Medicine

COVID & The MCAT

May 24, 2020

Meredith Grey once said, “Change; We don’t like it, we fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. & it hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But here’s the truth: the more things change, the more they stay the same. & sometimes, oh sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is everything.”

I remember December 31st, 2019 so vividly. I remember how excited I was for the new year, ecstatic & anxious to apply to medical school. Hopeful, that my mom will stay in remission. 2020 was the start of a new decade – a good decade – I needed that. Unfortunately, I was only able to enjoy two months of what I deemed to be the greatest decade of my life. In early March I had to say goodbye to my childhood dog – he had to be euthanized & although I know it was the right decision to make because he was suffering. I’m still feeling the loss as I’m writing this. Not much longer after Charlie passed away did Covid-19 reach NYC & completely obliterated the rest of this year for all of us. NYC was the toughest hit area in the entire U.S. & I unfortunately had a birds eye view of it unfolding. I live across the street from a hospital & a morgue truck was placed there for the excess bodies. I cannot explain to you how heart-wrenching it was to see bodies after bodies come out from the hospital & being loaded into that truck until funeral homes claimed them. & When I didn’t see bodies, I heard the hum of the refrigeration unit all day & night long. Life has changed as we know it & I’m not sure if it will ever be the way it was prior to Covid.

Covid affected us in so many ways & it changed my medical school application plans as well. I intended on taking the MCAT in the spring & applying this cycle. But, my test date was cancelled, & I did not want the excess Covid stress affecting my application cycle. The process itself is already very expensive & very stressful. So I decided to apply next cycle. Due to all the cancelled test dates, AAMC opted to add a few new test dates, shortened the exam from 7 and a half hours to 5 hours & 45 minutes, & now they offer the exam 3 times per test date. The change alone was enough to make my head spin. They are also releasing score reports within 2 weeks up until August for the examinees that are applying this cycle. According to AAMC, the changes that were implemented were: removal of trial questions, tutorials, the surveys, & the time alotted to decide whether or not to void, & the break between CARS & B/B sections that were originally 30 minutes will now be 10 minutes. All these changes are in effect for the rest of the 2020 testing year.

Change is scary – Covid or not. We are living through unprecedented times. Some days feel like seconds, & some days time drags on. A lot of people have lost their jobs, & even more scary, many people have lost loved ones. Do we take the shortened MCAT? Or do we wait to see what happens next year. Everyday you make choices that will affect you. When we make these choices we do not know what implications they pose on our lives, but what we do know is that, in that specific second when you made up your mind, you made the best choice you could of with what you were given. So, if something does go wrong in the future, there will be a way work around it – there always is. I have decided to take the shortened MCAT. I know it may bite me later, because I’m sure that adcoms will see 518 shortened MCAT vs. 518 regular MCAT as different test scores, or something along those lines. AAMC stated that the shortened exams will not be easier, or scored differently, that they are essentially equivalent to the regular MCAT exam. But, the truth in the matter is we don’t know how adcoms will view it. I’m pretty sure they do not even know yet. What I do know is, Covid will likely be around next year, & there will probably be more changes. I cannot rely on what if scenarios. That is not realistic. So, what I am doing is studying real hard, taking this exam to the best of my abilities & keeping an open mind as I wait to see what the future brings.

One final note; If you are taking the shortened MCAT exam. I would like to bring your attention to Blue Print (http://www.blueprintprep.com) – formerly known as Next Step. They have outdone them selves & are offering practice exams for the shortened MCAT. The regular length exams are still there as well if you much rather use those. I’m not sure if AAMC will shorten their practice exams for examinees testing this year, but as of right know they are still 7.5 hours long.

Always remember, whatever you decide. You’ll be fine. You’ll be resilient. You’ll make your dreams come true. Just stay positive & believe.

Thank you for reading!

x0x Grace

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