This interview is part of a new series, featuring interviews with MCAT2015 test takers, offering readers an inside look at the exam experience and some of the top MCAT test prep services out there. And now for a chat with Vincent Sanchez who scored a 505 on the exam.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?
Vincent: I am from Westchester, New York. I studied at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and majored in Neuroscience. I graduated in May of 2015.
Accepted: What do you plan on doing during your gap year before med school?
Vincent: During my gap year I am working as a research assistant under Principal Investigator, Michael E. Goldberg, M.D. at Columbia University Medical Center. I will be participating in ophthalmology research conducted on rhesus monkeys. In addition, I will be seeking shadowing opportunities while at Columbia.
Accepted: As someone who has taken both the old MCAT and the new MCAT, you must have insights into some of the changes. How do the two exams compare? Likes/dislikes?
Vincent: The old MCAT differs from the new in that the old MCAT is almost half the amount of time than the new one, and each section is shorter on the old one. The new exam also of course has a new section, Behavioral Sciences (basically just psychology and sociology).
What is strikingly different about the new exam is that it has information from each subject in all sections of the test. For example, you may see a passage containing biology content in a chemistry/physics section. Although the questions are pertaining to chemistry and/or physics, the passage may be on content that seems more biology related to distract the student. This is something that was tough to adjust to at first, but actually was easy to deal with after much practice and knowing what to expect.
I liked how the new exam allowed for a lunch break for 30 minutes between the first half and last half of the exam. This was a perfect time to relax and recuperate before having to continue staring at a screen for another 3 hours.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your experience with Kaplan Test Prep? Why did you choose that company? What were some of their features that most impressed you?
Vincent: My experience with Kaplan was wonderful. Without them I do not believe my score would have been as high. I chose the company after hearing great reviews from friends and reading online that their books were easiest to follow.
The key feature that impressed me the most was their online resources. The amount of practice questions and sections they had available was unbelievable and questions were difficult enough to properly prepare me for the exam.
Accepted: Did you use any other test prep resources?
Vincent: I only used Kaplan.
Accepted: Do you plan on retaking the exam?
Vincent: For now I do not plan on retaking the exam, however if a desired medical school requires a higher school I would be more than willing to re-take it having gone through the process a few times.
Accepted: When and where do you plan on applying to med school? Have you completed any other med school admissions components?
Vincent: I applied to 5 medical schools this cycle (New York Medical College, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Florida State School of Medicine, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine). My applications are complete and I am waiting to hear back from each school. I do plan on reapplying to more schools next year, however my late MCAT date made it difficult for me to apply earlier in the summer.
Accepted: Do you have any additional tips for our readers?
Vincent: My only tip for readers would be to not be afraid of the MCAT. It seems daunting at first, but practice makes perfect.
If you feel your practice test scores are starting to stagnate and there is not much improvement, try to change the way you study. For example, if you are not the type of person to thoroughly check over each incorrect question after taking a practice section, you should begin to do so. In addition, if you feel you are getting specific types of questions wrong (solubility in chemistry for example, or meiosis questions in biology), focus on those questions and complete as many as you can of them.
My most important advice is to stay confident and believe in yourself. It is not the end of the world if you are not happy with your first score, this test can be taken up to six times!
Thank you Vincent for sharing your experience with us – we wish you loads of luck!