Monday, October 29
The Road To MCAT 2012
The Story of a student ...
I am an ordinary student and was not the leading star. Though I always wished for being the No.1 . I am not as spiky and cannot beat most of you at brilliance and intelligence. But in the MCAT 2012, I did it. Not through my brilliance or sharpness or intelligence; but through three unique characteristics.
These three characteristics are different from the above mentioned ones but are equally powerful. These are resilience, will-power, and hard-work. Brilliance is nullified by resilience, sharpness by will-power and intelligence by hard-work.
The Year 2011
I’ll always remember 2011 as the most difficult year of my life. I scored less marks in F.Sc. (887/1100). I did not learn from my shortcomings in F.Sc. and continued the trend till MCAT 2011. I never took notice of myself and kept on wasting time. I never realized that tomorrow my dad has to step down and I have to take his place. I never looked at the merit lists of 2009 and 2010. All the year I kept thinking that 80% is more than enough. I never understood that in a country like Pakistan, there is a heavy competition for survival. You take a short nap somewhere in between and you are left way behind.
The biggest obstacle in my life that kept me away from success was Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. I look behind and see myself sitting all day long on Facebook aimlessly; and now I think what the heck was I doing? I could have used Facebook to learn the concepts. I could have used it to practice MCQs which are posted on a lot of pages that aim to help you out in studies. But sadly all I did was to use it for “chatting and talking”. (I still do it, it is such an addiction. But there is a lot of difference in my today and my yesterday).But Facebook is not the only culprit. Cable TV is also a major hindrance in my way.
It was as late as mid-July, when I seriously started preparing for the entry test. At first I calculated the ration between four subjects and two months. I made a plan and followed it. I started with Chemistry as I thought it is the most difficult out of the four. At first everything was right but in a week I sensed that I am lagging behind my chalked out plan. So, instead of the planned 20 days, it took me 30 days to complete Chemistry.
I had 30 days now and 3 subjects, Physics, Biology and English. I started with Physics because I thought it had a short syllabus and 44 marks. Again unexpectedly my days of preparation were exceeded. So, I was left with just 15 days and 2 subjects.
I had to go for Biology then. I surely would not let go of 88 marks of Biology for just 30 of English. I tried my level best then but I could only complete 75% Biology in the last 15 days. And well, I never really had the time to take a look at English. That meant that I went in the exam center on 13th September 2011, without full preparation.
Another blunder that I made was that I never thought about the required aggregates at the beginning of the year. And at the end when I needed to fully concentrate on my preparations, I overly indulged in calculating the required aggregates. I used to spend an hour to calculate how much marks I will get in the entry test. It began from 1000 max. and fell to 975 max. That was because at first I was sure that according to my plan I will complete my syllabus and at the end I left 1/4th of Biology and the whole of English. Not only an hour was lost a day, but also I kept pressurizing myself unnecessarily.
All that stupidity cost me a year. I didn’t sleep well on 13th September, 2011 just because of listlessness and untrustworthy future. That interrogative question, “What will happen?” is the most terrifying question that kept on haunting me.
The next day was not very good. I performed well in Physics and Chemistry but not that good Biology. And well, English? I left all the synonyms in English. That was my downfall. The result came and I calculated that I had scored 874/1100. There was a difference of 101 marks between pre-exam calculation and post-exam result.
The Year 2012
It is a heartrending experience when you don’t find your name in the merit list. It was the end. The dream that my whole family saw was shattered. It was like that I will never be able to look in the eyes of my parents ever again and walk with my head erect.
To my utmost surprise, “my parents” even though I shattered their dreams, did not stop loving me. They supported me throughout.
I stood in front of the mirror. I looked at myself. I looked in my own eyes. I’d let my eyes to talk silently. And that was the moment when it all changed.
First thing I did was that I wrapped up all the stuff that tried to stop me from achieving my aims. I deactivated my Facebook accounts. I surrendered watching TV. I surrendered playing in the street/ground etc.
Not asceticism, but I was doing what I realized I had to do to challenge the brilliance, sharpness and intelligence of others. I used my weapons of resilience, will-power and hard-word. I was resilient i.e., I was able to overcome those particular difficulties through my devotion.
I ‘made’ a plan in 2011 but I ‘organized’ a plan in 2012. I sat down and thought about all the mistakes that I made last year. I made a program to learn from them and to nullify them. My first challenge was English. Being good at English simply meant that I can raise 50-60 marks from the English section.
I used my laptop to find the meanings/synonyms. I didn’t write just one meaning of a word. In fact I wrote down 12 meanings from 3 online dictionaries for each word. Synonym is just a short-cut way of learning. I didn’t follow that.
Well that is hard-work, as it took me 6 months to record all the meanings. And once English was a ‘no problem’, I started concentrating on the Science subjects
I started with the Physical Chemistry. I studied thoroughly the whole of the Physical Chemistry. But I did not put it aside as a ‘finished job’. I started Inorganic Chemistry and thoroughly studied it and again did not put it aside as a done thing. Then I started Organic Chemistry.
The theme was different this time because I did not forget about the previous sections. When I was doing Inorganic Chemistry, I was revising Physical Chemistry too. When I was doing Organic Chemistry, I was revising Physical and Inorganic Chemistry too. So, there was not a chance of any section to be forgotten. In the same way I did physics and biology.
If I want to summarize the points of difference between 2011 and 2012 then:
1. I never thought of “failure” in 2012.
2. I planned everything and kept my plan flexible.
3. I gave myself more time to complete the syllabus.
4. I didn’t pressurize myself by thinking about the aggregates and merit.
5. I didn’t let myself get sick/down by trying to over-do.
6. I kept myself honest and up to the task all the time.
7. I always reminded myself of the reward that I will get after the MCAT.
8. I completed the whole syllabus. I went for 1100/1100.
9. I only studied those topics which were in the syllabus.
10. I kept praying to God. I kept asking for His help.
And here it was. I never felt more relaxed during an examination. Maybe that was because of the confidence that I had gained through my hard-work. During the exam I kept on smiling. Because I already knew I was through even before I saw the test. And well, from the shattered pieces of my dreams in 2011, I re-constructed my dreams again. Bit by bit I arranged my dreams all over again. The result came and I scored 998/1100. The difference remained the same i.e., of 102 marks between the pre-test calculation of 1100/1100 and the post-test result.
Still anything can happen. But I know one thing, that I honestly did my job. I am contended. In this time span I learned a lot of things. Some people said “I wasted a year of my life”. But now I look at the road to MCAT 2012 and say “No, I didn’t waste a year at all. In fact I learned from it. And when you learn something from something, it isn’t wasted.”
My road to MCAT 2012 was successful. How about yours? If you didn’t succeed in MCAT 2012 then you should realize that it is not the time to cry over spoiled milk. In fact you can go hammer and tongs at it once again. All you have to do is to learn from your mistakes and try to improve the areas where you are weak.
History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present towards the future. Remember that winners never quit and quitters never win.
What can I do?
You can do anything you want to. You can take 1100/1100 if you want to. All you need to do is to build the confidence in yourself. And how can you build the confidence in yourself? That can be done by covering the whole syllabus. When you know that you have learned everything, you’ll see the difference in yourself.
When can I start?
Start right now. No need to start at full pace. Take it easy at first. Build the tempo and then slowly and gradually reach the climax. Always start by making plans. Try to organize yourself and your available time.
Can I do it?
If 3000+ students can do it then why can’t you? Always remember, use all of your resources. Resources are not only the material things but also qualities like intelligence, hard-work, devotion, etc. Don’t even think about “failure”. The more you think of it the more you’ll be pressurized. Be calm.
The following points can help you out:
1) When you start your program, always start spiritually. Start with a prayer. A prayer will lift you up morally and spiritually. Always ask for His help. My strongest statement “with Allah Mighty’s help I can just do anything”.
2) Keep your books etc. organized. They all should be available readily. Don’t waste time or tire yourself in finding books and copies and notes.
3) Sleep well (you should sleep for 8-9 hours daily).
4) Start with English; many of the words that are enlisted in the UHS syllabus are present in our textbooks. So, when you finish English you’ll be able to revise them.
5) Near me, the online dictionaries are the best choice if you want to record all the word meanings. Try to do it all by yourself. This will help you a lot. Don’t ask for other people to provide you with word synonyms. Do it yourself.
The best online dictionaries are:
Just write “Define: xyz” in the Google search bar. Where ‘xyz’ is any of the 872 words you are given. This will give you the definition of the word you are searching for. This was the main secret behind my score of 30/30 in English this year.
The second best choice, if you are not finding a word in Google dictionary or if you are not satisfied with the meanings found there.
The third best choice, this site however has an extra edge on the above mentioned sites because it also provides you with synonyms. For more synonyms you can search its sister site www.thesaurus.com.
6) English is not all about words synonyms. You also need to know the basics of Grammar. It is “High School English Grammar by Wren and Martin”. It is a wonderful book and you should try to solve all of its exercises. It will be good for your preparations.
7) Now some talk about Chemistry:
- Physical Chemistry -
Out of the 58 marks of Chemistry 18 come from this section. For the Chemistry 11 (although rewards only 18 marks) you have to do a lot. If you have the Chemistry 11 of the Punjab textbook board then you need not study Chapter no.2 (Experimental techniques in Chemistry). You can also leave a major portion of Chapter no.9 (Solutions). But if you ask me, then just leave the second chapter and read the remaining chapters thoroughly. Don’t waste time in solving exercises. But if you have a lot of time, do attempt the exercises of Chapter no.1 (Basic Concepts). And do give special importance to Chapter no. 7,8,10 and 11(Heat and Thermodynamics, Chemical Equilibrium, Electrochemistry and Reaction Kinetics).
- Inorganic Chemistry -
Just read the Chemistry 12 from Chapter no.1 to 6 and you’ll be all fine. In fact if you just follow the syllabus of UHS then you’ll just need to study Chapter no.1 (Periodic Classification of Elements and Periodicity), some topics of Chapter no.2 (s-Block elements) which include page no. 26 to 29, some topics of Chapter no. 3 (Group III-A and IV-A Elements) which include page no. 44 to 48, some topics of Chapter no.4 (Group V-A and VI-A Elements) which include page no. 61 to 62 and 70 to 72, some topics of Chapter no.5 (The Halogens and The Noble Gases) which include page no. 79 to 84 and 93, and some topics of Chapter no.6 (Transition Elements) which include page no. 97 to 105.
However, your F.Sc. books don’t give you any information about some topics that are listed in the UHS syllabus, for example, Inertness of Nitrogen. For that you need to search the internet for an answer. Just make sure that YOU DON’T SKIP ANYTHING MENTIONED IN THE SYLLABUS JUST BECAUSE OF YOUR LAZINESS.
And also there are some topics in the Inorganic Chemistry that are mentioned in the UHS syllabus but are not found in Chapter no. 1 to 6 of Chemistry 12. Don’t worry; they are present in your books. You just need to search for them like for example …uses of chlorine in water purification and as a bleaching agent, is not found in the first six chapters. It is however a part of Chapter no. 16 (Environmental Chemistry).
- Organic Chemistry -
Although it seems to be the most difficult portion of the most difficult subject to me; it is in fact very easy. It is easy not because you can understand it quickly but because its ‘content’ is very ‘small’ in the UHS syllabus. If you can read and understand and remember all the Organic Chemistry chapters then you are the king! But if you think that you aren’t the king then you can select a few topics for selective reading and become the prince (“Shahzada”) instead.
A very good way to get the hold of organic chemistry is given below:
1. Carefully read all the topics mentioned in the UHS syllabus for organic chemistry.
2. Open your book and start copying anything you find that is in accordance with the UHS syllabus on a register.
3. It will hardly take you 2 or 3 days to virtually copy/paste the topics that you need to study according to the UHS syllabus.
4. Read the whole organic chemistry part from your book.
5. Read the whole organic chemistry part from your register.
You will find that the register you just made is far too easy than the book. And you know? Almost 90% of the organic chemistry section in MCAT will come from your register. It happened to me too. Revise and revise again.
So, all you need to do is to try to make an ‘Organic Chemistry Register’ for yourself. You can include diagrams as well and anything that you have learned in the college or in the academy.
8) Now, time for some Physics:
Not a big deal when it comes to reading. If you have the Physics 11 (Punjab Text Book) then just read out the following pages:
Page no. 1-6, 16-19, 36-42, 54-55, 99-104, 108-110, 116-118, 123-124, 127-138, 141-158, 161-172, 184-189, 193-211, 214-233, 237-256.
And from Physics 12 (Punjab Text Book) just read out the following pages:
Page no. 1-7, 9-14, 22-27, 31-40, 56-63, 68-70, 135-142, 146-147, 167-171, 208-212, 213-216, 219-222, 226-238, 249-254.
But your F.Sc. books will only help you out in developing basic knowledge (which you already have). For a better insight, you’ll need to consult A-level books (if you are a non A-level student). Anyway, there is a section of “Bibliography” at the end of the books. Maybe, choose a book from there and try it out. I did not try them and in the exam hall I badly felt that I should have read another book just to expand my “views” about the subject. The bottom line is you have to make your concepts clear.
Try to give more attention to numerical problems. And try to solve as many as you can. Physics is the subject which implies the law, ‘Practice makes a man perfect.”
9) At last, but not the least; Biology:
Major part of Biology section is the Human Anatomy and Physiology. You should try to master its sub-sections. It is quite easy but needs hard work because you have to remember the names and the numbers. Don’t forget to read the ‘diseases/preventions/treatments’ given in the books because most of the MCQs are about them. These are not only in the Human Anatomy and Physiology section but also in other sections too. As it holds a high percentage of marks (88/220) so, you should give proper attention to this subject. In fact it is the major thing that will decide that you get in the 1000s line or remain in the 800s/900s line.
The following points should be kept in mind while preparing for Biology:
- Don’t read the whole books. That is time consuming and won’t be of much help. Just be selective in your preparation.
- Make sure that you revise your syllabus at least 10-12 times before the doomsday (MCAT 2013) :). The more you read and the more you repeat, the more you know and the more you remember.
- Also take a look at the associated diagrams. Many of the MCQs come from the diagrams.
- When you are reading again and again then just don’t try to overdo anything. I mean that there is no need to complete the whole syllabus in one day (except the last week). Just keep it slow.
- If you don’t understand something, then take help either from Wikipedia or from friends/teachers. Just don’t leave anything
10) Now some points that don’t include STUDY but will help you:
- I studied for 18 hours a day when preparing for MCAT. But I realized now that 12-14 hours is more than enough if you have started preparing for it long ago. (i.e., from January or February).
- Be cool and be flexible in your planning. There is no need to complete the whole syllabus in one week or even one month. Organize a plan and work accordingly. Always keep room for your plan. In fact I changed my plan every month, that not only made me flexible but kept me calm and also I didn’t get bore due to the changing routine. You know you get bored with the same routine all the time.
- Always try to keep the weekend off. And when you are on a ‘holiday’ try to do something that you like the most.
- When you feel tired, take a short nap. After refreshing yourself; start again. Just don’t study with a headache.
- Try to drink a glass of milk (with sugar) before the test or eat a bar of chocolate. Sugar provides you with glucose. Brain uses that glucose to work efficiently and properly.
- Stay calm at the test centre. Don’t be depressed. Just stay cool and try to keep a smile.
- Keep your eyes open during the test. Don’t fill in the wrong bubbles just because of your tension.
- If you don’t know the answers of any question then DON’T attempt it. There is 75% chance that you will lose a mark (Actually you will lose 6 marks).
- Don’t mind the aptitude test if it does not affect your merit and aggregate. Just take it easy.
Well that’s all. I shared my experience with you guys. This article is just to tell you that you can pick yourself up even after a fall. Just do the basics right and you will be over the line. Give it all you got! Who knows maybe you’ll be the next KANZA NOOR BUTT? Or even better! All the best…
Article Written by Ahsan Javed