My MCAT Wake-up Call

This is a guest post by Alex Yu, Rhodes ’13. If you would like to be featured, send us an email.

Several weeks ago, I signed up to take a free practice MCAT in the comfort of my own home. It sounded like a perfectly productive way to spend a Saturday, and in it’s own way, it was. I haven’t really studied for the exam like I should be due to all the work at school even though I’m only taking 3 classes, and with several of my friends taking the prep course, I feel behind and overwhelmed. However, I thought that since it’s been about 3 years since I’ve taken a practice, my score should at least improve by 5-10 points since I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge. This thought was purely false.

Breakdown by section

The physical sciences section, the hardest in my opinion, went about as well as I thought it could go without studying. I thought the verbal reasoning was a blast, convinced it would be my highest scoring section, and by the time the biological sciences came along, I expected it to be great since I am more comfortable with organic chemistry and topics in biology. This was also false.

The biological sciences section was brutal. The experiments and display of results were on a level I thought was excessive. When I finished I was ready to see my score, anticipating to be pleased with my performance. Instead, I was greatly disappointed and in shock. Turns out, I did horrible on both the physical sciences section and biological sciences section. Even worse, I did awful on the verbal reasoning. I ended up making only one point higher than what I made three years before. Immediately I had a panic attack.

The aftermath

After stuffing my face with Memphis barbeque and going for an extended walk, I calmed myself down from the hysteria that followed the morning dream killer. I kept asking myself what went wrong, and why the verbal reasoning was a disaster. I could answer the first question easily. Clearly I need to study the material more, as well as become more familiar with the exam and what it wants from you. As for the second question, I still have no idea.

I’ve taken practice verbal reasoning sections before and while doing okay on some, others are pretty embarrassing. My biggest problem is that I don’t really see the logic in their answer choice. My answer seems perfectly acceptable, why should theirs be any more right than what I say? Often times the key will describe how their answer choice came from the author’s tone, highlighting maybe 3 words in a sentence as their justification. I find this absurd. I have friends that say, “But you have to choose the ‘best answer of the choices given,'” and I completely understand that, but where do you draw the line?

Whatever the answer, there is one thing I know for sure: don’t underestimate the MCAT. As soon as school is over, I am devoting 2 months to extensive studying and practice test taking. I am taking my MCAT on June 21, and will spend each weekday studying, with practice exams every weekend up to the real exam. Now that I’ve planned out my study schedule, I’m interested to see how others plan theirs. What’s your strategy?

Mr. Yu

I want to be a doctor and I think writing is fun and I love to read. When you have the mind of a writer, things can be pretty dramatic. Comment below or message me on Twitter @mryu90.

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