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Quarantine Graduation and a little MCAT talk

Given our current pandemic, life as we knew it quickly came to a halt and in that halt were those key events everybody looks forward to during their senior year. I always pictured my graduation day to be one of excitement, happy tears and being surrounded with all my family and closest friends at the stadium here at FIU. But with our new reality, my graduation ceremony was in my living room waiting and watching for my name on the TV screen while in my pjs with my cap and gown on. Now although it wasn’t my ideal version of how i’d be spending it, my family & friends did everything to make it worth while. My parents decorated our living room with balloons that spelled out CLASS OF 2020, hung a flyer with mine and my sisters face (she was also graduating but from high school) in front of our house, and all my family was watching the livestream in their homes cheering me on while on a group FaceTime call. One thing this pandemic showed me is that life really does change in a blink of a eye but with those changes we just gotta make the best out it. The way I saw it, if I had to sacrifice my college graduation, my last official day being in a classroom, and creating more memories with my best friends, all to ensure the safety of everybody’s health, then I was fine with it.

Being a recent graduate and wanting my next step to be medical school, one thing was certain: I need to find motivation to study for my MCAT. For me one of the things that affected me the most was having to somehow transform my room into my new official study space that will allow me

to dedicate at least 6 hours a day of straight studying. One of the primary tasks that ensured I get my head in the game at the start of everyday was making a to-do list on my planner with everything I had to accomplish. I don’t know about you but I am 100% that type of person that loves writing things down and crossing them off one by one, it just brings a certain level of satisfaction. In terms of how to study, that is something that varies depending on what works right for you. I did not want to pay around $200 for someone to make my schedule so I spent a good amount of time on reddit and youtube trying to formulate what works for me. Here’s a little list on how I am studying (keep in mind, from the point I had started studying to when I am taking my MCAT is roughly 6 months):

  • Spend no more than 3.5 months on reviewing key concepts and memorizing mnemonics

  • For content review I used primarily Princeton Review (Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and BioChemistry), Khan Academy videos (Psychology and Physics), and Examkrackers (Biology)

  • Download Anki and create flash cards with key definitions and concept you can’t seem to grasp fully

  • Do all the questions at the end of the chapters in the books to make sure you get what you read

  • Do at least 1 CARS passage everyday to get a feel for how those questions are asked

  • I chose to focus solely on 1 subject a day rather than multiple subjects a day

  • Once I am done with content review, take a diagnostic exam to determine what I need to review again & go on from there

  • Do at least 5-7 practice exams before your actual exam

  • Do not take a practice on the week of your exam

  • Constantly review mnemonics and formulas

This, in brief, is what I found to suit my style of learning and keep me from burning out or becoming overwhelmed and unmotivated. Now in reality, life happens and you’re gonna have moments of weakness where you just don’t want to study and in times like that what works for me is to take a step back, breathe, watch a movie or two and remind yourself why you want to become a doctor. Ideally everybody wants to study hardcore everyday but that can start to take a toll on you mentally, so think of it this way: even doctors need a break sometimes, its okay if you do too. So best of luck to everybody either graduating while in quarantine, trying to finish this semester strong, or studying for their MCAT,GRE, Nursing exam, etc.

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