But yes, here I am. It’s slightly odd to feel so nervous about something that’s completely out of my control at this point, and I’m slightly disappointed that I’m even exhibiting any sense of emotion. The funny part is that the pressure about the MCAT is all self-perpetuated. We, as students, put this test up on a pedestal and admire it as the single greatest indicator of our ability to succeed in medical school. Okay, yes, I’m definitely generalizing, but who hasn’t heard that one story about how the MCAT totally “destroyed” or “made” a particular med student’s application? Of course, I’m guilty of it too, but it’s so hard to attempt to fight against a belief that’s so engrained within the mind of every pre-med out there. Treating the MCAT like “just another test” is absolutely unheard of. For me, that was probably the hardest thing about this entire process. It wasn’t the material, or the craploads of physics formulas, or even the longass verbal passages (but this one definitely came close). Rather, it was the pressure I felt everyday to somehow live up to this unspoken standard that the premed community had set up.
You’d think that this wouldn’t have as substantial of an effect, but trust me, it does. I’m sure there are millions of studies out there that show how your mental state directly correlates with your ability to successfully complete such extensive tests.
So now, throughout your entire preparation, you have to not only overcome the amount of dense scientific concepts, but also somehow figure out a way to get over these implicit expectations. Some of my friends seem to be able to address the latter more easily than others, but I’ve always struggled with it. Even when I had convinced myself that I had worked as hard as I could’ve, the moment I hit the testing center, every aspect of fear came back almost instantly.
About 30 minutes into my first MCAT, the fear resonated, and I still felt really overwhelmed. And suddenly, midway through the 5th passage, my computer malfunctioned and I was forced stand outside in the lobby while the administrators attempted to fix the issue. That time really allowed me to step back and attempt to confront what exactly scared me. Was it the fact that I was afraid this test would get the best of me? Or was it the fact that I thought this test would inadequately representing my abilities to medical school?
After 5 minutes, I realized that neither reason is adequate enough to justify my feelings. Granted, this was a big test, and it would definitely influence medical school, but it was absolutely nothing compared to the problems majority of the world was experiencing. Just think: here I was getting upset over a stupid test, while there were millions of other students who aren’t even fortunate enough to get an education. In that regard, I should be taking pride in the fact that I can even contemplate the idea of medical school – an idea that is often a dream for everyone else.
So, when it comes down to it, I guess the single most important thing is to just work. Forget about the magnitude of this test, and just get down to doing as well as you can. There is no reason why you should treat this test as any harder than the normal tests you take during undergrad (hell, it's probably way easier since you don't have to know many of the specific concepts). Then, when you get into the testing room, just take the test and move on with your life. A bad score won't kill you and a good score won't guarantee your acceptance into medical school. It's just a test, so you'll survive, and the more you take the test with the right perspective, the better you'll do.