MCAT Survival Tips

MCAT survival tips

Many of the posts on this blog are directed at studying for the MCAT and preparing for your application to medical school. This post will focus on MCAT survival tips for the actual day of your exam. While there is a lot to do to prepare for the MCAT, there are some actually very practical tips for the test day to optimize your performance.

Click here for Magoosh's free MCAT practice test

MCAT Survival Tips

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. The preparation for the day of exam starts the night before. The MCAT is as much a test of endurance as it is a test of content. If you’re tired on the day of your exam, you might get fatigued early.

Bring Snacks. Lots of snacks. As mentioned above, the MCAT is a test of endurance. Going hungry during the exam is also going to hinder your performance. Make sure you are bringing a mix of snacks that will give you long-term energy and short-term energy. Bring some candy to give you a boost, but don’t only take candy or you might have a sugar crash in the middle of a section. Proteins, like nuts, can be a great help as well. Trail mix is a great combination.

Don’t panic. There will be hard questions on the exam. When you come to one, don’t panic and get derailed. Stop, take a deep breath and think through the question. If you don’t know it, it’s ok to come back to it later or guess if you’re running out of time. One question won’t make or break your exam. Trust in your preparation and don’t let nerves get the best of you during the exam.

Click here for Magoosh's free MCAT practice test

Pace your breaks. It might be tempting to sprint through the exam as fast as you can to get it over with, but this might not be in your best interest. Breaks are designed to give you a breather. During my MCAT, I would take a break after each section, go to the bathroom, have some snacks, and just decompress, even if only for a few minutes. This should help you feel more refreshed and ready for the next section.


  • Burton

    Burton is an MCAT blogger. He was an undergraduate at Harvard, where he majored in History before switching gears to pursue a career in medicine. He did a post-baccalaureate and is currently a fourth-year medical student at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is applying for a combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Outside of things medical, he’s a huge sports fan and loves football, basketball, and baseball.

More from Magoosh