Whether you wait until the last minute to do everything, or you like to plan out every second of every day, last minute MCAT tips are important when you’re down to the wire. So, what should you do in those last hours before taking the MCAT? These are my best tried and true tips for when your test date is coming and you’re freaking out.
My Top 3 Last Minute MCAT Tips
- Sleep – I know pre-meds often commiserate about how little sleep they’re getting. But the last minute before the MCAT is not the time to test your limits. Go to bed. Seriously. The closer you get to your test date, the more important getting an adequate night’s rest will become. We have heard over and over about studies that have shown how vital sleep is to performance. Your cerebrospinal fluid needs time to squish around and help your brain recover from all of the intense studying and practicing you’ve been doing, so let your body do it’s job. When I first began studying for the MCAT this was the one tip that I didn’t listen to and I suffered the consequences later. When I finally allowed myself to get the rest I needed, my efforts were reflected in my MCAT score. This isn’t the only thing I did differently, I also employed other great tips and strategies, but I felt so much more focused and alert when I was actually sitting in front of the computer during the actual test after a good night’s sleep. My thoughts went from “Only X more hours before I can leave and take a nap,” to “Wow! X hours have passed already??” Given the combination of feelings you may experience while taking the actual MCAT, the last thing you want to add to that list is sleepiness.
- Practice items – It’s easy to say that on the last day before the test you’ll put aside everything MCAT-related in lieu of relaxing your mind so that all of you mental juices are flowing freely. However, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, then we realize that this may not be feasible. When you’re down to the last minute before the MCAT your brain will most likely be swimming with formulas you need to internalize, pathways you would like to brush up on, and seconds you want to shave off of the time you spend per passage. Instead of letting those little details burn a hole in your psyche, you should get some of that energy out of your system. For instance, complete one last CARS passage or memorize that one last formula, but then do no more Let your MCAT prep be a thing of the past. You want your mind to be fresh and renewed when you sit down to take the exam, which means you want to feel confident and not fried.
- Do something that brings you joy – Once you’ve settled your mind by looking over that one last bit of information, it’s really time to relax. I wouldn’t suggest you attend the biggest party of the year or anything of that nature, but you should do something that you like. For instance reading a good book, working out, baking a batch of cookies, or even cleaning your room (if that’s what you find soothing) are all good options. Whatever you decide, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to really enjoy yourself and sink into the “hum” of relaxation.
The bottom line is that at this point you’ve done the best you can to prepare for the MCAT and now you have to trust your abilities. Use these tips as a complement to your studying and you’ll be golden on test day.