Written by Kourtney Rumback
During my three years of undergrad, I have learned much about taking exams, studying, and how to manage stress. Although these are all important for college success, I was missing a foundational mindset that I finally learned a week before taking my MCAT.
For those who do not know me as well, I am Kourtney, a senior majoring in Biology & Psychology. I have been accepted to KU School of Medicine in the Scholars in Rural Health Program. With this program, I am required to meet a certain score on the MCAT and complete other requirements to ensure my position in the school. I took my MCAT on Friday, July 30th for the first time, and will receive my score in a month.
I began studying full time for the MCAT in May and ran into multiple obstacles along the way. After months of studying and content review, my score was actually going down and I was far from my needed score for medical school. I experienced self doubt and postponed my test date to later in the summer as I was originally supposed to take it in June. I actually postponed my test twice during this time.
To overcome this imposter syndrome I was experiencing, I began to reduce my studying time from 12 hours a day to about 8. I also cut back on my work responsibilities so I had more time to focus on myself and my mental health. At this time, my score started to quickly improve and provided me with hope! Although my score was improving, I still had not crossed the threshold needed to meet the minimum score requirement. This was very difficult for me as I have always received good grades and graduated top of my class in high school. Struggling with academics was not a familiar concept to me.
One week before my exam, I was still stuck on this score plateau and had considered pushing my date back again. I was frustrated with my lack of improvement and questioned where I would be using some of this information and it’s relevance to medical school. This mindset quickly changed when one of my psychology professors walked past my office in Bluemont and asked how I was doing. When I expressed my disdain for organic chemistry and the importance of amino acid structures, she changed my outlook of my education. She stated “although you may not directly need this information to be a doctor, being able to know how chemicals react and their structure may make it easier to prescribe medications and know drug interactions, which will overall make you a better doctor.”
Having no comment on this, I realized that she was right and that my mindset during my first three years of undergrad was completely wrong. I attended lectures and learned information just for exams and only retained information that I deemed important. This thinking has hindered my ability to succeed on the MCAT and I realized that if I worked harder in my past classes, and cared more about the connection to medicine, the MCAT would have been much easier for me and I wouldn’t have had to work as hard as I did.
With this newfound mentality, I came to another conclusion that was critical to my future. I realized that it is okay to fail sometimes. If I do not get the score I need, it is okay, and I can take the test again. If I have to take the test again, it will provide me with another opportunity to learn more about the information I pushed aside the past few years and will ultimately make me a more well-rounded student. This change in attitude made my actual test day much less stressful. It was less of a task to overcome and more of a challenge for me to face.
For all of the undergraduate students wondering why some classes are necessary and why we are taught this “unrelated” information, I dare you to find a connection to your desired career. I dare you to look beyond the textbook and find a way to make the information useful for you. If you are able to do this, your college experience will be much more meaningful and worthwhile.