Behind me, I heard the sound of a car door opening. Out of a gray sedan emerged a red-faced boy, no older than twenty. His face was the definition of sheer terror. As he exited the car, I heard his mom bellow from the passenger-door window, “You better do well on that test, BRIAN!” Tears began to drip down his face, and the car peeled off. He hung his head, visibly defeated, and he slowly approached the gallows—the MCAT testing center.
As an MCAT instructor, I’ve seen my fair share of students who are woefully unprepared for the test and who do not know it. I’ve also seen many students who know they are unprepared and who still show up for their exam, praying that they might just hit the pre-med lottery and guess their way to a 528.
There are 230 questions on the MCAT. Every question is multiple-choice, and every question has only four possible answers (A/B/C/D). Let’s run the numbers for a sec. Your odds of having a perfect exam paper by merely guessing are 1 in 4 to the 230th power. Go ahead and get your old TI-83 out and calculate this with me.
1: 4^230 equals … wait for it… 1: 3 x 10^138.
That’s a 1 in 3 with 138 zeros coming after it.
Your odds are 1 in
You are not going to guess your way to a perfect score.
With that, the most important piece of MCAT advice that you will ever read is this: do NOT take the MCAT until you are ready. In future posts, we will get into how to prepare for the exam and how to know if you are actually ready to take it; but, for now, let’s repeat: do not take the MCAT until you are ready.
Don’t be Brian.
About Emanuel Grant:
Emanuel loves medicine. It is the reason why he is headed to medical school in the fall of 2017 and the reason why he is so active at the Atlantis Project. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Emanuel worked abroad in Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and now in Washington DC. When he's not watching SNL or playing chess, he writes for pre-med websites and performs improv comedy in his down time. He hopes to revolutionize patient care and to do so with good humor, and he will be doing everything possible to keep his smile on during medical school.