In a few days, you will be finishing your undergraduate studies. It’s a feather in your cap, as well as a reason to feel proud—statistically, students with a bachelor’s degree are more likely to find employment than those without. But you still have a long way to go. You would very much like to specialize in a stream and earn a master’s degree. If your undergrad degree is in biology or chemistry, an excellent and obvious option is graduating as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). However, you need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to enrol in a medical school.
You might have already registered for the MCAT. You might also be aware the MCAT is a gruelling 7.5-hour exam composed of four sections:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
Preparing for the MCAT can be stressful, as it’s recommended that testers need 300–400 hours of study stretched over a few months. You should also take regular practice tests to focus and improve upon your weaknesses.
Dressing For Success
While rigorous studies would have honed up your medical skills and aptitude, you still need to be as comfortable as possible on the exam day. Plan to sit for the lengthy test by dressing appropriately. This might seem irrelevant, but being at ease could positively impact your potential performance during any exam, MCAT included.
The definition of a comfortable dress varies from individual to individual. The general idea, though, remains the same—you should be able to feel relaxed. Specifically, avoid fabric that might create an itching or scratching sensation or attire that makes you feel constrained or suffocated.
You don’t have to be dressed in pricey or even formal clothes. You can very well do with hoodies, sweatpants or jeans. Make sure you bring a sweater or a jacket in case the testing centre is cold.
Know Your Testing Location
You can find a list of locations on the official website. Where you take your test can be a factor in your choice of what you wear on exam day. Your test ticket should have the information you need to locate the testing site. If you need any further information, ask test administrators at the test site for assistance.
Weathering the Storm
Make sure to check the weather forecast for the day of the exam. If rain or snow is predicted, dress accordingly and make sure to carry what you need to navigate to your location comfortably. Also, make sure to comply with AAMC rules regarding items you are permitted to carry into the test site. Hats, scarves, and umbrellas are NOT on the list.
Finish the Exam In Style
You now know what to expect on the day of the exam. You also likely have a list of medical schools in mind that you will apply to. In that case, you have an idea about what score to aim for.
To achieve a position in the top 20 per cent, your MCAT score needs to be at least 510 out of a maximum of 528 points. A score of 510 is generally considered a good score. But it’s still not good enough for top medical schools like Harvard and John Hopkins, who take their pickings from the top 5 per cent—corresponding to an MCAT score of 517.
Right now, you need to shift into high gear and find every available resource that might help boost your MCAT score. Along with rigorous study, you need a balanced regimen (diet, exercise, sleep) to keep your body in prime shape.
Your studies need to be combined with regular practise tests to track your progress. Besides the official AAMC practise tests, look out for other websites that offer the best MCAT practice tests and MCAT study material. Experts recommend taking a total of 10 practice tests before attempting the actual exam.
You should also use scores and feedback from your practice tests to identify which sections you are weak in. If self-study and practice tests cannot drive up your scores to satisfactory levels, you can always consider enrolling in a prep course. On exam day, you need every bit of advantage you can get. One such front is dressing comfortably. What you wear for your MCAT test matters and might just make the difference between success and disappointment.