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MCAT & OMSAS. UWO Pre-Medical Society Academic Information Session #3 Mar. 16, 2010 Sung Ho Um, Academic coordinator. Outline. MCAT Introduction Preparing for MCAT Test day Post-exam OMSAS Preparations Filling out the application Application processing. MCAT.

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mcat omsas


UWO Pre-Medical Society

Academic Information Session #3

Mar. 16, 2010

Sung Ho Um, Academic coordinator

  • MCAT
    • Introduction
    • Preparing for MCAT
    • Test day
    • Post-exam
    • Preparations
    • Filling out the application
    • Application processing
  • Register at
  • Seats fill up fast! Try to register the day registration opens.
    • Feb. 23rd for the summer test dates
  • Medical college admissions test (MCAT)
  • A standardized test to assess prerequisites for success in medicine
  • All American medical schools and most Canadian schools require MCAT
  • More than 70,000 exam is written each year
    • Closer to 80,000 in 2009
mcat exam content
MCAT Exam content
  • Not just an exam of memorization
  • Tests your capacity to solve problems and critically think
    • As well as your ability to formulate a written argument
  • Medical schools want undergrads with broad academic capabilities
mcat exam content1
MCAT Exam content
  • Consists of 4 sections:
    • Physical Sciences (PS)
    • Verbal Reasoning (VR)
    • Writing Sample (WS)
    • Biological Sciences (BS)
  • Diverse sections to identify students that is most likely to be successful in medical school
exam overview
Exam overview
  • ~20 min for tutorial + examinee agreement
  • PS: 70 min for 52Qs
  • Break (10 min)
  • VR: 60 min for 40Qs
  • Break (10 min)
  • WS: 60 min for 2 prompts. (30 min/prompt)
  • Break (10 min)
  • BS: 70 min for 52Qs
  • Option to void
  • Survey

Total seat time: ~5 hours 30 min

section analysis
Section analysis
  • PS and BS
    • PS consists of general chemistry and physics.
    • BS consists of biology and organic chemistry
    • Problem-solving ability
    • 7 passage (each with 4-7 Qs) and 13 free standing Qs
    • Be able to apply your knowledge of the basic concepts and information from the passage.
    • NOT intended to test your ability to memorize
section analysis1
Section analysis
  • VR and WS are the two sections that most science students rewrite for.
  • VR
    • Tests your ability to understand, evaluate, and apply information/argument presented.
    • 7 passages (each ~600 words long); 5-7 Qs per passage
    • Topics can be from humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences
section analysis2
Section analysis
  • WS
    • Two 30 min essays.
    • Topics require an expository response
    • Be able to develop a central idea, synthesize concepts/ideas, present your ideas cohesively and logically.
    • Write clearly with university-level grammar, syntax and punctuation.
    • Note that you have limited time and no time for careful editing. (First-draft composition)
preparing for mcat
Preparing for MCAT
  • Commercially available MCAT prep books
    • Kaplan, Examkracker, etc
  • Prep courses (ie. Princeton or Kaplan)
  • Individual tutoring
  • Purchase practice exams on AAMC website
preparing for mcat1
Preparing for MCAT
  • Essential to become comfortable with the basic science material
  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Keep up with current events and/or historical events relevant to the WS prompts
    • Hundreds of example prompts at:
preparing for mcat2
Preparing for MCAT
  • How about VR?
  • Active reading!
  • Become comfortable adapting to different writing styles, tone and topics.
  • If you are having trouble, get access to as many practice material as possible and practice! (Princeton, Kaplan, Examkracker, AAMC)
    • After each practice, figure out how you can improve.
test day
Test day
  • You probably prepared for weeks, months, or in some cases a whole year!
  • Some tips:
    • Make sure you know where you need to be
    • Plan on arriving 20 min early
    • Pack the night before (ID, snack, etc)
    • Know what you are going to wear; be comfortable
    • Relax the day prior to the exam. You are ready!
writing the exam
Writing the exam
  • Arrive early. You don’t want to be doing VR when everyone else is doing WS
  • Try to be calm. Remember, you are ready for this!
  • PS is your first section, it is normal if it seems more difficult than you are used to.
    • Keep your regular pace. Keep moving!
  • If you feel you did bad on a section, don’t let that drag you down for the rest of the exam
    • Everyone else probably thought it was hard too
writing the exam1
Writing the exam
  • Take advantage of 10 min breaks!
  • Bring snacks for the breaks. (Fruit, gronola bars, water/juice)
  • Focus on what’s coming up; not trying to figure out how you did on the previous section
  • It is okay if you take a bit longer than 10 min breaks.
  • Bring unopened ear-plugs. You can use them.
  • Do not try a new strategy on the actual exam. This is not the time to experiment!
post exam
  • Scores are released after 4-5 weeks
  • Raw score is converted to a scaled score
  • Minimize variability affecting your performance.
  • Based on percentile rank ranges on the performance of all students this year, and also reflective of the previous year
  • PS, VR, BS: 1-15 (8 is 50th percentile)
  • WS: J-T (P is 50th percentile)
post exam1
  • What kind of scores do you need?
  • Western cutoffs for 2010: PS9/VR11/BS10; 30P
  • A balanced 30+Q score is sufficient for many schools
    • Depends on schools and applicant pool each year
    • Aim higher 35+Q if you are considering top tier schools in the US
scores are out now what
Scores are out, now what?
  • Rewrite? Don’t worry, many successful applicant write MCAT more than once.
    • Preparing for a subsequent rewrite is not as bad as the first time
    • For most Canadian schools you can rewrite as many times as you need to. (max. 3 times/year)
    • For US, rewrites are not okay beyond 3 times. Must show consistent improvement.
  • Congratulations if you got a satisfactory score!
    • Lets apply to medical schools! 
  • Ontario medical school application service (OMSAS)
  • All Ontario medical schools use this service
    • Western, McMaster, Northern, Ottawa, Queens, Toronto
  • Few things you need to do before filling out your application:
    • Which schools you can/want to apply for.
    • 3 references
    • List of extracurriculars and their verifiers
  • Application begins mid July
  • Create an account on OMSAS before mid Sept.
filling out the application
Filling out the application
  • Autobiographical sketch:
    • Activities since age of 16
    • 7 categories: max. 48 entries total
      • Formal education
      • Employment
      • Volunteer activities
      • Extracurricular activities
      • Awards and accomplishments
      • Research
      • Other
filling out the application1
Filling out the application
  • Verifier are required for all entry except those with official documents (ie. Transcript)
    • Name, address, telephone number
  • References: Confidential assessment form + Letter
filling out the application2
Filling out the application
  • Supplementary sections:
    • University of Toronto requires a personal essay.
    • McMaster requires short answers to five Qs.
  • Due Oct 1st. Strict deadline.
  • MCAT scores released by mid Oct
  • References due no later than Dec. 1
    • To avoid any delay, ensure OMSAS receives them ASAP. (References can be submitted before your application goes through).
application processing
Application processing
  • You will hear back from medical schools in Dec~Mar by email
  • Interviews are held Mar~April
  • Offers are made mid-May. All Ontario schools release results on the same day.
  • Waitlist moves throughout the summer until all spots are filled
  • MCAT:
  • OMSAS:
  • Good luck with MCAT and medical school applications this summer!