Taking a (Practice) Step 1 Exam

When I started my embarrassingly long trek toward medical school three years ago, I studied for and took the MCAT. That exam was hands down the worst testing experience I’ve ever had – a six-hour MonsterTest covering basic science. I wrote about the studying process while cloistered in isolation in my Charlottesville apartment, where I didn’t see the sun for three or four days at a time. It was often hard to stay focused, which I covered.

Periodically I would take a practice test, a soul-sucking exercise in self-flagellation that I, of course, also wrote aboutContinue reading

Impostor Syndrome



We have a test coming up next week, and it is a huge one. Normal and abnormal stuff for hearts, lungs, kidneys, and blood. There is a lot of stuff that is supposed to go right and a lot of things that can go wrong. (See? I’ve been studying!) The test is three days long, starting on Tuesday.

Vomit. Continue reading

Presentation Skills: Needs Work

I’ve written quite a bit this academic year about our Physical Diagnosis class, including encounters with standardized patients. But starting in a couple of weeks, things change dramatically. Instead of practicing skills on standardized patients, we enter the hospital under the guidance of an assigned “tutor” to apply our lecture knowledge of the physical exam. Continue reading

We Are All Going To Die (Medical Student Syndrome)

[Note to my classmates reading this: I know this isn’t exactly what’s in your lecture notes. Shut up and smile. Then go back to studying Th2 cells, because we both know you don’t know them.]

[Note to my mom: don’t read this, you won’t sleep until Thanksgiving.]

Hi. My name is Nate, and I’m a medical student.

Hi, Nate!

This week, my ninety-nine classmates and I are about to take the final exam for our second block. It’s called Microbes and Immunity, and can be briefly described as “how your body fights off infection, and by the way here are some examples of the thousands and thousands of different ways you can get sick and/or die.” Continue reading

We Know We Don’t Know

We just took our first exam, a two-day test on six weeks of biochemistry, basic anatomy, and a few in-depth cases. On the first day of the exam, Thursday, we spent four hours writing essay answers to questions about metabolic disease, diabetes, cancers, and (weirdly) Tylenol poisoning. Friday’s part was half multiple choice and half short-answer identification of histology and anatomy slides. It was, in a word, hard. I probably failed, but whatever. Continue reading

What It’s Like To Take a (Practice) MCAT

You’re ready. As countless people have told you, this entire year has been preparation for this. You are prepared to prepare for the MCAT, the test that will determine your medical school admission chances. Well, that, and whether medical schools are willing to overlook that bio lab grade. Um.

You’re motivated. Your final exams are over, you unwound with dinner and drinks, and your batteries are recharged. Time to tackle this five-hour bastard head-on and show it what you know. Continue reading

The MCAT Begins to Loom

We’ve started our review course for the MCAT. I wrote about the MCAT back in October, where I attempted to defuse my fear surrounding the test by referring to it as an actual cat. Unfortunately, I have to treat it like a real thing now, with books and studying and practice tes- oops, I just vomited a little bit. The overwhelming scent of failure is nauseating.

If you remember the SAT Subject Tests, the MCAT is sort of like 5 subject tests all mashed together. It covers general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, and verbal reasoning/essay-writing. It’s about five hours long, computer-based, and evil. Continue reading