The Battle Against MCAT Burnout: How to Stay Motivated

June 25, 2024

minute read

Ever felt like tackling the MCAT is like a trek up Mount Everest? Without the right training, it can feel impossible.

But remember, just like a seasoned mountaineer, you too can conquer this colossal test...

Our very own Austin Lent, a 518 MCAT scorer and tutor, is here to share his secret training regimen. 

Learn how Austin made studying for the MCAT more effective and tolerable all while avoiding MCAT burnout by watching the video above or keep reading below for his key insights!

We'll pass it off the Austin from here!

For even more high quality insights from top scorers to help maximize your MCAT score, check out our affordable 1:1 private tutoring options here →

I began my MCAT journey a little nervous, a little excited, and very naive. I thought since I had done well in my courses, I would immediately get the score that I wanted. I soon learned this was not the case at all.

From the get go I realized just how much material is actually on the MCAT, there were so many details I didn’t know. I began taking practice exams and reached plateaus, not ever getting the score that I wanted. I felt discouraged, and I lost motivation. Chances are you probably have felt like that too. Those feelings are 100 % totally valid and normal.

For a seven and a half hour exam, you are going to feel discouraged and lose motivation. And in fact, that is part of the MCAT's purpose, to really test your stamina and your persistence. And so with the realization that it's okay to feel these emotions, it then became clear to me that the more important part was how am I going to respond to this? How am I going to bounce back?

The Best Time Management Technique

For me, the best time management method, especially for content review, was the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro technique is a method in which you work for long periods, and then you get a short break. You then repeat these cycles over and over again. Traditionally, it's about 20 to 25 minutes of work then you get a 5-minute break, and then you repeat that two or three more times. Following that, you'll get a longer break of 15, 20, 25 minutes.

And for me, this was really effective because I knew I had a set amount of time to study. I only needed to work for 25 minutes, so I could break up my tasks into something smaller. Instead of saying I need to do this entire chapter by the end of the hour, I would say, I need to finish this subsection in 20 minutes.  And that was more manageable and allowed me to stay focused because it was a smaller task in a shorter defined time.

This technique also helped me remove distractions. If I'm reading without purpose, I usually pick up my phone and scroll through Instagram or text my friends. But, when I only have 25 minutes, it was almost embarrassing to use my phone. And so that helped me shut out some of those distractions and stay focused on my work.

I encourage you to try this technique if you too are having trouble staying focused and getting tasks done in a reasonable amount of time, but maybe it doesn't work, and that's also okay and important for you to understand.

Don’t Lie To Yourself!

The next important thing is being honest throughout the MCAT studying process. This is a very difficult thing because it is a bit of an ego hit to admit that maybe you don't know this topic as well as you should, or perhaps you didn't really understand this passage and were just answering the questions.

While this is difficult to do, it is imperative. After all, that's the only way you will see growth when you hit plateaus or feel discouraged because something needs to change if you do not see the improvement you want.

If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, chances are you are going to see the same results. However, when you are honest with yourself and can reflect on what you know and why you got something wrong, that is very powerful. It allows you to identify areas that you need to improve on. And that is where I was able to get that last growth when I hit a plateau a month before my MCAT and wanted to improve my score further.

Spend Time Off MCAT Prep

Another thing that many students neglect when studying for the MCAT is making sure they have time to do something they like at least once daily, whether it's some stress reliever like exercise, meditation, or socializing with family and friends. These are all essential needs for us as humans.

It's really easy to get in the mindset that I only have a certain amount of time, and I have all these other obligations, whether it's work or school.

But at the same time, it's just as important that you focus on your mental health because the worst thing that could happen is that you get burned out because then you're not going to see the progress you want, you're going to get frustrated, and you're not going to be able to study effectively.

One way to prevent MCAT burnout is to make sure that you are able to do things that make you happy. This is obviously beneficial for a number of reasons, but one of the most important is that it really allows you to clear your mindset of everything related to the MCAT and help you be in the present moment, allowing you to start MCAT prep again with a clear head.

The MCAT Does Not Define You

The last and most important thing I realized throughout my MCAT journey was that the MCAT is not a measurement of how smart someone is, how successful they are, or how successful they will be.

It does not reflect anything about you as a person or a student. And for me, this was a necessary understanding because I got into the trap of saying, Oh, I'm not good enough. I need to be smarter. I'll always need to study more to learn all this information.

By realizing that this test has nothing to do with me as a person, I could separate all of those negative thoughts and focus on what the MCAT really is.

Austin’s Parting Words

So I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit about my MCAT journey!

The most important thing in this area for me was flexibility because if I look up something about stamina or persistence strategies on Google, hundreds and thousands of people will say, this is what worked for me, and another person might say something else worked for them.

It's important to try all different methods but remember that you need to find the best strategies for you and your specific scenario.

If you want to hear more from me and my fellow mentors at MCAT Mastery, you can check out our website. Thank you for listening to me! 

You got this!

Every Great Doctor Was Once In Your Shoes

So, what did you think of Austin's journey?!

Austin's journey is much like what aspiring doctors face - trials, setbacks, resilience and, finally, success. Like a doctor diagnosing and treating an ailment, Austin too had to diagnose the challenges he faced during his MCAT prep and come up with effective remedies...

Now, he wants to share those remedies with you in this video.

And if you're really struggling with hitting your MCAT score goal, get your own very own MCAT personal trainer who will be with you throughout this marathon. 

We understand that studying for the MCAT can be tough, but remember, every great doctor was once in your shoes.

Keep pushing, keep believing, and above all, keep smiling. The MCAT is a challenge, not a reflection of your worth.

The MedLife Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors

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 increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!

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