Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We began to talk about the resting membrane potential, as well as electrostatics. We discussed the main metaphor of electrostatics, and discussed the force, electric field, potential energy, and work of various movements of similar and dissimilar charges. We tied it all together with voltage. We worked on some problems using the voltage difference to calculate in terms of energy and speed. We briefly introduced circuits in energy and voltage terms. We closed by returning to where we started, the generation of the resting membrane potential of the cell. This time around, he was able to very clearly follow my discussion of work, free energy, and voltage, and relate it to the actions of the sodium-potassium pump. We will review electrostatics, and we will discuss the neuron potentials next time."
"There was a lot to go over today. In general, he had a good handle of the theoretical, conceptual parts of the material but had trouble applying these concepts to practical situations, especially ones with numbers. It was therefore interesting to see him do well on a passage involving heat engines, when he had a fairly weak conceptual understanding of the material. Of course it's always better to understand things fully, but this reinforced the notion that much of the MCAT tests your problem solving ability, and his logical approach to this set of problems was very good. The subjects we covered today were kinetics, equilibrium, and thermodynamics. It was kind of tricky for me to identify his weak points in these fields, as they were mixed up with his strong points, and there was a seeming randomness to the types of questions he got wrong. I did my best to see some patterns. Once again, the most difficulty came from questions dealing with quantitative comparison. His math ability is pretty strong, and he works through algebraic manipulations with ease. It seems like sometimes he is giving up too early on problems, such as ones dealing with the ideal gas law. That being said, the number of variables in that formula can make problems quite confusing. We'll have to come back to some of these areas and work towards a better understanding of them. He will have a slightly reduced workload for next week. I gave him some supplementary material on the subjects and told him to study two more chapters. It's important that we keep moving on the material."
"We began by discussing her level of understanding and confidence in organic chemistry and physics, along with a discussion of memorization tactics for the organic chemistry. She has the review books for organic chemistry and physics, along with the 1001 question packets and 10 MCAT practice exams. We began by working through some of the beginning questions, in particular those relating to Newman projections, Fischer projections, and Lewis dot structures. She had some recollection of Lewis dot structures, but Newman and Fischer projections were new territory; she also had some difficulty recalling dash and wedge notation for molecular sketches but recovered quickly. She felt confident that nomenclature and functional groups would be easy to memorize as she has extensive experience with large scale memorization from her biology classes. We moved on to physics for the second hour, where we scratched the surface of vectors, leaving the trig as she again felt confident in her understanding of the concepts. We agreed to have her read through the review books, taking notes and creating flashcards as needed, and working along in the question booklet for the material, and that next week we would go over the concepts and any questions she had then."