Premed

Do’s and Don’ts: The Day Before Your MCAT

February 3, 2021

After all the preparation and studying you’ve done for the MCAT, it can be real nerve-wracking when you realize your test date is right around the corner. In the week leading up to your test, it’s so important to keep it positive! Motivate yourself and psych yourself up. You got this! Everyone handles stress differently, […]

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After all the preparation and studying you’ve done for the MCAT, it can be real nerve-wracking when you realize your test date is right around the corner. In the week leading up to your test, it’s so important to keep it positive! Motivate yourself and psych yourself up. You got this!

Everyone handles stress differently, and you may be feeling super anxious or totally relaxed the day before your MCAT. Whatever you’re feeling, just know that you’ve made it so far already and should be incredibly proud of yourself. 

Below are some tips I have for do’s and don’ts the day before your test! 

Do’s

1) Relax

You have worked so hard and at this point, you’ve learned as much as you can learn. Give yourself the day to relax and destress, whatever that looks like for you. Read a book, watch some Grey’s Anatomy, hang out with a friend, go for a run, get some ice cream, etc. This will help clear your mind and be refreshed for the next day. If you’re finding that you’re especially anxious, try meditating, taking a bath, talking it out with a friend or family member — whatever activities usually help to ease your anxiety. 

2) Have a Positive Mindset

The way that you talk to yourself matters – it can affect your stress levels, the way you perceive yourself, and so much more. And we all know how comparison syndrome can make us feel like we’re not doing good enough. I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of these lines before:

“Did you hear Angie only scored ________ on her MCAT?”

“Brian did so bad on his MCAT, he’ll never be a doctor.” 

“Sarah totally bombed and has to retake it.” 

You don’t need to focus on others and what they might say. That’s just one more distraction away from what you really want: to be a doctor. All that matters is your premed journey and what you’re doing to make your dreams happen. You may feel a lot of pressure from a million different people, but just apply the knowledge you have and crush the MCAT like I know you will! 

3) Get Ready the Night Before

Get everything you’ll need ready the night before so you’re not rushing day-of and forget things. Some things you might want to pack: at least one form of identification, snacks, lunch, water, wallet, keys, and any medicine you might need. Make sure to do a quick Google search to make sure you’re not accidentally bringing any prohibited items into the testing center. Layout your outfit and shoes so you don’t have to scramble in the morning. 

4) Have a Back-Up Plan

Make sure to take a look at the directions to your testing center and figure out when you’ll leave in the morning. If you’re driving yourself, make sure your car is good to go and filled up with gas. If you’re getting a ride from someone, check in with them and make sure they’re still available. It’s not a bad idea to have a backup plan just in case – ask a friend or family member to be on standby in case something goes wrong. Chances are everything will go smoothly, but it’s better to be overprepared! 

5) Plan a Fun Activity for After the Test

You’ve worked so hard and having something fun to look forward to after the test can be a little extra motivation. Even during the pandemic, there are fun things you can plan to do. Treat yourself to a take-out meal from your favorite restaurant; go stargazing with your best pod-buddy; spend the day in your pj’s doing a jigsaw puzzle; or video chat with your favorite family member.

Don’ts

1) Don’t Hardcore Study

Whether you used an MCAT prep program or planned out your own study schedule, cramming the day before your test isn’t going to help. Think about it this way: the day before Mariah Carey’s big performance, she’s not going to be belting songs at the top of her lung! She’s going to be resting and relaxing her voice so she can perform her best the next day. It’s the same thing with your MCAT. Give yourself a break so that you’re rejuvenated for your test. 

That being said, if it eases your anxiety to take one last look at your flashcards or a quick review of the Krebs cycle, go ahead and do it. But I really recommend putting away the study materials and giving yourself a day to relax. You deserve it! 

2) Don’t Forget Your Goals

Think big picture here! This is just one step on a premed journey that you are already crushing. Whether this is your first or third time taking the MCAT, at the end of the day it’s just a test. You will get through it! 

Like I always say, your scores don’t define you. Especially in the last week leading up to your MCAT, focus on what you DO know while studying. I promise that you know so much more than you think you do. Take a deep breath and just do the best you can. 

3) Don’t Feel Like You’re Alone

One of the amazing features of Future Doctor Formula is our online community where students can post and respond to questions (which I often respond to as well). While I’m involved in my students’ journeys – this is a community. Everyone is going through the process together and feeling all the same things you’re feeling leading up to your MCAT. So if you’re feeling anxious or stressed or just have a question about test prep, you can always rely on this supportive community. You’re not alone! 

4) Don’t Change Your Habits

You want to be in the best state of mind possible, so now is the time to maintain a consistent routine that your body is comfortable with. If you’ve been thinking about changing up some habits like quitting caffeine or starting a super intense workout regimen, you may want to hold off until after test time. You never know how these things are going to affect your body and brain. Stick to what your body is used to for the time being – you’ll have plenty of time to change those habits post-MCAT. 

5) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

It doesn’t matter what score your friends get, if they used a different prep program than you, or if they studied for a longer or shorter period of time. Comparing yourself to others is only just another distraction taking your attention away from giving the MCAT your all. And who needs that? Not you! It doesn’t increase or decrease your chances of getting into medical school by comparing your score to others. 

And remember – your MCAT score isn’t your whole application. In Future Doctor Formula, you’ll learn how to use storytelling psychology to amp up your essays and show adcoms your story. That’s exactly what I did to increase my chances of getting into med school, and it worked! Learn more about that here

Download my FREE to-do list below to easily check these items off during the days leading up to your MCAT. Once you’ve checked everything off your to-do (and to-don’t) list, it’s time for you to crush the MCAT. I’m rooting for you! 

Did these tips help you? How’d you spend the day before your MCAT? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm a double board certified ICU doctor currently working on the frontlines and I teach pre-med students how to get into the medical school of their dreams with the Future Doctor Formula.

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