October 16, 2013
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Passing the MCAT exam is a crucial step for any student aspiring to apply to most medical schools in the US. Unfortunately however, the facts about this exam remain poorly understood mainly because of the many myths perpetuated about various aspects of this test. Knowing what’s right and wrong is important so you do not lose out on obtaining admission to medical school simply because you were ill-informed.
In the US, the MCAT is the only objective, standardized measure that admissions authorities have at their disposal for comparing applications. No matter what anyone may tell you, the fact remains that your MCAT score is one of the most important factors considered by any admissions committee when they are reviewing your application.
Every school has their own score threshold. If your score does not meet the minimum for that school, your application is likely to be automatically rejected. Even if it does meet the threshold, a low score could mean your application will be put at the bottom of the pile to be reconsidered later. This could be irrespective of your GPA, your outstanding extracurricular activities or your glowing letters of recommendation.
Most students focus only on reading science related text books in preparation for the MCAT. However, keep in mind that one section of the MCAT involves ‘writing samples’ so reading different forms of literature, including novels, newspapers and latest studies from medical journals will help you familiarize yourself with different styles of medical and non-medical writing and increase your vocabulary your confidence, making it easier for you to ace this section of the test.
Yes, you can take the test several times despite everything else you may have heard about taking this test only once. Goes without saying, you should aim to score high in your first attempt. However, sometimes that is easier said than done. Unexpected circumstances, personal issues and stressful situations can all work against you and you may not do as well as you hoped to. If this happens to you, don’t give up and don’t be afraid to retake the test. Take a step back, identify what you did wrong and work hard to overcome all of the obstacles that stand between you and high MCAT score. Consider sitting for the test again after a period of focused preparation, especially on your weaker areas.
One of the best tools you can use towards preparing for the MCAT is practice questions papers and earlier exam papers. No matter how much you material you read and review, it is impossible for you to gauge your preparedness without sitting through a mock exam. Completing the practice exam in a timed setting will give you a the real picture of your level of readiness for the exam.