Review of PreMD Tracker, a New App

Check out the App!This app is fantastic! It allows students who are planning on applying to medical school to actively track their progress for their activities, academics and letters of recommendation. It could be used to help students stay motivated during the lengthy process of preparation.

At the top of the main page, there are three small icons: “General Info, Tips & Links, and PreMD CV.” The first two icons will help you get started by teaching you how to use the app and explaining how the percentages are calculated for the three main categories: Activities, Academics and Letters. The third icon generates an email that will allow you to send an excel spreadsheet with all of the information that you have entered into the app.

If you click on the first large icon, “Activities,” from the main menu, you can choose from “Medical, Community, Research, or Additional” to list each experience as you complete it, under these four categories. For each activity you enter, you can include the experience name, hours completed, start and end dates, organization name, contact title, phone number and email address. There is even space to include a description of the activity. Writing the description as you are participating in the activity would be helpful rather than waiting to write all fifteen activity descriptions at the same time for the AMCAS application! Not only can you keep track of all of your activities, but there are also “Tips & Links” with more information about how to make sure that you have completed enough of the different types of activities that medical schools like to see. They have created a useful way to capture each activity and to provide percentages of how much time you spend in each area to determine if you have reached the recommended number of hours. Keeping your eye on the big picture perspective of the combination of activities that you are participating in can give you an edge in the application process.

Under “Academics,” you can track your BCPM GPA and MCAT scores, by entering in each class that you have completed or MCAT score that you have received. Under “Tips & Links,” they have included updates on the new MCAT and useful FAQ’s with general information about coursework and selecting a major.

For the last option on the main menu, “Letters,” this section includes a list of the types of letters required to help you cover your bases. It allows you to list the name of the letter writer and to check off each letter of recommendation after you receive it. You receive a percentage for the total number of letters you have.

For those students who may be struggling academically or unsure of applying to medical school with a low GPA or MCAT score, the app could include information on postbac programs or a way to track a postbac GPA in the future. I guess that element is for PreMed Tracker 2.0

However, today’s version of the app is easy to use and can simplify the process of applying to medical school.

Check out PreMD Tracker here.

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Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

A Non-Traditional Med School Applicant Gearing up For May

Download Ace the AMCAS Essay, a free special report that teaches you the who, what, why, and how of creating a winning AMCAS essay.This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the med school application process. And now, introducing our anonymous blogger, “A.”…

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergraduate? What is your favorite flavor ice cream?

A.: I have lived in California for almost my entire life. Though I have moved a few times, I have never left LA County and I actually attended UCLA as an undergraduate. I came into UCLA with a passion for working with children and an interest in Psychology, which led me to major in Psychobiology and minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. I worked my way through college and was involved in a few extracurriculars, my favorite being Campus Events where I helped put on advanced screenings of feature films.

My favorite flavor ice cream? That’s a tough one! I would have to say that during my time at UCLA, I converted from Rocky Road to Jamoca Almond Fudge – you just can’t beat that precious union of coffee and chocolate!

Accepted: What stage of the med school application process are you up to?

A.: Well, I recently took the MCAT and am currently preparing my list of schools. I am researching both MD and DO programs as well as a few post-bacc and special master’s programs and narrowing down my options. I am also beginning to draft up my personal statement and contact certain professors for letters of recommendation. So I guess I’m sort of just gearing up for when the application opens up on May 1st (which I just realized is less than a month away!).

Accepted: Would you describe yourself as a traditional or non-traditional med school applicant?

A.: A traditional medical school applicant is one who goes directly into medical school after undergraduate, right? So I guess I would describe myself as a non-traditional medical school applicant since I am taking at least two years off in between. And even more so because throughout my years in college, I entertained other career choices as well and was extremely close to pursuing a PhD in Developmental Psychology instead!

Accepted: What’s been the most challenging stage of this premed process so far? What steps have you taken to overcome that challenge?

A.: Oh, I would definitely say that my undergraduate years were the most challenging “stage” of the premed process thus far (yes, even more so than the MCAT!). You come into college being told to keep an open mind and therefore, I, personally, had a hard time coming to terms with what I really wanted.

Being a doctor was definitely up there as a career choice, but so was being a writer, a teacher, or a film industry professional.

I was so afraid of choosing a career path that I would later regret or be unhappy with, that although I took pre-med classes, I was hesitant in committing 100%. Therefore, my heart wasn’t really into it and more so, I felt inadequate compared to those students who you would typically label as “gunners”.

In such an academically competitive environment, my self-esteem definitely took a hit and I felt like there was no way I could succeed, so instead, I just tried to remain afloat. And because I threw myself into so many extracurriculars and tried to get the most out of my college experience, I never had a moment to step back and really consider what I was truly passionate about.

It wasn’t until I had graduated and traveled abroad for a bit that I had a moment to breathe. And that was when a sense of clarity set in – there is no other profession I would rather pursue and even if it takes years, I will become a doctor one day.

Accepted: Do you have a dream med school? Where do you hope to attend?

A.: Every day as I do a little more research, another really amazing school catches my eye and I think, “Wow, it would be great to go here!” So I guess to answer your question, I don’t have a dream medical school. Every school I apply to is a “dream medical school” and I would be honored to get just one acceptance.

That being said, I have been looking at a lot of DO schools lately – I absolutely love the philosophy behind osteopathic medicine – and would definitely be thrilled to attend a DO school in California such as Touro University or Western University of Health Sciences. Actually, any medical school in California would be the dream given the tuition prices!

Accepted: Your About A. page is so intriguing! Can you give us a few more hints about your identity?

A.: Well, here are some fun facts: my full name is 26 letters long, longer than Chrysanthemum, and the same length as the American alphabet. I don’t have a middle name, but the first part of my first name means infinity and the second part means music, so I like to think my first name means infinite music. But wait! There’s more – my last name literally translates to ‘Lion King’, which I think is appropriate, as I believe my Animagus would be a lion. Not enough information? Google “ENFJ” – it’s pretty spot on!

Accepted: You have about a year until you start med school. How many items on your Bucket List do you think you can knock off by then?

A.: Oh, I hope I can knock out at least ten by the end of this year! But you know, the best thing about bucket lists is that they are never-ending. The more you get out of your comfort zone and explore the world, the stronger the desire to see even more. I mean, we are human after all – we have this yearning for more. So I’m pretty sure that in a year, though I may be lucky to get a few items crossed off, my list will probably be even longer than it is now! And I’m always open to suggestions!

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? What do you hope to gain from the blogging experience?

A.: I began my blog back in 2009, when I was a senior in high school and awaiting to hear back from colleges. I have always found comfort in writing down my thoughts and opinions and to be able to share them through a public forum was invigorating. Though I may not write consistently as some other bloggers, I find that when I do write, it is driven by an intrinsic need to share a momentous memory or event. Regardless of whether I am experiencing joy or hardship, writing allows me to clear my mind and think logically.

Yes, I am a pre-med student and I do hope to attend medical school one day. So I often write about what I encounter through this application process. And maybe when that time comes, my blog may shift its focus to include more stories from a medical perspective. However, there is more to me than simply being a pre-med student – I am a young woman, a musician, a writer, an explorer, an optimist, a hopeless romantic, and so much more. I come from a low-income, ethnic background and every day I learn something new.

Therefore, when you ask if I have a “target audience”, I would hope that my blog would cater to anyone who is simply going through this roller coaster ride known as life. As cheesy as that metaphor might be, I think it definitely illustrates the ups, downs, and transitions that everyone from adolescents to adults face today. As students, we may be taught exceptional material by renowned teachers and professors, but no one ever teaches you how to deal with the “in-betweens”. The curveballs that get thrown at you. What actually comes after “happily ever after”. I hope my blog conveys that sentiment – that there is confusion, struggle, and sometimes a little fear when figuring out what’s next. But with the downs, there are always ups, and that is the beauty of life.

I titled my blog Serendipity five years ago because it was such a lovely word and a great feel-good romantic comedy. I’ve held on to that title five years later, however, because I have noticed several events in my own life that seemed to be fortunate accidents. Life works in mysterious ways and what may seem ill fated at the time may actually be a blessing in disguise. So all in all, whoever my readers may be, my only wish is that they begin to see and perhaps appreciate serendipitous acts in their own lives.

You can read more about A.’s journey by checking out her blog, ser·en·dip·i·ty. Thank you A. for sharing your story with us!

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at bloggers@accepted.com.

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How to Write the Statement of Disadvantage

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End on a high note.

If you have experienced any form of social, economic or educational disadvantage—at any time in your life—you can apply to medical school as a disadvantaged applicant.  To receive this designation means that you will need to complete an additional essay on the AMCAS application.  The character limit for this short essay is 1,325.  Examples of each of the three forms of disadvantage are listed below:

1. Social: Being treated differently due to ethnicity, language or religion.

2. Economic: Receiving any form of government aid or growing up in a single parent household on one income that is below the poverty threshold.

3. Educational: Overcoming a learning disability or attending low performing public schools.

It can be difficult to know what to include in the Statement of Disadvantage.  I recommend approaching it by using the following strategies:

• Create a timeline that includes any forms of social, economic or educational barriers that you experienced, from the beginning of your life through college.
•  State the facts, no need to express any emotions or to emphasize any details.
• End on a high note.

It’s important to remember that your application will be treated with the utmost respect and that you are heroic for overcoming obstacles that would have prevented most people from applying to medical school.  Congratulate yourself for making it to this point in your education!

It can be helpful to have another person review this essay to make sure that you have included all relevant information.  Be sure to include the details of the most significant obstacles that you have overcome to reach higher education.  The advantage of applying to medical school as a disadvantaged applicant is that most medical schools will not reject your application until it has been reviewed by at least one admissions officer.

If you’re unsure whether you should apply as a disadvantaged applicant or not, you are welcome to contact me for a free consultation.

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Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

What if Your Child is Rejected from Medical School?

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Each rejection from a medical school feels like a kick or a punch.

While we always hope for the best, sometimes life does not go as we expect.  If your child has received rejections from all of the medical schools that s/he has applied to, it may seem like the end of the world.  To help your future physician overcome this devastating experience, here are a few tips:

•  Give them some time

Our brains process rejection like physical injury.  Each rejection from a medical school feels like a kick or a punch.  Understanding the science behind rejection can help us to understand that what we’re feeling is normal and experienced by everyone in a similar situation.  Giving your pre-meds time to process the experience can be helpful.  Encourage them to be kind and gentle to themselves as they grieve this lost opportunity.

•  Be supportive

When they are ready to talk about their next move, encourage them to research alternative options.  There are lots of ways to turn a rejection into an acceptance.  When it’s time, you can help your premeds reevaluate their application or encourage them to seek the guidance of a professional consultant or mentor.  There are lots of options and lots of alternative paths to medical school!  Don’t hesitate to remind them of this fact.  Here are some alternative routes to consider:

1. Formal Postbac Programs

2. Informal postbac coursework

3. Special Master’s Programs

4. Working a year to gain clinical experience and then applying earlier or perhaps retaking the MCAT

•  Put it in perspective

It’s difficult to see the big picture when we’ve experienced a minor setback in our academic plan.  Remind your premeds that this will only be a hiccup in the timeline of their life, if they even remember it.  While it is a painful experience, they can develop the resilience to re-evaluate their application and reapply successfully the next time by addressing any weaknesses in their application.

While these tips may only help you manage the immediate crisis, if your premeds are reapplying to medical school, it will be critically important that they do make significant changes to their application the second time they apply.  Working with a medical school admissions consultant like those of us at Accepted.com can make a significant difference since many of us have spent years working in admissions and can provide lots of insight on the application process and the strategies required to be successful.

Download free: A Second Chance at Medical School: The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs!

Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Applying to Medical School: Selecting Extracurricular Activities

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Look for activities that allow you to create more balance in your life.

When considering your long term goal of attending medical school, selecting extracurricular activities that will set your application apart can seem overwhelming.  This blog post will provide you with strategies for finding and selecting activities.  In choosing activities, it’s important to consider the following:

1. Do what you love.

It’s more interesting to see applicants who have a diverse variety of genuine interests rather than those who only participate in activities that will “look good” to medical schools.  If you are an artist, continue developing your skills as this may help you when you take anatomy or may result in you having the fine motor skills to perform surgeries.  You never know how your interests may guide the direction of your career in the future.

2. Look for activities that cover multiple areas.

It is important to have some leadership, clinical, and volunteer experience.  When looking at activities that you enjoy, be flexible and open to taking on roles that may combine more than one of these areas.  For example, some students volunteer at free clinics or health fairs; this combines volunteer and clinical work, as well as the possibility of leadership if they take on more responsibility with the organization over time.  The time they put into this activity benefits them three-fold.  Rather than running around and participating in three different activities, this is fantastic way to use their time to gain valuable life experience.

3. Manage your time, realistically.

Time is finite.  There are only 24 hours in a day so every choice we make (or don’t make) about how we spend it is important.  Look for activities that allow you to create more balance in your life.  Participating in inter-mural sports or exercising regularly can allow you to de-stress and also include teamwork in your activities section.  It may take some time to locate those activities that will relax you the most in the shortest amount of time possible, but you will be glad you did once you get into medical school and have less time to maintain the same level of balance.

While this advice sounds great in theory, you may be wondering how to apply it.  Start by making a list of the activities that you most enjoyed in the past.  Are there any that you would like to continue?  Are there any that also cover leadership, clinical, or volunteer work?  Here are some practical ways to find these activities:

•  Visit your pre-med advising office on campus.

Often, they will maintain a binder or list of activities that you can peruse for ideas.  Some schools even have a lottery for the most popular clinical activities in the area.

•  Search the web for a community service planning council or composite list of volunteer activities in the city or town where you live.

Some cities actually sell a directory of community services opportunities in the area, from working with children to assisting the elderly.  They often provide the most comprehensive perspective of what’s available and needed in your community.  Or you can stop by your local town hall or civic center to inquire in person.

•  Ask friends and family in the area.

Network by asking everyone that you know in the area about the activities you are interested in pursuing.  If you are new to the area, this can be a great strategy in establishing a strong network of support early in your education.

The more time that you spend deciding how you will use your time can ensure that you make the most of it.  Pursue your interests and continue to develop those skills that may benefit you in unexpected ways.  More outlets and support systems that you have in place will keep you grounded.  As you further your education, you can enrich your life as well as your AMCAS activities section by taking the time to make the conscious decision to participate in those activities that will bring you the greatest joy and nurture personal growth and development.

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Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Can I Use Humor In My Application Essays?

Want to let your funny side show in your application essays? Here is what Linda Abraham has to say about humor in admissions:

For more application essay advice, download a free copy of our popular special report Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Personal Statement.

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The Story of an Aspiring Minority Doctor

Download Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for SuccessThis interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the med school application process. And now, introducing Danielle Ward…

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Danielle: My name is Danielle Ward, and I was born in Germany. I grew up as an Army Brat, so I’m pretty much from everywhere! I graduated from Louisiana State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry (minor in chemistry). I also received a Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Saint Joseph in 2013.

I pretty much love every flavor of ice cream, but butter pecan never gets old. Cold Stone Creamery’s “Birthday Cake Remix” also holds a special place in my heart.

Accepted: Where will you be starting med school in the fall? How would you say you’re a good fit for that program?

Danielle: I will be attending Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus. I believe that I am a good fit for the program because I have a very strong passion for learning, serving and helping others, and being a part of something greater than myself. I also really value the philosophy of osteopathic medicine, and I believe this program really fits my personality and will help me become the best possible physician that I know I am capable of being. Additionally, I love the south, so I am happy to be attending a school that allows me to be closer to family.

Accepted: What would you say was the most challenging aspect of the application process? How did you approach that challenge?

Danielle: For me, the most challenging part of the application process was overcoming both an extremely low undergraduate GPA and MCAT score. I had a great amount extracurricular activities, volunteering, clinical experiences, research, and work experience, but that means nothing to schools that screen based on numbers alone.

To approach my low undergraduate GPA, I enrolled in a hard science master’s degree program where I excelled. Some schools tend to weigh graduate courses or more advanced courses a lot more heavily, so I feel that this really helped me. I also spoke with admissions officers at a few schools and from their opinions, this was the best course of action for me to take.

I retook the MCAT four times, but was not able to obtain a high score despite studying extremely hard for the test. I think I may have burnt myself out in the process of studying, and this probably had a large effect on my performance. I was actually considering taking the test a fifth time right before I received my interview. I’m so glad that I no longer have to worry about it!

Accepted: Your blog focuses a lot on being a woman, a minority, and a single mom. How did those aspects of who you are play into your desire to be a doctor?

Danielle: I have wanted to be a physician since I was a young child, so I can’t say that any of the above mentioned aspects really played into this desire. After trying to find others like myself, I realized that I may be a bit of an anomaly going into the field of medicine, so I created my blog for those with similar circumstances to have something to relate to. The main focus of my blog is to document my journey, highlight minority women in medicine, and give helpful advice to pre-medical students.

Even though being a single mother has not influenced my desire to become a doctor, it does push me to work harder because I now have someone who looks up to me. I have to be the best role model for my child, and I can’t let her see me give up on my dreams. I want my child to know that with hard work and dedication, it is possible to achieve any goal.

Accepted: Related, how did those three things influence or affect the admissions process?

Danielle: Honestly, I do not think that being a woman or a minority had any influence on the admission process at all. I never mentioned being a minority in my medical school applications, and being a woman does not give anyone a heads up in admissions.

I do believe that managing to be a single mother while completing two degrees, working multiple jobs, and still being heavily involved in a variety of activities may have had the greatest influence. (Did I mention I was still able to graduate with my undergraduate class even after having a child sophomore year?) I believe it speaks volumes that I was able to accomplish so much all while raising a very small child. It shows that I am determined, efficient at managing my time, and able to make the best out of any given situation.

Accepted: Can you tell us a little about your daughter? How excited is she that her mom is going to be a doctor?

Danielle: My daughter is 7 years old and pretty awesome! She keeps me busy with all her various activities, but there’s never a dull moment when she’s around. She’s really excited that I am going to be a doctor, and makes it a point to tell anyone who will listen whenever we go somewhere! LOL She’s also ready for the move to Georgia so that she can spend more time with her cousins who are all around the same age as her. I’m definitely glad that I’ll be attending medical school with her being a lot older, because I can only imagine how hard it would be to do it all with an infant/toddler.

Accepted: What type of doctor do you want to be? (I know that may change a million times, but what’s your guess?)

Danielle: I’ve done quite a bit of shadowing, and I am definitely interested in becoming a surgeon. I know many students tend to change their minds along the way, so I am keeping my options open as to what type of surgery I would like to pursue. I absolutely love being in the OR though, and I like being able to see immediate results after the work is finished.

Accepted: Can you share your top three application tips with our readers?

Danielle:

1. Don’t Get Discouraged!

I was not accepted into medical school until my third application cycle. If you get rejected the first time, don’t be afraid to contact the schools and find out ways in which you can improve your application. Also, do not compare yourself to others around you. When the time is right for you, everything will fall into place. Quite a few of my peers from undergrad have already graduated from medical school and it can be pretty discouraging to not be right there with them. Luckily, I kept pushing and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep believing that you will reach your goals, and eventually you will.

2. Apply Early!

An early application can definitely make a difference in terms of getting an interview. By having all your materials ready to go when the application cycle opens, you will be able to receive and submit your secondary applications sooner. Having an interview date early in the application cycle also increases your chances of not being put on a waitlist. One month before the application opens, try to have your personal statement finished, letters of recommendation on hand, and a complete list of all your activities ready to go.

3. Enjoy the Journey!

Don’t get so caught up in trying to make a perfect application that you forget to have fun and enjoy yourself in the process. Take some time to do some of the things that you love and explore some new interests. Also, try not to rush the process. Once a physician, you will probably practice for 20-30 years, so don’t throw away some of the best years of your life. Work hard, but don’t forget to play hard as well.

You can read more about Danielle’s journey by checking out her blog, Aspiring Minority Doctor. Thank you Danielle for sharing your story with us!

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at bloggers@accepted.com.

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Get a GRIP on Team Questions

Learn 4 tips for displaying teamwork in your application essays.

Remember that a tight GRIP = a tight team

I took away a lot of wonderful concepts, frameworks and strategies from my MBA education that led to a successful admission career. In fact, one of the most powerful lessons I learned at Michigan (now Ross) was how to lead and work effectively on teams.

Professor Noel Tichy, one of the gurus of Organizational Behavior and Leadership offered us a simple acronym that has stuck with me to this day: GRIP.  His theory was as follows:  if everyone on the team works toward a common goal that each individual fully understands and to which he/she commits; and everyone on the team understands and has the skills to carry out his/her roles and responsibilities; and everyone on the team shares information in a way that is productive; and the team has agreed to a process by which they will accomplish the goal, then the team will be effective.  In fact, our teams would periodically do a GRIP check to make certain that our GOALS, ROLES, INFORMATION and PROCESS would align to keep the projects moving forward.  When a team has only one GRIP element out of place, the team will be dysfunctional.

I use this framework with my clients when they need to describe their own teams’ successes or failures.  It helps them pinpoint what really happened to the team and not point fingers at an individual that may not have carried or had the skills to carry his/her weight because the “R” was out of alignment.  It helps them understand that by not having a process “P” in place, misunderstandings may occur.  It helps them understand the importance of working towards a common goal.  And it helps them understand the importance of transparent and effective communication “I”.

So when you are asked about teamwork, remember that a tight GRIP = a tight team and I will remember to thank Dr. Tichy for his wisdom and insight and for telling me to get a GRIP on my team.  Thank you Dr. Tichy.

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Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Prepare to Submit Your AMCAS Application Early! [Short Video]

Find out what you can do right now so you will be ready when the AMCAS application opens in June:

Learn the secret to create an AMCAS application that will get you accepted!

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Study Skills: How to Improve your GPA to Become a More Competitive Med School Applicant

Get Advice for Dealing with a Low MCAT or GPA

Who doesn’t want more free time?

As an aspiring doctor, you have a lot on your plate.  This blog post is designed to help you get the most out of your study time.  Being more efficient about how you study will save you time, help you improve your grades and allow you to establish the study skills that will see you through medical school.  These strategies can make a major difference!

Have you tried…

•  Reviewing notes as soon as you can?

To save yourself the time and effort required to “relearn” material, review notes from lecture as soon as you can—ideally within hours after class.  The sooner you review them, the more you will remember and the less time that you will have to spend later relearning information that you could simply be reinforcing.

•  Identifying your learning style?

Most people are auditory, kinesthetic or visual learners.  There are hundreds of free tests available online to help you identify your primary learning style(s).  Knowing how you learn best can help you save a lot of time—especially as you refine your approach.  As a visual learner, I know re-copying my notes, using different colors for different topics, and re-organizing material into flashcards, concept maps, or other visual formats will help me learn the information more quickly.  Different subjects will require flexibility in adapting your strategy.

•  Attending all office hours?

Some of the most effective study approaches that students have told me about were suggested to them by professors and TA’s.  Going to office hours can give you the chance to ask your instructors about the best way to study their subject material.  Since they are the experts in their subject, they would know!  Also, you can use this time to cover the material that you have questions about or that you have difficulty understanding.  If you feel like you already have it all covered, that means you’re not studying enough or familiar enough with the material to accurately “self-evaluate” your knowledge of it.  Back to the books!  Preparing these questions for your instructors on a weekly basis will help you better prepare for the exams.

•  Creating practice tests to identify gaps in your knowledge?

Current research in educational psychology suggests that the best way to prepare for exams is by using practice tests.  This allows you to simulate the method of evaluation being used to test your knowledge.  Also, creating practice exams with and for friends, forces you to think like the professor.  In examining the class material from this perspective, it may become easier for you to predict how and what you will be tested on.  Most importantly, you will be able to identify what you do and don’t know.  Focus your time and energy on learning the material that you don’t know.  It’s too easy and comfortable to focus on that which we do.

Hopefully, you’ve learned some new ways to approach studying.  Since we are all such unique learners, one method or approach will not work for everyone.  It’s important to test as many approaches as possible to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  The more time that you spend refining your study strategies can actually decrease the amount of time you actually spend studying.  Who doesn’t want more free time?

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Alicia Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.