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Apr 09 2007

The Philadelphia AAMC Meeting, Mr Angel and a New MCAT

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Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: My Evolution of MCAT Prep Thoughts

I really cannot remember the exact timing of this, but sometime in 1976, Dr. Wallace asked me to go to an AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) meeting in Philadelphia. This was a final or near final meeting in which they were discussing the new version, the fourth version, of the MCAT which would begin in 1977. Dr. Wallace wanted me to be up-to-date since we were considering writing the MCAT prep. He had me contact a Mr. James Angel, who had been a consultant to AAMC regarding the new test.

I met with Mr. Angel, who was a very nice and considerate man. We attended meetings and discussed what was to happen with the new MCAT. From that meeting, I learned there would be some significant changes to the MCAT beginning in about 1977. First, they would now have three separate tests for the sciences. One for biology, one chemistry and one for physics and would have a score for each. Also, there would be a separate Quantitative Section and a separate Verbal section. These would be scored separately. The scoring would no longer be like the SAT. I believe they had a scoring similar to the current scores. One other thing they were going to do is to publish a more specific outline of what was to appear on the test. But, I did not get that outline during that meeting.

So, a big change was on the way the MCAT. I was about to complete my medical education at Harvard. And, meeting Mr. Angel and being at the AAMC meeting had placed me a nice position to move forward in the MCAT prep arena. First, though, a MCAT prep manual had to be written. I had to complete my medical education, take the second part of the National Boards, select a residency program, and I had a family of six to support, and now I had pledged to write a MCAT prep manual from scratch. I had to figure out a way to do this.

Dr. James L Flowers Photo

Genesis of the “Harvard Manual”

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Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: My Evolution of MCAT Prep Thoughts

I had now completed my third year of medical school and was beginning my fourth year, it was 1976. I definitely wanted to complete my medical education in four years and get back to Milwaukee…don’t ask me to explain that. OK, I will…its called family. During this time, I had already completed the requirements for a MPH (Masters’ of Public Health) from the Harvard School of Public Health, and had participated in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. This had allowed me to experience courses and classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well. But, now I had three years of solid MCAT preparation and the creation of a set of materials for that preparation. I would not be around for the summer of 1977 to teach the new group of the Harvard Health Careers Summer Program (HCSP) the MCAT prep…I just felt that all of this effort COULD NOT be lost.

Also, I knew I would have to move my family, which now included four children, my wife and my mother who came out to help us, back to Milwaukee. I had already decided to do my residency there. So, I would need money and that meant I would need work. So, I went to Dr. Wallace and made a proposal and a plea. I would write a manual that would collect and summarize what I had been doing over the last three years that I could leave behind for others to use and teach MCAT Prep.

Dr. Wallace liked the idea. He negotiated with his director, Dr. Crooks, to secure $5000.00 to pay me to write the book. I would retain rights to it, but Harvard and Dr. Wallace would also be able to use it at will for their programs. We did this in the summer of 1976. So, now I had to complete my senior year of electives at Harvard Medical School and write a MCAT prep book. I was glad to have the opportunity.