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45 Things I’ve learned while studying for the MCAT

  1. Have confidence.
  2. Study like you have a final. Every day.
  3. Facebook is NOT your friend.
  4. Do not even think about
  5. Your social life is officially non-existent.
  6. Sleep at least 6 hours a night.
  7. Coffee is your friend.
  8. Do not get annoyed when someone asks, “how’s studying going?” Please note, that asking someone how their studying is going is one of THE MOST annoying questions to ask them.
  9. Alcohol: minimal at best, none preferred. Think of the MCAT as the second coming of prohibition.
  10. Try your best to eat healthy. With all the studying you’re doing, you should at least not get fat.
  11. Pick up a hobby, or go to the gym. You need stress relief, and for me it’s doing pushups.
  12. Naps should only be 30 minutes. Any longer, and you’re a goner.
  13. The later you wake up in the morning, the more sluggish you are for the rest of the day.
  14. Full length practice tests not only assess your competence but aid in your stamina. Everyone loves long staying power.
  15. Once again, coffee is your friend. Your best friend.
  16. Sex life? Better yet, what sex life? Your only partner should be the MCAT. Who should be continually raping you every day. That’s the only action you’ll need/get.
  17. Enjoy the little things. Times are stressful.
  18. Study in an environment you know that you will study in. Location, location, location.
  19. Tell your loved ones you will be cranky. If you don’t love them, you don’t need to tell them.
  20. Sleep before midnight if possible.
  21. Music or no music? No music. Use earplugs instead.
  22. Imitate testing environment as much/as often as possible. See #21. Use blank scratch paper, use only wooden pencils. Stick to the 10 minute break between sections and DO the writing samples.
  23. Stretch. 5 hours of sitting down is not an easy feat. You will get knots in your muscles. This is a marathon, not a leisurely walk.
  24. Expect the unexpected. No matter how prepared you think you are… no one goes into this test with 100% confidence. Control what you can to lessen the stress.
  25. Take things one step at a time. The pyramids weren’t built overnight. Thinking about how you don’t have clinical experience/letters of recommendation for medical admissions won’t help you when you’re studying for the MCAT. Focus strictly on the MCAT. Baby steps.
  26. Only talk to people you like. You aren’t going to be social while you study, so when you make time for others make them count. People who want to tell you how they’ve been ‘hurt’ or about their ‘problems’ are excess drama. Just this once, be selfish. Talk to your friends who will support you.
  27. Cherish break time. During break time, do not watch a movie or go on Facebook. Be active and happy! Walk outside, and feel the warmth of the sun.
  28. Stick to a schedule. Don’t take a ‘break’ whenever you feel like. Don’t just study ‘ochem’ because you have a feeling. Organization will save you time and boost efficiency.
  29. Have patience. Your parents will badger you. All the time. Your friends will do things that annoy you. Please be patient with them. You only have a ‘he’s taking the MCAT’ free pass for so much. Use them only when they matter.
  30. Set your music player to shuffle. The 7th song is your ‘official MCAT theme song’. I hope you like it. If you don’t, cheat until you do.
  31. Rest. One day a week, do not study at all. Don’t even think about the MCAT. Even God rested 1 day.
  32. Know your limits/cycles. I’m talking about your excretory system here. There is nothing more distracting while taking a test, then holding a bladder full of fluid. Know that drinking coffee now might mean a bathroom break in 1 hour. You have 10 minutes between sections on the real test. You should aim at going to the bathroom during those times.
  33. Distance. Try your best not to talk to other pre-meds taking the MCAT. They will make you feel inadequate about your own progress. A low spike in your self-confidence cannot be afforded.
  34. Understand progress. Don’t focus on how you’re stuck at a certain score. Realize that from the beginning, you’ve improved A LOT and focus on how that’s still happening. You will improve.
  35. 'Don't complain, just work harder' -Randy Pausch.
  36. Stay calm. You know a lot more than you think you do. If you stay calm, you can figure out what the question is asking and how to apply your knowledge. You’ll be surprised.
  37. Everything is there for a reason. Every piece of information in a passage is there to tell you something. Especially in the Verbal Section. Read carefully and always ask yourself, “why is this here?”.
  38. Find some inspiration. When you feel blue, a good source of inspiration is Nike commercials. You might not like their shoes, but you can’t deny that Nike commercials are awe inspiring. Try finding some on YouTube. ONLY use YouTube for finding Nike commercials.
  39. Have good posture. 5 hours of test taking is made more difficult with bad posture. Sitting up straight will improve your attentiveness. Also, slouching is unattractive.
  40. Menstrual Cycle. A great mnemonic device is ‘Men, F Our Lives’. Menstruation, Follicular phase, Ovulation, and Luteal Phase.
  41. Using the internet is a double-edged sword. You can be really productive using it, or spiral into procrastination. I hope you have self control, because the practice tests on the AAMC website are very helpful.
  42. Take vitamins. A healthy body is the house to a healthy mind. Studying while you’re sick is not going to be pretty. Try your best to maintain good health.
  43. Be minimalistic. Guys, don’t take an hour to get your hair in the right ‘messy look’ and girls, don’t take a strenuous amount of time applying make-up. You are studying and aren’t trying to impress anyone. All your energy should be to studying for this test. However, please change your clothes/underwear daily, and also shower every 24 hours. Most of the days I study, it’s a ‘hat day’ because my hair is just crazy. That’s fine though, I’m studying.
  44. Utilize small time. Waiting for your cup of coffee (see #7 and #15), or waiting for your ramen water to boil is time you could spend with flashcards or listening to Audio Osmosis. Ten minutes may seem like nothing, but you can get a surprisingly large amount of things done.
  45. Have faith. Tomorrow is a brighter day, and the possibilities are endless. You decide your fate. Accept responsibility for your actions and study!

Here are 45 things I personally learned while studying for the MCAT. I hope it’s helpful for those who haven’t taken it, and I hope it’s funny to those that have. I have 1 more week until I’m done. I hope I can do it! Let’s all get 45’s!


Also, thanks for all the support!


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