10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT

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You don’t need us to tell you that the MCAT is a difficult exam. Especially when you're navigating through MCAT prep on your own!

Fortunately, all of us at MCAT Mastery are keen on ensuring that you’re not actually going through this journey alone and can learn from our experiences! And that’s what our newest video is all about!

This video's from an MCAT Mastery mentor you might already know - Ariana!

She's a 515 MCAT scorer, a current medical school student, and passionate about helping the next generation of doctors get into medical school!


With all of her experience after crushing the MCAT, Ariana's gone ahead and made this video titled:

➡️ "10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT" ⬅️

If you're looking for advice from someone who's been where you are not too long ago to give you the push you need to get to your goal score, you should definitely watch Ariana’s video here or by reading her commentary below 👇 

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #1: The MCAT Is Doable!

As massive and intimidating the MCAT is, you have to remind yourself that getting a score that will get you into your dream medical school is doable, as long as you take the time to prepare and study for it!

While everyone’s experience is different - someone might get a 520 on their first take and get accepted into their dream medical school and another person scores a 490 and might have to re-take the test. Ariana remembers asking herself:

Does anybody just get a normal good score to get into schools?”

Well, the answer is yes! It is completely possible to do well in the MCAT without being stressed out too much, do well and move forward in your journey in becoming a doctor!

What I Wish I Knew Before The MCAT Tip #2: The MCAT Score You Want vs. The Score You Need

A lot of premeds tend to have that perfectionist spirit that tells us we need to get the highest score possible on this test (and we know because we were guilty of this too) but...

Not only is this mindset not good for your mental health, it's not necessary to get into medical school!

Remember that your target score should be based on your individual goals and medical school preferences - It doesn’t necessarily have to be the highest possible score. 

By aiming for perfection, you put unnecessary pressure on yourself when you don’t want to waste time and effort for a score you don’t really need.

So if you’re stressing out over reaching a 520+ score when, when you only really need a score of 510 for the school you want, you'll only be stunting your progress with all that extra stress.

Instead, Ariana aimed for a score that got her into her dream medical school and worked hard for it. You need to be realistic about your wants and needs in terms of scoring and prepare based on that.

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking My MCAT Tip #3: The Importance of Stretch Goals

Something that Ariana wishes she had done when preparing for her MCAT is setting stretch goals for herself to make sure she could score well above her true goals.

Stretch goals are goals that aim a little beyond your true goal to give you the push you need to work harder!

What does that look like? Well, if your target score for your dream medical school is 508, then maybe you should make your stretch goal 510 and aim for that! Once you hit your stretch goal, continue to work and push yourself harder and a little bit further.

Creating small steps and goals gives you something more to work for every time you reach them. You can even test how high you can go!

However, make sure not to set unrealistic goals in order not to discourage yourself. Aim for small wins to stay driven!

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #4: MCAT Content In Medical School

We hope you didn't think that the content you'll encounter on the MCAT will be the last time you'll have to deal with that kind of information because once you're in medical school that information will be really good to know!

That's why it's important that you develop strong and efficient study strategies that will not only help you succeed on your MCAT but also become even more successful when you're finally in medical school revisiting these concepts. 

Take this time to develop good study habits and absorb as much information as you can to use long-term in your medical school journey and not just for the MCAT.

Trust us, you'll thank yourself for it later!

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #5: The MCAT Isn’t Going To Be Your Last 7.5 Hour Long Test

The MCAT is a rigorous process that was designed by the AAMC to filter out those who don’t have the resilience needed for this demanding career path. 

That's why you have to be mindful that the strategies that you develop for the MCAT are skills you will need forever.

The critical analysis, the pattern recognition, familiarity in biological sciences and the stamina to endure more 7+ hour exams you will face in medical school and in the future - You'll need all of this for both the MCAT and medical school!

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #6: Your MCAT Score Isn’t Everything

You are more than your MCAT score.

Once you start medical school, you'll realize that there are people with all kinds of scores around you and that your MCAT score does not correlate with how well you do in medical school!

Once you’re in medical school, your MCAT score will quickly become a thing of the past and you'll realize that it's only just a means of getting your foot in the door in the field of medicine.

And medical schools know that too! They're aware that life happens and there's more to a student than their MCAT scores, so while you should aim for a competitive score, don't stress over it too much if things don't go your way.

Once you're in medical school and looking for experience, no one is going to ask you what your MCAT score was. So, instead of concerning over your score so much, you should also focus on getting relevant experience that will help you in becoming a well-rounded doctor. 

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking My MCAT Tip #7: The Importance of Mindset

The MCAT is a beast of a test and chances are you've never written something with as much on the line as this before. It's easy to get intimidated, overwhelmed and demoralized when preparing, but that's why you have to make sure you...

Be mindful and develop a healthy mindset!

For this test, you absolutely need 100% focus. Here are some mindfulness techniques discussed by our top scorers, like Ariana, that you should check out

And of course, the mindset and mindfulness strategies you develop will serve you well beyond just your MCAT prep journey and help make sure you're ready for the rigorous day-to-day of being a doctor.

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #8: Focus on Yourself!

We all do this from time to time, even thought it's not good for us which is why you need to:

Stop judging and comparing yourself to others!!

It's so easy to compare yourself to others, but this often just leads to discouragement about your progress and can negatively impact your ability to study!

Remember that you don't know everything about others' accomplishments. Maybe you know someone who scored a mind-blowing 520 score, but what if it actually took them 2 attempts before that to get there.

Not that there's anything wrong with retaking the MCAT, but  when people share their accomplishments (and hide their struggles), you're just comparing your whole prep journey with someone's one highlight and that's not fair to yourself. 

Instead, focus on yourself and your journey to success. Work on your own goals, strengths and weaknesses, and move yourself closer to becoming a doctor. By focusing on yourself, you will see a world of a difference in your ability to succeed in the MCAT.

If you want to learn more about how you can stop comparing yourself to others in your MCAT prep journey, check out Ariana's detailed article on the subject here and get over this bad practice once and for all!

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #9: What Drives You?

If you're not truly motivated to go medical school and become a doctor, you can't expect to be motivated to do well on the MCAT.

Identifying your 'why' is so important and will give you something to strongly motivate you when the going gets tough during MCAT prep, medical school and when you're a doctor.

So ask yourself why you're going through this rigorous process to become a doctor

Why do I want to become a doctor? Why do I need to go to a good medical school? Why do I need to achieve this MCAT score?

All the answers to these questions will give you the mindset and direction you need to do well on the MCAT and motivate you to work hard towards your goal of becoming a doctor.

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking The MCAT Tip #10: It's All Worth It!

Once you figure out your 'why' and are driven to  make your goals a reality, know this...

Pursuing medicine and becoming a doctor is extremely rewarding, and it really is the best academic endeavor you can embark on if becoming a doctor is something you really dreamed of. 

Once you get through the MCAT, you will realize all the work you have put into studying and answering practice tests was worth it. You will start to enjoy what you’re doing once you get into medical school.

All of your struggles now will help you reap your rewards in the future.

So, make sure you make the most of Ariana's experiences so that your journey to becoming a doctor can become so much easier. (We wish we had this kind of guidance when we were going through our prep journeys)

And if you’re looking to pick up even more insights and strategies from top scorers, then you should also check out our Complete MCAT Strategy Course, full of tested strategies from our highest scoring mentors (like Ariana)!

Or maybe you’d benefit more from having guidance and strategies directly from the best mentors in our affordable 1:1 private tutoring!

Finally, we know firsthand just how stressful navigating this MCAT prep journey is - especially if you’re going through it by yourself! But don’t forget one thing…

You’re not on this journey alone!

You’ve got the whole MCAT Mastery team cheering you on, and we know you’ll make those doctor dreams a reality quicker than you might think.

Just keep pushing forward, even when the journey gets tough because it’ll all pay off when you get your dream score on test day!

You got this!

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors


The MCAT Mastery Team

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ????To help you increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!


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