MP 41 : MCAT Logistics if You Have to Travel to Take Your Test

Session 41

If you're interested in learning how to best prepare for your medical school interview, text PREORDER to 44222 and I will send you the information on how you can preorder my Amazon bestselling book, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Learn how you can get $100 worth of free stuff from me including a month of our medical school mock interview platform and access to our video course all about the medical school interview if you preorder the book before June 6, 2017 (when the book releases).

Hopefully, you registered for the MCAT early enough that you got a seat and you don’t have to travel. But if you do have to travel because there were no longer seats available except for a couple of states over, here are a few things you need to know to best come prepared for the MCAT test day.

[02:20] The Extreme Case: In Case You Need to Fly

The raw physical movement associated with test day may sound silly but this can really impact your performance.

Let's say you have to fly somewhere to take your MCAT. (Oh and by the way, in the last exam for the old MCAT, people had to fly to Guam to take it.) But even a two or three-hour regional flight can knock you for a loop.

Any time you sleep somewhere new like a hotel room which is not where you're used to, you're not going to sleep as well as you do at home. You're not really going to get that really good, regenerative, Stage 3 deep sleep and REM sleep, not as much as you're used to anyway.

If you can, don't fly the night before but try to fly an extra day or even an extra two days before test day so that you are in the same place for two or three days in a row. This is going to get real expensive but since you're already putting yourself in extreme circumstances, you might as well do it in a way that's going to give yourself the least penalty possible.

But what's more expensive, an extra night at a hotel or retaking the MCAT because you slept so poorly the night before? You spend an extra few hundred dollars to retake the MCAT plus another three months of your life restudying for it.

[05:06] The Average Case

You don't want to be doing extensive traveling the morning of test day. If it takes you 30 minutes to 1 hour the most to get there, that's reasonable. But there are stories of people getting up at four in the morning to drive four hours to the MCAT. This is not a good scene and you don't want to be doing this. Instead, drive the night before and stay in a hotel.

[05:40] What to Do the Day Before

Bryan recommends that you go visit the testing location the day before the MCAT. A lot of students laugh at this but this can actually make a huge life or death difference. Bryan further says that you find the building, find the suite where the prometric center is. Make sure where you're going to park or how you're going to get there so you can avoid any problems that may arise. There isn't going to be a problem 97% of the time, but what if you're in that 3%? It can really be a life-altering precaution so this is just like putting your seatbelt on.

As simple as not being able to find your testing center could literally screw up your test day if you're not able to figure that out the day before. So find the building the day before and make sure you know exactly where you're going.

[07:15] Open Your Email from AAMC

Someone posted in the MSHQ Facebook Hangout Group that they received an email from AAMC.  They didn't think about it and didn't open it until a couple of days later only to find out that the AAMC changed their test center.

The AAMC may give you at least a couple of weeks notice and the other location may not be something radical but this is something to be aware of. In any email you get that's from the AAMC, please open it.

[08:15] How to Get There

If you're lucky enough to be close to your testing location to walk, then walk as it's a good way to get your brain pumping and blood moving that morning. In most locations, try to avoid mass transit unless you're in an area where there is very good mass transit and it's better than you driving.

[08:45] Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you don't have to travel for your MCAT test day. That means you have registered early. But if you made a mistake or had to reschedule the last minute and you need to travel somewhere to take the MCAT, please take all the advice we've shared here.

Lastly, check out Next Step Test Prep and everything they have to offer to help you on your MCAT journey. Next Step offers one-on-one tutoring as well as their brand new MCAT course, over 100 hours of videos, five live office hours per week, and access to all of their books, MCAT practice exams, and all AAMC practice materials. Better quality, less price. Check it out and use the promo code MCATPOD to save some money.

Links:

Next Step Test Prep (Use the promo code MCATPOD to save some money from their offerings.)

AAMC

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview (Text PREORDER to 44222 to get the information on how you can preorder the book.)

MSHQ Facebook Hangout Group

Transcript

Introduction

Dr. Ryan Gray: If you're interested in learning how to best prepare for your medical school interview, text the word ‘PREORDER' to 44222. Again that's ‘PREORDER' all capital letters to 44222, and I will send you information on how you can pre-order my Amazon bestselling book, ‘The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview,' and you'll learn how you can get $100 worth of free stuff from me including a month of our awesome medical school interview platform, or mock interview platform, and access to our video course all about the medical school interview. Text the word ‘PREORDER' to 44222.

This is The MCAT Podcast, session number 41.

A collaboration between the Medical School Headquarters and Next Step Test Prep, The MCAT Podcast is here to make sure you have the information you need to succeed on your MCAT test day. We all know that the MCAT is one of the biggest hurdles as a premed, and this podcast will give you the motivation and information that you need to know to help get you the score you deserve so you can one day call yourself a medical student.

Welcome to The MCAT Podcast, my name is Dr. Ryan Gray, host of this podcast and author of ‘The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview.' I hope you take a look at pre-ordering the book. If it's before June 6th, which is when the book releases, if you are listening to this after June 6, 2017, go check out the book wherever you buy books; Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook, wherever.

Alright let's go ahead and dive in and talk about something interesting with Bryan.

Alright so Bryan, let's play some hypotheticals here and say that I wasn't listening and paying attention to The MCAT Podcast when you told me that I needed to register early for the MCAT, and when I went to register for my MCAT date that's next week, there were no seats available except for a couple states over. I have to travel. What kind of advice do you have for me as I prepare to travel to this test site?

Register Early for the MCAT

Bryan Schnedeker: Yeah so number one, get a time machine and go back and register early like we told you. Yeah Ryan, you're kind of asking about the logistics, like literally just kind of the raw physical movement associated with test day, which sounds silly but it really can impact your performance, right? So first, let's start with the extreme cases. Like let's say you have to actually fly somewhere to take your MCAT, right? Maybe you're in an especially big state, you know, you're out in Montana which is enormous and you wanted to be able to take your MCAT in Billings but you can't, now you have to like fly to Salt Lake City or something.

Dr. Ryan Gray: If you remember, a couple- the last exam for the old exam, people were flying to Guam to take it.

Bryan Schnedeker: Guam, yes. Yeah I had somebody flying to Guam and somebody flying to Israel to take their MCAT right before it changed because everyone was freaking out about psych and biochem. Yeah.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Sleep in the Same Place

Bryan Schnedeker: Fortunately it's not that bad anymore, but still even a little two or three hour regional flight can really kind of knock you for a loop. So the first thing is anytime you sleep somewhere new, like sleep in a hotel room that's not where you're used to, you're not going to sleep as well as you do at home. Right just on a kind of purely lizard brain unconscious level, some part of you knows that you're in a dangerous new environment so you don't get that really good regenerative stage three deep sleep, and REM sleep, not as much as you're used to anyways. So I will say this. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford an extra day off, or an extra day- an extra night at a hotel, if you can don't fly the night before, but try to fly an extra day or even an extra two days before so that you are in the same place for two or three days in a row. Now I know that's going to be a real outlier, right I mean that's starting to get real, real expensive but we're already positing somebody who's kind of like in an extreme case, having to fly to take their MCAT. So if you're going to put yourself in extreme circumstances already, you may as well do it in a way that's going to give yourself as much benefit as possible, or rather the least penalty possible.

Dr. Ryan Gray: I want to challenge you on that expensive comment though, is what's more expensive? An extra night of a hotel or re-taking the MCAT because you slept so poorly the night before?

Bryan Schnedeker: Right, yeah fair enough. You spend an extra few hundred bucks to re-take the MCAT plus another three months of your life re-studying for it.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah.

Don’t Travel Extensively that Day

Bryan Schnedeker: So suddenly that $49.99 at Motel 6 doesn't seem so bad. Right, fair enough. So that's kind of the extreme case. We can certainly talk about kind of the logistics for more run of the mill for everybody. So one of them is you don't want to be doing any extensive traveling the morning of. You know we're talking about if it's a thirty or forty minute drive, maybe at most an hour drive to get there, that's certainly reasonable. But you hear all these stories about people who are like, “Oh I had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to drive four hours to my MCAT.” That's not a good scene, you do not want to be doing that. That's where you start driving the night before and staying in a hotel.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That makes sense.

Visit the Testing Location First

Bryan Schnedeker: Yeah and another really small one, and people kind of laugh when I say this, but I've got to tell you it has made a life or death difference enough times that I tell everybody this. The day before the MCAT, go visit the testing location. Find the building, go in, find the suite where the prometric center is, make sure you know where you're going to park, or how you're going to get there so that there are no problems. And look, 97% of the time there wasn't going to be a problem anyways, but if you're in that 3% it is literally a life-altering precaution. It's like putting your seatbelt on. I've had students where I say, “Visit the center in advance,” and they laugh at me, and then I text them the day before, “Hey reminder, I wasn't kidding. Go visit the center,” and suddenly three hours later I'm getting a panicked phone call, “Bryan, I can't find the building,” and they freak out and suddenly they realize that like North Main Street and North Main Avenue are different places, and they typed it in their GPS wrong. So they literally would have completely screwed up their test day if they hadn't figured it out the day before.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Wow.

Bryan Schnedeker: Or you know there was construction and Google Maps didn't know about the construction, so if I had gotten stuck and re-routed I would have suddenly been in a real dangerous part of town, and so on, and so on, and so on. But it sounds ludicrous but in the same way that I tell you, you of course put your seatbelt on every time you get in the car, anyone who takes the MCAT I say, “Go visit, find the building the day before. Make sure you know exactly where you're going.”

Dr. Ryan Gray: I have one for you, Bryan. I was- somebody posted in our Facebook Hangout group that they received an email from the AAMC and they didn't really think about it until like a couple days later and they opened it, and it told them the AAMC was emailing them saying, ‘Hey we changed your test center.' Have you heard of that?

Bryan Schnedeker: Yes, you just told me now. I have only ever heard of that once in the past, and that was right when the new MCAT was being given. The April, 2015 when they made the change over. We had one of- not one of my students at Next Step, but another one of our tutoring students had a weird thing where they moved them to a new location. Although they were given I think at least a couple weeks' notice. It wasn't out of the blue and it was just like on the other side of L.A. So it wasn't something radical, but definitely something to be aware of, and any email you get that has from the AAMC, for darn sure open it.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah, that's good advice.

Work out Transportation in Advance

Bryan Schnedeker: Yeah. And then finally, depending on where you are there's always that kind of toss-up as to whether it's better to drive, take mass transit, or walk. If you're lucky enough to be close to your testing location to walk, then walk, it's a good way to get your brain pumping and blood moving that morning. And in most cities or in most locations I tell people to avoid mass transit unless you happen to be lucky enough to be in like a New York City or somewhere where the mass transit is actually very good, and in fact better than driving. So make sure you work all that out in advance.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright there you have it. If you have to travel for your MCAT test day, and hopefully you don't because you've been listening to this podcast, and you know that you need to register early. But if you made a mistake, or you had to re-schedule at the last minute, and you need to fly somewhere, or travel somewhere to take the MCAT, I hope you listen to this episode and take all of the advice that we gave you.

I would love for you to check out Next Step Test Prep and everything that they have to offer to help you on your MCAT journey. Known for their one-on-one tutoring, Next Step Test Prep is an amazing tutoring company, but they have a brand new MCAT course which you should check out as well. Over 100 hours of videos, five office hours per week, live office hours per week- five of them, and access to all of their books, all of their MCAT practice exams, as well as all of the AAMC material. All for a price that's much, much less than any of the other big name test prep companies out there. More stuff, better quality, less price. Can't beat it. Go check out www.NextStepMCAT.com and use the promo code MCATPOD to save some money.

I hope you have a great week, we'll catch you next time here at The MCAT Podcast and Med Ed Media.

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