Building MCAT Discipline: Don’t Miss the MCAT Train
Building MCAT Discipline
Are you on a train?
Are you studying for the MCAT?
Which question is easier to answer?
Most would choose the first question.
Because there are clear cues to support a strong “yes” and “no”. You’re either on the train or off it. The MCAT question – however – can be trickier. If your answer to the second question is hazy, you – like most – need..
Ok. How do you obtain MCAT discipline?
While getting into the right attitude is a great start, this post will directly address the reason why 83% of Pre-Meds don’t make it past the MCAT and into Medical School.
They postponed their MCAT.
It’s not because postponing is necessarily bad or that the MCAT is impossible. It’s because they make it so impossible, they think the studying should be postponed and postponed until…they feel it is too late.
MCAT discipline is not MCAT perfection: it is the train towards it.
If you are a soldier or veteran reading this: I envy your discipline. You have my respects. For the rest of us, we tend to treat time as if it is ours: hence the metaphor of missing a train.
Let’s start with time, itself.
Let’s explore two potentialities:
The MCAT doesn’t give you enough time.
The MCAT gives you enough time.
These are the two attitudes you can take while testing or studying. One is suffocating, and one is freeing. One is an exercise in self-pity, while another is an exercise in gratitude.
A person loving life adopts the latter; which is why a person loving life – one hopes – ought to have better prospects acing the MCAT.
I might also add a warning: Don’t be overly confident with the time you have. Yes, cherish every second. But, do not fret: understand the consequences of tarrying.
Trains depart hourly without remorse.
This is how time works: how the MCAT train works.
Don’t Pretend to Study
Was I lazy?
Was I smart?
While those six months culminated with this website: I suffered from imposter syndrome. As a perfectionist, I wanted to study everything under the sun – expecting to get my entire content review to-do list done to catch the train.
I say “imposter syndrome” because the content was so heavy – it made me feel as if I barely scratched the surface and was studying at all.
That is why MCAT discipline is all about catching a train:
A train has a set timetable decided by a committee – like the AAMC.
Moreover, a train is a conduit to a destination – like the MCAT.
Catching it is as easy as knowing when it departs, where it departs, and what you need to know to catch its departure.
Wanting to catch it is a combination of the desire to go somewhere, coupled with the fear of missing its departure.
You don’t catch the train by studying train architecture and engineering and walking along each track. You catch it by simplifying everything down to the bare essentials, and getting on the darned thing. Over time, you get better at all the fine details needed to make it to your destination.
This is how to treat your first true week of studying.
RIDE THE TRAIN
At the age of 20, I didn’t know how to type properly. This might be ironic, coming from a coder, but I had to monitor my fingers because I did not trust their ability to hit the right keys. In fact, my writing would be adequately fast if I focused my sight on my fingers – and I, thus, lost the motivation to properly learn. As my typing responsibilities increased, so did my shame. My speed – when I wasn’t hovering over my fingers like a vulture – was abysmal.
I had enough. On my morning train commutes to a research internship, I decided to practice. I used Keybr: a well-designed online app that would document my weakest key. This app allowed me something all other platforms failed at: focus.
Specifically – I focused on the lost sheep. Each key that had the most errors was the one key I kept in my mind the entire time I typed for the hour-long train ride. Surprisingly, the keys changed every day. Now I don’t even think about typing. I just do it. Quickly.
ONE KEY AT A TIME
Well it the story is not a waste of time, that would defeat the point.
No, it is instead an illustration of said point: focus first on rectifying your greatest weaknesses and fear – and time will come naturally.
FINAL STUDY TACTIC
We live in time.
Might as well make it a mobile home: Do you let monsters roam your house? Cast them out.
In short: fear and distraction eat time. Eliminate all possible fears, and debilitating distractions – and you will relish the gift of time you have.
Start studying for the MCAT NOW with 10 things you need to do the first week of studying.