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Help recovering from MCAT-induced mental block/anxiety

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by breeniee, Apr 15, 2012.

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  1. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Hey... so I'm currently signed up for the June 21st MCAT. This is going to be a retake. I took it about 3 years ago - and did poorly. I had no study plan at the time and a very busy schedule (Half-time job at Apple and a 22-credit semester load). I decided to focus on life - aka get married and enjoy married life with the darling hubby - and THEN study for the MCAT again. So, in the month of March - I studied Physics exclusively - reading TBR, EK, and TPRH. I did EK 1001 questions, TBR passages Phase 1 and 2, and several passages from TPRH workbook. I opted to study Physics exclusively because my husband, who is doing his phd in Aerospace, was home for the last month recovering from surgery and I figured while he's home - I'd have him help me out on stuff I don't understand.

    Now that I'm pretty much finished going over the content for Physics, I've come across a serious mental block. I open up TBR Chemistry and I can't focus at all. I took a break on Friday, thinking it was due to burn out, but no luck. I keep thinking that I'm missing something in the Physics and I keep going back and opening the physics book for some strange reason.

    I just can't move on and I'm getting scared because I have roughly 2 months until the exam and I haven't studied for the other subjects. I'm also freaking out because studying physics took me a whole month. I'm just as weak in Chemistry and Organic Chemistry as I was in Physics (if not more) so what if it takes me longer to complete it?

    So any ideas on how to pedal forward? I also wanted to add that I'm very anxious about this exam. I don't know why but sometimes, I'll just cry. The first two times I took the MCAT those 2-3 years ago - it really brought my spirits down. My friends and family attribute to my break down due to the fact that I had so much going on - a stressful job (working at Apple - believe it or not, is SUPER stressful!!!) and stressful school - (23 credits - all of which being upper level biology courses is VERY TOUGH!). Oh! And I forgot to mention that my broke up with my bf that the time when I was taking it too (he and I both were studying for it) and even though I made the decision, I still felt horribly about it and I couldn't study for the MCAT and even had to void one of the examinations.

    So now, when I start to study for the MCAT I begin to relive the stress I had and I start breaking down. That's why I originally chose to take a gap year after I graduated and I thought I'd be good to go but I just get really disheartened by this exam. I keep feeling like it's going to conquer me and that I'll never break a 10 in any of the sections or that I'll just end up studying the same stuff over and over again for months and months and months.

    I don't know what to do! :confused:
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  3. Donald Juan

    Donald Juan 5+ Year Member

    May 22, 2011
    You just have to push forward. You go back to the same stuff because it's easy; learning (or relearning) new subjects is tough. You have two months, which is plenty of time, but you have to focus on what you need to learn.

    Have you taken a practice test lately? It could really help you focus on where you are falling short and what you need to work on.
  4. Jear


    Apr 13, 2012
    Donald Juan is spot-on: take practice exams and use them to analyze your weak points. It's overwhelming to think about studying "everything," but when you pinpoint your weak points, you'll be able to tackle studying one-topic-at-a-time.

    Also, if you find yourself unable to focus on the books, you can try a different study medium. Somebody on another thread said that the animations at J Co Review were really good, so I've been giving that a shot. So far I'm impressed. Since they're animated videos, they help me stay attentive, and I get through a lot of material in a relatively short period of time. The only downside is that it's strictly a content review... there's no practice questions. So it's a good idea to have the AAMC practice exams or EK's 1001 Q's on the side.

    So keep your head up! You still have plenty of time!
  5. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Hey, thanks a lot of responding! I keep going over old stuff because I feel like I can't move on onto other subjects without completely mastering my weak areas in Physics but I guess I have time to do that later? I'll have way too many weak areas (entire subjects) if I don't start studying other subjects.

    I think the idea of taking a practice test is a good way for me to move on. But I'm worried about "wasting" a practice exam. Still, I'm willing to take one if it means helping me move forward. I have several Kaplan practice exams, and 2 princeton review exams, and of course we all have AAMC 3 to choose from. Which do you guys think I should take?

    Also, Jear, thank you for pointing out about different study mediums. I'm definitely going to look into those =)
  6. IncognitoGuy

    IncognitoGuy life of leisure 5+ Year Member

    Jun 24, 2011
    You need to put your head down and push through - these are going to be some of the longest months of your life, but it must be done.

    I, too thought physics was going to be an insurmountable block, and it ended up being one of my best subjects on the real thing - I scored a 14 on PS. And curiously enough, at first I was super-neurotic and kept going back to TBR to make sure I memorized the equations and whatnot. But don't do that - trust that you are doing the proper reinforcing through different mediums and you'll see the payoff when you start taking FLs.

    You're not the same person and you're not in the same place you were 3 years ago, so there's little sense in being stuck. Take the small steps, study the chapters, do your practice and before you know it, the block will be replaced by routine. Good luck!
  7. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Thanks! That sounds super encouraging and congrats on your 14! I will try my best to keep on going.

    I think what I need the most to reaffirm that whatever studying I did in Physics so far is good enough so I took a Kaplan physics subject test. I decent (not amazing) but I think it means that I'm on the right track and I'm ready to leave Physics behind =)
  8. kimicurtis

    kimicurtis 2+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2011
    Wow, I really do empathize with you. I think you should consider talking to a counselor. Also, relearning what you already know is easier. I don't like physics, so I will always try to review orgo (which I love). But that doesn't help in the long run. Speak to someone and hide your physics book.
  9. UrshumMurshum

    UrshumMurshum 2+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    Fear is a great motivator, you won't have any trouble studying, however it's not good when it starts to undermine your actual abilities.

    The physics + chemistry on the MCAT is not like the physics + chemistry in your college courses, at least not from what I can discern from the AAMC practice exams. They're tailored to be solved in 1 minute or less and you know there is a certain logic to them that TBR does a really good job at preparing you for.

    I would also suggest looking at the wiki-mcat site for the video lectures on PS.
  10. BeanDip4All

    BeanDip4All emt-abcdefgh 7+ Year Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Palo Alto, CA
    sounds like classic performance anxiety? this is kinda a lame/too easy or no-brainer solution, but what always helps me with mental blocks like that is good old fashioned exercise (horizontal or otherwise ;) ) and fresh air

    try tackling a practice test after you pound out 4 miles on the treadmill, or do a brisk walk if that's more your style. also, a lot of people on here have success with things like: 50 minute study session, then 10 minute "exercise break" of pushups, or step ups onto a bench, situps, something like that.

    good luck!
  11. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Aha! Now that's something I totally didn't think of doing. I think I'm finally gonna pull out my WiiFit =P

    So true. My fear is practically paralyzing me. =/

    Hahaha.... hide my physics book! That's brilliant =)
    As for talking to someone - yeah I'm trying. Without it, I don't think I would've gotten this far =)


    Additionally I have another predicament I wanted to ask ya'll about - it's not that I study physics because it's easier to relearn it. I do it because it's one of my weakest subjects. In fact, I'm just pretty weak in Physics, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry. The only subject I have a great grasp on is Biology and I haven't touched that at all because I just HATE reading it. I majored in Biology and I feel like I went over the basics WAY too many times and it's come to the point where I just can't stand to open my MCAT Biology book. I know I'm not 100% solid in Biology because it's been almost 2 years since I graduated but I don't know...I just can't bring myself to open it. Every time I do, I get really bored. Any ideas?
  12. Djuobah

    Djuobah I'm on my way!

    Oct 4, 2008
    New York, NY
    Hi I just wanted to know what you eventually ended up doing. My test date is also June 21st, and I am also freaking out...to the point where I get nervous about taking practice exams, and I feel as if I don't have enough time.

    I think my problem is trying to find a strategy and consistent solid blocks of time to study during the weekdays (i work full time, can't afford not too). I took the kaplan anywhere classes, and it was awesome, however I wasn't able to keep up and I have about 2 sections of Preview & Review work to complete. My goal was to finish all the preview works (content reviews & quizzes) and start with the practice exams and only do the review work in areas that I am weak in. Or do both preview & review work AND then start the practice exams. I think the latter would be better for me, since I haven't seen Gen Chem & Phys in over 6 years, however I don't think I have time. Sigh...so much to do in so little time.

    Any help with be appreciated!
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  13. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Okay first of all...take a DEEEEP breath =) I know exactly how you feel and I'm pretty sure you and I aren't the only ones dealing with a problem like this.

    I'm unfamiliar with Kaplan so I'm not sure exactly how far that means you are or what you have left to do. I would, however, suggest that you focus entirely on content review and doing practice passages right after it. There's no point in starting with full length practice exams unless you are absolutely comfortable with the material. If you haven't seen it in 6 years (I haven't either) then it's no wonder that every time we look at a practice exam our heads start spinning and we feel absolutely overwhelmed by the material.

    So my suggestion is to do a chapter then do the practice passages. If it takes you more than 1 day to do it, thats fine don't freak out by how long it's taking because it just means that whatever you learned, you know and understand. It's better to know everything in depth than to skim through all the chapters just for the sake of doing content review but not knowing everything well because if you don't know it, your MCAT score will reflect on that. The practice passages are a must because it makes you apply the knowledge that you learned into MCAT format. Don't just do discrete questions, however, because it's not enough. You NEED to do practice passages for the corresponding chapter you reviewed. It's the best way to apply your knowledge in the correct format and ultimately boost your confidence. That way, when you start taking full length practice exams after you are done with content review, you won't freak out because by then you should've done so many practice passages that the full length exam just feels like a random shuffling of all the practice passages you have done.

    So, if I were you, I'd take the month of May to finish all content review and do practice passages as you go along. Then in June, take practice exams and go over your weaknesses. I know you have a job and it must suck away a LOT of time but there's still time and if you utilize this time properly you will be fine.

    As for me...I haven't gone too far in content review since my first post here 2 weeks ago. In 2 weeks, I only managed to study 2 chapters of chem, orgo, and bio. I'm not proud of how little I have done in 14 days...just 6 chapters....blahh... but I know those 6 chapters really well. I also know why it's taken me so long..I realized that it takes me 2-3 days per chapter because I take intense notes. I use 5 different colored pens, and rewrite the notes too for good measure. This week, I decided to cut back on taking notes and I've noticed that I go a lot quicker and my ability to understand the material hasn't suffered which is what I was afraid would happen if I didn't take notes. So if you notice that there's something that's dragging you down in terms of time, then cut back on it. If it's taking crazy amounts of notes, stop, and just highlight or write on the margins of your book.

    Whatever it is, don't focus on daily goals. Work on weekly goals and stick to it. Don't worry about whether or not other people are done with content review and are starting full length practice exams. It's wonderful that they were able to study in advance or had more time during the day that you didn't because you have a job. That's them...this is you. There's no perfect way to study for the test. And if you're like me at all, then studying 6 months for this test is not the best use of my time because I would just forget everything.

    So, just make a plan of how much you need to get done in a week and make sure the goal is actually doable. You have 50 days left. That's a lot if you just use that time properly.
  14. Djuobah

    Djuobah I'm on my way!

    Oct 4, 2008
    New York, NY
    OMG! Get out of my head!! I also used to take extensive notes and had to reduce it down to notes in the margin of the books. And yes it also takes me sometimes more than a day to finish one chapter! I think it really bogged me down that I was slow with my content review, but yeah, I think in the end it is better to know the material well.I will also start working with weekly goals and not daily (perhaps I will be less brutal with myself).

    Thanks for your response. It has definitely given me the boost that I needed!! Feel free to use me as moral support!!

    Merci beaucoup!
  15. breeniee

    breeniee 2+ Year Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Anytime! You should go on the Offical June 21st thread btw so we can keep up with motivating each other.

    I'm feeling kind of blah again. I haven't done any new content review in the past 4 days. I've been kind of stuck on Stereoisomers regarding cyclohexane and I keep rereading the chapter on it. I'm trying to stick with my whole weekly goal policy which just means in the next 3 days, I'll have to cram 6 chapters. Haha....blah

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