You take your baseline test at the beginning of your MCAT prep, and you score a 500! Not bad right?
In fact, you're kind of pumped because you have 4.5 months before you write your MCAT! That's a lot of time to improve your score by 10 or more points! Especially since you're investing in a big-name MCAT prep company to help you study...
So you take the exam 4.5 months later, you get your score and you can't believe your eyes when you see that you scored a 501! Just a ONE point score increase from your baseline test!
This is the true story and situation of today's featured top scorer, Jennifer Nedimyer...
We love this story because Jennifer is a nontraditional applicant, who decided to follow her passion.
She obtained her Bachelor's degree in English, but then took a job at a medical office as a medical technician, where she worked for 4 years.
Her passion for medicine and science grew over that time, and finally she returned to school, took the necessary coursework, and started her journey...
Today, after successfully crossing the biggest barrier to med-school, Jennifer is on her way to becoming a doctor.
If you've ever felt discouraged, doubtful, or frustrated during MCAT prep, having spent a significant amount of time studying, but not seeing it reflected in your score...
If you fear not getting the score you need by your test date...
Then discovering her experiences, her mistakes, her successes, her insights, and so much more, will give you a renewed sense of motivation, confidence, and perspective on how you can dominate this exam once and for all...
So let's get into it...
"For my first-ever, baseline test, I scored a 500. I thought that was a reasonable starting point, but when I took my first MCAT 4.5 months later, I was frustrated that my score was only a 501! I had been using Princeton Review's self-paced program--and I had been tremendously diligent.
I was taking abundant practice tests and reviewing, doing their practice passages, watching their videos, reading my review books. After my first MCAT, I realized that what I was doing--even though it was pretty much exactly "How you're supposed to study for the MCAT" according to Princeton and other online advice--was simply not working for me.
I have a 3.98 GPA, so I did not immediately resort to changing my study habits. They had been working for my undergraduate coursework, why not for the MCAT? But I finally realized that the MCAT is NOTHING LIKE your average undergraduate course. The writers of the MCAT are not necessarily testing how well you know the TCA cycle (although you must know it!) they are testing your ability to think outside the box.
Mainly, they're looking at how well you can read new information and recognize how to correctly apply your existing knowledge to that new information.
Troubleshooting my approach was by-far the best thing I did for my MCAT prep. I think I was realizing this around the same time I came across MCAT Mastery's little nugget of gold, the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide, which emphasized the same thing.
So if you aren't seeing the score increase that you want, don't start doubting your intelligence! Turn instead to your method. Take it from me: even a study method that allowed you to ace tough courses like organic and biochem might not apply well to the MCAT! Once you figure out what you need to change, launch into a rigorous practice test/review routine!"
If you want to increase your MCAT score and get into med-school, the key is in the method that you use to study. Every top scorer we've researched and interviewed, at one point or another, figured this out.
That's what all our tutors at MCAT Mastery figured out too when they were writing the MCAT. They figured how to study for the MCAT in the smartest way, which has allowed them to specialize in fast-score increases for their students!
Just remember, it's not about you. It's not about your intelligence. It's not about if you chose the wrong path in life. It's all about the way you've been conditioned to study for normal exams, versus the way you NEED to study for the MCAT.
Like Jennifer said, "figure out what you need to change". And figure it out fast!
Next we asked her what were her biggest roadblocks preventing her from increasing her MCAT score and what materials she used to help her...
"I experienced 3 major roadblocks:
1) I discovered I was an exceedingly slow reader, which is ironic given my academic background and my bookworm nature.
2) I had not taken microbio, molecular bio, or genetics, and although I understood the concepts, those passage types slowed my down considerably on practice tests.
3) I totally tanked on the psych/socio section of my first MCAT because that section on the AAMC test was NOTHING like the Princeton Review practice tests with which I'd been preparing.
I overcame these struggles by:
1) using an app to improve my reading speed (I recommend Spreeder);
2) reading relevant genetics/microbio/molecular bio articles on PubMed and practicing those passage types as much as possible. (My resources included practice material from the AAMC, TPR, Kaplan, and NextStep.); and
3) buying and practicing with AAMC psych/socio passages and questions. Which material was the best? ALWAYS, the answer is AAMC. It makes sense--it's written by the same people writing your test!
But here are some things I noticed about the other prep material I used:
For reviewing psych and socio, Kaplan's review book is far superior to TPR's. TPR's practice tests are pretty good, but you really can't go by their psych/socio section. (On their practice tests, I consistently scored 130, but on the actual test and other practice test material, I was scoring more around 125.)
I found Next Step's C/P section a bit easier than the AAMC material, but otherwise their tests felt pretty accurate.
Overall, I think it's highly important to practice with a variety of test prep material. I definitely recommend buying practice test bundles from various sources, especially including the AAMC.
For me, I think it was most effective to just buy the review books rather than sign up for a course. I used both Kaplan Books and TPR books, and my honest opinion is that Kaplan is a bit better organized and offers more mnemonics and memorization tips, but they both have their pros and cons.
"After the disappointment of my first MCAT, I continued studying using a self-paced course from TPR. I doubled my efforts and began spending more time (10 hours per day instead of 7 or 8), but after another 2 months went by without any significant increase in score, I felt defeated.
My fiancé was the one who suggested trying MCAT Mastery. I had actually heard of it really early on in my prep, but I assumed it was a hoax. (Guaranteed score improvement as such a low cost? No way.) But as soon as I bought the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide and began receiving their wonderfully encouraging and advice-loaded emails, I realized how wrong I had been.
With only 1 month left before my second MCAT, I was already deeply focused. I followed the guide's advice about how to prepare in the last month of your study, and I began to see my score increase by several points each time!
Another thing I found really helpful about MCAT Mastery were the emails of encouragement. I read each one! If I didn't have time at the moment to read one, I flagged it to read it later. Often, I would read one in the morning, before I got out of bed to go take a practice test or begin reviewing a practice test.
Not only are they chock-full of helpful tips, they also share other people's success stories. Reading about other student's score transformations motivated me and reminded me it was possible. The strategies that are shared in the guides and in the emails are game-changers!"
UPDATE: JENNIFER GOT INTO MED-SCHOOL! (SEPT 2019)
We received an update note from Jennifer - thought we'd share it with you here 🙂
".... I am starting my 6th week in medical school, and I don’t think I would have made it in without your programs tips and my successful retake! Thanks again for all the MCAT support! I continued to share the gem that is The MCAT Mastery Guide with all the premeds I knew. "
"My highest score ended up being the psych and socio section. This is usually the case for most test takers, as it is considered an easier section. I thought it was too--until I took the real MCAT and realized the material with which I had been preparing had not been very representative of the real test!
This can happen to people in any section. Fortunately, the solution is simple: try other practice material! (I should have done this before I took my first test!)
For my second test, I branched out in the material I studied. I used a lot of AAMC material, Kaplan tests, and NextStep. The result? I increased by 6 points in my psych/socio section!"
Wow - sometimes it's not about the way you're studying or about how much content you know. Sometimes it's just about the material you've been using to study with! Which is why it's really important to choose the right ones.
We've done the research on the highest recommended resources from not just one, but dozens of MCAT Masters. Leveraging that information is one of the easiest, yet most effective strategies anyone can benefit from. We include that information in our strategy resources.
Next we asked her about her lowest score - her B/B score. We asked her what happened as she reflects back to her prep, and what could she have done differently?
"My low-scoring section was biology/biochemistry. On practice tests when I've used the time-and-a-half feature, I scored really high on these sections, which tells me that my main problem is speed.
I realized that because I'm not as comfortable with subjects of molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology, I went slower on those passages. If I took about 17 minutes on those types of passages, I usually got most of the questions correct.
However, that's WAY too much time to spend on a passage! I read PubMed articles, and they helped me a bit. Unfortunately, my most recent MCAT seemed very heavy in genetics passages, and my score suffered because I couldn't allow myself to linger long enough to really absorb the passages.
Although I hope that my score will be competitive enough in that section, I am planning on taking a few extra biology courses this coming spring. If I am accepted somewhere this year, it will benefit me to know these subjects better anyway.
And if not? Then I'll be plenty comfortable with these subjects if I have to take the MCAT again. 🙂 I will also know better how to study, thanks to MCAT Mastery's guidance!"
Timing is so critical on the MCAT. Jennifer nailed the solution though when she mentioned "absorbing the passage" better would have helped her.
We've realized this recently; most students struggle with timing because they're not thinking through the passage in the right way. They're focusing way too much on unnecessary details, glancing over key points, and overthinking things...
The key is truly to 'absorb the top scorer way of thinking' and the best way we've found to do this is to literally go through a lot of passages with a top scorer guiding you through them, showing you how they think and watching over your shoulder as you go through them yourself while you explain your own thought processes...
The MCAT wants to see how you reason through their questions using the content knowledge you already have - that reasoning is what you need to learn, and once you do, timing takes care of itself.
Which is why working with an MCAT Master who knows this and who knows what they're doing, is one of the best, most effective solutions to getting a competitive MCAT score that gets you into med-school.
One of our main purposes for bringing you these success stories is to make you realize that this journey is a struggle not just for you, but for nearly everyone who goes down this path...
Even those who ended up mastering the MCAT and are now in med-school.
It's a hard journey and we get that you're often feeling frustrated, scared, worried, discouraged, and often feeling hopeless. With thousands of premeds in our community, we've seen that everyone has different roadblocks...
For some, they keep getting lower scores than they want on their practice exams. Others are overwhelmed by the amount of material to study. Many just want to score a few points higher to get interviews, but are terrified at failing and having to retake or worse, waiting another two years to go to school!
MOST don't even know what they're doing wrong, so they don't know what to do to fix it.
What's mindblowing is that there is one thing that every premed needs to do that can fix ALL these issues. One commonality between all the top scorer case studies we have for you. It was present in this interview as well...
We'll use Jennifer's words...
"Troubleshoot your approach."
Realize it's about the WAY you're studying. The process. Find out what's keeping your score low and fix that. Find out what you're not doing that could raise your score, and add that. When you focus on the approach, you'll see your score automatically rise.
How do you troubleshoot your approach? You need a proven blueprint to compare your current approach to. THEN you can clearly see what you're doing wrong and what you need to remove/add so your approach can look like the approach of dozens of 90+ percentile scorers before you.
We've made this incredibly easy for you, just like we made it easy for Jennifer. Access your blueprint here. Download it, invest an hour or two going through it, and you'll realize what you need to do.
We can give you endless success stories of how top scorers did the same thing. Eventually you'll realize, that everyone's challenge was a little different. So you can't copy their specific action steps and apply it to your own prep - your situation is unique. What you CAN copy however, is the way they went about figuring it out for themselves.
Your med-school dreams are closer than you think. We're not going to let one test stand in the way of you becoming the doctor you were born to be. We've dedicated ourselves to helping you succeed in the quickest, cheapest, smartest way possible. This is it.
You got this,
The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors
P.S. If you haven't already, listen to Jennifer's full interview here for more of her great wisdom on how to increase your MCAT score like she did!
As you know, we're constantly interviewing top MCAT scorers to collect the most reliable, most common, most powerful MCAT study strategies, and bring them to you through our articles, emails, and especially in our downloads.
For this success story, we've released the entire recorded interview with Jennifer that you can listen to and watch on our YouTube channel! PLUS Jennifer was kind enough to write out summarizing points to some of the key questions you'd want to know about her journey.
There are also insights in this article that aren't mentioned in the interview, and vice-versa! Which is why we recommend reading through the summary points in this article AND listening to the full interview so you can better embed all the wisdom Jennifer has to share with you from her "501 --> 511 in <30 Days" experience 🙂
You can click the play button below to listen to the full video interview or read on to get summarized insights from the interview...
Each case study will bring new tips, new strategies, and revive your motivation to dominate the MCAT...
Every year MCAT Mastery helps thousands of premeds in achieving their target MCAT score goal so they can get into the med-school of their dreams. The dedicated team at MCAT Mastery accomplishes this by conducting ongoing research and paid interviews with 90+ percentile MCAT scorers, to bring you the most credible, most proven MCAT prep strategies on the planet.
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