I wanted to offer some words of encouragement to all those students who are suffering from MCAT Anxiety about their pending scores, who have not received the score they were hoping for, or who are about to take the MCAT but feel ill-prepared.
Nobody ever feels good about this exam.
You can study every hour of every day and still feel like you need another month to prepare. Just because you felt bad coming out of that exam, doesn’t mean you did poorly. Have confidence in your abilities. As I said, nobody ever feels good about this exam.
The MCAT gives you the option to void the exam after you take it. It’s natural to be tempted by this option if you feel like you did poorly. Do NOT void. I wrote a whole post explaining why you should never void the MCAT.
The MCAT is not a representation of how smart you are.
At the end of the day, the MCAT is a standardized test, and people who are good at taking standardized tests will have an easier time taking this exam. When you prepare for the MCAT you are studying techniques that are very specific to the MCAT. This does not reflect on how smart you are.
When receiving a poor test score, it is natural for a pre-med student to feel inadequate. You can’t afford to doubt your abilities when trying to get into medical school. You are your own worst enemy.
Being a physician means being a lifelong learner. Being a lifelong learner does not mean you have exceptional test-taking skills. Although we must all struggle through the MCAT, the most important part of the medical profession is the motivation to keep learning and working hard. Although some of your friends might have had an easier time with the MCAT, they may have a more difficult time excelling in their careers.
Receiving a bad MCAT score will not hurt your chances of getting into Medical School
When I took the MCAT last year I, unfortunately, went on Student Doctor Network to research how Medical Schools might perceive a bad MCAT score. Of course, the general attitude towards taking the MCAT multiple times was, “It looks terrible. A bad MCAT score will hurt your chances of acceptance.” Being naive to the deceptive world of SDN, I believed it and I let it stress me out.
It wasn’t until talking to multiple advisors and my entire Princeton Review MCAT faculty, that I realized there was nothing inherently wrong with a bad score, it is your attitude to the bad score. If you repeat the MCAT the following year and improve your score, this will show Medical Schools that you worked hard to fix your mistakes. It also demonstrates that one little setback won’t deter you from your aspirations of becoming a physician. Both are good things in my opinion (and my advisor’s opinion).
Yes, we should try to do our best on the MCAT our first time around. But don’t be discouraged if something goes wrong. Medical schools care about one thing: will you excel in their program and make them look better. The MCAT does have a correlation with Board scores, but that is only a statistic. In the end of the day, medical schools will look at everything case to case. If your MCAT score is lacking, just make sure other parts in your application outshine this factor.
Finally, have confidence in your abilities
The MCAT is great at making people lose confidence. Don’t do that. You are smart if you made it this far. Keep going.
Confidence is a very interesting thing. It’s amazing what a little confidence can do to increase your MCAT score. When we lose our confidence, we second guess ourselves. We overthink problems to the point that we waste time and miss the simple answers. Having confidence will increase your score.
It’s important to remember that the MCAT is just another standardized exam. This test does not represent how smart you are or how well you can do in medical school. There are a lot of hurdles to becoming a doctor and the MCAT is one of them.
If you do poorly on this test, do not despair. Do your research and figure out why you did bad. When I had to retake the MCAT, I realized that I had not done nearly enough practice tests. So I made a study guide to cram 12 practice tests into one month in order for me to take the exam before the medical school application cycle opened up. You can see exactly how I did that in my one month MCAT study guide!
Be confident in your ability to succeed. You made it this far!