My first year of college was an exercise in humility. I arrived with my type A personality and perfectionism in tow, a living high school overachiever stereotype, eager to sign up for the most difficult classes available. And, despite the warnings of my adviser, I did just that.
By the time third week–and with it, exams–rolled around, I was falling apart. I was constantly behind, staying up till 3 a.m. to finish an assignment then sleeping for 12 hours the next day. I didn’t eat well. I cried every two or three days. I was miserable: physically, emotionally, and academically.
This collapse persisted for the duration of the year. While my schedule and habits improved somewhat, the year concluded with rather abysmal grades–the kind that result in your adviser telling you you’re not going straight from undergrad to med school. When I saw the B- in Gen Chem, my second of the year, I went for an hour-long drive. I thought about transferring. I thought about dropping the bio major. I thought about letting go of medicine.
Over the summer, I decided to do whatever it took to continue with medicine. I changed my habits (pro tip: make sleep a priority) in studying, socializing, and taking care of myself. I promised to work harder.
However, I was sure that OChem would destroy me. With my background in chemistry, I believed OChem was something to be survived, not something in which to succeed. So when I got a 43 on my first midterm, over two standard deviations below average, it just confirmed my conclusions: I wasn’t that smart, but I would suffer through.
I was committed to that suffering: I took my exam to my TA’s office hours, desperate to scrape a passing grade. Sheepishly, I flipped through the pages, expecting the furrowed-brow frown that read “how could you not understand this?” to appear on my TA’s face at any moment. But it didn’t.
“This was a difficult exam,” he said.
“It was more difficult for me than most.” I mumbled. “I didn’t do so well in Gen Chem either.”
“That’s okay. How you did in Gen Chem doesn’t mean you’ll do the same in OChem.”
I was shocked to not be treated as the stupid student. I had regained my motivation over the summer, and now I was regaining my confidence. I threw myself into studying for my next midterm.
63. Just below average. Every insecurity returned: how could I study this hard and still barely brush average? If this is how hard I have to work for this grade, maybe I’m just not good enough. Maybe I just can’t cut it.
Still, I wasn’t ready to give up. When the final came around, I studied for a full week beforehand.
I got an 85 on that final, two standard deviations above average. I didn’t think it was possible for me to do that well in OChem. I couldn’t believe it–but I began to.
After that, my grades rose across the board. Soon, I didn’t need a week to study, because I had worked so hard and continuously that I developed an instinct for the subject. I began to love OChem–I even tutor in it now.
My last midterm of the year I received a 95, moving from a bottom scorer to top five in my class. My second year GPA was 0.63 higher than my first year GPA. I had done what seemed impossible.
For any struggling student who’s reading this, I hope I can do for you what my TA did for me: believe in yourself. You can overcome bad grades. You are smart enough, and you are hardworking enough. Intelligence is elastic: you can make yourself smarter. There is no point at which you are doomed to fail. So keep trying: you may discover you’re capable of more than you ever dreamed.
Went to my morning lectures, did next week’s genetics homework, studied for biostats, and looked over the solutions for ochem practice problems I did yesterday!!
Tonight I’m going to a frosh week party on campus 🍻
I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything! It’s been a pretty rough couple of weeks for me, I just recently took a genetics midterm (which I got a 95 on yay! ♡꒡ .̮ ꒡♡ ) and I took an ochem midterm yesterday! These are a few notes over reactions, reactions and MORE reactions! I have one more test this week, lets do this!
What was your study routine for MCAT? Did you take any classes for it?
I bought the complete set of prep books from The Berkeley Review (you can probably do the same routine w kaplan books etc bc they are all more or less structured the same way) and did alternating content review and practice question weeks as follows:
content review week = take notes and read through one section of: physics (monday) / gen chem (tuesday) / ochem (wednesday) / biochem (thursday) / biology (friday) / psych (saturday) / verbal or break (sunday)
practice Q week = do practice questions at the end of each section in the same order as the previous week’s review, so you’ve had about 1 week for the content to sink in and see what you remember
this lasted about 3.5 months because sometimes I split longer sections into 2 review weeks but you can compress it into a shorter time frame if you have more time to study during the day; I could only realistically do about 2-3 hrs after work and 5-6 on weekends.
Then last month leading up to the test I would read through my notes every day just to make sure it still made sense to me and then do official mcat question bank sections on the weekend. I also did a ton of khan academy practice Qs for biochem bc they are passage-based and super convenient to do during breaks at work. I’d also recommend khan academy for content review, esp for biochem pathways!! I saved the full length exams for the two saturdays before the test.
I think the best way to prep is to just be really really familiar with content first bc practice Qs are not going to make up for knowledge gaps and THEN build up stamina for keeping focused bc its like a 7 hour exam
okAY GUY I’M SORRY BUT I ALWAYS HAVE THIS MOMENT and I deserve it
i was making a C in Ochem 2 last year and had an incomplete for ochem 1 (was making a B ish but got sick for the final exam). I was going to take the final for both Ochem 1 and 2, expecting that the professor would have me take the exam sometime after finals week when things calmed down.
but 2.5 weeks before the end of the worst semester of my life my professor said I had to take both exams with only t w e l v e hours in between. They were both the first exams in the finals schedule. I had to study a year of ochem in 3 weeks during classes and make a +99 in both.
and I fking did it. And made my genetics B into an A.
I totally forgot that I took a year’s final and aced it until I read my old notes. This is why you write.
Today was another long day, went to all of my classes, did some Chemical Oceanography homework, went over some organic chemistry, which is what’s featured above.
Tonight will be spent getting ahead of my homework assignments and studying desperately for my first OChem II exam next week. Super nervous, but trying to stay ahead of the game with that.
I hope everyone’s week is going well so far! Thinking good thoughts for all of you, there are 100 of you now!!! I’m so thrilled and astounded, I never thought this community would be so open and welcoming to me! Thank you all so much! Happy studying! Feel free to drop a message in my inbox anytime!!!