mcat fear, mcat stress, mcat worry

How To Conquer Your Fear of the MCAT

When we hear from you and all students in our community, that you’re scared of the MCAT coming up, we completely get it.

You might be feeling like people around you, who you look to as ‘role models’, such as family or even profs, don’t get you and your current fear you’re facing. Truth is, they probably don’t get it.

They don’t know what it’s like to work so hard at getting the grades, racking up the extra curriculars, competing for great research and clinical opportunities, while ALSO figuring out how to destroy the MCAT.

They don’t know what it’s like to have the fate of your dreams rest on one standardized test that is known to be one of the hardest standardized tests out there.

So yeah – prepping for the MCAT can get scary. We get it. What’s scarier is that as you move forward in your medical career, this fear is going to show up more often…

It’ll show up when you’re going through interviews, filling out applications, waiting for acceptances, your first day of med-school, and so on.

In this article, we’re going to show you how you can quickly alleviate these negative, mind-clouding emotions… not just for the MCAT, but throughout your entire doctor journey.

In fact, we’re even going to show you how you can use this state as a way to boost your productivity and learning during MCAT prep.

Preparing for the MCAT Is More Than A Mental Game

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Most MCAT ‘tutors’ you’ve probably already come across, give you advice on what books to study from, or how to study, or give you practice questions, etc. However, we believe that addressing these ‘internal’ challenges are just as important.

Preparing for the MCAT isn’t just a ‘mental’ game, it’s also an emotional one. And if you can wrap your head around that, you’re already ahead of most MCAT writers out there.

If you want tactics to improve your ‘mental’ game, we have articles and resources filled with practical tips and advice you can use to increase your MCAT score by 10 points or more within 30 days, or to increase your CARS score fast. However, every so often we think it’s valuable to focus on ‘deeper’ challenges to succeeding on the MCAT.

Fact is you can have the best methods to study and remember information, but if you’re drenched in fear and negativity while you’re preparing or even while you’re writing the MCAT on the big day, you will NOT be performing at your 100% best, and therefore, you will NOT be able to achieve your maximum MCAT score.

We want you at your 100% best throughout this crucial time. Dealing with the fear not only feels good and makes this whole process easier, but it’s also strategic because 90% of people writing with you will be emotionally unstable on the day of. And in the midst of their nervousness, they’ll definitely lack clarity of thinking – which you will have.

You’ll often hear from people who don’t get what you’re experiencing, that fear is something that holds you back, or that you need to avoid fear, or to just “deal with it”.

But we want to help you take a different approach…

To Eliminate MCAT Fear, Identify The Source

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Consider this…

What if fear could become your own powerful weapon? What if you could use fear, as a tool to succeed?

The problem with fear, especially when it comes to the MCAT, is that it’s a barrier to making things happen. Fear paralyzes us. It makes it more difficult for us to pick up the book, and start studying. And for most this happens almost daily during MCAT prep.

Fear makes the entire experience miserable, and we cringe because of it. It makes us unproductive and tempts us to procrastinate.

Those who go through MCAT prep in constant fear, stress, worry, and anxiety, are facing lower chances of performing to their best abilities on the MCAT.

So what’s the solution? How can you move past fear, for the sake of your own MCAT score?

The way to do it is not necessarily to move past it, but to move toward it because the reality is that fear can be useful.

There was a time when fear was a signal for us to ditch lions or other forms of danger. Physical dangers like that are now mostly a thing of the past, yet we still get triggered in the same way – we want to ‘run’ even when we’re trying to accomplish our goals.

The key is to realize that nowadays fears aren’t caused by external forces.

Take a look at these most common fears of the MCAT writer (and most humans in general):

  • Fear of inadequacy
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of not being prepared
  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Fear of being judged

You’ll notice that these are all fears that are internally based. In fact, they’re all generally the same fear – the fear of feeling like you’re ‘not good enough’. These aren’t physical dangers, they’re all internal.

The reason that we can’t pick up the book to study, or we get paralyzed when we’re fearful, is because our body is hardwired to ‘run away’ from that which we fear! Fear signals to us that we should move away from that which we are associating as the cause of our fear.

Which is why the first step is to realize, that the cause of your fear isn’t the MCAT itself, or the loads of books you need to get through, it’s your mentality that’s leading to these internal fears. The only way through these internal fears is to realize that running isn’t an option, instead we must move towards the fear, so we can move through the fear.

So how can we move toward the fear? How can we act in the face of fear when we’re hardwired to run?

Diving Deeper Into MCAT Fear… and Rising to MCAT Confidence

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First, we go inward. What’s really going on inside of you? What are you believing about yourself that is causing you to feel fear of the MCAT?

Common fear-based beliefs are:

  • If I don’t do well on the MCAT, then I can’t get into my top choice med-school
  • If I don’t do well on the MCAT, others will look down on me
  • I don’t know if I’ll be prepared enough by the time the MCAT date arrives
  • I don’t have what it takes to do well on the MCAT
  • If I don’t do well on the MCAT, it means I’m not cut out to be in med-school
  • I don’t know how to study for such a massive exam

Whatever your beliefs are, look at them logically, rationally. You’ll notice they’re not completely true as you’re making them out to be.

The above thoughts are just examples. I want you to identify the thoughts that are causing you to feel the way you’re feeling. Write them down and look at them objectively.

For example, your thought process can be something like:

If I don’t do well on the MCAT, does that really mean I won’t make it through med-school? Did every single student in med-school right now master the MCAT with flying colors? Probably not. All I can do is give it my 100% best shot and I know it’s not the sole determining factor of getting into med-school.

Speak to yourself as if you’re your best friend. Confident people speak to themselves all the time in positive ways. Remind yourself of all your past accomplishments. Do whatever it takes to feel that feeling of trust in yourself. The feeling that no matter what happens, you’re going to be OK. Think back to how far you’ve come – just the fact that you’re in this position to write the MCAT shows intelligence, determination, and lots of promise on your part.

And I hate to say this since MCAT Mastery stands for your MCAT success, but you need to realize that even if you don’t achieve the score you’re aiming for, it’s still going to be OK. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you can take the exam again – it’s not the end all be all.

Maybe you’re bummed about going through your first, second, or third practice test and not seeing the results you hope for. You need to realize that slow and steady improvement leads to MCAT success.

Are you identifying what your weaknesses are? What mistakes do you keep making? Are you paying special attention to those ‘weaker’ topics when you study? Give your weakest areas the most attention.

If you need more advice on that front, you can read our article on How To Improve Your MCAT Score With Every Practice Exam.

Keep in mind that the greatest minds of our time didn’t succeed in their first try. The greatest minds and the most successful individuals realize that you succeed when you embrace the process. And the process includes failing, learning, getting better, small accomplishments, small wins – all of these things lead to the ultimate success. The ones who truly fail, are those who don’t give it their best all the way through, and those who give up in the middle.

Keep your eye on the prize (med-school, becoming a doctor), but don’t be afraid of the journey there. Enjoy it. Those who enjoy the journey, ALWAYS succeed. Don’t believe me? Think of the most successful person you know. Do they love what they do? Do they love their work any less when things get difficult? They don’t because they realize it’s part of the process. When you enjoy something, you enjoy the ups and downs.

Think about the last time you went on a roller coaster – you had a lot of fear but you were having a great time!

Your Vision of Becoming A Doctor

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Throughout the whole MCAT process and especially when you feel fear, remind yourself of why you’re in this game. Remind yourself of your love for your vision of becoming a doctor. Let that be your strength.

You’re on a roller coaster to becoming a doctor – imagine how boring it would be if everything in life just happened exactly the way you expected it. Challenges make life fun. Can you look at the MCAT as a fun challenge? Can you look at beating your practice scores as a fun challenge? If you can get in that mindset, trust me, you WILL dominate the MCAT.

When I was younger, someone once told me to never get into a fight (verbal or physical) with someone who loves to fight, because you will surely lose. That stuck with me.

If you proceed throughout the process with a feeling of fear inside you, you won’t be able to give it your best – mentally, emotionally, nor physically. You HAVE to ease that fear during MCAT prep.

Feeling fear is normal, and you shouldn’t judge yourself for feeling it, but you can always take a step back and work through it.

Or the next time you think about the MCAT or you’re in the middle of studying and you feel fear, remember this simple fact…

Fear is basically worrying about the future, a future that doesn’t exist! It’s such a waste of time and energy when you worry about something that hasn’t even happened yet. Remind yourself that fear is just a physical sensation – just hormones in our bodies, just an energy of excitement.

So next time when you feel fear and you remember that there’s no point keeping your attention in the future, bring your attention back into the now. The now is in your control. In the moment, you can do something, you can take action.

I didn’t aim for this post to become ‘motivational’ in any way, but it seems to have a little bit of that in it.

Truth is, as I write this right now, I feel frustrated and I think it’s unbelievable…

It’s unbelievable how just ONE standardized test has the power to determine which med-school you go to, or if you get into med-school at all. It literally has a lot (way too much) power in determining your future.

And I think that’s absolutely ridiculous. Maybe some people will disagree, or think it’s somehow ‘necessary’ but I stand by that claim. The amount of pressure that you as a premed has to endure to become a doctor is just increasing in its extremeness. Where at the end of the day, you just want to become someone who makes a positive difference in this world.

In our opinion at MCAT Mastery, people with such positive ambitions, shouldn’t be pressured to such an extent to fulfill a commendable dream.

Which is why MCAT Mastery’s main mission is to do whatever we can to help you get the best MCAT score that is possible for you. With that mission in mind, we’ve worked hard to get you all the proven shortcuts, techniques, strategies, and hacks to help you quickly and easily maximize your MCAT score.

There are ways to ease the pressure, and using MCAT study techniques and testing strategies to prepare in the smartest way possible is a key factor.

One of the best ways to eliminate MCAT stress and fear is to study with gradually increasing confidence. As your confidence increases, your fear decreases. And your confidence increases if:

  • You’re being productive and making progress
  • You’re remembering information you studied
  • Your practice scores are improving
  • Knowing you have enough time left because you’re preparing efficiently
  • And the list goes on…

If you’re preparing for the MCAT in the smartest way possible using proven strategies, you can easily and quickly increase your confidence and minimize your fear of the MCAT, when you see that your hours dedicated to MCAT prep is paying off.

The key to seeing great results fast on the MCAT is by applying proven techniques that are known to work. This site is filled with such proven techniques that you can find valuable.

One of the biggest mistakes low MCAT scorers make, is assuming they knew the best practices to succeeding on the MCAT. After they get their scores, they always end up rewriting and delaying med-school admission.

I encourage you to browse through our recommended articles and check out our MCAT Prep Strategy Guide to ensure you don’t end up in their shoes.

Good luck on your MCAT and feel free to reach out,

#YouGotThis

MCAT Mastery

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