MCAT Nightmares, But Why?

What is a MCAT and what does it stand for? The MCAT, Medical College Admissions Test, is a standardized test that college students take for medical school. That sounds hard! But in fact it isn’t! Many students have different beliefs about the exam. Some believe that it is the key to the doors into your medical school and others believe that it is just any regular exam you take in college. To find out what the MCAT really is we would need to break it down into parts.

It is your second or third year as a premed student and in your mind you might be thinking “Wow, the MCATs are coming.. the MCATs are coming!!!”. Don’t worry it’s not just you, but everyone else thinks about it the same way. A lot of students fuss and stress over it each year! The MCAT is going to be another bump in your life that you will need to go over. You would have to visualize the exam as any other obstacle so don’t stress over it. It is only one of the many test(s) that you will have to encounter in your medical profession. The MCAT will not determine your so don’t worry too much about it.

Do you remember when you were a kid asking your parents why and how everything works? Why is the sky blue? Why does this bug move? and then you ask how? If you think you were annoying your parents, trust me don’t. It’s a good sign of your early critical thinking skills. Which is what medical schools mainly look for. The way you should approach the MCAT is to treat it as a future patient. As in any medical profession you have to ask your patient(s) a lot of questions before figuring out a diagnosis. The MCAT is exactly like that.  If you treat the exam well it will reward you with the answers. But instead of asking your parents why? you now have to ask yourself, why is this MCAT asking me these questions? How is the MCAT going to ask me these questions? The MCAT is an exam to test your critical thinking skills. Knowing why and how the question works the easier it is for you to find the answer. Could the MCAT question be lying to you? as any other patient would? Maybe! That is why it also tests your manipulation skills as well!  If you understand the trick, in your head the “MCAT” should stand for “EASY”.

The MCAT will feel like any other Ocehm, Bio, Physics, or General Chemistry exam you took in college.


Yes, I know there are passages and you might be wondering why are there passages in a science exam? and what is the deal with the reading comprehension section? I know you would rather solve a calculation based problem rather than reading an eight paragraph long passage. But again the test is not just a “science” test but a “critical thinking” test as well. You might have a cephalgia figuring out  how could  you read a seven to eight long passage and completing the questions in a short amount of time? Well, like I said before the MCAT is ONLY testing your “critical thinking” skills and nothing else. I don’t know how many times to say it but it’s true. The medical schools do not care if you understand “what” details you learn by reading the passages. It’s not an exam for you to learn new things.

However, as long as you understand “why” and “how” the passages are being stated you should be be able to go through the exam like any OChem final that you took! Don’t think of the MCAT as the same as the SATs that you took before college. The SAT questions mostly asks you on “what” the passages are stating and not so much on “why”. The medical school admission board already knows that you can do the basic science problems based on your science GPA. That is what makes you a Bio, Chem, or any other science major. For instance, the medical school would not care if you understood what or even where the heart is. However, they would want you to make sure that you understood the “concept” of the heart. Why do animals have a heart in the first place? Sure, it pumps blood through out your body, but why is it pumping blood? Is it to keep you circulated? If so, why? Does the circulation of the blood exchange gasses or just wastes? How do they exchange materials?  I mean you can go on and on asking why, and how each thing works and the question of “why” might never end. That is the fun in science! There are always many reasons or theories and people who break those theories to find new discoveries.


MCAT Stress Bending Solutions:

  • Don’t stress!
  • Know the tricks always ask why and how towards any passage or question.
  • Time manage every question and master it.
  • It’s not the end of the world!
  • Think of the exam as a future patient! Always ask questions!
  • Don’t think that MCAT is the only thing getting you in to medical school.
  • Most important rule for the MCAT is to do well on your reading comprehension section. It will test your critical thinking skills the most. As medical schools will look at that first. Getting a 10+ on the reading comprehension section betters the chances of you getting in vs your 8 or a 7 on science sections.



About the Author: Mohamad Kazah

I am a fourth year premed student at University of California, Riverside. Writing is not my forte but I like to write what is on my mind. I hope you enjoy it! Please comment!

3 Comments + Add Comment

  • you wrote this!?!?! nice job modha! glad to keep seeing your things! writing too now! awesome! know i didnt take the mcat but great stress reducing tricks! gonna add this to my favorites in my gmaill reader!

  • I’m super impressed! Your article is so true and by reading this, I’ve realized that I’m really not learning anything new but instead I’m analyzing what I already know and how I can apply it to the question that’s being asked. Right? There’s so many questions to conquer in the given time and to have to do it on a computer no less makes it a little tougher to concentrate. I feel that the MCAT IS intimidating so the “EASY” synonym doesn’t quite appear to me yet haha but I’ll definitely try to treat the MCAT as a patient. It’s a very “doctor” analogy for you to say. Congratulations on your recent accomplishment and I hope I can do as well as you have on the MCAT! I’m studying so wish me luck!

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    Thank you for your support. Make sure to check out the other topics.

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