The PT School Interview Day

This is a day every pre-PT student looks forward to. Yet, it is also a day filled with much trepidation over the unknown. How will the interviewers be? What sorts of questions will be asked? Will you be interviewed one-on-one or in a group? What are the rest of the interviewees going to be like and will they outshine you? This may be one of the most nerve-racking days of your life because it determines such a large chunk of your future. I work as a personal trainer, and I never prepared as much for an interview for that job as I did for PT school.

First off, I would say it’s absolutely essential to download this guide by Gaurav Khanal and Karin Cathers. It’s never too early to start reading it, especially because this book contains a myriad of questions that were asked in PT school interviews along with common answers given. The authors then suggest better answers to make you stand out as a candidate. I used these questions to practice and would often do so in the bathtub, asking them out loud and then crafting my answers over time. I read it more than once too, which I suggest doing.

Now on to the interview itself.

You have gotten the interview, and one of the first things you might be thinking about is what exactly you should wear. Most PT school interviews require business formal. For men, that is a suit and tie. Avoid overly flashy colors and patterns. For women, the is a suit with a blouse underneath.

I was troubled myself because I am a colorful person, quite figuratively and literally, and my dad recommended tan or white or black or navy blue, all dull colors, in my opinion. My psychiatrist, on the other hand, encouraged me to go with pink because she rebelled in her own way. She did wear business formal, but during her day, forgoing tights was like going naked (she simply hated tights!). She also wore a full-blown dress instead of a two piece suit. Is that business formal? I don’t know, but it worked for her.

I met myself in the middle by getting a tan suit with a bright orange blouse. I also wore a gold butterfly clip in my hair to really stand out. I got some fake pearl earrings and a pretty flower necklace, both from Claire’s. I have a bad nail biting habit, so I glued on some French nails. I wore tights and black pumps. However, wearing the pumps was a massive mistake for me because my feet screamed at me in less than thirty minutes of being led around campus. So for women, I recommend wearing dress shoes you are already familiar with. I also had a slight wardrobe malfunction because one of the threads came undone at the back of my skirt. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who noticed, but make sure you inspect your outfit before purchasing it.

I didn’t wear make-up, so ladies, this is not something you have to do. If you choose to, keep it simple. I would forego eyeliner and eyeshadow, keep the blush and foundation light, and use a minimal amount of mascara to avoid flaking or clumping. You want your make-up to be low maintenance so you don’t really have to touch it up during interview day. I kept lip balm on me, and that was it. I would also remove any facial piercings, except for earrings, obviously. Stay conservative for this day. This tip applies to men as well.

Gentlemen, just keep your face clean shaven, keep your facial hair neat and orderly.

When you are being led around campus, be alert. Sometimes the student PT’s leading you will be asked if anyone stood out to them, and you want to be that person. This means it is absolutely vital you ask questions. I had a small notebook with questions already prepared that I wanted to ask about the program itself. I was curious about their imaging class, about the fellowships and residencies they offered, and if there were any research opportunities or community involvement projects. Do not ask questions whose answers you can find online. I can tell you in all honesty that it was mostly me asking questions outside of our scheduled interviews. Did that make a difference? I can’t really be sure, but I’m certain it made me stand out.

Make sure you also interact with the other students. Do not see them as competition but potential classmates. Really, don’t be afraid to talk to them; they are just as nervous as you are. They’ll likely welcome the potential distraction, and getting to know the other interviewees will bring down nerves. We mostly talked about where we came from because we were all interviewing for the flex program.

And speaking of the flex program, our group was incredibly small, only five people. It seems to me that the University of St. Augustine heavily vets ahead of time because they do schedule calls with you prior to actually submitting the application for consideration. Nothing was recommended to me, so my app was sent right away, but some people do receive recommendations to re-take a certain class or re-do the GRE or something like that to improve their chances. They don’t necessarily have to take the advice and can still submit, but there are others who applied to other campuses whose applications were outright rejected for submission based on many factors. Your university may do this. It may not. Regardless, don’t expect your interviewing group to be as small as mine was–and I was grateful for this because that actually eliminated my nerves immediately.

Our group of 5 was broken up to two–3 for spring and 2 for fall. Obviously I am with the fall group. Now a group interview can go one of three ways:

1. A question can be asked, and it's a free-for-all. You'll have to jump in and answer when you can, obviously not cutting someone else off. Thus, if you know your university is going to be doing a group interview, prepare for this possibility by practicing interviewing enough that you are confident you can answer any question thrown at you, even if it's one you've never practiced before. 

2. A question is asked, but the interviewer chooses who interviews first. This style of interviewing is most people's preferred because it gives them time to come up with an answer (save for the one who was asked first) without feeling pressured. You don't have to worry about whether or not you're going to have time to answer a question because you might be drowned out. Once the answer is given, the interviewee moves on to the next person. 

3. A question is asked, an answer is provided, and a conversation ensues. This is how my interview went. I would answer the question, and the interviewee would provide some insight. The other interviewer would then answer, and some more insight would be provided. In an interview style like this, you can still say something yourself within the same question as long as the other interviewer is done speaking. Of course, you don't want to say something that contradicts the other interviewer or steps on toes, so to speak. 

One-on-one interviews aren’t too much different. With both group and one-on-one, you could actually be interviewed by multiple people be it staff or staff and a student or two.

The best way to prepare for interviewing is just to practice it. Whether you practice on your own or practice in front of someone, it’s necessary that you have a working knowledge of the kinds of questions you could be asked. I’d write down the questions and wrote the answers to them. I then typed up everything in a word document and printed it out. As I practiced, sometimes I crossed through and wrote a better way of saying something.

The ultimate question you need to be prepared to answer is why do you want to be a physical therapist. I believe this is answered in the book I linked above, but I can tell you one thing you should never say is that you want to help people. You can help people in any profession, but why physical therapy?

I can’t remember all of the questions I was asked. I do know that all of the questions but one were questions I had already been practicing on my own. If you’re this lucky, do your best to make it not seem rehearsed. As for the question I never practiced, it was my thoughts on group studying. I had done group studying before, so this one wasn’t too hard to answer. However, the interviewer did throw a curve ball when they asked what would I do if a student came to our group with a problem and no matter how many times I tried to help them out, they just couldn’t get it.

For questions that keep you on your toes, there is no right or wrong answer. I said I’d see if I could get someone else to help. The interviewer then pointed out that sometimes as a student you just have to consider yourself. After all, if there’s a student who just can’t get it and said student is thus slowing your entire studying session down, the best thing you can do is to get someone else whose job it is to help to take over.

You also need to have an understanding of the physical therapy profession as a whole because you might be asked about it. I wasn’t, so I arguably got off easy. You need to know what vision 2020 is and what beyond vision 2020 is for sure. Basically, keep up-to-date on the profession through APTA. I’d recommend having discussions about the profession with physical therapists you’ve shadowed. And I can’t say it enough, but the book above also provides a lot of things you should consider when it comes to learning about this profession.

It’s especially crucial to have an understanding because you might have an essay question you have to do during your interview. I didn’t, so I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. Just treat it like you’re writing an essay for the GRE.

Now I know some of you who are reading this might be the nervous type and are wondering what to do about managing your nerves so that way you don’t start stumbling over your words. Again, it’s all about being prepared. The more you practice interview questions, the better at interviewing you will be in general, even if you’re given a question you are entirely unfamiliar with. In fact, if you can’t answer right away, just be honest and say you would like a moment to formulate your thoughts. This will not count against you since it shows you care to put thought into what you wish to say.

Don’t bite your nails or touch your face or tap your foot or jiggle your leg or play with your hair or engage in any other fidgeting kinds of behaviors. Do speak clearly, maintain eye contact, keep your hands folded in your lap during interview time, sit up straight, smile, relax your shoulders, and take notes, if necessary.

A final piece of advice I have is to understand where you are at as far as your interpersonal skills are concerned. You can look excellent on paper, but if you do not communicate well, the person who is average on paper but excellent in speech sitting next to you is going to get your seat. Interpersonal skills matter a great deal in this profession, as you should know.

This is your day. I was told it numerous times, and now I’m going to pass it on, but be yourself. You may not be able to fully be yourself (my morbid sense of humor had to be kept under lock and key), but don’t mute yourself to the point where people can’t get a grasp of who you might be. When I went to my interview, I assumed I had already been chosen for the school. Such a thought gave me the confidence needed to blow through the interview and come away feeling certain I had landed an offer.

You landed this for a reason. They are interested in you. Don’t be afraid to show them why.

Next post will be all about observation hours and letters of recommendation.

Writing the Essay for PT School

The essay is commonly brushed over for people who are scrambling to apply to PT school. I’m in a few groups and have even spent enough time on Student Doctor Network forums to know that not enough people ask about it despite it being a trump card for landing an interview. You can most certainly get in with an average essay, but if you want to stand out or you want to improve your application because something else is lacking, the essay can help your passion shine.

The University of St. Augustine did not require a PTCAS essay (PTCAS is the system they use to handle all applications, for those that are barely just scraping the waters of application submissions). I wrote one anyway not knowing this, but it didn’t hurt. They actually required only a statement of purpose, which asked why I wanted to pursue physical therapy and why I was drawn specifically to their university. I’ll discuss mostly the PTCAS one because once you understand how to write that one, a statement of purpose is no problem; however, I’ll end the post with my statement of purpose so you’ll have a decent example of what one should look like.

When writing either of these essays, you don’t want to treat it like the essay you wrote for the GRE with a formulaic set-up. You want to treat it more like the essays you wrote for your English classes. Now PTCAS might change the topic. Mine was “reflect on a meaningful experience in your life and share how that experience influenced your personal growth, such as your attitudes or perceptions.” However, from what I have gleaned of PTCAS, a lot of their topics demand narratives (as does a statement of purpose usually), so there’s no thesis statement you need to defend.

Let’s start with the PTCAS essay. I’m going to post the one I submitted. I’ll break it down, including what I needed to fix before this became the finished product:

PTCAS Essay

In 2015 I suffered from a mental illness that statistically has the highest mortality rate, especially among young women: anorexia nervosa. Calories dominated my waking mind, and it was easy to hide this illness from everyone thanks to a diagnosed b12 deficiency due to my starvation. Yet, the emergence of uncontrollable binges coupled with purging and a profound self-awareness that there was only one outcome of anorexia, that being death, made me yearn for recovery. If it had not been for a friend who somehow discovered me on a pro-anorexia website, I might not have found it.

So my journey began, beginning with a four-day hospital stay followed by months of meeting with an eating disorder therapist until I regained the weight I lost. The threat of being hospitalized again sat on the table if I lost even a pound. Many of those with anorexia relapse. I did not, likely because I craved recovery. I did not wish to return to the constant hunger, the self-hatred, being cold all the time, and the guilt of why I was even doing this to myself to begin with.

To keep me on the recovery track and to avoid relapse, I joined a recovery forum where we spoke of nothing but recovery and posted recovery meals that ranged from nutritious salads all the way to ice cream. It was not just about putting on weight, but on developing a healthy relationship with food, regardless of its calorie content.
Recovery was not always easy. Some moments I hated it and wished I had not been caught. I also hated always being watched while I ate and never being able to eat in my room. In fact, even though I did not relapse, I almost did by taking advantage of my parents’ treadmill and walking on an incline for an entire hour every day. Needless to say, my parents removed the key from the treadmill and hid it.

Anorexia is a voice, one different for every sufferer. It might tell one person to stop gaining weight because she is fat. It might tell another, like me, to stop eating because you are losing control. Yet, I always remained honest with my eating disorder therapist because he was the only one who understood that even if the eating disorder was something I chose, I could no longer control it without help. Those once a week visits kept me true and kept the voice from controlling me again.

The more I stayed involved in my recovery forum, the more recovery began to influence my life as I searched out recovery blogs. I found one where the blogger became a personal trainer, which is not uncommon among recovering anorectics. As I researched this career more, I began to realize that perhaps this is what I was meant to do. I wanted to promote self-love and a positive body image. I wanted to ensure future clients would seek to lose weight the healthy way so that way they would never hate themselves the way I did.

I threw myself into my studies, earning my certification within six months. I have since gone on to earn a myriad of others, including NSCA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialty. My first year of personal training showed me what I truly loved, and that was learning about and working with special populations. There is something truly gratifying about restoring the confidence of an injured individual who was afraid to exercise before thanks to said injury. Yet, it was working with these individuals that made me want to do much more: I want the knowledge to actually treat the condition and not just merely teach people how to work around it.

One could argue anorexia is the reason for discovering personal training and thus physical therapy, but I would argue my recovery is the primary influence for making me discover my ultimate purpose in life—to be a practitioner who improves mobility and relieves pain. It is a very different career because self-image is not a factor like it is for those who seek personal trainers. Nonetheless, pain can prevent people from being able to live their lives, and pain can harm someone’s self-esteem. I have seen this in the observation hours I have done. Yet, what I have also seen is the beauty of healing and what it does for a person’s life. I want to take part in that, and every day I thank my recovery for making me discover such a wonderful field. Recovery has made me a much more empathetic person, a trait I know is crucial as a physical therapist.

The struggle with the PTCAS essay is that you are limited with the amount of characters you have. So originally I summarized my whole journey with anorexia, from the development of it to the recovery from it. This didn’t allow me much room to talk about anything else, save for a small paragraph tying it into physical therapy. As you can also see, even though the topic doesn’t outright ask you about physical therapy, you must find a way to tie your experiences into it. As you can also see in the paragraph before the last one, you have to gloat a little bit. That’s not something I did in the first draft. I barely talked about my accomplishments because I spent a lot of time detailing my story of anorexia and how it led to physical therapy. I’m also a modest person by nature.

When I sent the draft off to a friend of mine who was waiting to be accepted into PT school herself and whose mother was an English teacher, she read it and told me the biggest thing I needed to do was focus only on the recovery because it was the recovery that made me discover physical therapy. She also told me I needed to emphasize why I wanted to be a physical therapist. So I had to scrap the entire first draft and start all over using elements from the first draft to influence the second one.

Originally I had a slightly more detailed section on my hospital experience, but that just took up room, so I scrapped it and just said I spent four days in the hospital. I also originally did not have anything mentioned about joining a recovery forum (more sub-forum, but semantics). However, it was important to mention it because it did keep me on track and added a little bit more dimension to my recovery since I had to start treating this as a story. After all, recovery is largely boring, especially if you’re not fighting it.

Instead of briefly alluding to why I developed an eating disorder, I jumped right in as you can see in the first paragraph. It wasn’t important to know why I developed one. It wasn’t even important to know what it was like suffering with one. It’s important to get to the point of this essay immediately because you are so limited with characters. The essay above didn’t have much room left despite my constant proofreading, so I felt like I still wasn’t giving enough attention to my recovery story. But that’s something you have to accept when writing the PTCAS essay–and your readers know this.

Even so, it still needs to be impactful, so hopefully you can use my essay as an example to guide yours. And remember, you’re always free to email me yours and I’ll do my best to make time for it.

But as you can see, I spent about 50% of this essay detailing my recovery journey and the rest of the 50% detailing how it influenced my desire to become a physical therapist.

Now here is my statement of purpose answering why I chose PT and the University of St. Augustine. Some schools may list the word count, but mine didn’t. It turned out to be about 1,000 though.

Statement of Purpose

I am going to be honest and say I never saw myself becoming a physical therapist or getting involved in the field of medicine period. In fact, I never saw myself studying any sort of science beyond the requisite science courses all non-science majors must endure. I chose an English degree because at the time I wanted to be in publishing. I have a few books published through a small press, have some poetry out there, and am seeking an agent, so this seemed the natural route. Science scared me since we were not friends in high school; the language it spoke terrified me beyond comprehension with all its rote memorization and math. Why did I need to know the Krebs Cycle? What was so important about stoichiometry? Plus, when I had to drop an entire semester thanks to a mental health crisis no doubt exacerbated by that semester’s course load, I did not think I was intelligent enough. When I looked at the prerequisites for physical therapy, I was also almost deterred. Now I think it is humorous to imagine going back in time and telling my high school and early college self that one day you are going to enjoy science and math, and you are going to do well in them because you are older, more mature, and more self- assured. Once you find what you are meant to do, your fears become insignificant. You tell yourself every time you feel challenged that nothing will stop you. You will make your future happen.

I did not immediately have physical therapy school in mind when I finished my Bachelor’s. I figured I would do freelance editing; however, I did not like editing novel-length works--it could take an hour to edit fifteen pages--and preferred being primarily a writer. A brush with an eating disorder brought me to personal training. In fact, I wanted to try and make a career out of being one; it was being a trainer, of course, and working primarily with special populations that made me wonder if there was not more out there. I could work around client’s problems, but a large part of me wanted to treat them, as they were limited in what they could do. At the time I was still new to personal training, so I had to have a second job to support me, which was where being a physical therapy aide came in. Even though recovery from an eating disorder influenced my discovery of physical therapy, being an aide solidified this decision because I was able to see high-energy, passionate physical therapists who were unwavering in using their advanced skills to help patients’ varying conditions. I saw these patients being relieved of pain--I saw it in their smiles, the desserts they’d bring in thanks, and the occasional visits to let the therapists know how they were doing. I was also endlessly impressed during every shift by the boundless amounts of knowledge the therapists possessed and how they were not shy in educating their patients on their own conditions. So I started researching physical therapy, what it would take, and then looking into schools. I did not immediately apply to a college to do prerequisites right away. That took several more months before I finally realized I had to because I could not get physical therapy off my mind.

I am choosing the University of St. Augustine because a current student recommended the program to me (I also live about five hours from there). She knows I cannot afford to go without an income for several years, so I was thrilled to learn of a hybrid program with online learning and labs. I also earned my Bachelor’s through an online program, so I am neither intimidated nor unfamiliar with online learning. Perhaps what I like the most, however, is that the University of St. Augustine offers a great degree of assistance both inside and outside the classroom. I saw the video of the anatomage table and am excited to know it can be uploaded and taken home for further study; thus, it is great that St. Augustine remains innovative. The current student also said there is a lot of help available, and there are scheduled times to meet foronline learning activities. Last, I like that the University of St. Augustine offers the orthopaedic manual therapy fellowship, as I was in physical therapy once for my hip and manual therapy was the only modality that helped it; it is the first specialty I’d like to pursue upon graduating and earning my license.

I look forward to a career in physical therapy because I know what my interests are--and those interests will likely expand during my journey through physical therapy school and clinicals. One of the therapists I observed was a scoliosis and Mckenzie specialist. Both methods were fascinating to witness, and since I am a follower of Dr. Stuart McGill and understand back pain is a large cause of disability, I want to help rehabilitate backs and relieve back pain for many people. I would also eventually love to become a teacher and contribute to back pain research. Therefore, I hope to have the privilege of attending the University of St. Augustine to be given this foundation. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Next post will discuss getting the grade in your prerequisites.

How to Study for the GRE

I must admit that when I was studying for the GRE, I at some point decided to throw the quantitive section. I have bipolar disorder type I, and I was going through a rapid cycling episode where I was switching between some form of mania and mixed episodes/depression. I was able to easily concentrate on verbal because I graduated with a degree in English, I’m a small press author, and I read all the time so it was easy to hyper-focus, but I could not at the time get my mind to focus on quantitative when it was always moving so fast. But I threw that section with the knowledge that the school I got into, which is the University of St. Augustine, only cares about having a combined score. So some PT schools only care about combined while others do care about individual scores in each section. You just need to be sure of which one your school is.

When I was studying for it I asked a friend of mine who got into an English graduate program how she handled the quantitative section, and she, too, threw it. Even so, she came away with a good score thanks to her verbal, so I took her advice and decided to put all of my energy into studying verbal, because it just came easily to me; thus, I’m mostly going to talk about the verbal. I’ll try to offer some advice for the quantitative, but keep in mind I am writing this post largely assuming at least one of your schools cares only for combined scores. So this is Tip One: if you’re weak in one section but strong in another, put your energy into the strong section if your school doesn’t care about individual scores.

Tip Two: Don’t even bother with flashcards. I bought an entire stack of Manhattan’s 1,000 flashcards, but as I went through them, I began to realize how laborious studying and memorizing all of that was going to be. I thought to myself, ‘There has to be a better way to study than this,’ and it turns out it is highly recommended that you don’t utilize rote memorization. The GRE isn’t about that–and it won’t let you get away with that and will in fact find ways to punish you for doing so. You can’t simply know what a word means, after all. You have to fully understand how to use it, which flashcards don’t teach. You have three sets of questions you can be asked in the verbal:

1. Reading Comprehension: exactly what it sounds like.
2. Text Completion: you have one to three blanks you have to fill in with the correct word(s).
3. Sentence Equivalence: consists of only one sentence with one blank and a myriad of answer choices that involve what words fit into this blank.

You can receive more details here.

Tip Three: As a continuation of tip two, some people do have a hard time trying to understand why you simply can’t memorize a bunch of words and do fine. After all, the words you’re memorizing are likely to pop up on the GRE, right? Perhaps, but the English language also has what seems like an infinite number of words, and any one of those words can and will pop up on the GRE. When are you going to have time to actually study anything else if you’re spending all of that time memorizing?

But here’s a little known secret for you (at least, in my experience, it’s been little known to people I have told who are studying the GRE): The better you do on a section, the harder it gets. This is why you can’t merely memorize. I believe you start out medium and can get flung to either easy or hard or even very hard depending on how you’re doing. If you’re doing well, you will get flung to hard and you will most likely see words you have never seen in your life, which is why context is crucial, plus process of elimination. If you’re doing the paper test, which I think is hard to get, count your lucky stars.

So how do you study then if the odds seem already stacked against you?

Tip Four: Begin by already practicing the verbal sections. I used the 5lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems when I didn’t have computer availability. When I had computer availability, I used Magoosh. The latter does cost a subscription fee, but for me it was the BEST study aid I had. I had ETS’s book, but I wasn’t impressed with it at all and thought it did a rather horrible job explaining answers for both quantitative and verbal, which is why I’m not recommending it here.

Magoosh is amazing because you have what seems an infinite number of practice problems and even a couple of practice tests you can do. It does a constant score calculation that gives you a general idea of how you’ll do test day, and mine was pretty darn close. It will also automatically change the difficulty for you depending on how you do if you have the questions set up that way during any one study session.

You have a 7 day free trial, so go on ahead and give it a try now. I honestly wish I would have done better on the GRE because I put Magoosh to shame, but my rapid cycling episode really made it difficult to study for the GRE and I already had it scheduled so I just had to do the best I could.

In any case, choose your favorite study aid and practice, practice, practice whenever you can. The only way to get good with the verbal section is to understand how each of the three works.

Tip Five: Instead of using flashcards, read books. I would list books, but all you simply need to do is type ‘books to read for the GRE’ in Google, and you’ll be presented with plenty of choices. Now while I couldn’t recognize some words on the GRE itself, I was actually surprised by how many words from Magoosh were in the novels I read. ‘Verdant’ comes to mind. However, reading instead of memorizing flashcards serves to do two things:

1. Because you're reading, you already don't feel like you're studying. Hopefully you love reading (you're applying to graduate school, so you probably should by this point in your life). But it will be much easier to retain new words you learn, especially if you're using a dictionary for all the words you don't know.
2. It'll be easier to recall the words. While you're taking the test, if you come across a word you know you read, you can simply recall it by reaching deep within your mind for the book you read it from. It's much easier to recall memorable moments than it is dull moments--and let's be honest, who wouldn't prefer to be on the porch, sipping lemonade, reading a book, versus being locked up in your room in silence doing some dry studying?

But books don’t have to be the only thing. Any form of entertainment with colorful words that keeps your attention can work.

Tip Six: Do the easiest first and save the hardest for last. This is especially true for the reading comprehension, which will take up most of your time in the verbal section. And as for the reading comprehension, all you can do is practice this, and again I highly recommend Magoosh because it will explain to you why your answer was wrong, which makes you better at doing the reading comprehension section. This section is not trying to trick you.

The GRE, at the end of the day, is all about knowing how to do the GRE. It’s not really about testing if you know 10,000 words or remember geometry from 9th or 10th grade. It’s testing your adaptability, which grad school demands of you.

Tip Seven: When studying for the GRE AW, it actually does help to practice. You’ll have two essays to write: an issue and an argument–and yes, any of those topics linked can be on the exam. I got one that I practiced the day prior, which was great luck for me.

You’ll have thirty minutes for each one. Here is the basic structure that will help you get the score you need, which goes from 1-6. I averaged out a 4.5. Some schools will list the AW score (mine didn’t), but aim for a 3.5-4.0 at the minimum.

First off, you should do a quick outline that has your thesis and three main points that you want to talk about. Having it in front of you will keep you from developing writer’s block.

Your first paragraph should be your introductory paragraph that includes your thesis statement, which is basically a summarized answer to whatever topic question you’re given. Your next 2-3 paragraphs should then be your main points that expand upon the thesis statement. Generally it’s best to have at least five sentences in each paragraph, but it’s the quality of your essay, not the quantity, that matters, although essays that are longer typically do have more quality to them than those that are shorter. And you’ll learn this if you decide to read actual scored essays that have been written. (I recommend doing so.)

Your last paragraph, your conclusion, should simply summarize everything you’ve said in the essay. You don’t want it to be a repeat of your first paragraph, but you also do not want it introducing any new points.

Don’t panic that you only have thirty minutes. Absolutely no one can produce a masterpiece in thirty minutes. But also try not to use up the whole thirty minutes because you do want to leave enough time to go back and seek out any errors. From what I understand, scorers aren’t super picky about typos because of that time limit, but write the essay and proofread as though you don’t want any.

Please do a thorough reading of the difference between an issue and argumentative essay. In my opinion, one is more difficult than the other. I believe I struggled more with the argumentative one than the issue one because you have to write based on a lot of assumptions of information that isn’t given to you. I think the topic had something to do with a hospital switching to a new hand sanitizer because other hospitals were using the same hand sanitizer and noticed a reduction in bacteria. But I had to explain there could be other factors behind the reduction in bacteria, a whole correlation does not imply causation thing. It was difficult because it felt like it required a base of knowledge that I simply did not have at the time, but you can make stuff up so long as it is not so outlandish that it is an obvious falsehood. After all, the scorers are not going to be fact checking.

Tip Eight: This is my last one, which is quantitative. All I can tell you for this one is that going back and re-learning algebra and geometry and even statistics won’t help you. Like the flashcards, it’s simply too much information to cram into your head. Granted, I’m the last person who should be telling you anything considering my score was pitiful for quant, but, at some point, I stopped studying because I. Just. Could. Not. Concentrate. Hypomania/mania consists of bullet train thoughts, and because GRE math did not come easily to me, it was impossible to practice. I can do math. I was taking precalculus the summer I was studying for the GRE and getting 100s on all my tests. GRE math is just different.

You’ll read recommendations not to use the calculator, but I did, and I am being honest when I say I did my best not to do any guessing during the actual exam but to actually try based on the limited practice that I had. I still had some time left over using that calculator. I think Magoosh has tricks you can use for calculating decimals and the like, because I can tell you I had a heck of a time trying to re-learn dividing decimals. Ultimately, however, I didn’t use any of them, though they are clever; I suggest learning them.

But when I was actually studying, Magoosh did a very good job at explaining why my answers were wrong because they include videos that detail how to go about getting the right answers. So just practicing this section is the best thing you can do for yourself. Again, don’t try to relearn math you haven’t done in some time. Dive in headfirst, and you will be ahead of those who sit around trying to learn math they haven’t taken in a few years.

Next post will look into writing your essay for PTCAS or any essay in general, as some schools require their own essays.

Pilot Post: A Change in Purpose

I have decided to start this blog from scratch because it was going in a direction I wasn’t satisfied with. I still want to have a little bit of a lifestyle element to it, but I think it is going to primarily be physical therapy because my life is going to be largely defined by this thing I want to be my passion. There is much I want to contribute to the field, and even being a personal trainer has made me realize that the field is in great need of improvement in regards to how it markets itself. More on that in another post.

This blog will absolutely evolve with me. It’s going to start out offering guidance to pre-PT students. Once I start PT school, the life of being a student will dominate. And then one day soon, being a physical therapist will take over. Regardless, I aim to help out as many pre-PT students as I can get into a program all for no charge.

And why am I doing that?

There are a few programs out there that will charge you over a thousand dollars for information you can find yourself if you do a little digging. So why not consolidate all of that information into my own blog? It shouldn’t have to cost you money to figure out how to get into PT school when it’s already going to cost you enough to get in due to application fees, background check fees, deposit fees, and anything else that costs money to get your foot in that school.

It’s frankly silly to charge for information that is already out there since you only need the desire to find it, which you should innately have if physical therapy school is your true calling. So I will be working on a tab that will include services I can offer you, and all you need to do is email me and ask if I’m able to help at the time, and I’ll let you know. I don’t know how popular such services could potentially become, which is why I’m not yet putting a limit on them. But also keep in mind my inbox will be open for any and all questions related with getting into PT school, so if you can think of something that isn’t listed in what I provide, I’ll more than likely help you with it as long as I’m able.

In any case, keep an eye out very soon on a blog post about studying for the GRE, primarily the verbal section although I will also do my best to offer decent advice on the quantitative.