Why Your Fear Is Keeping Your MCAT Score Low

March 7, 2023

minute read

Most students feel like the MCAT and fear go hand in hand. If you're writing the MCAT, you may have just accepted fear as part of your daily life, dealing with it until test day is over. 

That's an unfortunate but common situation; premeds are spending months chasing a higher MCAT score, but struggle to reach it because of one thing that they refuse to let go of... fear.


As humans, we're programmed to experience fear when faced with certain stimuli. It's because of evolution. When we feel fear, we're  conditioned to stay safe so we can continue to survive and reproduce. The problem is that fear alters the way you look at the world. It completely alters how you think and view yourself.

It's all instinctive, meaning our rational mind takes a backseat. In fact, it pretty much turns off our rationality. There's your first hint... The MCAT is a critical thinking and application based exam. You need to keep your rational mind at its peak if you're going to hit your maximum MCAT score.

When feeling fear, we automatically start doing what worked in the past. You hear a loud sound? You flinch or duck. It worked for our ancestors to avoid danger. But it's still programmed in us to act first and think later.

On a side note, if we do get some thoughts in while feeling fear, they're thoughts of all the horrible things that can happen with the MCAT. These thoughts only amplify the fear and our susceptibility to act on those fear-based thoughts!

Just pictured yourself getting a low MCAT score? "Forget sleep, let's just study non-stop!" Which is completely counterproductive seeing how important sleep is in the optimal performance of your mind. OR some people are the opposite and are paralyzed by fear based thoughts. Then they wonder why they can't stop 'procrastinating'. It's all the result of fear. 

The next time you imagine something scary regarding the MCAT, remind yourself that...

"Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real." 

There is no evidence of what you're imagining is going to take place. Why are you letting something 'made up' dictate your feelings and actions right now? The mind has a way of wanting to be 'right'. So if you're going to focus on these fear based thoughts, you'll (consciously or unconsciously) hurt your own studying and progress, so that later on your mind can be like "see, I told you.." Don't let that happen. The moment you become aware of this when it's happening, you'll take your power back.

When you're feeling fear and are trying to stay 'safe' by only doing what's always worked for you, you don't experiment. When you stay 'safe' in your comfort zone, you only do what worked in the past. However, the MCAT requires you to get out of your comfort zone.

The MCAT wasn't made to be an exam that you're supposed to feel comfortable with. If that was the case, everyone would be acing it! Think of how brutal this exam is - with a ridiculous amount of content to cover. Your 'safe' studying approaches, that have worked in the past, aren't going to cut it. Some part of you knows that, but another part of you that is caught up in fear, won't try a new approach. 

This is one of the biggest problems most MCAT writers are going through. They're finding themselves studying for an exam that triggers fear, yet it requires a new approach than what they're used to, which means most of them are extremely unlikely to actually find and implement that proper approach that will get them the competitive score!

In fact, most students are unaware that there is even a different approach! They look at their stagnant scores and start to doubt their own intellect, rather than doubting their process! Fear has the ability to blind you like this.

When you're in a state of fear, the only solutions you'll see are those that keep the status quo, those that keep you 'safe'.

The creators of the MCAT want to identify those are fit for med-school. The MCAT tells them that. Who is fit for med-school? Someone who can be moulded into a successful doctor. Doctors are placed into fear-based situations all the time. However, they can't let their rational minds take a back seat. They can't stick to standard approaches. They need to be on the leading edge, at the forefront of new ideas, and they can't stay 'in their comfort zone'. Does that make sense? The MCAT identifies future doctors! You need to rise above the fear, you need to rise to your true potential, and by doing so you'll get your MCAT score to rise to it's true potential.

Next time you're feeling fear, remind yourself...

"Fear is just a story that you told yourself of something that might happen in the future, of which you have zero evidence that it will actually happen. "

One of the biggest sources of fear is when you're feeling lost. Literally, 'lost' - like if you're not sure you know how to get to where you want to go. If you're feeling lost on your MCAT prep journey, if you don't know the right approach to take, use this map that was created by analyzing the journey of dozens of top MCAT scorers... 

Having a map, a blueprint that enables you to follow in the footsteps of those before you, who have reached the destination you're trying to reach, is the greatest source of confidence you can get. 

Check it out and be sure to sign up to our free 510+ scorer MCAT strategy email course.

You got this, 

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors

Your MCAT Mastery Mentors

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 achieve 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!



Free MCAT Strategy Crash Course!

In these 4 free videos, you will learn from four 95+ percentile MCAT scorers (518, 518, 520, 522), MCAT tutors, and MS1's, on what's keeping your score lower than it could be, what to start doing to raise it, how to gain confidence in your MCAT prep journey, and proven strategies on how to leverage practice exams to skyrocket your score beyond the 515+ mark.