If Junior year was my second favorite year, Senior year would be my favorite. All of the hard classes were out of the way so all I had to do was take the MCAT exams and the rest would be smooth sailing. Thankfully due to great planning on my part I had a relaxed schedule. I only had to be in class a couple hours a day, but had Fridays off giving me three days every week to get all of my coursework and studying taken care of. I continued to work the hotel job I had picked up the previous year since it was working out pretty well.
While all of my classes were going well, I was increasingly ready to get out of that school. Since I lived off campus I had to drive in to school every day and parking on campus was abysmal. When I had first started there parking was not an issue, but every school year the school would remove parking areas to put up new buildings. What was worse was they then used that construction as an excuse to increase our already expensive tuition. There were even rumors of the administration requiring freshman students to live on campus, even if they already lived locally. While that didn’t personally affect me, I still didn’t agree with it.
I had decided to take the MCAT exam near the end of the fall semester so that I would have my results in time to start medical school the following year. In the off chance that I failed the test it would also give me a bit of a buffer to retake it and hopefully still be able to start medical school when I wanted to.
The last several months of the previous year, and well in to the fall semester of senior year was spent preparing for this exam so I felt fairly confident in my ability to pass. I was only nervous because I had seen several people succumb to test anxiety. My personal tactic had always been to make sure to get a good night sleep, eat a good breakfast and take deep breaths if I ever started to stress out on an exam. No sense being so stressed out that I’d feel like a zombie after finishing.
The day of the exam was pretty typical. I decided that I would blow off my other classes to get some last minute review time in. The campus had a small testing center near the library so before I headed that way I went to the library to study. In retrospect that was probably the worst thing I could have done because of what happened there that day. Personally I think if you are in a library you need to sit down, shut up, and study. This idea was apparently lost on several people there as they chatted away on their cell phones, and used the private study rooms to play online games or watch Youtube videos. All that ended up doing was aggravating me, which I didn’t really need before taking such an important exam. Thankfully by the time I actually started the exam I had calmed down a bit and was just ready to get through it and go home for the day.
When I started the exam the one thing I had tried to avoid ended up happening. My mind went blank. I probably spent the first twenty minutes staring at the exam before I even marked down my first answer. I initially wanted to rush through the test just to get through it but had to make myself slow down and read through each question carefully before putting down an answer. The first step was realizing that I had plenty of time to take the exam and rushing through it would only cause me to misread something important. There were only a couple of people in the testing room with me, and I could tell that the other people hadn’t come to the same realization I had. It was obvious that they were panicking a little bit by constant sweat wiping and blank stares. After a while time was called and everyone turned in this portion of the exam. We had a small break and then moved on to the next.
After that initial moment of being brain dead the rest of the exam went smoothly. I was able to finish every question well within the time limits giving me plenty of time to go back through and review my answers. I don’t think some of the other students were as lucky though as when time was called you could see them frantically marking down answers before the test proctor had them put down their pencils. By the end of the testing process I felt confident that I would make the necessary score to pass the exam so I packed up my stuff and left.
It did wind up taking a bit longer to get my results than I had wanted, well in to the spring semester. By the time I received my results I had already applied for graduation and it was almost the deadline for medical school admissions. Thankfully when the test results reached me I had passed like I was expecting to. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but still was a good score. I applied for medical school right away, which meant that I would be stuck at SJU a little bit longer.
Graduation day came and went, my family was not able to make it but that was fine with me. At the time I was still a bit self absorbed so I didn’t miss them. Unfortunately that would come back to bite me.