I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

Improving My Application Part II: Cracking the MCAT

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Yes Gif, Jimmy Fallon, Fallon Tonight

I was planning to wait until tomorrow to write this post but I am so overcome with happiness that I can't help but to share it. 
Some of you may know that I've struggled a lot with the MCAT. Finding the time to study while working full time/taking classes, battling the stress and anxiety inspired by the exam and wrestling with the physical sciences section were only a few of the factors that made this one standardized test such a nightmare. The first time I took it I knew I wasn't ready. I actually almost canceled my seat a few days before my test date but by then it was too late. I resigned myself to a disappointing score and was actually surprised when I ended up doing pretty decently. I knew I could do better though and quickly signed up to take it again in a month, figuring I'd be able to do better by taking extra time off to study and not having a class to deal with. Unfortunately I also ended up moving a few days before the exam, which turned out to contain almost every single topic I was particularly weak on. When I got that score back my heart plummeted into my stomach. I had done even worse than before. Again, it wasn't such a bad score as to exclude me from getting into (or even getting screened out from) most institutions, but it felt like a huge personal failure because I knew it didn't reflect my intelligence or my ability to learn.

Ariel, Disney, Sad

Needless to say, the entire experience was horrible. Unfortunately, after not getting into medical school after this past application cycle, I realized I was going to have to go through it all again. This time I finally broke down and allowed my parents to pay for an MCAT prep course, something I had tried really hard to avoid. Additionally, I made the big decision to take time off of work and just devote myself to studying. This was a very novel concept for me since I'm always doing five things at once and trying my best to be perfect at them all. If there's anything this process has taught me, it's patience and the importance of slowing down and dedicating yourself to a few things at a time that you can do properly instead of a million things you end up doing poorly.
After a lot of research I decided on the Examkrackers company. They offered classes in my area and had a good reputation for teaching the basics. I didn't want anything super fancy, I just wanted some help to reach my potential. I really felt like I could do better and was determined to give it one last shot.
The class itself was grueling - 8 hours a day in a classroom with only a lunch hour and a few short breaks feels interminable when you're studying physics and orgo. Luckily I had an amazing instructor and the class was so small it felt almost like I was getting one-on-one instruction. From the very beginning I abandoned any pretense of shyness. I asked every stupid  question I could think of. If I didn't understand something, I asked the instructor to go over it again (and a third time, if needed). I didn't even care if I sounded dumb, all I thought about was how this was my last chance to prove to everyone (and myself) that I could succeed, that I could do better.
EXAMKRACKERS, MCAT Prep, Medical School
I highly recommend these guys if you're looking for a comprehensive prep course!

I scheduled my third and final MCAT exam for May 31st, one week after the prep course ended. When the day rolled around, for the first time, I felt a quiet confidence. Don't get me wrong, as I walked into that testing room my palms were sweaty and my stomach was roiling, but I also felt like finally, I was ready. I was prepared and I was going to kick butt. 
When I walked out of the climate-controlled testing room after four hours I felt the complete opposite. I was a mess. The exam had been incredibly difficult, I had barely answered all the questions in the physical sciences section and there were several questions from verbal that I couldn't stop dwelling on. As I waited the long weeks for my score I went from one extreme to the next. Sometimes I felt confident that I had done well, after all, my practice exams were all in the 30s at the end, surely I had done somewhere in that forgiving range? Other times I felt despondent and convinced that I had done worse than even my lowest previous score. 
Then, today, my score was released.
I took one look at the page and started crying (and screaming, sort of scream-crying?). I had scored eight points higher than the last time and six points higher than my lowest score. That is so many points. I can't even describe how I felt (feel) because it's so wondrous. I am so proud and so happy that finally the hours (and weeks, and months) of hard work have paid off. I am so excited for schools to see my new score and to know that it's more than competitive, it's damn impressive. 
If you've made it to this point (and I salute those of you that have, this has been a saga), I want you to take one thing out of this - DON'T EVER GIVE UP. Don't take what you read online to heart. You can go as far as you push yourself. If you know that you are better than the numbers on your application then change them. I cannot encourage you enough. Just take a deep breath and take the plunge, you won't regret it.
Don't Give Up


Post a Comment