The pursuit to medical school is paved by many obstacles; one could call them our Herculean tasks. There is maintaining a competitive GPA, being involved in extracurricular activities, taking the appropriate science classes, and, the most daunting of all, taking the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT is the most dreaded exam that pre-med students face because it plays a pivotal role in one’s acceptance into medical school. And so, in an effort of self-preservation, I procrastinated taking the MCAT past the point that I probably should have. So, while my fellow classmates were studying and taking prep courses, I was living in a world where the MCAT didn’t exist. However, my fantasy was going to come to an end sooner or later, so I finally signed up to take it on July 2, the summer after my junior year. This date was scary, in and of itself, because it would not provide me with a lot of opportunities to retake it, especially with Ramada (fasting from sunup to sundown) starting right after. I told myself I would start studying throughout that winter semester and then focus only on the MCAT after the semester was over. All good plans, however, go awry and I was too immersed in my studies to give the MCAT the proper attention it deserved. Adding to my distractions was my sister’s upcoming wedding in May and the arrival of relatives for said wedding. Suffice it to say, there was a lot going on and I was getting nervous about my chances of doing well.
To help with the process, I signed up for a Kaplan Prep course just to keep me on task. Plus, I also wanted an excuse to get out of the house during those crazy wedding times. So, when the semester finally ended, I had approximately two months to get ready for this crucial exam. That, more than anything, really scared me and helped me focus. I created a daily schedule of what I needed to accomplish – from 8 am to evening – including all the resources at my disposal. I tried to stick with this schedule as closely as possible and for the most part it worked. The schedule really helped because there was never any moment where I felt at a loss for something to do. I always had a goal and task at hand. And so the weeks flew by until the time of my sister’s wedding, and then I had to take a break. Despite the distraction that her wedding afforded, it also helped because it gave me something to look forward to. Also, it created a sense of anxiety within me that I was going to lose so much time having to prep, plan, and attend so many events that I would have to make up for it later in my exam prep. Thus, it only lit the fire within me more.
This “fire” kept me going for the next couple weeks. My parents were great in allowing me to study and the Kaplan class helped guide me through some of the material. And then, finally, the dreaded day arrived. I was scheduled to take the MCAT at Wayne State so it was a familiar place, but I didn’t feel like driving – the anxiety and butterflies were eating through my stomach. My mom drove me to Wayne and I actually made her come up and wait with me in the testing place (I am the youngest so it was my prerogative). While waiting in the hallway to be called in, I couldn’t focus – a million thoughts were racing through my head. I reread the testing procedures sheet like ten times but nothing seemed to sink in. Then they called my name. I was fingerprinted and checked in. I put my headphones on, and the test began…..
Sakeena Fatima, ’14