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Why the MCAT is Necessary

A lot of people complain about the MCAT. I know I wasn’t too keen to study for it. I hated grueling through long verbal passages and needing to practice writing “MCAT-styled” essays. But in the back of my mind, I always thought of the MCAT as an essential and important test to have taken regardless of your score.

The Journey, not just the destination – I’m a firm believer that the process matters just as much as the results in anything we do. There is always such a strong emphasis of getting a good score in the MCAT and needing to meet cut-offs and school requirements that not many pay attention to how they study for the MCAT.

I can only speak from personal experience but I know that studying for the MCAT definitely made me a better student. And it wasn’t because I got a “good” score. Instead, it was during the process of preparing for the MCAT that I was able to develop effective study habits and disciplined time management.

More than another hoop to jump through – Many people see the MCAT as just another obstacle between them and medical school. It’s a thing you just do to get it over with. I urge you to take this opportunity to improve yourself and become a better student and hopefully one day a better doctor. With every challenge and difficult circumstance we face in life, there is also an opportunity for change and growth.

Really analyze how you study, how you learn and what peaks your interest. Find your strengths and weaknesses and nurture and compensate for them. If you were never the type of student to have a focused time-schedule, now may be the best opportunity to try it out. I know I played around with several different learning styles before I settled down on the best one for me.

Life-long Skills – Build your stamina and endurance. Practice learning and reading for fun. Learn something new each day. Learn how to tolerate stressful situations and doing things in a limited amount of time. One practical habit I acquired after writing the MCAT was to read the news everyday. I started out reading the news to get ideas for the MCAT essay. I now read it to learn more about our world.

A lot of premeds always ask me how to get into medical school. And when I tell them about the MCAT and what type of a test it is, the majority fear or dread writing the exam. They wish they would rather not have to write it. I disagree.

The MCAT is as much of a discovery process as it is a proof of your critical thinking abilities and test readiness. It’s the type of test where you CAN study for and prepare yourself accordingly. It’s not just testing your inherent intelligence but also how much you prepared to take it. If you haven’t taken the MCAT, I’m not sure if you are ready for the rigors of medical school.

Up to that point, how many 5 hour exams would you have written? Would you know how to study effectively and efficiently? Would you have the endurance and persistence that medicine requires?

That’s why I think the MCAT is not only necessary for standardizing scores, it is an essential part of the medical school admissions process. It’s a badge of honor, a reward for your hard work. Work hard for the MCAT and I guarantee that you will learn more than just physical sciences and biology. In partaking in this exam, one of which thousands have gone before, you are completing another rite of passage of medicine. Cause face it, there will be many more exams after this one, you might as well get the most out of it.

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  1. Joshua
    Joshua August 3, 2009

    I definitely felt like I was a better and more confident test taker the very next school year after taking the MCAT. Every test I took after it was a relative breeze. So regardless of the results of the MCAT, the experience can definitely have some positive effects on other aspects of your life.

    All that being said, I would never want to take it again =P

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous April 25, 2012

      I think it’s bullshit

  2. another medhopeful
    another medhopeful August 9, 2009

    I agree that standardized tests definitely help you more than harm you.

    I’ve taken two 3-hour exams in one day (AP’s) with an hour lunch break in between the 2 exams and I’ve definitely improved as an exam taker. I finally learned how to study, since I rarely study for school.

  3. Pete
    Pete July 24, 2011

    True these standardized exam can have positive effect in your life and studies. For one the experience you would have is priceless and at the same time it would give you more confident in taking exams.

  4. Ursula
    Ursula July 30, 2011

    I was quite frustrated taking the MCAT, but when it was over, I really felt more pride than relief that I had accomplished it.

    Also, whenever I speak with anyone who understands the commitment we make with regards to eventually practicing medicine, taking the MCAT is simply part of the process.

  5. Kerry
    Kerry August 25, 2011

    tried it twice and couldnt get through it

  6. Leeza
    Leeza October 2, 2011


  7. Frank R
    Frank R May 22, 2013

    I tried it twice
    had a GPA of 3.99
    did not take Ochem/Physics before it
    Never passed VR of 6, BS and PS 9

    Is there really anything I can do about VR

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