From 485-495 Plateau + 4 MCAT Attempts To 514 (1.5 Years Later!)

MCAT Mastery Podcast: Show Notes

About The MCAT Master Interview Series

Welcome to the MCAT Master Interview series!

We’re on an ongoing mission to put together THE formula for achieving a top MCAT score.

We’ve been doing this by gathering the most effective MCAT study strategies from verified top scorers, and then we bring them to you in the form of blog articles, daily emails, YouTube videos, strategy courses, through tutoring sessions and anything else that can help you along on this journey to reach YOUR maximum MCAT score.

We’ve been researching and holding interviews with top MCAT scorers for many years now, until recently we thought "Why not let you all in and give you a seat at the table during these interviews!”.

So, that’s what this series is for 🙂

We hope by listening to these interviews, you learn proven MCAT study strategies you never thought of, that you can start implementing right away!

And most importantly, we hope you feel an increase in inspiration and motivation because the MCAT journey can be very tough and it can be easy to fall into negative mental cycles...

But as you’ll learn from these success stories, every top scorer had to deal with the struggles, the challenges, and through perseverance, through strategy, through mindset work, they all made it to the top score that was right for them. 🙌 🩺 💪

About Kartik Goswami

We want to introduce you to Kartik Goswami, our top scorer in today's MCAT Master Interview 🙌

"My MCAT journey started in August of 2019 where I started reading the Kaplan books and started a Princeton review course. This was all during school time because I was enrolled in a 2+4 BS/MD pathway and needed a 510 or above to matriculate.

I took practice tests every weekend in hopes of getting used to the test and building up endurance. All of these third party tests ranged from the mid 480s to the mid 490s.

By December of 2019 I was still in that score zone, but researched online for any tips and stumbled upon MCAT Mastery... I ended up scoring a 507 on the real day (January 2020). That was good, but not good enough to matriculate."

From 485-495 to 507 in about a month is not bad! But it wasn't good enough. His goal score was a 510.

Kartik's success story is inspiring to say the least. He experienced a lot of setbacks on his journey, but unlike most, he didn't give up - and that's why we really want you to hear his journey. 

Let's continue...

His second test date was rescheduled five times due to the pandemic.

And when he finally did take his second test...

"I had to drive 3 hours the day before to test center in a different state to find an open center and took my test there. That test I got a 506, which made me devastated cause I lost my chance to matriculate into the med school for that fall. Not only that, but I felt I hadn't performed as good as I could have. I petitioned into the 3+4 BS/MD program at my school and got in, so that allowed me one more year to achieve the 510 threshold I needed."

Kartik took the MCAT 4 times in total before breaking the 510 mark and scoring an awesome 514!

Scores: 

Jan 2020: 507 (124,124,129,130)
Jun 2020 506 (127,125,127,127)
Sep 2020 508 (127,126,126,129)
Jan 2021 514 (127,127,128,132)

His story is a perfect example of the old saying, "Try and try until you succeed!" 


In this interview, we’re going to learn more how he studied and increased his score, how he kept himself motivated, how he scheduled his prep, what strategies he used for each section, and so much more…

Topics Discussed

  • [2:48] Kartik’s background and why he wants to become a doctor
  • [5:07] The beginning of his MCAT journey
  • [7:49] How his study changed after his first failed attempt
  • [13:02] Tips in reviewing the AAMC materials
  • [15:24] His biggest challenges and how he overcame them
  • [16:49] Keeping himself motivated to keep taking the MCAT
  • [18:41] About his MCAT Mastery tutoring experience, most valuable lessons learned, and advice to people looking to get a tutor
  • [21:50] Fourth and final attempt: the most effective strategies for him
  • [22:56] Tips in studying for P/S
  • [25:47] Tips in studying for B/B
  • [27:11] Tips in studying for CARS
  • [28:03] Tips in studying for C/P
  • [29:35] MCAT test day!
  • [34:44] What’s next for Kartik
  • [35:38] Final message for other students planning to take the MCAT

Memorable Quotes

  • When you're studying, you need some outlet to relieve your stress. Get busy with other stuff non-MCAT-related.
  • Make sure you do practice problems before your test.
  • It's better to highlight important points within the passage as taking notes might be more distracting.

  • Focus on the quality rather than the quantity of hours.
  • Uworld has over 1000 questions that covers every type of content.

  • Analyze where your mistakes are and try to understand why you are making those mistakes.
  • Do your practice exams at the same time that you'd probably be doing your actual exam.
  • Make Anki cards or written cards for terms you don't understand and review them.
  • For CARS, just keep practicing everyday because it's the only way you can get better since there are no real materials to study.
  • Don't give up regardless of what situation you're in. Keep pushing until you get your score goal.

Kartik's Written Answers

What was your lowest MCAT score on practice or the real MCAT? How long did it take to get to your highest score?
506 on real MCAT. 486 on first Kaplan practice test. 1.5 years of studying.
Was this your first time writing the MCAT or did you retake? If your retook, tell us a little bit about the first time you wrote - what happened, what did you score, etc.
Retook 3 times, so a total of 4 MCATs. First time underestimated ochem content so chem was very low. Second and third time test day performance was not there due anxiety, overconfidence, not proper night sleep.
How long did it take you to go from your lowest score to your highest score? What are your biggest pieces of advice and strategies for helping someone increase their score like you did?
I took my first MCAT January 17, 2020 and got a 507, while my last MCAT was January 15, 2021 and scored a 514.
Please share more about your journey to MCAT success! What were some of your struggles and how did you overcome them? What advice do you have for other premeds who would love to achieve a score like yours? What materials did you use and which would your recommend?
My MCAT journey started in August of 2019 where I started reading the Kaplan books and started a Princeton review course. This was all during school time because I was enrolled in a 2+4 BS/MD pathway and needed a 510 or above to matriculate. I took practice tests every weekend in hopes of getting used to the test and building up endurance. All of these third party tests ranged from the mid 480s to the mid 490s. By December of 2019 I was still in that score zone, but researched online for any tips and stumbled upon MCAT Mastery and bought the handbook. The handbook (which has now evolved into a self-paced step-by-step course!) was very good as it gave me so many little tips that helped me improve my test taking skills.
I then started taking AAMC practice tests and scored an average of 504 on all 5 of the tests. But after reviewing the handbook multiple times and watching MCAT Mastery videos about how to stay calm and excel on test day I ended up scoring a 507 on the real day. That was good, but not good enough to matriculate. So I scheduled a retake in March of 2020.
I retook AAMC sample, and 1-3 again scoring around the 513 mark on all of them. But a week before test day COVID became widespread and shut down all exams. I had to reschedule a total of 5 times before I could retake in June of 2020. I had to drive 3 hours the day before to test center in a different state to find an open center and took my test there. That test I got a 506, which made me devastated cause I lost my chance to matriculate into the med school for that fall. Not only that, but I felt I hadn't performed as good as I could have. I petitioned into the 3+4BS/MD program at my school and got in, so that allowed me one more year to achieve the 510 threshold I needed.
So in July of 2020, I registered for the MCAT Mastery tutoring program because I really liked their other products and thought this was the fairest priced tutoring out there. Here I had a great tutor who helped me with cars so much! I scheduled a test for September 2020 and achieved a 508. Again I was devastated, but also felt like something was off because I got the lowest bio score I ever got which was a 126 when I was achieving around 128 average on all my Fls since January of 2020. After this I gave up on MCAT for a month and applied to DO schools and got accepted to a few. But in the back of my mind I still wanted to matriculate to my school's MD school. And once I got waitlisted at my top DO school I said “now I am going to take MCAT one more time to achieve the score I want and go to the school I want with the people I like”.
This final study time I changed up my study plan in terms of studying only from 7am-230pm everyday and keeping the rest of the day off which gave me lots of mental break. Before I used to try and study all day long, but learned that the quality of studying only goes down if you over work yourself. I scheduled a test for January of 2021 knowing this is my last shot. I kept in contact with my MCAT Mastery tutor and he gave me tips and also agreed that my September 2020 test was odd since he knew I could do better in bio. So after a few months of grinding I took the test and achieved a 514.
Anything is possible, just put your head down and keep grinding!! The rest will fall into place!!
How did you study for C/P? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
For C/P keep doing practice problems over and over again like everyone says. This is very important as it helps you become more familiar with the different types of problems and how to approach them. Uworld is a very good resource to use for C/P. Another great tip is creating flashcards of all the formulas you will encounter and memorize them everyday. Then on tests write them down on your scratch paper before giving the test (this is totally legal).
How did you study for B/B? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
B/B the best thing is do quality practice with complicated passages from Uworld or AAMC section bank. Once reading the passage make sure to highlight the process happening in the passage and glance over the figures as they will help reinforce or understand the content of the passage better.
How did you study for CARS? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
CARS is all practice, practice, practice!! You must learn to focus and gain concentration during this section the most! The passages may be complicated, but if you put your focus into it, it is very doable. Go with your first answer as that is the most likely to be right and go with what the passage says not with outside information.
How did you study for P/S? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
For P/S I reviewed my flashcards which were comprised of all the terms that I did not know and was confused about. Constant review of these and listening to the KDpysch podcast on YouTube really helped reinforce the psych content and propelled me to success.

Resources Mentioned

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Kartik's Testimonial!

"The tutoring experience was amazing! I really had a great tutor. And I have to say the MCAT Mastery pricing for tutors was much better than any other company out there. And I don't regret it at all. He helped me with every section. Essentially, he gave me tips and tricks on everything."

If you also need some hand holding to reach your goal score, we got you 🙂

You can sign up to work with one of us here 🤝

Enjoy the episode!

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your "MCAT Success" Mentors


About the author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams 🩺 To help you increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!

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