Many feel that having a group of pre-med friends can be a big stress relief because you have a built-in group of people who understand what you are going through.
The problem is that when you are in a group like this you hear so many thoughts, ideas, and opinions from others.
My capstone course in my last semester of college (when I took the MCAT) had two students who sat across from me planning retakes for low scores and one next to me who got a 520 and got accepted!
"So and so got perfect score, so and so failed their test."
Which is why today I want to give you 6 tips to help you combat the "premed comparison" issue; a huge stress trigger that almost every MCAT writer faces…
Tip 1 - Keep Your MCAT Studying To Yourself!
Very good friends, significant others, and other supportive people don’t count =P
For everyone else, don’t bring up your MCAT studying.
The last thing you want to do is get bombarded with questions about how your MCAT prep is going while you're taking a break.
Or have people talk to you about the scores they're getting; a lot of people want to brag about what/how they are doing and this can get demoralizing.
Overall, there are too many risky downsides when the whole world knows you're prepping for the MCAT. It's not worth it!
Tip 2 - Don’t Criticize Yourself!
You are on your own journey. You will have your own strengths/weakness and setbacks/successes.
Just because you hear others doing well in something you're not great in, shouldn't mean anything. Don't let yourself get stressed by this.
If you're going to compete, compete with yourself and not others.
Don't be your own enemy. Focus on the positive aspects.
Tip 3 - Don’t Waste Your Time With Useless Thoughts!
You have two resources that you have to spend wisely...
1) Your Time
2) Your Mental Energy
Every minute you spend worrying about others and what they are doing is time you are not studying. You're literally giving away your most valuable resources when they could be serving you.
Focus on studying to boost your score, not comparing yourself to stunt it.
Remember, your goal for the MCAT is to maximize your study time and get as much out of it as you can, so that YOU can be successful!
Tip 4 - Focus On Your Own Journey!
It all depends on you and your goals. Focus on what YOUR goals are! Your path is different and personal to you.
Tip 5 - Be Realistic About Your Goals
Be realistic about your own personal wants and goals.
Someone may need a really high score to go to an Ivy League school and spends a full summer studying with no other responsibilities.
Someone else may need a 510 to get into their state school where they want to stay.
Don’t stress yourself out over something you don’t need/want.
Tip 6 - Know The Difference Between Your Life vs. Someone Else’s Highlights
A big perpetuator of the comparison issue is social media.
You can’t compare your life to someone else’s “best moments”!
If you are really struggling seeing everyone’s “Instagram moments” then delete the apps from your phone until after your test! You may realize it is better for you in general!
Personally, I deleted both Facebook and Instagram during MCAT prep and it was one of the best decisions I made.
Reddit forums where everyone posts about how frustrated they are or how amazing they did is another common stress inducing platform that needs to be approached with caution.
(If you want all the strategies you can get on Reddit (and more) with the positive focus, definitely check out the our MCAT Strategy Guide here.)
Also there is a more positive type of ‘comparing yourself…’, and that’s when you reading an inspirational case study or success story of someone who was once in your shoes, facing the non stop challenges of MCAT prep, but figuring it out, hitting their score goal and getting into med-school…
That’s the type of “comparing” where you look at someone and think “If they can do it, so can I!”
Lastly, all of this is easier said than done but by being conscious of it and retraining your brain you can start to overcome the pre-med comparison problem.
No matter what you do, you're on your own journey. Focus on yourself, what you do well, and what you can achieve.
With the MCAT, it's all about refraining your mind to the positive. You CAN do it. You will be a great doctor!
Change your mindset. Once you do, you'll find your MCAT success comes much easier.