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Jun 17 2007

Shhh! Don’t Tell Anyone You Need A Structured Course to Prepare for the MCAT


Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: Premedical Tips

I often hear students say, “The reason I want a structured MCAT prep course is that I need the discipline.” All I can say is “Shhh! Don’t let anybody know.”

We often make utterances that may be true but don’t always give full thought to the implications…I know, I am very proficient at this technique. For a pre-medical student to tell me they need discipline is like a major league baseball pitcher telling me they need to learn how to throw a fastball. There’s a problem.

It may well be true that a structured course, usually meaning a classroom course with set lectures and testing, etc is the way for some students to prepare for the MCAT. But, by your expressing this to anyone, you are also telling them you cannot create that structure for yourself…you need outside imposed discipline. Are you then going to write in your medical school admission’s essay, “I needed ________ prep course because I did not have the discipline to prepare myself.” Of course not.

Medicine is certainly disciplined and requires discipline but a lot of your learning and education will not be by forced external discipline but by how you discipline yourself. Interviewers and medical school faculty want you to be able to discipline yourself for the lifelong learning you will need to remain a competent physician. This lifelong learning will not be a classroom with structured lectures telling you what you need to know…whether you need it or not.

This is one of the major reasons there is such a difference between some student’s performance in the pre-clinical, usually first two years, and the clinical, the last two years. Whereas the first two years are generally classroom with imposed structure, the final two years are not. You have to impose your own discipline in multiple dimensions to be successful in your clinical years. If you have not practiced this or made yourself discipline yourself, you will have difficulty during the clinical years.

So, certainly, you don’t want anyone to know that you’re taking a structured classroom MCAT prep course because you need the discipline. There are a few courses out there that allow you to create the discipline for your own course. This might be the type of practice you need, and you can proudly state in your essay, I really wouldn’t, that you created your own MCAT prep through your own discipline.

Just food for thought.