doc w/ Pen

journalist + medical student + artist

MCAT Prep: Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

head against brick wallA couple of days ago, I finished my MCAT biology review book. (I’m using Examkrackers.) Yay! I was so excited. Not that I know everything, but I’m done with my first run-through, have a bazillion online flashcards made (feel free to access any of my Quizlet.com sets here) that I can study on the train to and from lab, and was consistently getting most (if not all) the review questions correct. I felt encourged. Energized.

Then I hit a brick wall: physics.

I would read a section in my Examkrackers book, think I understood it, then get half the review questions wrong. And I wasn’t even to the tough stuff. I’m talking F=ma, projectile motion, that sort of thing. I was very frustrated, and demoralized. I won’t even go into how my Lesson 1 practice exam went. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Part of my frustration was that I had done so well in my physics class — an A both semesters. An A on every exam, for that matter. I worked my a** off for those grades, and I know it wasn’t some fluke. I also know I’m not stupid (although I certainly felt that way yesterday).

I also felt frustrated because I didn’t know what step to take next. Obviously, reading the Examkrackers lessons over and over wasn’t working. So … what?

This afternoon, I knew I needed to take action. Change tactics. More specifically, see if another review book would be a better fit for me, at least for physics (I found the Examkrackers bio book to be a great resource). Seeing as how I’m flat broke, though, I don’t have the cash to go out and buy every MCAT physics book. Then it came to me – I don’t have to. I live just outside Chicago, and a whole bunch of suburbs in my area are members of a giant library network. I looked up “MCAT” on the online catalog (my mom always says, “let your fingers do the walking”), and found a ton of resources, including practice tests. I submitted several requests, so we’ll see what happens when the books arrive at my local library.

I’ll try to post comments here regarding my thoughts about the different books (I’ve got Princton, Kaplan, and Gold Standard books coming).

In the meantime, I’m putting physics to the side for now. No use in continuing to bash my head against that brick wall. I’ve got better things to do.

Beautiful Day

In the midst of this MCAT madness, and everything else that has gone on in my life in the last couple of years, it’s easy to lose perspective. To get lost in frustration, sometimes even pitch black darkness. But the song “Beautiful Day,” by U2, helps remind me that today IS a beautiful day, regardless of what is happening, and that I shouldn’t let it get away. I don’t see it as a Pollyanna thing, but as a change in mindset. Deciding that I will make the most of the day, of any day. That doesn’t mean it will be a perfect day, or even a great day. But it can still be beautiful.

Lyrics to “Beautiful Day,” by U2:

The heart is a bloom, shoots up through stony ground
But there’s no room, no space to rent in this town
You’re out of luck and the reason that you had to care,
The traffic is stuck and you’re not moving anywhere.
You thought you’d found a friend to take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand in return for grace

It’s a beautiful day, the sky falls
And you feel like it’s a beautiful day
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

You’re on the road but you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud, in the maze of her imagination
You love this town even if it doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over and it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

Touch me, take me to that other place
Teach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
See the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colours came out
It was a beautiful day
A beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

Touch me, take me to that other place
Reach me, I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now
What you don’t know you can feel it somehow
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
You don’t need it now, you don’t need it now
Beautiful day