Ask the Upperclassmen!

As college students with busy schedules, we don’t have time to look for answers to all of our questions on Google, Wikipedia or

What if your inquiries are Columbia University specific? Perhaps, you may want to know more about a class that you’d like to ace or about a professor that you may want to avoid. Well, for these questions, the ones who are best-suited to answer them accurately are the upperclassmen at Columbia University who have already struggled with, discussed and resolved many of these issues.

So, ask away! We have a team of knowledgeable and active upperclassmen who are eager to help you.

1.) Ask us your question in the form of a reply to this article. Try to be specific!

2.) A group of upperclassmen who are designated as CU AMSA Mentors will receive a notification about your question. Then, they will brainstorm an optimal answer for your within 48 hours and post it back on the site!

3.) Be blown away by how awesome this service is.

Don’t forget — You are now a part of our community and legacy. Take advantage of the knowledge of those who have traversed this road before you and be the very best that you can be.

Be well,


Past Questions:

1.) I’m preparing for the MCATs and was wondering if you guys could recommend a brand? Or is it even useful to take one of these courses? How long should I study? What’s the best way?

2.) What MCAT study books would you recommend purchasing ?

3.) I am currently a CU Sophomore, finishing my 2nd semester of Biology and Physics now; I plan to take Orgo during my junior year. When would be the best time to start preparing for the MCAT and take the MCAT, given this class schedule?

8 responses to “Ask the Upperclassmen!

  1. Hi!

    I love the idea – I’ve always felt that I learned most of the stuff I know from talking to other people on campus over some coffee.

    Right now, I’m preparing for the MCATs and was wondering if you guys could recommend a brand? Or is it even useful to take one of these courses? How long should I study? What’s the best way?

    Thank you so much guys, I really appreciate your answers in advance!!!.

    • Hey! I’m glad that you think this is helpful. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have :)

      We have all suffered through MCAT preparation, so we have plenty to say.

      Many of the upperclassmen found ExamKrackers and Kaplan to be the most helpful brands in studying for the MCATs. They’re relatively concise and their coverage of materials that are likely to show up on the exam is accurate.

      However, what you might to surprised to hear is that about half of the upperclassmen don’t find these paid courses particularly helpful! Some of us took them solely for the purpose of keeping us motivated to study in the months leading up to the exam date. So, you may want to decide whether you want to spend $2,000 on taking courses that you can learn from reading books yourself.

      In terms of study duration, try to study for at least a month! But also, don’t overkill it and study for more than 6 months. Your productivity curve will plateau after that.

      And if I could add one more helpful advice, take the practice exams!!! You need to build enough endurance for a 4-hour test, and unfortunately, that means that you need to practice studying/test-taking in 4-hour sessions. I mean, wouldn’t you prepare for the marathon by running long-distance?

      1.) Take the practice exam – figure out which areas you don’t know as well and review them in depth.
      2.) If you are a right-handed person, practice using the mouse with your left hand so that you can take notes with your right hand while you navigate the page with your left!

      Good luck!
      AMSA Mentorship Team

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  3. Hi!
    I’m planning on taking my MCAT in March 2013, and I’m wondering what your thoughts are on taking a course (through Kaplan, Princeton Review, or Examkrackers) versus studying from the books. What are the major benefits and drawbacks to each option?
    And if I do choose the course option, what type of course do you recommend?
    Thank you so much!

  4. Pingback: WELCOME BACK & WELCOME CLASS OF 2016! | cuamsa

  5. Hey!

    Any advice for doing well in Immunology? CULPA has a limited number of reviews on Solomon Mowshowitz… Thanks!


    • Hi Allie,

      I can answer this one personally since I TA’d for the course last year ;)

      First of all, Solomon Mowshowitz is a great man. He is one of my favorite mentors by far and you should get to know him this fall! Always feel free to reach out to him to find support, to satisfy your academic curiosity, etc. He has a lot of hang time, too.

      Even though the course is indeed very rigorous (Immunology is just a complicated subject to begin with, and it requires memorizing a lot of technical terms), if you become comfortable with his testing style, you should do well! His exams are quite similar to Professor Deborah Mowshowitz’s exams. After all, they’re married. He will give you clinical cases or laboratory results and you have to use your deductive skills to answer each question.

      My strategy was always to write down the framework (a molecular pathway or a certain physiological response) and to “mess” with it. Think to yourself, what would happen if this enzyme was defunct? What symptoms would manifest? How about if you were to introduce an antagonist with stronger binding affinity? Just talk to yourself or to a friend. By the end of this study session, you should have a strong understanding of what his exam questions will be like, and perhaps more important, the subject. So, bring a similar academic mindset that you developed in Madame Mowshowitz’s course to Immunology.

      **Note: However, Dr. Schindler will teach 4 or 5 lectures on the innate immune system in the middle of the course and the second midterm will have about 3 questions from him. For him, it’s memorization!! I know it’s going to be super annoying to write down all of the technical terms that he spews out and then to memorize them, but it will probably be show up on the exam. Best of luck.

      Workload: 3 Midterms, one of which you can drop. 1 Final. He curves the class average to an 80, but he is generous and flexible about it.

      Best of luck!
      AMSA Mentorship Team

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