Believe it or not, for the most part I actually really enjoyed my winter break of MCAT studying for 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 5 weeks. Full disclosure: I get SAD pretty badly so after a couple of weeks holed up in the home office I did start feeling, I don’t know, kind of bummed? overwhelmed? something somewhat unpleasant. And my mom asked me, as she did on occasion when I was visibly fatigued: “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I always resented that question because it felt like she didn’t believe in me, or that she thought I should do something else. I know she meant well – by reminding me that this long journey was my own choice and not to feel like others expected it of me – but at the same time, even as it strengthened my resolve, it also increased my self-doubt. But in this instance, I had a nice cathartic sob session and she encouraged me to give it everything I had. So that’s exactly what I did.
But as I got back to school for Winter Term, things were feeling pretty good. I was geared up for comparative physio, thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, and human origins. Nice balance of bio, physics, and non-science. But I continued to be a craptastic test taker so I only got my Bs in my science classes. No big deal. At least there weren’t any Cs!
The one thing that really got my goat, though, was my Organic Chem teacher, during her session for the MCAT class. See, each week we were allowed to write in questions for topics we wanted covered. I was under the impression that our questions were anonymous, but Dr. C somehow knew that they were my questions – and she called me out on them, and basically called me stupid because she said “such and such is really easy.” You might be thinking, “oh, she was just trying to be reassuring.” But this teacher had a very low opinion of me left over from the previous year. I don’t know if she thought I was stupid, or just a bad student, or what, but in addition to calling me out for my “easy” questions, she also made a remark, in front of the entire MCAT prep group, that “a 23 is NOT going to get you into medical school. They don’t care about you, they just care about your numbers.” Which, that 23 she was referencing (because she had seen all our scores on our first practice exam) was my practice score. My VERY FIRST practice score. Ever. So it’s not like I wouldn’t have a chance to improve before the real exam or anything./s And apart from doing everything except naming my name to throw me under the bus, her comment about “they only care about your numbers” is completely the opposite of everything my ACTUAL pre-health advisors, and even med school admissions deans, had told us. Obviously scores are important. Obviously if I got a 23 on my actual exam I would want to retake the exam and/or strongly reconsider my life goals. But her out of line and uncalled for comments just made me want to prove her WRONG. I don’t swear much, and I’m generally very forgiving, and tend to see the best in people, but God DAMN she made me mad.
Spring break: DISNEY WORLD!!! Me, my friends Jess & Emily, and their bfs – both named Ryan. Ryan #2 was a last minute addition to the group and I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the idea of being a 5th wheel (this was before I had a lot of practice with that!) but it ended up being loads of fun!!!
Spring term: Differential Equations, Proteins & Enzymes, Microeconomics, and more piano!!! DiffEq was for my physics major, and it sucked. It wasn’t that bad really, except my teacher expected us to remember derivatives for stuff like inverse tangent and crazy nonsense like that. And taking the antiderivative was generally a fairly early step in solving test questions, so if we couldn’t remember that the integral of such and such was Arctan, well then we were SoL and we didn’t even get the chance to show whether we knew the actual material we were supposed to have been learning. Sooooo I ended up with another C. Bummer. Only a B in Proteins, and only an A- in econ – because my final wasn’t as amazing as my first two exams. With that set of grades, I decided that I was for sure going to wait an extra year before applying to medical school – meaning for sure I would be taking a gap year.
In April – I think it was April 30 – I took my MCAT.
On May 29, 2013 – my 21st birthday – I got my MCAT scores.
That night I drank.
It wasn’t a FANTASTIC score – it was a 30 – but it was high enough that I didn’t have to – and probably shouldn’t – retake the exam. And that was reason enough to celebrate.