Ruchira Ankireddygari

 Major: neuroscience 

Minor: History

 

Favorite class, you took at Michigan:

 

My favorite class was my freshman year Spanish 232, which I took with my twin sister.  It was an 8 am class with only 14 students in the MLB. I enjoyed how interactive the class format was. Since I conversed with all my classmates in Spanish regularly,  I got to know them pretty well.

When/How did you study for the MCAT:

I originally planned to take the MCAT during January of my junior year after I took TPR prep class in the summer. This gave me about 6 months of part-time studying. However, I had to adjust my study plans because I came down with a chronic case of keratitis. I ended up taking the MCAT in September 2021 after the shortened version had been put into place during COVID 19. 

In my experience, I regretted taking the Princeton Review class. I essentially had to restudy everything with the books because of the large time gap between when I took the class and when I took the exam. While studying on my own ( with the help of prep books) seemed intimidating to me at first, I think that it can actually be a great option for many students who may be non-traditional learners.

When did you take the MCAT:

Sept 2020

 

What was your pre-med experience:

My experience had its ups and downs. There were several moments where I felt overtaxed or things didn’t go as planned. Due to illness, I also had to alter my schedule several times. Overall, I still had a positive and meaningful experience at U of M as a premed. I had a chance to have a lot of good classes and unique extracurriculars that gave me a chance to develop myself even outside of being a premed.

Recommendations/advice for current students:

 

Medical school extracurricular requirements of research, clinical, and non-clinical hours, as well as leadership, can be met in several different ways. Look up the specific (and suggested) requirements for the schools that you may want to attend or apply to, several years before you apply to medical school. Rather than thinking about what you can do to meet these requirements, consider how you can explore your passions/ interests while still meeting the requirements. Do not feel the need to do the same activities as other students, and take the time to explore what makes you happy.

 

I would also recommend that students try to be prepared for the unexpected, and ready to adapt their plans, as well as their mindsets. You never know what will happen in the future, so let yourself learn and reflect on your experiences and the reasons why you want to pursue a career in medicine. 

 

 

Schedule:

Owen Doane

 Double Major: neuroscience & Music 

 

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

Psych 211 – this Project Outreach class allowed me to get involved in the community, playing music for residents of a memory care facility. The class not only exposed me to issues that the geriatric population face, especially individuals who suffer from memory impairing diseases, but also allowed me to gain some valuable community service experience. I took the class during the fall semester of my junior year, and was able to continue volunteering at the facility into the next semester. When the pandemic hit, I obviously wasn’t going in, but they let me give performances over Zoom starting back up in the fall of 2020, which was a unique experience. I was still able to see some of the people I had formed relationships with, albeit through my computer screen, and I’m very thankful that Psych 211 lent me that opportunity.

 

When/How did you study for the MCAT: I did my content review during the winter semester of my junior year, then spent May and June after classes ended taking and reviewing practice exams. I actually took the AAMC Sample Test before starting my content review so I had an idea of how the questions would be worded, and where I stood at that point in terms of what I knew. For materials, I used Kaplan books for my content review, and purchased online materials for additional content review and practice exams. I had access to Kaplan exams via my study books, I also tried a one week free trial of UWorld for some content review, and I purchased some BluePrint exams and split my account with some friends to help lower the cost. I also purchased the AAMC bundle and reviewed all the question banks and took all four practice exams, which I found to be the most helpful resources.

 

When did you take the MCAT: June 27, 2020 – the summer in between my junior and senior year.

 

What was your pre-med experience: I had a pretty good pre-med experience! I relied a lot on advice from my mentors and academic/pre-health advisors, as I don’t have family or friends who have gone to medical school in the past. During my freshman year I constructed a 4 year plan that put a lot of my fears and worries to rest, knowing that I was going to be able to make it work. That plan changed dramatically from semester to semester as my ideas of what I wanted to major in changed, but it was still comforting to have something to reference and fall back on if needed. I was very open to advice from anyone who would give it, and sought out lots of advice myself too!

 

Recommendations/advice for current students: Listen to the people who know what they’re talking about. For me, this meant getting lots of advice and information from my pre-health advisor during 1-on-1 meetings and office hours. I would highly recommend current students start visiting any pre-health advisor’s office hours just to start getting information from people who know how the process works very well. It’s super easy to start comparing yourself to other pre-med students, especially when you don’t feel adequate, but that often is more destructive than helpful, so I’d suggest trying your hardest not to let the actions and choices of others influence what you do. Everyone’s journey to medicine is unique to them, and if you can find activities that align with your values and show that in an application, you’re going to be just fine. Regarding my MCAT experience, I found 6 months of studying was too much for me, and felt very burnt out around the time of my exam. I thought spreading everything out would help lessen the workload, but the prolonged stress wasn’t something I anticipated. I’d suggest making a study plan that consists of 2-3 months of content review (rather than 4 months) plus ~1 month of practice exams and review (rather than 2 months).

Schedule:

 Karan Joseph

Neuroscience (major)

Electrical Engineering (minor)

                                                                                    

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

EECS 320/BIOLCHEM 415

BIOLCHEM 415 was one of the more difficult classes I took at Michigan, but I thoroughly enjoyed the course content. It was very intriguing to me to begin to understand how our body functions on a microscopic level. I thought it was so fascinating to think about how all of these different processes that we learned about were occurring on a daily basis. Even though the sheer volume of content seemed overwhelming at first, I think that this class helped me develop the study skills and discipline needed for the remainder of my college career.

 

EECS 320 was probably the most difficult class I took at Michigan (a close second being CHEM 230). This class’s content was very far removed from the typical biology and chemistry that I was used to. We mainly focused on the physical laws that dictated typical semiconductor behavior and then moved up in complexity to how actual semiconductor devices worked such as BJTs, MOSFETS, and MOS-Cs. The challenge that this class presented was much different than classes like BIOLCHEM 415 as there was a great deal of mathematics and logic involved which proved to be quite the challenge. However, I believe that I learned a lot from this course and enjoyed the long hours studying something so fascinating to me.

 

When/How did you study for the MCAT: I self-studied for the MCAT. I began studying in May and took the exam in August. I began with reading the Kaplan Books and taking detailed notes and making flashcards. From there, I moved onto the Uworld question bank and NextStep Full Length exams. The final segment of my studying involved completing all of the AAMC material as well as other resources I found online.

 

When did you take the MCAT: August 2019 (right after my sophomore year)

 

What was your pre-med experience:

My pre-med experience was a lot of fun. It started out pretty rough and I had a tough time adjusting to Michigan and the rigor of college. However, I quickly found a great group of friends and that friend group continued to grow and strengthen throughout the four years. If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement I received from them, I don’t think my pre-med experience, or my college experience in general, would have been as rewarding. In general, pre-med at Umich is supposed to be tough, but that doesn’t mean it has to be miserable. With good planning, support, and discipline it can also be a lot of fun.

 

Recommendations/advice for current students:

The biggest piece of advice I’ll give is never be afraid to challenge yourself. If it wasn’t for my willingness to push myself out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have met all of the good friends I have now nor would I have had all of the great experiences to look back on. In terms of practical advice: get organized. Make sure your calendar is organized, you have a to-do list, your email inbox is clean, you have a set daily schedule. Every morning, you should wake up knowing exactly what events you have, what tasks you need to complete and by what time they should be completed. Take one day of the week (for me it was Sunday) to plan the next week and reflect on the previous week. Using this will help make life feel less hectic, and give you more free time than you previously had.

Schedule:

 Sydney Edwards

Neuroscience (major)

environment (minor)

                                                                                    

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

 PubHlth 305: Environment & Human Health.

As a pre-health student with an environment minor, this course really synthesized my two areas of focus to provide an interdisciplinary academic experience. The class covered a wide range of topics from toxicology to environmental epidemiology and global health. The professor, Dr. Laura Rozek, is so sweet and an amazing instructor. After this course and the public health intro course (PubHlth 200), I officially decided to pursue an M.P.H. degree along with my M.D. 

 

When/how did you study for the MCAT: I self-studied for the MCAT the fall semester prior to taking it. I took a part time semester (8 credits) in order to have time to study. Around 80% of my studying was during the month prior to my MCAT during winter break. I used Princeton Review books for content review.

 

When did you take the MCAT: January of my senior year

 

What was your pre-med experience: My pre-med experience was initially a bit rocky, but I found my footing around towards the middle of my sophomore year. As a first generation student, I had no idea how to navigate the university or the resources available to me. I got much more involved in student organizations and the pre-med scene at Michigan the winter of my sophomore year. I got involved in a pre-med professional fraternity as well as research. During my junior and senior years I became even more involved in the campus community and secured executive board positions within several different organizations. My extracurriculars included a mix of pre-med and non pre-med organizations, and I was able to be involved in all of the things that I am passionate about rather than strictly pre-med organizations.

 

Recommendations/advice for current students: Select a major and choose research, volunteering, and extracurricular experiences that are interesting to you and that you feel will be fulfilling. Doing things just to check off a medical school box will burn you out quickly and you may lose motivation. I tried several student organizations before finding a set that worked for me, and although I did not get involved in most of these organizations until the latter half of my undergrad career, I feel fulfilled by them and do not feel that they are a chore, allowing me to do my best work. It may take some digging to find experiences that cater to your interests, but it is worth it. Also, take risks. I took a chance in joining a pre-medical fraternity and was initially very anxious about it, but as a part of the founding class of that fraternity I found a community of people with similar goals and interests, and a majority of my current friends and all of my wonderful housemates came from that decision.

 

Beyond academics and extracurricular activities, make time for yourself and your friends. The pre-med track is rigorous, and it can be easy to neglect things like a social life and sleep. College is an amazing opportunity to meet people, create lasting friendships, and experience new things, and it goes by incredibly fast. Don’t wait until it’s too late to do these things because you never know what could happen – I effectively lost my senior year to the pandemic, and I have friends who planned on using their final year to have fun and do all the things they didn’t get a chance to do the first three years. 

Schedule:

 

 Tina Tripathi

 Biomolecular Science (major)

Applied Statistics (minor)

                                                                                    

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

Honestly, there are a couple but if I had to choose the most ~sciencey~ one, it would be MCDB 422: Brain Development. Both Dr. Collins and Dr. Clowney are so passionate about the topic and the papers we read throughout the course were excellent. It was fascinating learning about the brain in as much detail as we went into and I genuinely enjoyed going to the lectures and working with my group members-turned-friends once a week. Despite COVID-19 coming into play this semester, the class was enjoyable and I can only imagine how amazing it is during a normal school year.

 

Runner-ups to this course (and less bio/chem based) are: STATS 401, HONORS 241 (Westworld), and ENGLISH 325.

 

When/How did you study for the MCAT: I actually ended up taking the MCAT twice, but I’ll detail what I did during my successful attempt. Starting January of my junior year, I started doing content review. I went through the Kaplan books and whenever I was confused or wanted more detail, I would look at other resources (Youtube, Khan Academy, etc). A this time I also started going through an Anki deck of cards that I found through reddit (MileDown’s deck). Starting in April I started taking full-length exams and doing question banks. I bought the resources from the AAMC and used the free tests from BluePrint and Kaplan (which came with my books). 

 

When did you take the MCAT:

First attempt: September 13, 2019;

Second: July 18, 2020

 

What was your pre-med experience: Overall, I had a pretty good pre-med experience. I definitely struggled through a couple of classes but perseverance and friendships helped me make it through. Additionally, tapping into the resources that the university provides was definitely a game changer. I wouldn’t be where I am without office hours, SLC groups, or studying with friends which is definitely a different experience than what I had in high school. 

 

Recommendations/advice for current students: Do what you like to do and take opportunities that don’t necessarily scream “premed” to you. I think coming into college and honestly until my junior year, being premed was such a huge part of my identity that I didn’t give myself the option to explore what was offered by the university or really what I actually enjoyed doing. Choose activities that you are genuinely interested/ passionate about. It’ll make life more fun and your story all the more interesting when applying to medical school!

 

Schedule:

 

Judy Huynh

 Biology, Health, and Society (Major)

Food and Environment (Minor)

                                                                                    

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

ANTHRCUL 344: Medical Anthropology

I really liked medical anthropology because it was a break from the rigorous science courses, but I was still learning about medicine. It is a mix of a sociology and medical ethics course, and I thought it was very eye-opening. There are a lot of things we take for granted or were conditioned to believe and this class makes you realize things are not what they always seem. The course taught me to be more empathic and I learned how illness works in different cultures. We also got to watch many films, and the class was not difficult. Overall, this is a really cool class and everyone should take it at one point.

When/How did you study for the MCAT: 

I didn’t start studying until summer before my senior year. I decided to self-study so I used Kaplan books and UWORLD/AAMC methods to practice. I made a schedule at the beginning of my studies. It is okay if you don’t stick to your schedule; you’ll learn as you study what works best for you. If you decide to make flashcards/ Anki cards, I recommend making them as you go through the Kaplan books. It is better to get through content faster and give yourself more time to do practice questions. 

 

When did you take the MCAT: January 2021

 

What was your pre-med experience:

My pre-med experience was tough but rewarding. There are so many pre-meds at Michigan which can be a good and bad thing. Good because there are tons of resources and opportunities. It is easy to find people who have multiple classes with you and to study with. The downside is the large classes and competitiveness. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to form any relationships with my professors but they know classes are big so they are understanding. It is also easier when you start taking upper-level classes since classes are smaller. I also felt a lot of pressure to do everything every pre-med did, but eventually, I learned that it is more important to do what you enjoy. You’ll have to write about your experiences and even talk about them during interviews so make sure you’re doing things you’re passionate about. 

 

Recommendations/advice for current students:

Make time for friends and have fun. You don’t want to look back on college and feel like you spent the entire time staring at a textbook. Make the time to explore Ann Arbor, meet new people, try new restaurants, and have late-night study sessions with friends. When you look back on college, these are the memories you’ll remember. 

Schedule:

 

 

Isabel Murray 

Major: Gender and Health  

                                                                                    

Favorite class you took at Michigan:

I have loved all my coursework in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department! My favorite class I’ve taken is WGS 374 – Gender, Race, and Incarceration. Learning about the experiences and healthcare needs of incarcerated folks is incredibly important for understanding larger systematic barriers to healthcare and social determinants of health in the US. I also enjoyed taking WGS 400 – Women’s Reproductive Health. It is a two-hour lecture once a week. Each week, there are three separate guest lecturers who each speak for ~45 minutes about topics in women’s health. Most of the guest lecturers are physicians at Michigan Medicine, so it is also a great way to learn about pursuing a career in medicine and meet mentors. Both of the professors are amazing and really accessible for pre-med advice. It’s also an upper level writing course! 

When/How did you study for the MCAT:

I haven’t taken it yet! I am taking 2 gap years, so I am taking the MCAT this upcoming summer. I am planning to self-study using the Kaplan books, Blueprint question banks, and the AAMC material. 

When did you take the MCAT:

August 2021

What was your pre-med experience:

I have loved every second I’ve spent at Michigan, but the pre-med experience can certainly be stressful. I am really happy I pursued a degree in Gender and Health, because it meant I had diverse coursework each semester. This opened up so many doors for new experiences and connections. My major ended up being really helpful in helping me understand why I want to pursue a career in medicine. 

Schedule:

 

 

Figuring out how to study for the MCAT, create a balanced schedule, and prepare effectively can be a daunting task, so we’ve gathered up some helpful tips and resources to help you get started!

 

Creating a Study Schedule

In general, it is recommended that you spend 3-4 months studying for the MCAT, especially if you are looking to score in the higher percentiles. When making arrangements for your studying, it is important to set a balanced, feasible, and sustainable schedule that accommodates your other time commitments, such as work, volunteering, classes, etc. While everyone’s day-to-day activities look different, here is a helpful schedule that gives you a better idea of what a good study schedule looks like! It is also important to note that in your last few weeks of studying, you should aim to complete a number of full-length practice exams. The most accurate ones come straight from the AAMC, but there are many prep companies that also have full-length practice exams to purchase.

General tip: if you are getting within a few points (+/- 2 points) of your target score in your final full-length practice exams, you should be good on test day!

 

Practice Exams and Paid Resources

There are many prep companies and websites that offer practice full-length exams as well as other paid resources, such as online courses, question banks, and tutoring. Here is a comprehensive list of some websites to look at! Most prep companies (Blueprint, Altius, PR) also have free diagnostic practice exams! However, take this with a grain of salt since each company’s scoring is different.

  • AAMC
    • Practice exams are the most representative of the MCAT.
    • The full bundle (4 exams + question packs) is highly recommended!
    • They also offer a free un-scored sample exam.
  • Blueprint / NextStep
    • Each practice exam has 5 attempts, so you can use one account and split the cost with friends!
  • Altius
    • Their practice exams are fairly representative of the actual exam. They also offer online courses.
  • Kaplan
    • Offer online self-study programs of different bundles/prices
    •  Live online two-month course (as recommended by an advisor)
      • Resources 
        • They provide online practice tests, a complete 7-book MCAT Subject Review Set, a question bank that can be divided into different sections of the MCAT/topics within the sections, optional channel sessions focusing on specific concepts (ex: thermodynamics), and a study plan to go with the flow of the course. See this link and scroll to see all the features. 
      • Before class: content review (mostly done by yourself)
        • Every session, you are to complete a diagnostic quiz that gives suggestions on what topics you should focus on and videos to help you review before class. 
      • During class: MCAT strategies 
        • Instructors go through high yield questions. They teach you how to read the passage, what to look for, the types of questions asked, and the types of answers choices that are usually right/wrong. However, they do not emphasize content review during class.
  • Princeton
    • They offer many types of courses, including winter boot camps, self-paced schedules, and tutoring.
  • UWorld (question bank)
    • Different bundles: free 7-day trial, 90 days, 180 days, 360 days
    • Questions (both passage and individual content) for Orgo, Gen Chem, Physics, CARS, Biochem, and Bio.

 

Review Books and Other (Free) Resources

In preparing for the MCAT, content review is still very important and can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Kaplan 7-Book Subject Review (most popular)
    • Edition doesn’t matter very much as though the content is similar across all.
    • You can usually find a discount or buy a used version for a reduced price!
  • Princeton Review and many others

General tip: the practice questions in some of these review books tend to be more detailed than you’ll see on the actual MCAT. It is more useful to use these books for content review as opposed to full-length exams.

  • Psych/Soc Content Review Document (300 and 90-page versions)
  • Anki – MilesDown MCAT Decks (Ortho528/premed95/miledown)
    • Reddit MCAT section (use with a grain of salt)
  • Khan Academy videos
  • Dr. Ryan Grey’s MCAT podcast
  • MPrep Daily Questions, Kaplan, BluePrint – question of the day sent to your email
  • Jack Westin – daily CARS passages sent to your email
    • The website also has passages and content review questions for the other sections too.

 

It’s no doubt that studying for the MCAT can be overwhelmed and stressful, but even the smallest of organization and structure can make your studying more bearable and effective. No matter where you are in your MCAT journey, just know that this time will pass and your hard work will pay off!

Feel free to read any of our other blog posts on the MCAT for more helpful tips.

At the end of the semester, senior advisors and members of PMH E-board took part in an internal Q & A. They answered questions asked by our junior advisors and gave some helpful tips from their personal experience. Below is a summary of the questions and their responses.

This is the first of a continuing series with the Pre-Med Hub.

 

Q: Do you have tips for writing your personal statement?

  • Start creating an outline of what you’d like to write about. Think about the story you want to share and make sure to focus on telling why you want to be a physician. This takes a lot of time and effort so make sure to start as early as possible. Talk to pre-med advisors who give you feedback on your drafts. Look at sample essays online for reference. They can be helpful in giving you examples of good and bad essays. 
  • Visit Medical School HQ run by Dr. Ryan Grey
    • Dr. Ryan Grey is a physician who critiques personal statements that students send in. He emphasizes that the question you should focus on answering is why you want to become a physician (i.e. don’t just list activities you’ve done). He also has podcasts and a youtube channel!
  • It’s better to take your time writing your personal statement rather than rushing it so that you can give it to your letter of recommendation writers (if they ask for it). It’s also acceptable to say that you don’t have a personal statement to share and ask to meet multiple times so that you can explain your experiences/who you are.

 

Q: When should I start writing my personal statement? I plan to take a gap year and apply my senior year.

  • It would be helpful to start early, for example, have an outline ready in February and get feedback in March. It’s not impossible to start in March or April, however, it will be more stressful having to balance writing your personal statement while also getting other parts of the application ready.

 

Q: I’m taking the MCAT this summer. Would you recommend taking any specific courses at UM beforehand?

  • Besides thetypical prereqs (gen chem, orgo, physics, biochem, pchem, psychology, sociology), upper-level biology labs are good courses to take before the MCAT because they help you better understand the passages of the bio section of the MCAT. These passages require you to analyze an experiment, extrapolate from the data given, and interpret the information that’s in the graphs or tables. Many upper-level bio labs can make your understanding of the passages easier and expose you to certain techniques that could aid your comprehension of these passages.
  • Reading scientific articles and analyzing/discussing the figures and results with lab members or peers could help you get familiar with the analytical skills required for the bio/biochem section of the MCAT.

 

Q: What do you wish you knew before taking the MCAT and what resources helped you while studying?

  • Take some time to familiarize yourself with the logistics of the MCAT. There are a few technical things that are good to know about before test day (ex. putting your phone in a plastic bag, scanning your fingerprint, what the process is for taking breaks, etc.). Knowing these small things ahead of time can help decrease your nerves on test day!
  • There’s a great resource called UWorld. It’s an MCAT question bank that many find helpful for studying. Khan Academy is also very helpful, especially for the psych/soc section videos.
  • Khan academy psych/soc resource: 85-page document of all the psychology/sociology info you need to know for the MCAT. This was very helpful!

 

Q: How do you use UWorld?

  • I did blocks of 25-50 questions and then identified which sections I did poorly on. It was important to understand why I got questions incorrect. Then, I made flashcards and did a heavy review on the topics I was weakest on. 
  • Make sure you know what and why you get something wrong. Creating flashcards of the questions you missed is helpful for reviewing content.
  • If you are short on time. focus on areas that you are weakest on. Create an excel sheet with all the info you get wrong and the reasons for why you got them wrong.

 

Q: How do you create your school list and how many schools did you apply for on average?

  • The best way to start is to generate a long list of schools whose missions you align with. Aim for about 20-25 schools on your list. Search what their values are (ex: are they research-oriented? Do they care most about community service, public health/policy, underserved communities, etc.). 
  • UseMSAR. It’s a subscription resource that lists admitted students’ data (such as average MCAT, GPAs, number of students they take in state and out of state) as well as tuition, mission statements, dual-degree programs, etc. for all U.S. medical schools.

 

Hi everyone! Our latest blog update is a video interview from the director of Admissions at Michigan Medicine, Carol Teener. She talks about several general parts of the med school application process for 2021, from GPA and Extracurriculars to the MCAT and Reapplicants. It isn’t specifically for U of M med school applicants and is a great resource for all !

Also, thank you to the Science Success Series hosted by the Science Learning Center, Newnan Advising, and Women in Science and Engineering for allowing us to publish this video!