I’m incredibly lucky to have a flexible schedule this summer. I’ve been working since spring finals concluded, but the extended time spent doing research allows me to pick my hours and avoid the monotony of a 9-5 job. However, much of my “free time” this summer has been spent preparing for the MCAT. Despite my test date being a little over 2 months away, the MCAT requires a large amount of preparation and studying for one of the most impactful exams of my career is certainly daunting. My typical day usually consists of 3-5 hours of research, lunch, MCAT studying, dinner, Netflix and video games. The order often switches around; however, most people ask when I’ll be travelling or spending time in the city—in reality, my schedule’s already pre-determined, so the most amount of flexibility I get is picking what movie to watch or video game to play as I relax in the late evening. For many, this rigid schedule may be off-putting. In fact, I think an overwhelming majority of people would hate this schedule. However, I see it as somewhat of a workout regimen—granted, it’s for my brain and the only physical result you could see is a number at the very end—but nonetheless, it’s kept me vigilant about setting aside time to focus on the MCAT.
More importantly, this summer is about exploring the concept of balance. In my fraternity, one of our central principles lies in that of being a balanced man; notably, this concept focuses on three major domains of physical health, mental health, and social/emotional health. For much of my time in my fraternity, I’ve had a very large emphasis on mental and social/emotional health—often neglecting the physical health domain. Admittedly, this upcoming year will be more dedicated to that domain, while this summer is clearly just focused on furthering my career as a physician. Nevertheless, my fraternity brothers have been a very strong support system throughout my time at CMU, so having the fortune of living with them and handling all of the insanity that CMU has to offer has been incredibly reassuring.
As for the actual studying schedule, it’s been quite…rough. I have this idealized schedule brewing in my Google Drive for months, but now that the time for studying has come upon me, it’s been far more variable than I expected. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the following realizations:
- For starters, I’m terrible at Biochemistry, not Biology. For years, Biology (ortheumbrella thereof) has always been my weakest subject. Lo, and behold, it turnsoutthat Biochemistry is my worst enemy and I hate it immensely. MCAT Biology (which should really be called “Physiology with a side of Cells”) has been a relatively nice journey, exceeding my initial expectations of Biology ruining my life.
- The YouTube channel Crash Course is my most-watched channel for the last month. Thank you Hank Green and John Green—you’re angels.
- My quality of studying depends on music. Shawn Mendes, Sia, James Bay, Ben Rector? Great. Broadway show tunes? Oops, I just lost five hours (Sorry Hamilton).
- Pentel Energel (0.7 mm) pens are the only pens worth using. Pilot G2 pens havebeen officially replaced.
- The Psychology/Sociology section is a godsend. I’m counting my stars for this section, because it’s the only area where I feel confident two months out from my exam. Physics and Chemistry? That’s a different story…