[MCAT Success Story] — From 501 To 514 In The LAST 2 WEEKS Before The MCAT!

May 6, 2024

minute read

MedLife 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 Anne Pino

As a full-time student, Anne spent the beginning of her MCAT prep, balancing studying with her classes. 

Over 2 weeks before her test day, she began to realize that she might have just been passively studying because she scored a 501 on one of her practice exams.

Contemplating on rescheduling, as it had already been rescheduled once before, she decided to push through instead. She worked hard, signed up for tutoring, and changed her mindset towards the exam. 

After just two weeks of this intense study, and with the help of her tutor,  all these paid off by the time of her test date.

She was able to increase her score from that initial 501 to a 514 by her test date.

That is a 13 point increase within 14 days! 

In this episode, we're going to learn more about how she studied, how she increased her score, how she kept herself motivated, how she scheduled her MCAT prep, and what strategies she used for each section, specifically, and so much more.

Topics Discussed

  • [2:14] About Anne Pino and why she wants to be a doctor
  • [6:25] How she came up with her study schedule
  • [12:45] Her biggest challenges and how she overcame them
  • [15:07] Her tutoring experience with MedLife Mastery
  • [19:25] Advice to students who only are struggling to increase their scores
  • [21:03] Strategies for Psych/Soc, her highest score
  • [22:50] Tips on CARS section
  • [25:02] How she studied for Bio/Biochem
  • [26:53] Chem/Phys strategies
  • [28:34] MCAT Test Day!

Memorable Quotes

  • One of the things you have to adapt for when you're taking the MCAT is the unexpected.
  • Just relax, because MCAT is a very mental exam.
  • Practice is so vital to building endurance and learning strategies.
  • You don’t need every single resource, you just need a few things that work for you.

  • Be a little bit kinder to yourself and stay positive.
  • Having someone on the outside to tell you about your mistakes and how to improve quickly is a huge help.

  • The end is the most important time of your MCAT studying, that's when you need to kind of take a deep breath.
  • Take one less practice exam and take the day before the exam completely off. 

  • Getting a MCAT tutor is a really small investment compared to everything else in your long journey.
  • Keep drilling those AAMC materials. Understand why every single answer is wrong and if you see a term and it's not even the answer, search the topic.

  • There is no easiest section in MCAT so do not dismiss any subject.

  • Spend time early on in studying CARS. Try different strategies and then choose one and stick with it.

  • Changing CARS strategy on the day of the exam is not a good idea.

  • Focus more on relationships rather than the five kinematic equations. 

Anne’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?
501 on aamc FL 1. To get my real score of 514 it took me 1 month.
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.
Yes this was my first time. Like many other premeds, I was supposed to take it earlier but was underprepared and not ready. I cancelled my original exam in august 2020, and scheduled it for January 2021. Because I already rescheduled due to nerves it was a big reason why I chose not to reschedule again, despite my low FL scores.
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?
It took 1 week to get from a 501 to a 510, and this was a week before my exam. My biggest advice would be to get outside help, I know not everyone can have a tutor but even a friend or reach out to a premed advisor to ask why am I scoring low even though I know the content. It was eye opening for someone to tell me, your knowledge of content isn't the issue, it is because you need to have a strategy to take the exam. I was taking the MCAT as if it was a college exam and it's not. It requires a strategy and you need to have that "MCAT question maker logic" to do well.
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?
Looking back I should have focused more on practice than content. I spent the fall semester passively watching videos from a course I wasted alot of money on, when really I should have dedicated 2-3 weeks max on content review. I did end up spending a week re-freshing my content and it was helpful, but If i could spend a month purely on practice I would. What I did do was spend 3 weeks dedicated to practice, the first week using a program called Uworld, but then the last 2 weeks before my exam doing the AAMC practice materials and re-doing alot of the material if I had time.

Also the biggest piece of advice would be staying mentally on top of your game as well. My mental state is a big reason why I did well in a short amount of time. Once I was told that the MCAT intentionally tries to make test takers panic, and how I felt was normal, I was able to recognize that and attack the question more logically. I always thought having a positive attitude was not a big deal, but when it comes to the MCAT it is one of the most important tools to have to take the exam. I also recommend Jack Westin free passages, youtube for any content, UWorld for practice, NextStep/Blueprint for practice exams and of course all the AAMC material.
How did you study for C/P? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
Even though I’m a chemistry minor I struggled with C/P because I haven't taken chemistry in a while and I was not strong at physics. Knowing the basic chemistry content really really well and lab methods is what I focused on in my last 2 week stretch. I also did a lot of physics practice problems on UWorld and contrary to what many others did (because I was stretched for time) I focused more on relationships rather than pure memorization of equations.
How did you study for B/B? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
This section was really hard for for because I am not familiar with reading scientific journals, high-level biology jargon, and graphs. I recognized that this was a weak area for me and did a lot of my own research on how to best attack graphs and charts on the MCAT. With the help of my tutor, I was able to better understand how to tackle complicated looking graphs, I drew out pathways explained in the passages, and read the question first, tried to answer it on my own if possible, and then chose the answer that best fit. If that wasn't possible I would go back to the specific part of the passage the question was referring to. Practice helped me a lot with this section as well.
How did you study for CARS? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
CARS is challenging no matter what major or background. I studied by doing 1 JW passage, then when I was a month away doing 2-3 JW passages, then 3-4 AAMC passages, then 5 2 weeks before my exam. My advice would be to spend time early on trying different strategies then choose 1 and stick with it. CARS is one of those sections that really take time and you won't see results after 1 day or even 1 week. At the end of the passage make sure to know the “main idea” and the answer will always be supported in the passage. Process of elimination is key for this section and being able to know, not guess, why an answer is wrong.
How did you study for P/S? What advice do you have to students who are struggling the most with that particular section?
My biggest advice would be not to dismiss it as the easiest section of the MCAT. That rumor hurt me early on in my studying. I saw my PS score increase as I started to take it just as seriously as CARS or the science sections. I used Anki for this every day and I reviewed the Khan Academy 86 page document you can find online. I also took notes on concepts that sound or look the same but have different meanings. This was helpful because during my exam day, questions like that actually showed up! Knowing terms and taking your time on this section is really important to a high score. Read the entire passage too.

Resources Mentioned

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Anne's Testimonial for MedLife Mastery Strategies!

"With only 2 weeks left before my exam I was extremely anxious and nervous. Rather than postpone or cancel my exam, I decided to invest in private tutoring and it was well worth it! After my first session, my practice exam score increased by 9 points and my actual MCAT score was higher than I scored on any of my practice exams. I am really grateful for [my tutor's] help and strategies!"

Additional Reading -- MCAT Success Stories:

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About the Author

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