The MCAT Guide: How to Perform Well on Test Day

So you reviewed, you practiced, and you prepped. You wake up on test day after a good (or bad) night's sleep, get out of bed, and as you head over to the bathroom, it suddenly dawns on you - you are about to take the real thing...! Don't panic or lose control! take a deep breath, and read on. Because we are about to guide you through the most effective anxiety-conquering tips and strategies ever made.

Before the test actually begins, you get to wait in the lounge of your Prometric testing center with all the other premeds. The silence can be pretty awkward (and if someone decides to crack a joke, it's even more awkward). Premeds right before taking the MCAT aren't exactly the best people to strike up a conversation with. But do it any way, and mention, just off-handedly, how you've been getting 40s on your AAMC practice exams. This is a great way to loosen up a lil and feel more confident about the upcoming exam.

If the above doesn't totally take away your test day anxiety, no problem, because we've got several more strategies just for you. When the time finally comes, the proctors will start to call the MCAT takers one at a time to be IDed, fingerprinted, and guided inside the computer lab (the place where you take the test). Ok. Get ready, because this is your big chance to apply our next big strategy. When the proctor finally calls your name and guides you inside the testing room - take a deep breath - and as soon as the door closes behind you, start asking questions. Seriously, just ask questions - about the exam, the testing center... exam policies... how to use a computer. Why research any of your questions beforehand when you can have a fully certified, professional Prometric MCAT proctor answer them for you? Just keep your voice down to a whisper. But not too quiet that others can't hear you. After all, others premeds who already started the test may have exactly the same questions as you do - right? So, do it in a loud, rasping whisper. When you finally have all your questions answered, you should feel much more assured. The test takers around you should feel much more assured too, since they all probably just had their questions answered too! Smile, you're now ready to begin the MCAT.

The MCAT starts off easy. You have to go through a guided tutorial, but you have 10 minutes to take it. If you're still feeling antsy about the test, now it's the time to relieve all that pent up stress. Go crazy with the mouse. Start clicking. On anything! It doesn't matter, because this is just a tutorial! Heck, start double clicking to highlight, then click to unhighlight, then bang your mouse hard on the table to do a quick quality check. I'm serious! What if your mouse is from the stone age and breaks down in the middle of the exam? But if your mouse survives that Big Bang on the table, then it passes the quality check. Most likely, it won't break down in the middle of the test. Though, it never hurts to go through a second round of quality control. May be a third, after all, you have 10 minutes to do it.

Ok, when you start the actual exam, you can tame down on the clicking and banging. There's a small, but real possibility that you might end up clicking on that void my exam button. You don't want to risk that. But this doesn't mean you can't vent your stress in some other way. Uh, remember all that loud whispering you did back when you first entered the testing room? Does it make your throat feel a little -ahem- itchy? Then clear it! Ahem...em...AAAK. If you choke and start coughing, that's ok, it's all part of the stress-relieving exercise, let it all out, cough to your heart's content. And make sure it's loud enough for others to hear, because they need some stress reliever too!

Following all the guidance above, you should be 100% stress-free by the end of the verbal section. This is good because you will be at your best for the most important section of them all - the Biological Sciences (BS) section. But in the highly unlikely scenario that you still feel anxious, then you're in luck, because they reward you with a second tutorial section, right before you take BS. This section is called the writing section. Ready, set, now go all out on that keyboard. It's ok, you've abused your mouse all this time, and it's still working, so this keyboard should have no problems either. But even if it breaks, it won't matter, because this is the only section on the MCAT that uses a keyboard, and it doesn't count toward your numerical score, so type down my friend; keyboards were made to type - show it the meaning of Carpe Diem. And don't worry about your fellow test takers, they all listen to hip-hop while studying anyway. In fact, if you type like you're drumming for hip-hop - hard enough, fast enough - then some of them will pick up those big head-phone-looking ear muffs. It's simply classical conditioning (remember Pavlov's dog? It might pop up on the BS section).

After applying all our strategies up to this point, you should be able to breeze through the BS section with 0% anxiety and 100% confidence. In fact, this confidence should stay with you even after you finish the exam. If in the extremely, quantum-mechanically rare scenario that you still feel anxious, then follow our last advice carefully. See that kid coming out of the testing center right now? Yeah, that kid who put on the headphone/ear muff when you played your keyboard. Pick up your cell phone, dial voice mail, and press your phone close to your ear. Now just chill by the door, you know, innocently checking your voice mail. Wait for it... wait for it... and just as that kid passes by, you blurt out: "Dude! I totally nailed that test!!!". Then start laughing (or giggling). Let it aaaaaalll out. Now if that doesn't take away your test anxiety, I don't know what will.

Disclaimer: the above guide is a joke. Do NOT follow any advice on the above guide.

For genuine strategies from how to prep to how to tackle test day itself, see our MCAT Prep section.

For techniques on cracking the MCAT, visit the MCAT Project page.

For content review, head over to our MCAT Review main page.