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There's no avoiding it –no matter how hard you try, you'll be hit with this obstacle...
At some point during your MCAT prep, you will get derailed from your MCAT plans and goals.
Your MCAT Mastery mentor, Austin, had to deal with this firsthand when the world flipped upside down during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made his plans of acing the MCAT so much harder…
But quickly, Austin learned how to get back on track and found the right approach to tackle MCAT prep and score a 518 on test day!
And overcoming these obstacles in his MCAT prep inspired him to create our newest video! We’ll pass it over to him from here!
Originally, I was planning to take the MCAT in the spring of my junior year, sometime between January and March, like many other traditional premed students. But during my sophomore year, I went home for spring break, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I never went back that semester like many other students.
So this caused me to really change my perspective on how I was going to approach the MCAT.
I decided that because I was going to be home until the middle of August, I should just take this time and really focus on MCAT studying.
And so, I moved my schedule up six months to take the MCAT on August 20th.
The Trait Many MCAT Testers Are Lacking
So the first lesson I really learned is the importance of flexibility.
So for me, obviously, this was on a very large scale, changing my MCAT date by half a year.
But even on the day-to-day when you make a schedule, you really need to have flexibility because you might not be able to stick to your strict schedule since anything can come up, such as family emergencies.Flexibility is really important. You must understand that some days you'll meet your goals, and some days you might not. But as long as you accept that variability and move on to the next day with a fresh mindset, you will do great!
Setting Boundaries Is So Important!
I began studying at the end of May 2020. Also, at this time, I was taking both physics 1 and 2 online during the summer. Each one was six weeks with lab, which was a little bit intense as I had never taken physics before.
A good portion of the MCAT includes physics, so I knew that this was going to be really important. The extra challenge was being at home with my entire family working remotely as they gave me plenty of distractions.Obviously, you have certain family responsibilities. But, you need to be ready to say "no" to anything unnecessary that will take time away from MCAT prep, such as watching a show.
I needed to set my boundaries and just go to my room and study when I needed to.
My Road to Scoring a 518
My initial score was 504 on my first diagnostic, which I was pretty proud of. I was pretty confident in the content at the beginning, besides physics, which I hadn't learned yet.
I saw pretty steady growth over the next few weeks but...
Eventually, I hit a plateau around 512 and 513, where I didn't really see my score improving, even though I was still learning physics and doing all the review. I was frustrated because I didn't see the growth that I had wanted to or expected.
I then decided to take a step back. What was really pivotal for me was completing these “why I got this wrong” charts, which I got from the Kaplan books, but I'm sure there are a million online. I made sure to go through every question I got wrong and understand why I got that wrong.
Was it just not knowing the content at all? Was it something where I didn't read the question, or I didn't fully go back to the passage?
The real improvement I got from this was figuring out what a question is really asking and being able to eliminate answer choices, getting it down to maybe three or two answer choices.
I didn't know 100 % of the content. No one is ever going to know that. But by getting it down to 50/50, I was able to use more of an educated guess to get the right answer.
And then, if I got it wrong, I would again analyze why. Why did I get that wrong for the future? And this really helped me and boosted me up to 518, which is what I got on my real MCAT that I took in August.
Never Disregard Your Mental Health
So this journey, obviously, was super difficult. But, the overall most important thing that I learned was the importance of focusing on my mental health.
I don't think many premed students really take into account what it's like studying for the MCAT, how it really is a gruesome process. There are just some days when you don't want to keep going, but you got to.
I've seen this when I've been working with some of my mentees here at MCAT Mastery. Some students might treat studying like a full-time job where they work or study eight hours a day, which sounds really great at face value.
But, this one student who was doing that did not see the improvement they wanted. They were spending so much time, and still couldn't break the 500s.
So I asked them, do you think this studying is really helping? Do you see the improvement? And they said, honestly, no.
And that was a really big understanding I have that more studying is not always better. Sometimes it actually can be harmful because you really get burned out and bogged down, resulting in a lack of effort. So in a sense, it might even be wasting your time.
So that really ties into focusing on your mental health, you need to do the most you can, but you can't just do more because you want to.
Everybody's got to set their limit, and that's different for everybody. In addition to that, you must also try to focus on doing things you still enjoy while studying for the MCAT.
It's important like I said, to be diligent and make sure you get your MCAT studying time in however you organize that. But it's also important to still do things you enjoy, do things that relieve stress. Whether it's something social, a physical activity, or some mindfulness.
It’s really important to really make sure that you're putting forth your best effort.
With that in mind, hope you really enjoyed hearing about my journey and some of the tips and tricks. And if so, I definitely encourage you to sign up for our free MCAT Mastery emails.
Something We Want You To Remember
So what’d you think of Austin’s experience and strategies?
And if you want more strategies that make a difference from real and relatable top scorers, we know you'll appreciate our affordable 1:1 private tutoring options!
If there's one thing we want you to remember, it's this...
Things don't always go according to plan - even for top scorers.
But it's what you do and how you adapt when that happens that makes you a top scorer.
No matter how tough the journey feels, it's not too late to reach your goal!
You got this,
The MedLife Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors