Ask any pre-med what they believe is the hardest part in becoming a doctor. Some might say maintaining a high GPA. Others might say conducting an excellent interview. But I think the one thing that every pre-med fears the most is the MCAT!!
The MCAT, also known as the Medical College Admission Test, is a required examination for any student pursuing medical school (or related graduate schools: apparently podiatry schools also requires MCATS). It is an 8 hour exam that covers biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, psychology, and much more!!! After months of preparation, I finally took my MCAT this month and am so glad to be over with it!!
Now you might be wondering why I might be writing about an examination that only really pertains to pre-medical students. The truth is I am not really going to be talking about the MCAT particularly (also because AMCAS forbids I discuss about the content of my exam with anyone else). The MCAT is one of the many types of exams that so many students take near the end of their college careers. To name a few, students find themselves takings PCAT, DAT, GRE, LSAT, and OAT just to name a few (feel free to look up those exams and see why would one need to take them. In this blog post I wanted to talk about the general preparation and training one should take in order to successfully face these standard examinations.
- Reserve the time! The thing about these exams is that they require large amounts of time to study for. Since they usually contain large quantities of information tested, it is of utmost importance that you plan the upcoming months/semester so that you can maximize the time spent preparing for such exams. Personally, I decided to take a relatively lighter Fall semester so I could concentrate my time on the MCAT instead of school work.
- Make some sacrifices. You are going to realize real quickly that you are going to have a little-to-none social life. That means you probably will have to skip out from parties and social events. But that’s the thing about time management. You need to rank your responsibilities and duties and figure out what requires the most of your time.
- Figure out a study schedule! Now while it may be simple to say that you are going to study for the MCAT for the next 3 months, it’s important to figure out how you plan to study. Now for some people, a class or lecture is the best way for them to learn. Today they are many well-known test preparation companies out there to help you. However, if you learn best by yourself, that’s also fine! But make sure to stay focused since no one will be holding you hand or pushing you forward if you self study.
- Find resources. Thanks to the World Wide Web (and Reddit lol), there are so many free resources just a click away. A lot of these resources have helped tons of students before and it may as well help you.
- Stay healthy! Studying for an important exam isn’t just study study study all day long lol! You need to keep yourself active as well. Proper nutrition also goes a long way. Studies have shown that a healthy lifestyle can play a major role in preparing for standard examinations. You have higher stamina and greater endurance for hour long sections.
- Practice Practice Practice! A lot of testing companies as well as private test preparation companies have plenty of practice exams or old real exams available for you to use. Utilize these in order to keep track of how you are doing.
The moment you exit your exam realizing that you don’t have to worry about it anymore is such an amazing feeling (I am literally so relieved I don’t have to study 8 hours a day for MCATs lol). And even if it might have not went so well, there is always a chance for surprising good news when you get your results back. But worst case scenario, don’t give up if things don’t work out. If your passion for the field/profession is strong, there is always hope that you can do it!!