East Texas native Dalton Brenner saw his Medical College Admission Test score rise eight points thanks to a service dedicated to helping pre-medical students with the medical school admissions process.

Brenner, who graduated from UT Tyler with a bachelor’s degree in biology last May, was set to take his first MCAT in March during last year’s spring break, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to cancellations and he didn’t take the test until June.

In preparation for his second test this January, Brenner used the resources from MedSchoolCoach.com, a website and app he became familiar through the premedical enrichment program held at UT Health Science Center at Tyler.

“I had an eight point increase between my first take and my second take,” Brenner said. “That was one of the main resource tools I used to study. I used several other resources as well. I used that one very frequently. They have an awesome video course online that I went through. I have looked at some of the other companies. It’s different, it’s better than some of the others.”

Ken Tao, MedSchoolCoach.com MCAT BootCamp master tutor, said Kent Willis, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, engagement and academic support at UT Health Science Center at Tyler, reached out MedSchoolCoach.com to help pre-medical students prepare for the MCAT.

Tao noted the physician shortage across America, and that it’s especially a problem in rural areas like East Texas. He said the process of becoming a medical professional is competitive.

Tao said he brought the MedSchoolCoach.com MCAT Boot Camp to UTHSCT both in person before the pandemic and virtually during the pandemic to help the students prepare for the MCAT test and shape their resumes.

Brenner added he loves the free app, and the flashcards are very helpful.

“I’ve gone through a thousand of those probably a thousand times,” he said.

Tao said the MCAT boot camps provide testing strategies, science and advising guidance to help with the medical school application as well.

“We help students with every aspect of becoming a physician,” Tao said. “The MCAT is one important aspect of a pre-medical students’ application to get into medical school.”

As the process continues to establish a University of Texas System medical school in Tyler, Tao said soon students won’t have to leave Tyler to go to medical school.

“Tyler is quite lucky,” Tao said. “(For now) they can still get the students ready in the Tyler area with the idea that they want to return.”

Brenner describes the MCAT as the “hardest” test he’s ever taken. He recalled studying for six hours, five days a week for three months.

“During undergrad, I never studied more than three days before an exam, and I had a 4.0 in undergrad,” Brenner said. “With the MCAT, there’s just so much information that there’s not any possible way to know exactly what they’re going to ask you because there’s so much information you can be tested over that I think that kind of got to me. There were some things on there that I know I didn’t know. It’s really studying as much as you can and taking as many practice exams and practice questions as you can to be the most prepared.”

Brenner said he will be applying to medical schools this June with the intention of starting in fall 2022. He hopes to specialize in orthopedics when he becomes a doctor, but he’s open to other specialties as well.

He grew up in the Gilmer area and graduated from Harmony High School. He hopes to return to the area one day to practice medicine.

“You have to drive 45 minute to an hour in any direction to go to the hospital,” he said. “It’d be awesome to come back one day to educate the community that I grew up in and help serve. That would be awesome.”

Brenner is currently working at Hospitality ER in Tyler and Longview.

He noted that people studying for the MCAT should stay dedicated and maintain a study plan.

“The mental stress and burnout is real. It’s definitely doable if you apply yourself,” he said. “It’s not really something most people can walk in the door and do well.”


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.