MCAT testing dates are getting cancelled due to COVID-19. Now what? What do you do?
A lot of our students have reached out in panic, unsure of what to do. Here's what we would do and what we're recommending...
If your test date was one of the ones that got cancelled, we know how frustrating that can be. Especially when you've been studying for months and were looking forward to getting this done with!
At the same time if your test date is coming up or if you've had it rescheduled, we can't imagine the amount of uncertainty and anxiety you must be feeling, being unsure of whether or not it will also get rescheduled.
If you're like most, you have the year's plan mapped out - when you're going to get your score back, when you're going to apply, all of that. Now everything's been thrown off. It sucks. And we're sorry you're having to experience this.
At the same time however, it's now more than ever before, that you don't forget everything we've taught you about mindset.
Are you going to perceive this situation in a way that makes you a victim, or are you going to perceive it in a way that empowers you?
A victim mindset will paralyze you from studying, stress you more, make you less effective in your studying, negatively impact your sleep, rub off on those around you, and worst of all... stress will weaken your immune system, at a time when you can't afford to weaken it.
Or you can see it in a positive way, in a way that empowers you. Ask yourself what good can come of this? For each person the answer will be different. Maybe you get a much needed break without any guilt because you did nothing to cause it.
A student on Reddit said it well…
"We can choose to pout and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can make the choice to accept the reality of the situation and find some way to turn it into a positive.
Maybe that means take the gap year, and go from a fringe candidate to a solid MD candidate. Maybe that means go from a solid MD candidate to a strong T20 applicant. Or maybe this means test in a few months, and get an even higher score than you would’ve now. No matter what any of our situations are, we all have a choice to make."
This isn't to say you shouldn't be angry. If you're upset, you have a right to be upset. A lot of this seems unfair.
But at the end of the day, once you process your emotions, it's important to mentally step out of the 'woods' and come into the light where you can get some clarity about the next steps on your journey.
Also sometimes our parents/family freak out more than us, and then freak us out in the process! If that’s the case, the first thing you need to is gather yourself knowing this will pass and you’ll be fine. Then approach them from a place of calm, with a sense of confidence, then smile and let them know there’s nothing to worry about.
When they sense you are at peace, it’ll make them feel at peace. Often the people who love us the most, unconsciously reflect our emotions back at us to share our joy/pain.
Remind yourself that as a doctor, things aren’t always going to go according to plan. How are you going to react? How are you reacting now?
You’re reaction will be on two levels…
Your emotions and your strategic adaptation.
Once you’ve got your emotions handled, accepting that you will be fine no matter what, it’s time to create a new plan of action.
Which we’ll begin by saying...
Do NOT start thinking that just because it seems like there is a ‘stand-still’ that you should stop studying. That’s what the average student will be doing.
This is an opportunity for you, so that when you do test, you completely knock it out of the park. Don't forget it's a competitive exam and the top scorers are going to be using this time to score even higher.
Plan smart now. Here’s some advice to get you started…
When we think about what’s in our control (i.e. what we know for sure), we know that new test dates will be added.
The AAMC has said that they will be adding them. Which is no surprise because it’s been done before for much smaller issues like power outages.
This might mean testing dates can be set late into Sept, maybe even into October.
Which means that if you want to test in 2020, you will get to test in 2020. There will be a date open for you and we can see med-schools being very understanding/flexible about this situation.
Consider what stage of MCAT prep you’re in right now.
Did you just start studying? Are you learning content right now? Great. You’ve been the least impacted by this situation because you’re in the beginning stages of content review. Keep your focus on mastering the content. Now you have more time to do so.
Have you already gone through all the content and are in the process of solidifying that information through practice/application? Our recommendation now is to milk this stage by continuing with this longer, even if you were planning on moving forward from this stage. Keep going for at least 2-3 more weeks and wait to hear updates.
Or lastly are you in that ‘MCAT marathon’ mode (last stage) that you should be in when your MCAT prep is really close? This is typically where you’re probably going through a lot of the AAMC material in a strategic way of practice/review. Our recommendation right now is to hold off AAMC material.
In fact, you should have a solid understanding of what you need to improve in by now. Whether that’s stamina, timing, your weak areas that you’re just not getting, and more. Go back to content review/practice stage with a determination to improve in all of those areas. Keep your key practice exams for later.
If you’re not familiar with these stages, you likely haven’t gone through any of our MCAT strategy resources. Which means you haven’t been preparing in the most efficient way that you can. This is another opportunity that this situation has brought forth. If time was a barrier before, holding you back from going through these top MCAT score blueprints, it's no longer an excuse. You have extra time now. Invest it wisely - learn how top scorers studied for this exam, it'll pay off greatly.
Next, realize you can’t create long term goals at this time. In fact if you do, they’ll likely give you anxiety because we can’t predict the future right now. It’s up in the air. So the key is to make short term goals.
What are you going to accomplish in the next week?
What are you going to accomplish in the next two weeks?
How can you make progress in your MCAT prep in a quantifiable way during this short time frame? Make sure you can measure it.
Think about that right now. Write it down. You’ll already start feeling better. Hitting short term goals will make you feel a sense of progress, when the long term is unknown.
We wouldn’t go further than two weeks.
If you’re feeling very overwhelmed, worried about scores, unsure of how to plan your schedule, and want to feel more confident about being ready when it’s finally time to test, then you should consider getting some one-on-one guidance with one of us.
On that note, a lot of premeds who were about to sign up for tutoring, who just signed up, or have been planning to sign up, are reaching out concerned about what the test date cancellations mean for their tutoring sessions. If you’re in that boat, know that your sessions will never expire. So if you need to stop working with us because of a test cancellation, you can pick right back up when you have a test date set again.
Secondly, in every session you work with us, you're being trained to think in a certain way. In each session, our focus will be on implanting a top scorer understanding of how to approach MCAT studying, passages, questions, answer choices and more. Once it has 'clicked' for you, even if you take some time off, you can continue practicing your improved understanding on your own. Point being, if you spend 3 sessions with us, find out your test date is cancelled, those three sessions that you've already completed will never be a waste.
Once this whole thing is over, we're expecting a flood of sign ups and there's a chance we may not be able to accommodate every student (since there are just a few of us right now). Which means if you know you're going to need one-on-one hep, we'd advise signing up sooner than later, even if you use the majority of your sessions later this year.
We know a lot of students are having to leave school/move home too. If this is your situation, we recommend that while you are getting resettled, try to study for just two hours a day during this process - which is much more manageable with the chaos and since the time frame is extended.
One hour for reviewing notes/flashcards and one for questions via Uworld if possible. Saving AAMC for later is a good idea. CARS practice every other day is also a good idea.
Regardless, constant practice is essential to stay on top of your prep, so neither content knowledge nor test-taking skills, slip out from your long-term memory.
AAMC will be giving updates on this whole situation here: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/coronavirus-mcat-faqs/
Just remember to take care of yourself. That's the most important thing.
Take care of your mind, your body, and spirit...
As that is truly the most strategic action you can take at a time like this.
Meditate, exercise, eat well, sleep well, stay positive...
Lastly, there’s one key realization that we’ve all had during this pandemic…
The world needs and depends on effective, composed, and fearless doctors.
Don’t know about you Sam, but we’re more inspired than ever!
Let’s channel that inspiration into giving our work everything we’ve got.
Let's channel that inspiration into becoming the best versions of ourselves...
So that when we're ready to take the MCAT, when we're ready to step into med-school, and when the world looks at us to help those who cannot help themselves, we'll know with zero doubt that...
We got this,
The MedLife Mastery Team
Your "MCAT Success" Mentors