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  • Pre-Med Checklist from Kaplan MCAT Experts

    Medical school admissions are extremely competitive: more people are taking the MCAT and applying to medical school than ever before. How can you stand out in the crowd and gain a competitive edge over your competition?

    Looking ahead is the best first step on your path to MCAT and medical school victory. Our Kaplan MCAT experts have created a checklist to ensure you make the most of the 2014-2015 school year.

    __ Get involved in your local AMSA chapter!
    __ Meet with a pre-med advisor to obtain information to assist you in the application process
    __ Explore the differences between allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools
    __ Obtain information from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)
    __ Look through the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) and College Information Book (CIB) to get an overview of possible schools to apply to
    __ Evaluate the medical schools and develop your initial list of schools.
    __ Create a schedule of deadlines, including test registration dates, application deadlines (you’ll have primary and secondary application deadlines) and financial aid deadlines
    __ Take a free practice MCAT with Kaplan and/or enroll in a Kaplan MCAT class to get a higher MCAT score

    For additional information on Kaplan MCAT programs and materials, please visit us at kaptest.com/mcat or call us at 1-800-KAP-TEST. You can also get more information by becoming our fan on Facebook or by following us on Twitter.

    Thanks for reading, and good luck on your path to medical school and beyond!

    -The Kaplan MCAT Team

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: AMSA's Map for Success, Final Post

    We have really enjoyed posting this series for potential medical school applicants. Below are some additional resources that may help you along the way.

    All the best as you chart your own course to medical school! 


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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: PART XI

    This is one of the topics most of you have been waiting for! Let's talk about Financial Aid ....

    Financial aid is becoming more scarce today for students pursuing careers in the medical field. Some alternatives are employment, aid directly from a private source, federal scholarship programs and grants, and federal loans. The funds necessary for medical education today can no longer come directly from medical schools. Students must seek financial aid alternatives outside their college.

    Aid granted directly from private sources is very difficult to find. Nevertheless, there are many foundations willing to support your education. The best scholarship foundations are those with large assets located within your state and particular area of interest. For example, some hospitals and other large health-care-providing organizations offer scholarships to students willing to commit a few years of service to their organization ("support-for-service" aid). Some states offer their own loan-repayment programs (largely support-for-service), but these vary widely from state to state.

    Federal scholarship programs for medical students are very limited. There are two such programs: The Exceptional Financial Need Scholarship, which requires primary care commitment, and the Financial Assistance for Disadvantaged Health Professions Students Scholarship. In general, scholarships -- gift aid -- are largely need based only.

    The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship Program is an excellent program sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service. The NHSC offers competitive support-for-service scholarships for tuition and educational fees, books, supplies, as well as a monthly stipend. All citizens enrolled in U.S. allopathic or osteopathic medical schools are eligible. Recipients are obligated to serve in physician shortage areas as assigned by the NHSC. The minimum service obligation for this program is two years. The NHSC gives preference to persons with primary care specialty goals and students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds (and/or come from primary care deficient areas). Highest priority is given to individuals who are former recipients of the NHSC Scholarship Program.

    Most of the financial aid money available to medical students comes in the form of loans, e.g. the Federal Stafford Loan for students ($8,000 for two semesters), the Federal Supplemental Loan for students ($10,000), and the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL). Other types of loans include MEDLOANS, Health Professions Loans (primary care commitment only), and Loans for Disadvantaged Students.

    To receive federal loans you must first find a private lender (all lenders are required to charge the same interest rate on federal loans) and consider the individual nuances of each type of loan in relation to your situation. For instance, although Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans are more difficult to qualify for, the government pays the straight eight percent interest for these loans as long as students do not work; the government does not do this with Federal Unsubsidized Loans.

    The search for financial aid is very tedious. The first step is to find out whether your prospective medical college and/or university processes loans and other aid; the second is to seek them out for advice. Most schools have financial aid advisement centers and all schools have an office responsible for processing financial aid. Use both of these resources to create a realistic budget and find advice about locating the kind of aid most appropriate for your situation.

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: PART X

    Interviewing

    The interview factors greatly in the decision making process of an admissions committee. It is important, though, to remember that it is not the only factor. Prior to an interview, the admissions committee only has statistics on a piece of paper to try to deduce what type of person is behind the facts. They use the interview to see if you possess the qualities necessary to become a successful physician.

    In most cases, the interview is not meant to be a pressure cooker of facts and figures. You, the interviewee, are not on trial (although you may feel like it). The committee is trying to find out what kind of person you are, what your interests are, and what your motivations are. There are a few interviewers who will want to see how you react in stressful situations. When this happens, take a deep breath and think before you speak.

    Some interviewers have a standard set of questions, but many questions will come from essays submitted with your application. Be honest in your essay, because the interviewer may ask you to expand on parts of it. If you exaggerate, it may become apparent to the interviewer. Your answers may then become the basis for further questions.

    Political and health-related issues may come up, so it would be a good idea to be familiar with the news. (For links to potential issues in the news, be sure to check Today's Health and Medical News published on the AMSA website daily.) Make sure you are able to back up every answer, especially if you are taking a stand on a particular issue. If you do not know what the interviewer is talking about, it is better to be honest and say "I don't know," instead of dancing your way around an answer. Interviewers like to see that you are not too proud to admit that you do not know everything. Remember that the interviewer is usually more knowledgeable than you, and can tell if you are insincere or if you really know what you are talking about.

    The interview does not have to be one-sided either. If you have questions in mind about relevant topics, especially about the school, ask them. This shows that you have really taken an interest in the school and also gives you time to relax. The interview also gives you an opportunity to discuss certain aspects of your application.

    Remember, the interviewer must be able to present and defend your case to the rest of the admissions committee (either in person or in writing), so they must be able to learn much about you in a short amount of time.

    What do interviewers look at?

    • Nonverbal & verbal communication skills.
    • Appearance & behavior.
    • Use of vocabulary.
    • Confidence level & honesty.
    • Sincerity.

    What should you do?

    • Ask questions of the interviewer.
    • Inquire about the school.
    • Ask schools in the same area to coincide interview dates.
    • Relax, be yourself.

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  • Charting A Course to Medical School: PART IX

    Considering a Foreign Medical School?

    It is widely believed that pre-medical students apply to foreign medical schools only after being rejected from several U.S. schools. In a special article printed in the New England Journal of Medicine, analysts disprove this myth by revealing that fifty-five percent of a study group did not even apply to a U.S. medical school.

    A possible explanation is that substantial numbers of U.S. citizens study abroad because of the inability of the U.S. medical education system to accommodate them. Students who are interested in studying in a foreign medical school must take a test administered by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). The study shows that the number of U.S. students applying to foreign schools is steadily increasing. In fact, at least ten new medical schools with curricula designed to attract applicants from the U.S. opened in the Caribbean Island countries during the 1970s. 

    The most popular foreign countries are Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, the Philippines and Israel. There seems to be a fair chance of acceptance to a foreign medical school since the overall pass rate was 68% in 1982 for those U.S. students taking the ECFMG. Students looking at foreign medical schools, though, should be aware that getting into the residency of their choice may be tougher coming from a foreign medical school. Be sure to ask any foreign medical schools that you are interested in for some statistics regarding their students' success in "the match" (the process by which medical students are placed in residencies).

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