After 10 years of teaching students the TeachMD method for MCAT Verbal Reasoning success, I have decided to share the method in a series of free* video tutorials.  

Lesson 1: Why Are They Making Me Do This?

Lesson 2: The Author's Arrogance

Teach, MD Passage 1*:

*This work is the intellectual property of Timothy C. Peck, MD as found on  Any reproduction of this work for monetary gain without the expressed consent of Timothy C. Peck, MD will be considered theft.  If you are an educator and would like to share this with your academic community, please contact me by leaving a comment on this blog or by tweeting me @TimothyCPeckMD

The successful premedical student must be skilled at filtering the attempts of others to present the student’s stated goals as formidable, and in terms of the societal pressure, lofty (which is also a theme that is portrayed in other pre-professional studies) from unattainable.  To the novice student, a poor mid-semester evaluation or a low mark on a transcript—in organic chemistry, for example—may create notions of unattainability, and in turn, abandoning of higher learning itself.  Deflated, empty, humbled, the student who considers abandonment (of medicine or education itself), ignores an empowering and honorable virtue: to make mistakes is human.  Before a politician gains the favor of the populous and is voted into public office, their political career is suspect and unsteady, filled with rejection and dismissive newspaper editorials.  As with premedical education.  However, the student who abandons their goal of medical school is converted from one who perseveres to one who believes his naysayer—from confidence to performance to defeat.  Eventually, the student forgets the two former steps and embodies failure.

The student’s inspiration is found in the achievement of those who have already matriculated into medical school and forged the rapids by manipulating the river’s own ragged rocks.  Within the open wounds from the battle between the part of personal identity that is driven and wants for study, and the rational, utilitarian part that yearns for admission, the successful student will acquire a sustainable ethic.  After all, learning itself, when corners are not cut, permanently becomes a facet of the life of the learner.  It transforms paralyzing anxiety into dedicated and sustainable intensity, the student’s personal seed of motivation.  It transforms self-doubt into vision, the student’s primary mechanism of emulating the achievement of others.

Therefore, the successful student must embrace the act of learning itself and, furthermore, to enjoy as well as dislike it.  Because learning is not, in fact, always having to sustain constant ridicule and continual strife with the criticisms and attempts of others to impede the path toward the student’s goals.  There is the anticipatory excitement of the lessons embedded within the next chapter after one has mastered a concept, and the rush of satisfaction that comes with the unfolding of abstract theory into the substance of the mind.  Yet, if the successful student falls prey to the belief that excitement—or what is sometimes referred to as “the adventure of discovery”—is the norm, the student will surely conclude after a number of semesters that one or both is absent, will become apathetic, and perhaps he or she will find another more immediate means of obtaining knowledge, like joining the workforce or becoming an entrepreneur.

Practically every physician who I have interviewed regarding their own education identify the moment of transition in their educational career as when study began to become their predominant source of internal drive and self-pride.  The creation of this source of self-pride appears to be the foundation for the members of the physician-community.  No matter who criticizes it, and no matter who encourages it, those negativities are peripheral to the identity it provides.  When this occurs, learning is what drives one’s being, adhering to the ethic of a newfound culture.

59. In the third paragraph, the author mentions “the rush of satisfaction that comes with the unfolding of abstract theory into the substance of the mind.”  As used in the passage, the phrase suggests that at least part of learning is the result of:

A) a cultural moral foundation.
B) both enjoying and disliking learning.
C) the exciting process of discovery.
D) arduous toiling and constant critique.

60. The passage suggests that students who persevere to become physicians do so out of the belief that:

A) learning allows one to avoid criticism of others.
B) learning is a source of one’s sense of self.
C) they must earn the acceptance of the medical community.
D) they must avoid receiving poor evaluations while in school.

61. Which of the following assertions is NOT made in the passage?

A) Education allows the student to achieve a certain status in society.
B) Students must accept that they may sometimes have subpar performances in school.
C) The moment of transition in a physician’s educational career usually occurs when learning begins to become a part of one’s identity.
D) Criticism has the power to cause students early in their careers to abandon their pursuit of admission to medical school.

62. In a different article, the author of the passage adds that most students who begin college as a premedical student eventually drop out of premedical studies.  Given the information in the passage, this is most probably due to:

A) premedical students allowing critics to perpetuate their self-doubt.
B) wounds each student sustains from the battle between one’s “driven” identity and one’s “utilitarian” identity.
C) the dissatisfaction that students experience after finally getting admitted to medical school.
D) premedical students having made mistakes during their education.

63. It has been said that “more people would be doctors, if one didn’t have to become a doctor.”  The passage suggests that the premedical student who is concerned more with being a doctor than becoming one might reasonably be expected:

A) to obtain greater medical achievements.
B) to abandon higher learning.
C) to mimic those who have already matriculated into medical school.
D) to learn how to better deal with outside criticism.

64. Which of the following popular notions about physicians is most strongly supported by the passage?

A) Those learning to be physicians must often endure being criticized for their mistakes.
B) Most physicians are proud of themselves to the point of arrogance.
C) The culture of medicine is exclusive and not very accepting of new members.
D) Physicians often become doctors because of personal experiences with illness.

65. Which of the following statements of advice to premedical students most strongly challenges the argument made in the passage?

A. Passive learning is better than active learning.
B. If you fail a school course, it is no longer worth pursuing a career in medicine.
C. The correct approach to education is this: to learn is to be.
D. Premedical students should not concern themselves with which field of medicine to pursue.

Lessons 3A: Listening to the Author's Voice: the Arrogant Author Believes What He's Saying . . . so Should You

Special thanks to all of those who had direct input into the content, editing, and format of the TeachMD method, including:

Abigail Ballou
Jennifer Birk
Ralph DeBiasi
Garrett Gleeson
Kara Kelly
Alfred Peck
Estelle Peck
& the hundreds of students I've taught who have challenged me to be better at what I do

*These videos are free!  If you are an educator and you want to share them with others, help make them better, reproduce them, etc, please leave a comment.