If you are an aspiring physician, you have likely heard of the Medical College Admission Test or the MCAT, as it is commonly called. The MCAT is not an easy examination. It is designed to test prospective medical students such as yourself on their knowledge regarding the basic sciences and reasoning. A lot of material is tested on the MCAT, so MCAT prep must be taken seriously if you wish to do well on the test.
How you feel is a good place to start in determining your preparedness regarding the MCAT. It is normal to feel some nerves regarding such a high stakes test, but there is a limit to this.
- If you feel you are not ready to take the test, then you should hold off for a little while. You will not be in a confident state of mind, which is likely to make you question your answers more. This will lead to a less desirable score.
- If you feel overwhelming anxiety, you may wish to wait a little while. Overwhelming anxiety could seriously harm your ability to think through your answers and reasons. You will be more likely to get even simple questions wrong.
- If you feel overconfident, you may wish to hold off for a little while. Overconfidence is the opposite of overwhelming anxiety, but its effects are similar. You will be less able to critically question your gut feeling, reducing your score.
How You Prepared
Your MCAT prep or lack of it is the most crucial factor regarding your success on the MCAT. You should ask yourself a few questions about the MCAT and your preparation before sitting for the examination.
- Do you know what is on the MCAT? Figuring out what the exam entails should be one of the first things that you do. This will let you know what you need to study and what you need to prioritize. If you struggle with some biochemistry topics, knowing what is on the exam lets you know how much focus you need to place on biochemistry. Without knowing what to expect, you will not be prepared.
- Did you memorize things? If you did, you are in trouble. The MCAT is not about memorization of facts and formulas. The MCAT is about deep, conceptual understanding and application of facts and formulas. As a result, the MCAT is not designed to test your ability to memorize things. You will likely struggle with the exam. You know you are much more prepared if you can teach the concepts to someone who doesn’t know them already.
- Did you focus on your weak points? It may be tempting to go over what you know that you know many times, but this is ultimately going to bring you disadvantage. You should use practice tests and other materials to identify your strengths and weaknesses. You should then focus on helping yourself understand your weaknesses, allowing you to better understand the material as a whole.
By keeping in touch with how you feel and your MCAT prep plan, you will be able to grasp your readiness for the exam. Calm your nerves, reign your confidence, and prepare well. In doing this, you will be completely ready to take the MCAT.