to hurt, when are you going to get hungry, when are you going to have to go to the bathroom. All of these nuances are things that can psychologically distract you. You have to realize that all of that is going to come at you in some way, shape, or form, that could be three, four, five, six points off your score, just from psychological misunderstanding.

This is just one side of things. The other side is you have to practice the exam for the comfort of the way the questions are going to be put in front of you.

With Examkrackers, the way they put their books together and the way they deliver materials to students, whether you’re in a class or studying on your own is all about practice. They do five full-length practice exams for their course. You do it once at the very beginning. Then they do one every two weeks. You get to the second one, and students don’t want to take it inevitably. They want to hoard it even the third one until the fourth. And so Examkrackers had to push them if they don’t take it. You may not score the way you want to in your practice tests but it’s the constant study that will get you to the score that you’re looking for.

Students commonly think they still have content to learn so why take the practice test? But understand that the actual art and practice of taking the exam. You need to understand how questions are going to be presented to you and determine which of the three choices would be the best. The practice of the actual exam itself is not equal to the concept, but it’s a big part. You have to learn the critical side of the exams.

[20:38] Misconception #2: Timeline

You don’t want to feel like you have to take it when everyone else is taking it. If you’re not ready by the Spring of your Junior year of if you happen to have a really heavy semester when you don’t have the time to devote to doing your courses as well as doing your prep, then don’t take the exam. You need to make sure you’re taking this exam when you’re ready to take it.

This can be disheartening for some. But a gap year is not the end of the world. It’s a year. It’s a little bit of time to breathe, to do something for yourself before you get back into school, which you’re going to be in for a long time when you do wind up in medical school. So it’s definitely something you want to make sure you’re taking when you’re ready.

Again, there’s no reason to have more than one score when you go in for the application. You can, but there’s no reason for it. And you want to make sure you’re taking it when you’re ready to take it and if that means you need an extra semester to get it done then do so. Everything’s going to be okay. The world will keep turning and the medical school will still be there.

Additionally, there’s that balance of being able to still take it this year when you’re ready and apply or should you wait to push your application forward until next year. And all that comes down to making sure you’re looking at your own personal timeline in advance. So you have to have a realistic outlook on when everything is going to get done and that includes when you are going to have the time to put in for prepping for the exam. Quality over quantity is also very important to understand when it comes to study time.

[25:33] When is the Time to Register

Early planning is very important. Make sure you set aside a certain time to help you schedule your time. You have to pay close attention to your course load, planning, and getting everything in line if you want to follow that guide to make sure all your ducks are in a row.

If a hiccup happens along the way because life is full of hiccups and we all get them… just take a deep breath. Talk to your advisor or contact Examkrackers. If that means delaying you then just follow your guideline one year later instead of the year you’re in. It’s just a year!

[29:45] Misconception #3: It’s All the Same!

Prep materials and companies are not all the same. It’s the job of the student to really determine who it is you’re going to work with. Make sure the way the material is being presented to you or you’re processing through it works for you as a student.

Getting your hands on the material and being able to connect with them, it’s where you’re getting your score from in the long run. It doesn’t matter which branch of tree you’re on, it all comes back to that material. And you have to connect with the way they approach the MCAT.

Janis advises against creating your own MCAT library as this can be too overwhelming. Again, do your research. Go to premed fairs. Talk to companies out there. Particularly, check out Examkracker’s free MCAT consultation and they’ll give you a call for a 15-minute chat to see if it’s a good fit or not. Their company is not looking to sell but to see if you’re a good fit. Moreover, talk to your advisors. Some of them have MCAT study books and try to get your hands on the material to check them out. You will see the differences between different materials.

What Examkrackers sets them apart, as Janis points it out is that their goal is to make sure you’re obviously getting the MCAT score you want. They try to make it as engaging as they can along with a dynamic teaching style. We’re not going to ask you to go back and learn your entire undergraduate education, it’s not necessary and you don’t have time to do it anyway.

Always keep in mind this something you’re going to be looking at over and over again for a long period of time. You want it to be something you’re going to at least be interested in looking at.

[37:06] Examkrackers Hotline

Examkrackers offers the Examkrackers Hotline, which offers online office hours with their instructors. If you’re studying, whether you’re doing self-study or not, the hotline is a nightly bookable session with their instructors. It’s open from Mondays through Thursdays from 9-11 EST. Go in and book your evening, and get open access to one of their instructors in their online classroom. If there are multiple students in the classroom in the same evening, then the instructors can go round-robin with everybody. They’d answer the question and you go to the back of the queue and you can sit and listen to everybody else’s question if you want to. Learn from other people or if you want to ignore them then you can do so until it’s your turn again. But it’s open access to their top instructors for content, clarity, and clarifications.

Especially if you’re a self-study student, you can just book one night and then ask all the questions you want for two hours. It’s a phenomenal resource! You can book one night at a time or you may also use it for three or four multiple nights over the course of a week, two weeks, or six months. Book the night as you go for only $35 a night!

Note: Their instructors are approved to answer any of their practice exams, their materials, and any of the AAMC materials. However, they cannot answer for other text prep companies’ materials.

You also need to book one day in advance. A lot of students, too, don’t stay for the full two hours. It has a screen interface and the instructor is able to draw and pull up screens to show examples.

[43:35] Last Words of Advice

Janis encourages students saying that you can do it! It can be terrifying and disheartening but don’t let those emotions or feelings eat you up! This is exam is totally doable. You can do this! It just takes the right tools and the right understanding and the right prep and you will be in the spot you want to be in. The MCAT is not out there to keep you out of medical school.

Examkrackers is here for you! Again, take advantage of their 15-minute free consultation to help you figure out what’s going on. They boast of offering engaging material that ultimately connects with students and doesn’t overwhelm them, and ensures they are ready for the MCAT. Browse through their wide selection of materials. As Janis puts it simply, “You name it, we do it!”

For the first 30 students, use the promo code EKMSHQ and save $10. So you only have to pay $25 for the hotline.

Links:

Examkrackers

Examkrackers Hotline

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