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Apr 06 2007

The Early Years

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

Welcome to my blog. This is my first entry. I’m going to start by telling how I started helping prepare students from across the world prepare for the MCAT…

I took the MCAT in 1971. At that time, I could not afford to take any MCAT prep. In fact, most MCAT preps were in their infancy. I relied on a number of books published by ARCO and Barrons. I found these books to be nearly worthless. They focused on questions only. There was no content given to review the topics being covered. So, I set up my own study program based on what I perceived I needed to study. Fortunately, I had recently prepared for and taken the GRE in chemistry and performed very well. So, I could limit my study to physics and biology, which I did. I then scored in the 99 percentiles on science and math.

Although my own preparation helped me appreciate some aspects of preparing for the MCAT, my real education occurred as I began to teach students to prepare for the MCAT.

I took a job as Tutorial Coordinator for the Experimental Program in Higher Education (EPHE) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in 1970. I had been a graduate student in chemistry at Dartmouth. In the spring of 1970, an event called “Kent State” occurred and my classes were disrupted. I spent the spring traveling around the east coast and observed several Viet Nam war demonstrations. Eventually, I decided to take time off and try to decide what I really wanted to do. A Dean at Dartmouth was from Wisconsin and got me the job at UWM.

Early on, I was asked by a student to help him prepare for the MCAT. I had not even prepared for it myself, but I took it on anyway. I was able to meet with him and developed an approach to help him learn the material. He took the MCAT, did well and ended up in medical school. I was shooting 100%.

Then I spent the time preparing myself for the MCAT and did extremely well. I then applied to medical schools for 1972. I did an early application for Marquette Medical School, now the Medical College of Wisconsin. With my MCAT scores in the 99 percentiles, I was immediately accepted. During a discussion with one of the professors, Dr. H, he told me I should really apply to other schools and not attend Marquette. I followed his advice and did. I applied to Harvard and within a few months I got a personal call from Dr. Pouissant asking me to attend Harvard Medical School (HMS). I accepted. But, during that year, my first child was born, I had married in 1970, and was now a nontraditional medical student. I would not leave my wife and newborn and turned down the admission to HMS. I was told I could not hold over the admission to next year, but I had to stay with my family. So, I took my chances and would have to reapply next year.

The next year, I reapplied to Harvard and Stanford only. I interviewed and was accepted by both. I chose HMS. My wife had problems taking OCP’s and contraception doesn’t always work. So, my second child was to be born in September of 1973. My wife decided I should start HMS in September 1973…which I did.

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