A 524 Scorer’s Top 4 Tips To Get Through The MCAT Experience

June 13, 2024

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Hey! This is Srikar from MedLife Mastery and today I'm super excited to be talking to you about my MCAT journey! 

Prepping for the exam was really anxiety-inducing not just because of the actual test itself, which definitely brought a lot of pressure as well, but also just balancing all of your responsibilities with the MCAT in general. 

Something that was a little bit unique about my whole experience is that I was studying for the MCAT during the height of COVID-19. There was a lot of uncertainty that definitely added to all the stress around taking the exam.

After reflecting on my experience, there are four key takeaways that I want to share with you that hopefully will be helpful for your own MCAT journey. 

Mood Boosters: Optimizing Your Study Environment

The first one that I want to touch upon is just trying to make positives out of a negative experience.

There are a few people for whom the MCAT right off the bat was a positive experience. For them, I commend and applaud because that’s a great mindset to start with. However, for most of us, including myself, studying and taking a long standardized test just isn't fun. I tried to find positives wherever I could to get through that. 

One method I applied was optimizing the environment in which I was studying.

For example, I could not get anything done if I was studying in an environment where I didn't feel comfortable. So, I would go to my favorite places to study. For me, this meant studying in different coffee shops and my local Barnes and Noble. 

Obviously, this is a little bit tempered because of COVID-19, but it's something that I really stress to my students. 

Getting yourself in a comfortable environment that improves your study mood can be tremendously helpful when preparing for the MCAT exam. For me, these mood boosters would be sitting down and getting comfy at a desk with an outlet. This made me feel ready to go. 

A benefit from that experience is the way my mindset shifted. Now that I was studying every day at my favorite spot, preparing for the MCAT shifted to an enjoyable experience.  

On days when I wouldn’t want to study for the exam, I’d tell myself, “At least I get to go to my favorite place now and I can get some coffee!”

I centered on the small, enjoyable aspects of the study process. By focusing on that aspect, I was able to overcome this big black cloud of, “Oh no, I have to study three or four hours today for the MCAT.”

Getting Back on Track: Planning More Breaks in Your Prep

My second point of advice that really helped me get through this journey was making a study schedule with a lot of breaks.

Something that was really helpful for me was planning an MCAT schedule for my studying timeline and goals. I was able to stick to it largely because I had so much time built in for when life happens. Trust me, it’s just going to happen.

Even if you are fairly conservative in your scheduling, there's going to be some days where you are not able to study at all. It happens to the best of us!

Because of this, I built in a lot of wiggle room. I didn't feel behind, even if I ended up going on vacation for a couple of days or if something came up and I didn't study for three or four days. 

I already had that built-in, and it really helped me with these feelings of guilt when I would fall behind on my schedule. Having more breaks planned in my timeline helped me refocus without shaking my confidence when I was off track.

It was easier to remind myself, “It’s okay, I'm still on top of my game, and I still have the ability to get where I want to be.”

Having breaks will also ensure that you have something to look forward to. 

For me, I never did anything on Sundays. I would study six days out of the week, but then not on Sundays at all. 

Building a Strong Support System: Trial by Fire, Together

The third point that I want to talk about is honestly one of the things that was most helpful for me. This is having a strong support system while you study for the exam.

For me, it was primarily my friends and my family. 

My family was very helpful throughout the whole experience. During the whole month that I was on winter break, I didn't cook any of my meals or worry about anything else except prepping for the MCAT exam. 

Having that kind of support system was very helpful to me, and it allowed me to fully devote all of my energy to this test.

I also had a couple of friends that were taking the MCAT around the same time as me and that was a great experience. 

By the way, if you want a group of friends taking the MCAT around the same time as you PLUS a 518+ scoring MCAT mentor guiding you through the process, you need to check out our Live 6-Week MCAT Strategy Courses!

For one, I could see that other people were going through the same challenges as me. 

We were all having the same struggles, almost like a trial by fire together.

It also made it more enjoyable to hang out with them outside of studying for the MCAT, and it helped shift my focus away from the exam since so much of your life is already being dominated by it when you are studying. 

Try and find space to talk about other things to relieve your mind that way as well. 

Put it Into Perspective: Remember Your Why

The last thing that I want to talk about is perspective. 

Trying to put it all in perspective was helpful for me because yes, the MCAT is an important test for med school admissions. For most premeds, this is an exam that we've been dreaming of and working towards for a large part of our lives. 

I think putting everything in perspective was very helpful for me in pushing through, particularly towards the end where I felt like I was starting to hit a wall. 

I just took a step back and started thinking about it, “What am I doing all of this for? Why do I want to be doing this?” You start to reflect and realize, “I'm doing this to help people. I'm doing this for my future patients. I want to be a doctor for X reason.” 

That kind of helps you push through learning the tedious content that you feel might not be necessary. For example, optics, fluids, or other MCAT physics. I found that mindset shift to be really helpful when studying this content. 

Also, just perspective in terms of, “There are thousands of other kids taking this with me, going through the same experience. We're all going through it together. If they can do it, so can I.”

To me, that was really helpful. Especially when Covid-19 was running rampant and I was studying for a test at the same time.  Getting towards the end of my journey, I ended up taking the exam in January of 2021 and I ended up getting a 524 in the MCAT.

I remember being just really relieved and happy about the fact that the work I put in finally paid off. 

Have confidence in yourself. Have confidence in your abilities. It's very hard to go through this process alone, but with the support from other people, you really can push through and you guys can all do this.

We’re Here to Support You!

Conquering the MCAT and sticking to your MCAT study plan is filled with challenges and triumphs. As you embark on this path, remember that success is not solely defined by content review and speed but by strategic and thoughtful approaches. 

As you navigate this rigorous exam, may Srikar’s tips and strategies be a guiding light, illuminating the strategies to help you overcome your own MCAT challenges. 

At MedLife Mastery, we're here to support you every step of the way. 

We help students get accepted into medical school through services like our affordable application coaching and advising alongside our private MCAT tutoring options! You are not alone in your journey and we are here to support you. 

You got this, 

The MedLife Mastery Team

Your MCAT Success Mentors

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ???? To help you achieve your goal MCAT score, we take turns hosting these Live MCAT Courses and are also available for 1:1 private tutoring!

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