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All premeds at some point become aware of the explicit requirements necessary to play on par with other medical school applicants. Namely, those are the medical school prerequisites. I won’t rehash the prerequisite talk; I mean after all, if you’re here you already are knee deep in it. You’ll demonstrate your understanding for the medical field by volunteering – you won’t really be very useful, but that feeling of inadequacy will drive you. There’s also a good chance that if it weren’t for your parents bank investments, and/or financial aid (community investing in you), a dwindling savings (you investing in yourself), you’d perish in a back alley. Despite all of this, you’re likely either employed at a minimal rate or volunteering just to gain more experiences. You’ve done this much, good job! Eventually, you might have the fortunate of developing arthritis as a pipette master in a lab, all of course an opening salvo to prove your self-worth so you might be asked to be a co-investigator with a professor. Oh yes, one more thing, be sure to take the hardest entrance exam ever created, the MCAT.
Somehow, being a premed and accomplishing things, acing courses you likely forgot how it felt to fail. Do you remember the pain of not doing well? Fret not my friends; if you haven’t tasted the acerbic smell of defeat then the AAMC has something in store for you, the MCAT.
You will bomb the MCAT. It’s just up to you to decide when you bomb it: just try have it occur during your early practice tests.
And that’s really what this article is about, how to recover after doing horrible on the MCAT. As I said before, everyone bombs it – you just want to make sure you’re bombing it early, and not later e.g. test day. Let’s put the “real deal” into context that means you’ve paid for the MCAT and/or have a future date in mind and you’re locked into a study schedule. There is no substitute for that sense of urgency. That’s really all there is to it. Bring up the MCAT to any medical student or doctor and you’ll typically draw a metered chuckle, followed by a quick grimace as they reminisce about their MCAT experience. It’s a horrible exam for everyone, even if you do well it’s not a very pleasant experience, in fact you couldn’t pay me to re-study for the thing now that I’ve passed it. Let me be clear, studying for the MCAT is unlike anything you’ve ever done before. It’s designed to be mind-numbingly hard, but do able with enough time and effort. So, promise me you won’t let your first set of practice scores get you down, I promise you it’s terrible for all of us, don’t let others make you think everyone aces it on the first shot or two. But, if you only take a few MCAT exams then you’d better expect that bombing to be a campaign of terror. There caveat, oh there’s always one, don’t blow your official AAMC practice tests either as you only get so many.
Why are you doing this?
That’s a good question to ask yourself, in fact, it might be the first time you’ve ever asked yourself this. Now, if you aren’t at the phase of taking the MCAT yet, you probably think what I say is blasphemy, but be aware there is a period of darkness. The MCAT is so hard that you might find yourself reevaluating your future, regardless of your intelligence; it’s seen it many times before. But, rest assured, while it is hard and you might even doubt yourself along the way, I haven’t met a medical student or a doctor who hadn’t at one time experienced the same thing. Use that bad MCAT practice score (real score) to fuel your hunger for medical school, it’s indicative that you still have room for growth, and if you’re not growing you’re likely atrophying – or so we must tell ourselves to push on.
Study on premed.