Studying for the MCAT during a Pandemic-#RoadtoherMD

Hola everyone! Thank you all so much for the love I got on the last RTHM post. It really took a lot for me to start, but knowing that I’m helping even one person makes me feel better. I’ll start by giving some general application updates, and then some tips I have gathered along the way.

Application wise, I am still drafting my way through my Personal Statement. I just received a fresh batch of reviews, which I will work on and send back. I’m really hoping that this is the last or second to last draft. I am exhausted. Two of my letter writers have sent in their letters. Interfolio has made it really easy for me to keep track of my recommenders. I’m still waiting on five more people, but I believe by my next update I will have more good news. AACOMAS has also marked my SMC transcript as received. This was so nerve-wrecking for me cause I had to mail in my transcript, and I wasn’t sure it would get there. I’m still nervous because AMCAS hasn’t received mine yet. If anyone knows why, please let me know. Thank you! I have been emailing the schools on my list to reconfirm their stance on admitting International students. I am also keeping track so that I can share this information with you all eventually. Lastly, I received the fee waiver from AACOMAS. I was so excited cause this whole process is expensive, but I realized it comes with some conditions. Firstly, only the initial fee of $196 is waived. I will still have to pay the other fees. Also, I have to submit my application by June 2nd to maintain the waiver. I have been in panic mode since so that I am ready by then. All that’s left is my Personal statement and activities. (would you like to know how to apply for this fee waiver?)

Ok now to the meat of today’s topic. I started studying for the MCAT since February and will be taking it in June. Half of my studying took place pre-corona and the rest mid-corona. I have had to adjust my study habits to fit with the times, and here are some things I’ve learnt

  1. Studying with a desk is underrated: I always studied at my office on campus. Due to Corona, I had to be at home. I do not have a desk in my apartment, and this has challenged me immensely. I ended up creating a make-shift desk with my chair, but even that had several pitfalls. It was hard to focus and uncomfortable. Luckily for me, I was almost done with content review at that point, and doing practice questions from the couch was much easier. If you can, get a desk
  2. You may battle with sleep: Pre-Rona, my apartment was my rest zone. I don’t do work here. I only eat, relax and sleep. Having to turn it into a productive space mentally challenged me. I would be studying and feel an immense urge to sleep. This never happened when I studied in the office. Eventually, I would give in and take a four hour nap. When I woke up, I would feel guilty for loosing the whole day and the cycle continued. This happened for about two weeks. To mitigate this, I started scheduling in naps. Once it was about 3pm, I would nap for an hour and half, wake up and complete my studying. I felt less guilty cause it was part of my schedule and I felt refreshed.
  3. Your productivity may decline: At least mine did. I couldn’t finish as many chapters as before or get through as many questions. It made me feel like a bum. But once I realized this, I decided to add another study day. Pre-Rona, I was doing three days a week. I added an extra day to help me cover up material I couldn’t finish.
  4. Distractions abound: Everything from noisy neighbors to calls from family to food in your fridge will distract you. I would normally take a prepared lunch to study, but since I was home, I would cook. A lunch break of 30 minutes became an hour long. Bored family and friends will reach out and you want to check in with them also. A 10 minute check in becomes an 1hr long catch up. I had to check myself. Phone went on ‘Do not disturb’. Any additional time spent taking a lunch break was added to the end of the day, and I had to learn to ignore neighbors.
  5. Inability to simulate testing conditions: I started studying in my office cause it was a cubicle, so I could simulate the actual exam day. I can’t do that in an apartment where I don’t even have a desk. I have taken four practice exams now, and I just try to simulate what I can. Breaks, time of day, mask wearing and food intake. The rest will just be unknown variables.

For the most part, these have been my biggest struggles studying during La Rona. I am lying if I say its been easy. This exam is hard enough without writing it during a pandemic. For all those going through this, what have been your most helpful tips. I look forward to hearing from you. Follow me @_cookingwithclara for more recipes.

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