By Jacylin Ticatic, Honors College senior
After three years of hearing about the dreaded four lettered test that pre-med students quiver at the sound of, it was my turn to take on the MCAT. After my first glance at my 7-book review package from Kaplan, I knew this venture would not be the easiest feat. This four part, computer-based test is used by medical schools to determine which medical school candidates will best fit their programs.
The breakdown of the MCAT is heavily science based, with three sections full of questions with elements from chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, sociology and biochemistry. The fourth section tests your ability to answer passage-based critical analysis and reasoning questions. Throughout the test, students are also tested on their ability to reason scientifically, in ways of research and statistics as well as on basic scientific concepts. After taking in what the MCAT was all about, I decided to take the plunge and begin studying.
When studying, I decided to take on the topics I found easiest first and start slow. Each day I’d set a designated time period where I’d sit and study from my Kaplan books. Slowly but surely, I made my way through the first three practice books and decided to take on a full practice exam to get a feel for the test. After taking this first practice test, I also realized that a huge part of studying for the MCAT is training your brain’s endurance level. Sitting in front of a computer for 6 hours and continually answering challenging questions is not a normal task for most college students. After I had this epiphany, as I continued studying I would also continually increase the time I spent sitting in silence and reading over the concepts of the test to train myself for the long day that was fast approaching.
The day before I took the MCAT, I felt as prepared as I could be and spent the day relaxing and slowly going over concepts for the last time. I highly advise to any soon to be MCAT sufferers to scope out the testing center the day before, so you can plan accordingly for travel time. It seemed all too fast, but soon enough I was walking into the Greenville Prometric Testing Center at 7:30 AM to finally take on the MCAT. After seeing some familiar faces I took my seat, and a few deep breaths, and took on the test that I’d been studying for all summer.
This isn’t a fairy tale ending though; when I received my scores back a month later I was disappointed with my results. At the time it seemed like the world was ending, but with the support of my friends and the faculty at the Honors College I was able to readjust my life plan and am now planning to take a gap year to strengthen my candidacy for medical school and retake the MCAT.
To any of the future MCAT takers reading this, this test will rock your world in both a great and terrible way but it does not define you as a person. You can and will conquer it in your own time, don’t lose your faith!