Saturday, 1 November 2014

From A'levels Pre-Medical to the MCAT; a 'mistakenly' difficult road.

Sounds impossible, right? I mean, MCAT is something only FSC students can handle. They're the ones who can ace it and get into the government medical colleges of Pakistan. Well, guess what? You're wrong. Yes, the MCAT comes mainly from the FSC books, follows the FSC syllabus and is basically made for FSC students, but with proper guidance, A'level students can fare far better than most FSC students. 

Here's a few reasons why:
1. A'levels students have a better grip on the topics than most FSC students because they have better concepts built up.

2. Most of the syllabus is what you've already studied in your A'levels. Just some of it, like in Biology, there are new chapters and new concepts you must learn.
3. MCAT is not ratta. They ask conceptual, brain-using questions and not just text out of the book (except in Biology sometimes) and A'level-style questions, so A'level students know how to attempt them better.

Alright, so I hope some of that morale of yours has risen. Don't listen to those people (especially desi aunties and uncles) who keep saying that A'levels kar k tou government college mein nahin admission ho skta (You can't get admission in a government college by doing A'levels).
They are wrong and they don't know what they're talking about. Of course you can get into a government college after A'levels & trust me, MCAT isn't even that hard. The CIEs were much more difficult. You just need to know how to tackle the MCAT and how to prepare for it. 

Before I tell you that, here's a few things you need to know before preparing for the MCAT:
1. Make sure you have amazing O'levels and A'levels grades. Obviously, by the time you'll start prepping for your MCAT, you won't know what your A'level grades are (because they come out in August). Remember, for your FSC equivalence, your O'levels grades matter most. If you have straight A's/A* ... great! If you have two or more B's and C's in your result card... yeah, it's gonna be tough. If you want to know how the equivalence works, go to the IBCC website.
2. Don't worry about the MCAT until after you give your A-2 CIEs. Worrying about it before will just ruin your A'level grade and that won't help in getting you into a college.

Okay, now that you have good O'level grades, and you're pretty sure you'll get good A'level grades too, here's what you must do next:

So, you're done with A-2 exams in May-June, and you're back home from your last exam. All you want to do now is relax. But should you relax? I mean, what about the MCAT? You can't just neglect it, right? Well, here's the answer - CHILL OUT. Take a break, party hard. But only for two - three weeks. NOT more than that. Go over three weeks, and you're putting yourself in trouble. Now then... you've taken a two - three week break, it's back to the books. 

The first question students ask themselves - to take an academy or not to take an academy? Personally, I never took tuitions in any of my O'levels and A'levels years because I thought they were a waste of time. For the MCAT, I will tell you a fact, not just an opinion - THEY WILL WASTE YOUR TIME. DO NOT, and I mean, DO NOT, join an academy. That's the first wrong step A'level students take. You see, if you're an FSC student, the academies will be good for you because you've already studied everything in your FSC years. But if you're an A'levels student, you need to do everything from scratch and the academies won't spoon feed everything to you. They will assume you already know the basics and everything. They will skip straight ahead to the difficult part. But you, being an A'level student, must start from the bottom. For that, your only hope is to do self study. I do know some A'level students who made it into public colleges eventhough they joined academies, but those students knew how to balance their time and were very talented. Stay on the safe side and don't overestimate yourself, and think you can do it too. I would definitely suggest sticking to your home and studying by yourself. You don't need a teacher to teach you the books. You can do it yourself. 

I took the KIPS academy in the last month, just for the test sessions and they were, without a doubt, amazing. But that's only because I knew how to solve them and I had learned everything before hand. There were a few things that I did not know (that weren't properly explained in the FSC books) and I took notes of them. So basically, my study plan was: first two months of self study + the last test session month to practice questions and cover anything I had overlooked. I would suggest KIPS over the STAR academy because their discussion session after the tests was elaborate and detailed and very, very helpful. Their tests were precisely according to the syllabus and followed the MCAT style. The MCAT gets harder every year, as the trend shows, so the academies try to give really hard tests (Like the mocks in A'levels) just so we would find the final MCAT easy.
Now, the next step - Buy the FSC text books for both part I and part II (That will make a total of six text books you need). Do NOT throw away your A'level books and notes. Yes, you still need them. Take them all out and place them all in the room you're studying.  Also, for MCAT practice, buy a few MCAT books. There are many. The best ones are by KIPS though, but buy many books. The more the practice, the better. Some books have stupid, textbook cramming questions but they'll be good for you to revise the chapters. For English, you can either buy the KIPs vocabulary book or use some other MCAT vocabulary book (I will explain how to tackle that 800 long word list in detail in the next post).

Next, download and print out the UHS syllabus for the MCAT 2015. It will be available on their website by the time you're done with your CIEs. Print it, I repeat. Don't just download it. You need it with you all the time. Just so you know, MCAT does strictly follow the syllabus. This year, MCAT 2014, had one or two out of topic questions but they weren't such a big deal like everyone said it was. Just stick to the syllabus, don't start cramming the entire six books because that's not even possible!

My style of studying was highlighters and pencils to underline all those boring FSC books. It made studying them so much more easier! But that is optional for you. If you don't like dirtying your books, don't use the colours. That's entirely up to you.

Now, let's mentally calculate how much time you have... you have about 3 months. June, July, August. Seems like a short time, but it's sufficient. If you're only planning to give the MCAT and not the NUST tests or any other entry tests, it shouldn't be a problem. If you are, then you'll have to work twice as hard and twice as fast. You need to remember, these 3 months aren't going to be easy on you. You'll have to work hard, sacrifice your sleep, drink cups and cups of coffee/tea, and you just can not slack. Get past through these three months and the next five years of your life will be awesome. Also, if you manage to ace your MCAT, you'll get a pretty good, long relaxing 2 - 3 month vacation where you will have to study absolutely nothing! That's pretty motivating, right?

Alrighto. So you're ready to study the MCAT now - oh wait - deactivate your facebooks or other social networks. Tell your friends: NO YOU DON'T WANT TO HANG OUT. 

Okay, now you're ready. So let's start studying! (Detailed MCAT guide in the next blogpost.).


  1. <><><><>YOU ARE SIMPLY AWESOME<><><><>

  2. You're amazing. I hope you get loads and loads of chocolates in life.