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Students prepare for the MCAT

Henry Gens | Wednesday, April 24, 2013

 

Notre Dame pre-med students face a notoriously difficult schedule with academic and extracurricular activities, a stressful balancing act which reaches new heights when it comes time to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). 

Junior biology and theology major Antoinette Pusateri said she will be one of the pre-med students taking the test this upcoming Saturday. Although she has faced a busy schedule because of the additional task of studying for the MCAT this semester, Pusateri said there are some positive results stemming from the experience of studying for the MCAT.

“If anything, what I would take away from the whole pre-med, studying-for-the-MCAT experience would be the art of prioritizing, of time management,” Pusateri said. “It’s definitely been a learning curve, but that’s kind of the college experience for everybody.”

Pusateri said she set up a study schedule specifically for the MCAT, and made sure she stuck to it.

“I really started hardcore studying after finals fall semester and then really every day since then, with a few days off,” Pusateri said. “[I’ve been studying] at least a couple hours a day,” Pusateri said. 

Despite stress associated with studying for the MCAT, Pusateri said she feels prepared for the exam on Saturday. 

“First and foremost, I don’t think anywhere else prepares us better than Notre Dame,” Pusateri said. “I went through the notecards and notes that our professor had us make for organic chemistry and basically, out of all the cards and notes I had, I only needed a fourth of that for studying.”

Junior biology and peace studies major Gwyneth Sullivan is electing to take the MCAT in late May, outside of the confines of the semester, but within the upcoming admissions cycle. Though her test date is further away, she said she still has tried to continue her preparation, which started is January.

“Ideally, I’m doing two hours of study a night, but realistically if I have a huge exam, like my physics test this week, I’ll push it off a little bit” Sullivan said. “It’s a lot of time management.”

A prominent factor in her decision to take the MCAT in May rather than this Saturday is the annual benefit her family hosts in Chicago in remembrance of her brother, Declan Sullivan, she said.

“The benefit is actually this weekend so there’s no way I could have physically taken the MCAT,” Sullivan said. “Especially in the last three weeks, I’ve been doing so much logistical work for it that it’s been hard to study.”

Other pre-med students have decided to forego sitting the MCAT during the school year in favor of taking it during the summer. Chantal Berry, a junior anthropology and preprofessional major, is one student who chose this less traditional path, instead opting to take the MCAT in August.

“What I found with my friends that were either taking the MCAT this weekend or in May was that it’s been a very stressful semester,” Berry said. “I didn’t really want to have that stress, I wanted to get the most out of my college experience in terms of the academics and I wanted the sole focus to be the academics.”

Taking the test later means Berry will not receive her scores in time for the upcoming admissions cycle, but she said she already decided on taking a gap year after finishing her studies at Notre Dame.

“I think the decision to take a gap year was partially the MCAT reason but also just because I wanted that time off before once again getting right back into academics and medical school,” Berry said.

Contact Henry Gens at hgens@nd.edu