Return to MCAT® Blog Homepage

MCAT Diaries: Prepping for the MCAT as a Parent

 When it comes to the medical school journey, everyone has their own story, but there’s one big challenge most of us have to tackle: the MCAT. In this new series, our Blueprint MCAT alumni share how they crushed the MCAT and made their med school dreams come true!

Meet Morgan, a former Blueprint MCAT non-traditional student and incoming MS1 at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville who had to discover the best way to balance MCAT prep as a new parent. 

Navigating MCAT Prep as a Non-Traditional Student

From the start of my journey in medicine, I often felt like an outsider. I had already completed a graduate degree, had a career, and recently found out that I was expecting my first child. My life was far from the seemingly “perfect” premed student that I saw on social media. 

Most intimidating to me was the dreaded MCAT. Looking at the long list of topics on the MCAT I felt completely overwhelmed. I also had no idea where to begin or where to find the best MCAT prep for nontraditional students.

New call-to-action

First Time Taking the MCAT

I started my MCAT prep by trying to relearn all the content I had forgotten from undergrad. It had been 5 years since I graduated from my undergraduate program and 9 years since I had taken many of the basic science courses. I spent months frustrated at relearning physics and constantly felt like I would never finish learning content. 

More Non-Traditional Student Resources

📍 The Premed Journey: Nontraditional Student Edition 

😰 Avoiding The Empty Brain Feel: Managing Content Anxiety on the MCAT

💼 Double Duty: Taking the MCAT While Working

Additionally, I had to pause my MCAT prep for a few months when I welcomed my newborn son into the world. I had a hard time restarting because of how overwhelmed I felt with content and lack of sleep.

I also suffered from self-doubt which caused me to shy away from practice questions out of fear of answering incorrectly. 

On test day, I felt uncomfortable as I had not built up the confidence to answer MCAT-style questions. I pushed myself through the exam, even running out of time on the Chem/Phys section because I did not adequately practice time management.

Getting My First MCAT Score Back

When scores were released, I nervously logged on to see my score. The goal I had set for myself was a 510 and my heart sank as I saw the 508 on the screen. I was devastated that even though I had sacrificed so much time and energy, I still couldn’t get over the 510 hurdle. 

After taking a month to mourn my score, I refocused my energy and examined my preparation tactics. I noticed I was holding back on practice problems because I wasn’t confident in applying my knowledge. Additionally, I lacked effective strategies that would allow me to save precious time on the MCAT. 

Now that I had a plan, I dove headfirst into MCAT prep for my second attempt!

Retaking the MCAT 

“Practice, practice, practice” was the motto of my MCAT retake. I was drawn to Blueprint MCAT because of how realistic their full-length exams were. 

I woke up early every morning to do practice problems and became more invested in thorough reviews of my full-length practice MCAT tests. Each practice test gave me the confidence that I not only knew the content but could also apply it come test day.

I also prioritized my self-care and made sure that I was sleeping adequately.

Further Reading

💻 Get a free practice MCAT exam with explanations and performance analytics!

🔍 How to Review MCAT Full Lengths

🎬 Guide to Retaking the MCAT

When the time came to retake the MCAT, I was much more calm and collected than on my first attempt. I knew I had given 100% towards my MCAT prep and left nothing on the table. As I walked out of the testing center, I felt so relieved and couldn’t wait to see my score. 

When the scores were released, I quickly logged on to see that I had scored a 518! This was much higher than I ever dreamed I could score and was much higher than my goal of 510. 

At times during my MCAT prep, I thought I would never achieve my goal. I didn’t see many new mothers who were studying for the MCAT, and I wanted to give up many times along the way. 

My score showed me that I can achieve my dreams while still being a great parent. I learned how to balance being a parent and an aspiring physician! I hope to inspire more parents to pursue their dreams and not put them off.

Advice for Effective MCAT Prep as a Parent

Sign up to get expert tips and exclusive invites to free MCAT classes and medical school admissions workshops!

Find Your Support System

Being a parent and studying for the MCAT is difficult, especially if you feel like you are doing it by yourself. Fortunately, I had many people in my life who were always willing to step in and spend time with my son while I studied.

Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help! Chances are there are family and friends who would love to babysit or help do errands for you.

Make a Routine, but Learn to be Flexible

Even with the best MCAT prep for nontraditional students, I realized my former study schedule would no longer work.

Throughout my previous education, I preferred to work in the evenings, loving the feeling of staying up late uninterrupted from the needs of daily life.

As a working parent, this was no longer feasible. I found myself too exhausted after a long day to focus on studying at all.

I decided to switch things up and move my studying to the early mornings. Waking up at 5 AM to do practice problems was rough at first. However, it quickly became my favorite time to study in a quiet house while everyone slept!

No matter how much you plan, as a parent expect the unexpected. I created countless study plans just to inevitably have something pop up that would leave me behind schedule. The key is to remain calm and keep pushing forward toward your ultimate goal of crushing the MCAT.

Find a Balance Between Being a Parent and a Premed

Often while prepping for the MCAT, I felt conflicted between my job as a parent and my job as a student. This is almost guaranteed to happen. The important thing is your reaction to it. Ultimately, no matter what I scored on the MCAT, it wouldn’t compare to the impact I make every day at home.

Sometimes it is disheartening to compare yourself to those who don’t have parenting responsibilities when you realize that your time is spread thin. But know that you are doing one of the most important jobs in the world as a parent and one day you will make a great physician because of it!

Conquering the MCAT as a non-traditional student may seem daunting, but you don’t have to face it alone! Blueprint MCAT is here to provide the support and flexibility you need to reach your score goals. Start your journey today by creating a free Blueprint MCAT account

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