Top 3 MCAT Mental Health Tips
- Mar 23, 2021
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Prep, Pre-Med Support
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
Real talk: the MCAT is stressful. The overabundance of content on the MCAT can be overwhelming and the stakes are too high to take lightly. As MCAT tutors and instructors, we know how important MCAT prep is but we also can’t deny how vital MCAT mental health tips are for success on the exam.
Blueprint MCAT tutor Julia recently led students through a webinar centered around MCAT mental health tips. Watch the full webinar below to learn how to improve your outlook on the MCAT and reduce the stress that comes with being a pre-med.
What Affects Mental Health During MCAT Prep?
Regardless if you’re a traditional undergraduate college student or a non-traditional applicant, the competitiveness of medical school admissions and your normal responsibilities likely have you very busy. Throw a course-altering test into the mix and it’s easy to feel anxious. This is normal.
However, some people also grapple with additional concerns, such as test anxiety and lack of motivation, that, if not caused by the MCAT, are likely made worse due to the pressure that comes with being a premed.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry! We have the MCAT mental health tips that will help improve your prep experience.
MCAT Mental Health Tips for Pre-Med Students
Positive mental health changes are all about concentrating on what we can control. Today, we’re focusing on three areas:
- How to deal with test anxiety
- Overcoming MCAT hurdles
- How to stay motivated while prepping for the MCAT
The small changes you make here will help you see a big difference in your overall mental health!
How to Deal with Test Anxiety
Who likes taking tests? Whether they’re tests in your college classes or a Buzzfeed quiz, exams are not fun. Many students even carry their test anxiety after graduation. So what causes test anxiety?
Lack of Preparation
A common cause is feeling underprepared for the test, which might be true if you still have more to learn, or if you truly aren’t quite ready for the MCAT. This source of anxiety has a relatively straightforward fix, namely hitting the books or signing up for an MCAT course (self-paced or with an instructor), and being honest with yourself about how much time you really need until your exam.
Some people think they “aren’t good test-takers.” However, know that the MCAT is unlike most standardized tests; it tests science knowledge in the context of critical reasoning and problem solving, more so than strict factual recall. This is a great opportunity to challenge any pre-conceived notions you may have about whether or not you’re a “good test-taker,” because you might surprise yourself.
MCAT Test History
If you’re retaking the MCAT, you might be coming in carrying some baggage. However, remind yourself of how far you’ve come! You’ve made new concrete steps to improve your score and you need to trust your ability to perform better on the exam. Believe in yourself—we believe in you!
Tying Self-Worth to Exam/Fear of Failure
Remember, this is just a test! It does not define your identity and your self-worth. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the score you wanted.
How to Overcome MCAT Hurdles
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned bio major or a post-bac liberal arts grad, everyone encounters some hurdles on the MCAT. Here are some common ones:
- Score plateaus: You were doing so great and now you can’t seem to make any progress. Try reviewing your full-lengths longer. Blueprint MCAT students can use our powerful analytics to reanalyze weaknesses and change the way you approach tackling them.
- Using comparison as a demotivator: It’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of SDN and Reddit or start comparing yourself to other premeds. Focus on YOUR journey and your strengths.
- Life getting in the way: When life gets overbearing with school, family, work, worldwide pandemic, etc., it may be really difficult to stay focused on studying for the MCAT. We get it, but it’s important to set boundaries for yourself and create a schedule that will get you into the MCAT mood.
How to Stay Motivated While Prepping for the MCAT
It’s common to feel unmotivated after a few weeks of studying for the MCAT. Sometimes even #MotivationalMonday posts on Instagram aren’t enough.
This is when you need to remember your long-term goals! Rome wasn’t built in a day. Every little thing you do brings you one step closer to your dream of becoming a doctor.
Make your MCAT prep fun! Set realistic weekly goals and reward yourself every time you reach them. Breaking down your large goal into smaller chunks can make it seem more manageable and push you to help you keep going. However, don’t force yourself to stick to a plan that worked for someone else if it’s not working for you. MCAT study schedules are unique to every student. Create one that works best for you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for Help
Finally, if you can’t seem to shake off the MCAT blues with lifestyle and mindset changes, it might be worth seeking additional advice from your premed advisor or mental health professional. Sometimes we all need someone to talk to. Remember, the MCAT is just a test; your health comes first!
Want more MCAT content? This free MCAT webinar is just a sample of what Blueprint students have access to on a daily basis. Blueprint MCAT Self-Paced Course and Blueprint Live Online students are both invited to daily Office Hours with our MCAT instructors to discuss a variety of topics or to participate in open discussions. If you’d like to get more free practice, sign-up for our Question of the Day emails or put your skills to the test with a free full-length MCAT practice test.
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