Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The MCAT Really Drains You

If any of you reading this know me, then you may or may not know, depending on whether or not we've been in any communication (don't worry, most people aren't even sure I still exist), that I'm taking the MCAT in about 48 hours. I hadn't actually stopped to think about just how soon the exam was until the very moment I typed that, and now I'm a little panicked.

Presumably, I shouldn't be panicking because I've been spending all of this time studying for it instead of actually writing anything on here or calling friends, family, strangers, etc. But a point that I'd love to make about this exam is that what it states about its own content versus the content upon which students are tested is not always in line. First, a general statement is made that particularly specific information is not what the MCAT is designed to test. And generally speaking, this is true. But every once in a while, a question is thrown at the test-taker with two answers that are equally plausible; the only thing that makes the right answer correct is that it has been shown to happen experimentally. While this is well and good if the test taker had studied the specific experiment, or even done it anytime recently, it's expecting a specificity of knowledge that seems beyond the realm of testing one's general breadth of science knowledge.

And don't even get me started on the verbal section! I was a political science major. I took writing courses, philosophy courses, English courses, foreign language courses, history courses... I covered the gamut of social sciences and humanities as an undergraduate. I used to rock verbal sections. Now? It doesn't seem to matter how well I do on the other two multiple choice sections of the exam, the verbal section invariably scales itself down so that my overall score doesn't change, even if my science scores go up.

To be fair, I'm basing all of this on official practice exams. But they're supposed to be official, and potentially a decent indicator of performance on the actual exam. That said, I continuously receive the same score, so maybe there's some truth to it.

But I won't even begin to know how I feel about the comparative difficulty until Thursday. And I won't know how they feel about my comparative aptitude for another month after that.

I am drained. And maybe part of what the exam is testing for is the ability of test takers to face the fact that they're drained and to rally onwards. So goes my plan, anyway.