Return to MCAT® Blog Homepage

7 Habits of Highly Effective Premeds

Successful people, from CEOs and tech giants to doctors, tend to emulate similar traits. They are all focused, determined, and always seem to know what their next move is. 

After some lengthy research, we think we’ve discovered what helps them thrive and we’ve adapted those tricks into pre-med advice you can use! As a college student or professional pre-med, you can practice the following skills that will help you in your everyday life, as well as prepare you for your medical school journey.

Pre-Med Advice: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PreMeds

1. View everything as a learning experience.

As a physician, you will be learning your whole life. Hey, don’t get mad at us; you chose this life! By approaching every day as an opportunity to gain knowledge, and accepting yourself as an unfinished product, you will constantly seek improvement and new experiences that will add to your appeal as both a physician and a person. 

A doctor is someone who is very book smart, yes, but learning goes beyond being able to name all 206 bones in the body. You will learn as much from your patients and classmates as you will from instructors. Keep track of the mistakes you make, and understand how to improve upon them.

 For example, when I was learning how to be an EMT, I asked my preceptors for one big thing to do better next time. I wrote down all of their feedback in my Notes app, and re-read it each shift. Since then, I’ve applied this mindset to everything—from experiments in the lab to patient care, to volunteering. At the end, I reflect: what can I do better next time? 

2. Hone your organization and time management skills.

This goes without saying and is the best piece of pre-med advice: Manage! Your! Time! Pre-med students are often juggling a billion different activities, taking really hard classes, and prepping for the MCAT all at the same time. It is simply impossible to do this successfully without organizing your schedule and assignments. 

My pro tip: set aside the first hour of your Monday morning to plan your week. Include the assignments you need to prioritize and block out the time you also need to rest and recharge. I love this planner because it allows me to plan out every 30 minutes of my day if I need to, and organizes my personal and professional priorities. *Bonus, you can download a free PDF of the planner here!

3. Participate in activities you enjoy; don’t just pad your resume.

This is my biggest premed pet peeve: do not do something just because you think it’s going to look good to an admissions committee. Yes, you’re premed. However, you’re also a person, and your time is valuable! 

If you hate cleaning wheelchairs, maybe the emergency department volunteering program isn’t for you. If you find activities that fulfill you, you will take more away from these experiences than you would doing something just to check a box.

4. Prioritize physical and mental wellness.

Prioritizing yourself is not selfish. Taking time for your physical and mental health will help you balance your crazy schedule and avoid burnout—and this is where your organization skills come into play! 

This might look like scheduling regular exercise, planning a phone call with your friend or parent, and having stress coping strategies ready for when you do start to feel overwhelmed. Journaling, meditation, and even just going for a walk outside are great ways to calm yourself down. 

5. Find strong mentorship.

Non-trad premeds in the working world might have an easier time finding mentors since you could be working in the office right next to them. During college, it is easy to ignore a professor’s office hours for another episode of Grey’s Anatomy. However, establishing a good relationship with people you admire will serve you far beyond your letters of recommendation. 

You can find mentors by volunteering for projects you’re passionate about, or by attending a talk and following up with an email. Professors want to help you succeed. You may have to go through a few rounds of extending yourself, but mentors that want to meet you for coffee, proofread your articles, and talk through important life decisions are out there and are excited to be a part of your journey.

6. Be Proactive.

Here’s some tough love pre-med advice: A medical school or MCAT success story doesn’t just fall into your lap. You have to seek out the opportunities, mentors, and experiences that will make you an excellent candidate for medical school. It all starts with knowing what to do.

 I suggest setting up a meeting with your undergraduate institution’s career planning or advising center. They can tell you what you need to do and help you make an informed plan to get it done! Go out of your way to research grants that you can apply for, volunteer opportunities that sound meaningful and fun, and ways to connect your current activities to what you want to do in the future.

7. Establish goals and reward your achievements.

You can’t reach your goals if you don’t know what they are. From MCAT scores to top choice medical schools, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve! 

Putting your goals at the front of your planner, or on a sticky note by your desk will help remind you why you’re putting in so much effort day in and day out. It helps to break down big goals into smaller steps.

 For example, if your goal MCAT score is a 515, reward yourself for moving from a 505 to a 510 on a practice test—in fact, try that right now with a free MCAT practice test

Treat it like training a puppy – reward your steps forward, and forgive your blunders. Positive reinforcement will keep you motivated along the way to success!

Bonus: Prep for the MCAT the right way.

There are many ways to prep for the MCAT, but the most successful premeds know how to do it right and according to their learning style. Blueprint MCAT has an MCAT course for every student. Visual learners with busy schedules love the Blueprint Self-Paced Online Course, while students who prefer to be in an MCAT class do better in our Live Online course. Not sure what’s right for you? Schedule a free consult with an MCAT Advisor!


MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which is not affiliated with Blueprint.