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Managing Anxiety on Test Day

managing anxiety

Taking the MCAT can be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, many students develop significant test anxiety as a result of the MCAT’s role in the medical school admissions process. If this scenario describes you, here are several tips to help you successfully manage this anxiety:

1. Review difficult details and concepts on your test day
As you study for the MCAT, proactively compile a list of those details and concepts that you consistently struggle to understand. On the morning of your exam, wake up an hour early to review this list. This can help you refresh your memory and begin the MCAT in a much calmer mood.

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5 Soft Skills Every Pre-Med Student Needs

soft skills

Though the emphasis of the medical school application process lies on academic achievement, there are a number of personal qualities that pre-medical students should strive to develop if they wish to become superior physicians. The development of these soft skills may also make students more competitive medical school applicants when they are evident in interviews and letters of recommendation. Such soft skills include:
1. The ability to work effectively in a team
Modern medicine requires immense coordination between various clinicians and providers. Doctors must collaborate with nurses, social workers, specialists, therapists, and others in order to adequately care for their patients in today’s complex medical and social climate. The ability to lead and to collaborate with team members is a necessity for today’s medical trainees. Pre-medical students can develop this skill while working in a team setting in their college coursework (e.g. group projects and presentations), extracurricular activities (e.g. student government and student interest groups), and other major experiences (e.g. philanthropic organizations and research laboratories). Students should actively strive to lead, but they should also work to see the perspectives of all team members, and to incorporate effective strategies to help their team meet common goals.

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Top Tips for Sub-Internship Success

The sub-internship is a crucial rotation for all medical students, no matter which specialty they plan to pursue. During this transitional phase in their clinical training, students begin to assume more independent responsibility for patient care. A sub-internship introduces students to life as residents, and it is often a source of recommendation letters for the residency application process. Below are my top tips for success during your sub-internship.

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How to Prepare Answers to These Tricky Medical School Interview Questions

While medical school interviews can be quite conversational, thinking in advance about the questions you will face can help you articulate your unique story more effectively. Most interviews revolve around the interviewer getting to know you better, but there will likely be a number of questions that give the ill-prepared applicant pause. Below are several strategies to help you prepare answers to these tricky questions:
“Why do you want to study medicine?”
This question will be asked at almost every medical school interview that you attend, but it can be difficult to answer unless you have reflected on your goals ahead of time. Clearly explaining why you wish to become a physician—without being cliché—is paramount to distinguishing yourself. To prepare for this question, review your personal statement for inspiration. Aim to incorporate details that are not mentioned in your personal statement, but that are related to experiences or endeavors that you have described in your essay or in the remainder of your application. This can add depth to your admissions portfolio outside of what you have already explained on paper. In addition, truly attempt to define the type of medical career that you want (i.e. community medical practice, medical education, research, etc.). Weave in your career aspirations when you answer this question to connect your pursuit of medical school to your ultimate goals.

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Three New Year’s Resolutions for Medical Students

Winter break is the perfect time for medical students to take a step back to relax, re-assess, and re-engage for the remainder of the academic year. Below are three resolutions that all medical students should make to motivate themselves for the grueling months ahead:
1. “I will schedule time for self-care” 
Many medical students simply do not spend enough time caring for their most valuable asset—themselves. Given the intense academic and clinical workload that medical school involves, it is common for students to lose sight of the importance of their own wellbeing. Use winter break to carefully review your schedule for the upcoming semester and deliberately schedule in self-care “appointments.” Self-care appointments can range from daily meditation for just a few minutes to a leisurely cup of coffee with a friend. The key is to choose those activities that help you de-stress and relax.

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How To Get Great Letters of Evaluation for Medical School

Letters of evaluation are a vital component of the medical school application process. Since many applicants have high levels of academic achievement and robust extracurricular experiences, it is important for students to obtain outstanding letters of evaluation. Below are several key points to remember when requesting such letters:

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3 Ways to Prepare for the USMLE Step 1 Exam

The USMLE Step 1 exam is arguably one of the most important tests in a medical student’s career. While a student’s score on Step 1 is taken into consideration amongst many other factors, the score still plays a major role in determining a student’s competitiveness for residency in certain specialties. After all, once a student has applied to a specialty, his or her Step 1 score will partially determine which types of institutions he or she will have the opportunity to interview at. Below are three general strategies to help you prepare for the USMLE Step 1 exam:

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How to Make the Most of a Medical School Visit

Once you have been selected for an interview at a medical school, you will have the opportunity to visit the campus. Though your priority during this visit will naturally be to excel in your interview, it is also important that you gather key information from various individuals so that you can make an informed decision when deciding which medical school to ultimately attend. Below are three tips on how to make the most of a medical school visit:

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What I Learned During My First Semester of Medical School

Students will feel a variety of emotions during the weeks and days leading up to the start of medical school, ranging from excitement to anxiety. Below are five key things I learned during my first semester in medical school, some of which I wish I had known before I began:
1. Every student is unique, so do what works best for you
Many people equate the preclinical years of medical school to standing before a water hose and attempting to drink all of the water that pours from it. The vast amount of information that you will be exposed to may seem overwhelming at times, but it is important to remember that generations of physicians have successfully completed their medical training. There is a way to manage this wealth of information.

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5 Things You Should Know About Secondary Applications

Unlike other graduate school admissions processes, where there is typically only one round of applications, medical schools often have a primary application and a secondary application. The secondary application generally involves one or more essay questions that are meant to help the admissions committee better understand your background, qualifications, and career aspirations. Below are five things you should know about medical school secondary applications.

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Is Summer MCAT Prep Right for Me?

MCAT history

Preparing for the MCAT during the summer months is a choice that many pre-medical students make – and for good reason. Summer prep provides several advantages over simultaneously juggling coursework with MCAT review during the school year. However, students should also understand that summer prep can be more difficult in certain situations. Below are four questions to consider when debating whether or not to prepare for the MCAT over the summer:
1. Are you able to effectively multitask and prioritize?
One significant difference between preparing for the MCAT during the school year versus preparing for the MCAT during the summer is that summer prep often allows you to focus solely on MCAT review. Studying for the MCAT during the academic year – while also taking courses and participating in various extracurricular activities – requires well developed time management and prioritization skills.
If you currently struggle to manage multiple commitments during the school year (as is common for many pre-medical students who are stretched quite thin), then you may benefit from preparing for the MCAT during the summer months. Free of distractions, you will be better able to truly focus on this crucial exam.

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What Can You Learn From Reflecting on Your MCAT Test Day Experience?

The MCAT is a significant hurdle that all students who wish to attend medical school must overcome. However, even after you have successfully completed the exam, you can continue to learn from your testing experience by reflecting on the test day itself.
Below are four areas of reflection that can provide you with additional insight about your future as a physician. Do not neglect to consider them!
1. How you learn best 
Many students experiment with a variety of study and test-taking strategies when preparing for the MCAT. After identifying which methods are most successful, they ultimately settle on a framework that works best for them. Throughout this process, you will likely discover how you study most efficiently and most effectively, which is an invaluable tool as you move forward to medical school.

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Mistakes to Avoid During Your Medical School Admissions Interview

Earning a medical school admissions interview is a significant accomplishment. Many programs adhere to rigorous academic, extracurricular, and research requirements when selecting candidates for in-person meetings. Though you should view this as an opportunity to communicate to admissions interviewers why you are a perfect candidate for the school’s incoming class, be aware that a poor showing can harm applicants. Below are several blunders to avoid during your medical school interview:
1. Failing to articulate your career plans

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Should You Retake the MCAT? A Guide to Evaluating Your Score

Deciding to complete the MCAT for a second time is a decision that can have a significant impact on your chances of being admitted to medical school. It is vital that you correctly assess your first MCAT score to determine if retaking the MCAT is best for you. As a general rule of thumb, if your result is five or more points below your goal score, you should consider sitting for the exam again. However, there are also several factors to examine before solidifying your decision.

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