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Replies to: 2016-17 Medical School Applicants and their Parents

  • Walker1194Walker1194 988 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Parent of a daughter applying this cycle. MCAT scores out tomorrow. My stomach hurts lol
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  • Jugulator20Jugulator20 1530 replies18 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good luck to D tomorrow. As for you, buy some wine. It’ll help you waiting for D's MCAT score and with the future stresses arising in your D’s med school application cycle and beyond
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  • Walker1194Walker1194 988 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thanks. Doesn't help that she is studying abroad and that actually talking to her can be difficult. Depending on her score, she is seriously considering an ED app to her one in state med school option. Anyone have experience/advice on that route?
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited February 2016
    Applying ED is a big risk.

    ED applicants need to have higher stats than RD applicants to the same school. And a very, very strong reason to apply to just that one school. (More than than it's in-state--unless you live in North Dakota where the ED admit rate is >50%. Typically ED applicants have a seriously ill parent or family member they're sole caretakers for or have a spouse who cannot relocate or already attends the same school. Things that demonstrate attending elsewhere would be a hardship.)

    Because ED applicants are prohibited from applying to any other med school until the final decision arrives from the ED school (which is on or about October 1), they are at a serious disadvantage during the application process should they need to apply elsewhere. By the time they know they need to apply elsewhere, applications deadlines are very close. (Application deadlines are anywhere from Oct 15 to Dec 1.) They may not be able to receive and return secondaries before the deadline hits. Additionally, many medical schools interview and accept students on a rolling basis. Applying in October/November is usually considered too late to be effective because most interview slots have already been filled and seats have already been offered.
    edited February 2016
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  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2261 replies41 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Our in-state offers ED as well and for the reasons Wayoutwestmom states son did NOT apply ED but rather RD. He also received acceptances as early as they are allowed to grant, mid October. And from there others came on a rolling basis. Had he applied ED he would have been seriously handicapped in applying, interviewing and then receiving those acceptances.

    He was accepted to the in-state that he opted RD vs. ED. And he received a full tuition scholarship+ to attend that school. He is of the opinion had he applied ED that scholarship might not have been offered, since the school was aware of his other acceptances. But again this is just his opinion.

    Kat
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  • Walker1194Walker1194 988 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Again, she is waiting on her MCAT scores to craft a plan of action. We only have one in-state allopathic med school and it does not accept oos students. She has already met once with an admissions counselor and once with a member of the admissions committee. Her GPA (both cGPA and sGPA) is currently well above average for the school. The admissions counselor told her the only thing she might want to improve on is more volunteer work. There are some other factors that are in play that I really don't think I should mention ;). Tomorrow will be a big day in terms of decisions to be made. I just hope we won't be looking at a gap year
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Walker1194

    I also live in a state with 1allopathic med school that doesn't accept OOS applicants and interviews 90% of in-state applicants. Both my daughters had stats (GPA and MCAT) well above the in-state averages. D1's BF's dad is a permanent member of the adcomm and had advised D1 on how to craft her application to maximize her appeal. He still told D1 NOT to apply ED because it was too big of a risk. (Ds are middle class white girls who are not from rural, underserved counties so they don't fit the demographic targeted by ED.)

    (For the record, the BF's dad did not participate in D1's committee review to avoid conflict of interest issues.)
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  • StructuralStructural 91 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My D got her MCAT back, it was OK(83%) not excellent, she is planning to take again in May. The dilemma is her Bio is 93% the others were below her expectation, she think she can improve them next time; but I understand all the MS would see the average of the two tests, even she can improve the other three sub-score, avg of Bio is hard to up further for her, and I heard Bio may have higher weight than the rest. Should I encourage her to retake? Thanks.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited February 2016
    I understand all the MS would see the average of the two tests,

    This isn't true. The schools will get a score report that shows how many time the test was taken and what the overall score and all the individual subscores for were for all test sittings. Even exam scores from 5 or 10 years ago get reported. (Or as one SDN adcom says--"A MCAT score is forever-- just like genital herpes.")

    Every med school has its own policy on how it views multiple MCAT scores. And please understand when a school says it will consider only the highest score or the average score--it means for reporting and ranking purposes only, not necessarily for the purpose of considering an applicant for admission.

    Adcoms are individuals and each and every one will have their own idiosyncratic way of viewing multiple MCAT scores. (And as one of adcoms on SDN likes to say--"a score once seen cannot be unseen." Meaning even if the official policy is to average or only consider the highest score, it doesn't mean a particular adcom will view it that way. )

    USNews has some pretty decent advice on whether or not to retake a MCAT--

    3 Tips for Retaking the MCAT

    If you want objective data on how likely your D is to improve her MCAT score with a re-test--AMCAS has data here--

    MCAT Retesters Data Tables

    Since scores and subscores are presented in confidence bands (of up to +/-3 points of the central score), your D would need score higher than the upper limit of the confidence band interval on each subtest and overall to represent an significant improvement over her old score. Scoring within the same confidence band range won't help her at all and will only convince adcoms she's reached her testing plateau.

    Retaking is a risk. if she retakes and doesn't improve significantly, the decision is viewed as evidence of arrogance, immaturity and hubris by adcoms. None of which are attractive qualities in an applicant.

    (One of the reasons why adcomms don't like MCAT retakes is because on USMLEs if you pass, you are not permitted to retake for a better score. So you only get one chance on your STEP exams--unless you fail.)


    edited February 2016
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  • StructuralStructural 91 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks WOWM , the links are helpful to gain more information. From the table provided, only 24% retakers improved the score more than 3 points in her category. Your prompt response is very much appreciated.
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  • Jugulator20Jugulator20 1530 replies18 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Maybe if D has strong GPAs, ECs, LORs, etc, a plan of applying strategically and early may be a consideration as opposed to risks of retake. Alternately there is also DO option to consider.
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  • MizzBeeMizzBee 4518 replies60 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I wanted to come on an welcome you all. My DS had his last interview today. He interviewed from August until March. I truly never thought that it would take so long, but it has been an interesting ride. I wish for all of you patience and humor throughout the process. It is nothing like the undergraduate process, and after a season of this, it is still difficult to understand why he was a fit at some schools and not others. It has made me appreciate the man that he has become.
    A few things that I recommend are obvious now, but made a difference in stress levels. Get letters or recommendations early. Find out about school committee requirements and don't procrastinate. Write your PS early and don't be afraid to edit it. Pre-write the secondary documents so that those can be reviewed and edited as well. Do mock interviews with people and practice talking to strangers. Think about the interview questions at the particular schools (which can be found on SDN) so you are not thrown for a loop in an interview. Dress appropriately, even if it seems too conservative. Be yourself and learn to laugh about the process. Be tenacious. It can take people more than one cycle to get in.
    As for parents, be supportive, have a glass of wine handy for acceptances and rejections. Understand that the process is very long and can sap the confidence out of everyone once in a while. Be realistic-there is no such thing as a safety school.
    Good luck to you all.
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  • dheldrethdheldreth 316 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    @Structural if your D decides to take the MCAT again, she should make sure she has prepared more and/or differently. She should only retake in May if she has time to adequately prepare.

    This was just my Ds experience, so take it for what it's worth. While I do NOT recommend it, she took the MCAT 3 times, and still got 3 early IIs and 3 early acceptances. Her score the first time was borderline - a score that would probably put her in a hold pile. She got shingles 3 days before the MCAT. She was convinced because of that she could do better and signed up to take it again 3 months later. But with all she had going on with school, she didn't get to study much more, so her score dropped 2 points. She was crushed, and was not sure she should apply that cycle. But everything else in her app. was strong. Her pre-med advisor told her to take it again in August of her app year and apply that cycle anyway - a risky move. What helped her is she did something different. We forked over the money for a Kaplan course that she did that summer. She learned memory aids and test taking strategies that were counterintuitive to her, but she embraced them, and she was able to raise her score 3 points higher than her first score (old MCAT.).

    So, retaking the MCAT isn't necessarily the kiss of death, but if she does, she needs to prepare in such a way that she is confident and practice tests confirm that she will most likely score higher.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @dheldreth --Hate to break it to you but if all her scores were within +/- 3 points of her original score--that's within the overall margin of error for the MCAT. That's how the test is designed. (And that's why the new MCAT uses confidence band intervals to report scores.)

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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @dheldreth

    margin of error is also called the Standard Error of Measurement in test design
    The standard error of measurement (SEm) estimates how repeated measures of a person on the same instrument tend to be distributed around his or her “true” score. The true score is always an unknown because no measure can be constructed that provides a perfect reflection of the true score.

    For a score improvement to be significant/meaningful, the new score needs to be outside the range of the SEm.



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  • dheldrethdheldreth 316 replies3 threadsRegistered User Member
    ^^^ while it is certainly true that her scores were within the margin of error, I don't think her improvement was due to chance. She truly changed the way she approached the test, and her practice tests supported that she would improve. Would it have been better to have done the Kaplan course to start with and to have been "one and done"? In hindsight, of course it would. But D did get into med school, with choices, and a number of her friends attending her med school and other schools retook the MCAT. "One and done" is always best, but I guess my point was that a retake may be a good idea as long as significantly more preparation is involved, not just because the student thinks they can do better.

    I agree that scoring within the standard error of measurement is statistically insignificant, but with med school admission a 3 point bump can be significant, not statistically, but in getting what you want - an acceptance. According to the following table, looking at GPA & MCAT for Ds cycle, the admission rate for her GPA with her first MCAT score was 57.6%. With the final MCAT score it was 74%. Those are much better odds.

    https://www.aamc.org/download/321508/data/factstablea23.pdf

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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84013 replies1012 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    @WayOutWestMom

    <<
    And that's why the new MCAT uses confidence band intervals to report scores.)
    <<


    can you explain to us about confidence bands. TIA
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A confidence interval represent the uncertainty in an estimate of a single numerical value

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_and_prediction_bands

    Basically the new MCAT reports both the central score plus the SEm to to show that the test takers true score lies within a certain range.

    It explicitly tells the person looking at the MCAT score that this test taker scored 500 on this particular test on this particular date, but this person was equally likely to have scored 497 or a 503. This is something that adcomm members have always been aware of, but the new test report makes it obvious.

    In theory, the more times a person takes a standardized exam and the more scores you have from the same test, the closer one comes to finding that individual's true score (which is a statistical ideal and doesn't actually exist). In practice, repeated testing changes the validity & reliability of later scores because an individual "learns" the test format and their response to the test will no longer be "test naive".

    One of the most commonly offered reasons for the continued rise in MCAT scores over the past decade has been the availability of practice materials, including actual full length practice exams. First time test takers are no longer test-naive.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84013 replies1012 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    Ok....so someone who scores a 500 on the MCAT will show a band of 497-503.

    so, if that student retests, and scores a 503, then that is within the band for the previous test, but won't the second test show a band of 500-506 (which would be a "better band")?

    Or does the fact that there was an earlier test (500) discount the new band?

    Either way, won't the new test show a better band?

    Does the student have to score at least 4 points more in a retest for the better band to be meaningful?

    Either way, I think med schools like the better score because that helps their reporting numbers, right?

    I'm just curious....
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10147 replies201 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If upon retest, the test taker scores higher, the new score will have its own confidence band/confidence interval. However, multiple tests scores cannot be considered in isolation. You have to look at all the data points. In your example, the test taker's true score would be in the 500-503 range since that is the intersection of the confidence bands from both test sittings.

    The new test score does not necessarily show a "better hand" since it cannot be considered in isolation. You have to look at all the data.

    Ideally, if a person takes and retakes a test multiple times (like dozens or hundreds of sittings) and you plot all the results, you will see a bell curve emerge with the high point/central point being the best representation of the individual's true score.

    Med schools tend to publicly report only the highest score since it makes them look better for US News rankings; however, this doesn't mean that the highest test score is the only one considered when the adcomm reviews an applicant. They have to look at testing trends and confidence interval overlaps if there are multiple test scores. And I highly doubt adcomms are so short-sigted to accept a student who has 7 MCAT attempts, 6 being significantly below the school norm and only the last one being very high just to fluff up their USNews rankings. They're not that stupid--and 1 higher than average test score isn't going to make that much difference in their ranking. (And remember that bell curves do have outliers so that individual's one high test score could just be a fluke. It happens.)

    BTW, AMCAS has now limited the number of lifetime attempts one individual can have for the MCAT to 7. That number includes tests completed, but canceled after completion. The 7 chance rule is an attempt to mitigate the "practice effect" on test scores. It's tenet of test design that an individual will always score higher upon retake because they are now familiar with the test format and question types. Familiarity with testing format skews test results. So any decrease in test scores upon retake is a strong indicator that the person originally scored at or near the upper end of the confidence interval.

    And yes, to show significant or meaningful improvement, any score increase has to be above the previous confidence band interval. So in the case of the MCAT >3 points.
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