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MCAT Myth-busting

By 
Ammar Anwar 
1st Year M.B.B.S 

Hello there. If you're reading this and you need some help with your pre-MCAT stress relief, you have come to the right place. This blog is meant to bust the popular and not-so-popular myths regarding the exam that will, honestly, determine your future for the good or bad. Let's get started with some of the myths you poor little things hear before your big day. And probably believe too.

Myth: Low FSc score means no admission

No, no and no. Even if your score was less than the expected average score required for admission to your dream institution, you can still make it provided your MCAT score is above average. There are examples, and I'm not making this up, of people that have FSc scores in the line of 900 and still get admission in top universities of Punjab, because their MCAT scores were 1000+. Now, believe it or not there is one case (I won't take the name) in our very own K.E where a student had 926 in FSc but got 1046 in MCAT and a merit number higher than me. And this was in 2014-15 admissions. 
To put this in perspective, I had 1020 in FSc but due to my less than expected score of 964 in MCAT, I had a merit number of 263. Which could very easily have been 003, if only I had controlled my nerves. Which brings me to the next myth. 

Myth: If I have a 1000+ score in FSc, my admission is guaranteed 

Well, it kind of is guaranteed provided you don't botch your MCAT beyond the level of irreparable loss. As I have very clearly stated my marks in the previous paragraph, I had 1020 in FSc and despite my ultra good tayyari for MCAT, I got 964. Now, in my case it was a mixture of anxiety during the test and a little bit of relaxation post-FSc but there are many of you out there who consider themselves invincible when it comes to MCAT, thinking that their admission to the university of their choice is guaranteed. Well, over-confidence kills, just as effectively as smoking does. In many boards, the FSc results are announced just before the test and the students who get amazing marks (at least some of them, if not all) become over-confident. What's important is that you not lose your momentum till the last day and most importanly, not become over-confident. 

Myth: My KIPS tests didn't go well, I'm screwed 

What a load of crap. Do not for a second think that if your FLPs at KIPS aren't going well, it means your MCAT is screwed. It is not. In fact, I found it myself that KIPS tests are just meant to depress the living hell out of you. I used to get 1020+ in the FLPs but look how my MCAT result turned out! I got 964! This is not meant to depress you if you're getting 1000+ in your KIPS exams, but just to show the majority of the students who aren't acing their KIPS tests that it doesn't matter! All that you should be focusing on in those depressing KIPS  tests is the variety of MCQs and that's it. You're supposed to practise the different MCQs and not get depressed at the results. Keep your head straight and you'll ace the MCAT. 

Myth: MCAT is the toughest exam in the universe  

Cue the laughter.

MCAT is the most important exam you'll appear in, that's true, but it being important has nothing to do with difficulty! 
If you have prepared good, practiced a lot and prayed, too, expect to nail the exam with minimum amount of stress. MCAT is usually presented to poor Pre-Meds as a T-Rex with a dozen heads, but it is really not as tough as it is thought to be. I distinctly remember smiling at most of the MCQs especially in English and Biology. Because they were so damn easy! So don't take too much stress, take a look at the past papers and you'll know their level of difficulty. 

Myth: Merit is absolute or won't budge

No it isn't. Let me clear the statement to you first. The minimum percentage aggregate required for admission to any college is not fixed. It changes every year and in some cases, drastically. Be it for the high or the low. Like from 2010 to 2014, the least percentage aggregate (I'm going to call it merit from now on) for King Edward was on a rise.  And it became the highest in 2013-14 admissions when it rose to 90.8% now, my aggregate was 90.4995% which was obviously not enough to merit admission in K.E. But lucky for me, and thousands of others, the merit fell. It went from 86 point something to 85.8% and miraculously K.E's merit also dropped from 90.8 to 90.2. And here I am, in K.E.

This is to show you that merit can rise or fall. It is not absolute.

Myth: Eating chocolates before the test helps

Well. Can't really say anything about this. It hasn't worked for me in any exam, so... 

Now, some tips for the upcoming MCAT:
  1. Don't take stress. Stress is not going to help at all, it'll just make matters worse. I took a lot of stress during the test too, and that led to a much lower score than I expected to achieve. So clear your mind of all stresses when you enter the exam hall.
  2. Pray regularly. Prayers are extremely important if you want to get good marks. Working hard and praying hard is the way to go.
  3. Do not take it easy. If you have a good score in FSc, even in 1000s, do not relax for a second because MCAT is largely a game of luck. Anything can happen in those 3 hours and whatever good or bad happens in them, is going to change your life from that point on. I'm not in favor of terrorising students before the test, but this is a very crucial test. Yes it is easy, as I have stated earlier, but it does not mean that you start taking it easy.
  4. Do not completely quit social media, just reduce it to less than half and hour each day. I will not tell you to deactivate the accounts on all social media, because it never works out and you activate it the next minute. I will, however, advise you to keep it to a minimum. Like, make a schedule for the day and keep short 10 minute breaks once or twice per day for Facebook and other stuff. Quitting it completely will stress you out of your mind, so we don't want that.
  5. Do not waste time. I repeat, do not waste time. Because you are going to get 3 months of solid holidays, which are quite frankly the best holidays ever. There is no stress of college or university, just plain free time. Enjoy in that, study now.
  6. Remain optimistic. Pessimism has never yielded any good results. Keep your hopes up and Insha'Allah you'll get what you want to.
  7. When you sit for the actual test, don't take stress at all. If any MCQ is taking a toll at your time, leave that for the time being and move on. It is very important to attempt all MCQs (that you do know) and that should be your first priority. Also, if you don't know the answer to one despite scratching your head for minutes it is better to leave it unattempted than attempting it wrong. Remember, there is negative marking.
  8. Stick to your books. All the kips books except the English synonyms /vocabulary book are utterly useless. And should only be used to practice MCQs.
  9. Limit your outings for the time being. You'll get plenty of time both in the holidays and the MBBS year to go out with friends.
  10. I think I'm being repetitive with this but it is very important that you don't lose hope if you don't get the score you expected. In the end, it is all going to be fine, and Allah definitely has a very good plan in store for you. I didn't get the score I hoped for, and my aggregate was less (for K.E). But I still made it to my dream institution. Well, if I did, so can you!
Lastly, I wish the very best of luck to everyone out there. I hope you all get amazing marks and make it to your dream colleges. Ameen.

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