Test Day Success: Prep for the Best, Plan for the Worst

May 16, 2017
Emily Hause

Test Day success requires both planning and confidence.

Look forward to celebrating the hard work you put into your MCAT prep.

When you’re getting ready to take the MCAT, you want to make sure that you’ve got the basic content and critical thinking skills ready to go. But the part that students sometimes overlook is ensuring that they are prepared for all other aspects of taking the MCAT—both the good and the bad.

Plan proactively for Test Day mishaps

To ensure your MCAT experience is as low-stress and high-success as possible, you’ll want to anticipate anything that could potentially go awry. Here are some tips for getting proactive about Test Day contingencies so that nothing can catch you off guard.


  • Scope out your driving route. As the weather gets warmer, construction projects start to spring up unexpectedly. Drive your exact route to the testing center at the same time of day you will be driving on your actual Test Day, just to make sure that you don’t run into traffic or detours.
  • Evaluate additional variables. Do you usually drink coffee or take a medication at the same time of day? Do you get hungry at a certain time? Make sure that the week before the test, you get into a test-friendly routine and don’t get crippled by a 9:15 caffeine craving.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Pack yourself a mini-pharmacy for your test. You don’t want your great score to be derailed by a stomachache, cough, headache or sniffly nose. Make sure your mini-pharmacy includes Kleenex, Advil, Tums, Chapstick, Robitussin, and Claritin—anything you could possibly need in a Test Day emergency situation.
  • Know how you’re going to use your breaks. When will you use the bathroom and what will your snacks be? A solid break-time routine will make for smooth sailing between MCAT sections.
  • Check your ID and bring a backup just in case. Some students take the MCAT near their birthday, which in some states is the expiration date for having a valid driver’s license. Make sure your ID will still be valid on your test date and bring a spare ID, such as a passport, just in case.


Prep for MCAT success

You post-Test-Day celebration is every bit as important as your during-test routine. While it’s important to plan for the worst, you should walk into the testing center with confidence and the expectation of success. Celebrate accordingly with these post-testing tips:


  • Immediately cease worrying about the test. It’s now complete. Directly after the test is not the time to analyze every question you believe you missed and stress about forgetting an important equation. It’s over and you’re not getting your score for at least four weeks—so relax and stop worrying.
  • Take a nap. Seriously. Taking the MCAT can be a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining experience, so treat yourself to some time to rest your brain and recharge.
  • Do something frivolous. Chances are you have been using every free moment up until Test Day to do something productive and worthwhile, like studying or doing laundry. Take some time to do something totally unproductive. Watch reality TV, start a movie marathon, read a magazine or book for fun, take a walk, or catch up on your Facebook posting.
  • Spend time with friends and family. Who better to help you celebrate with an after-test dinner or hang out session than the people who have been supporting you throughout your MCAT journey? Catch up with these people and enjoy the freedom that comes with not having to discuss which formulas you recently reviewed or how ready you feel for your test.
  • Make sure to have fun. Try to avoid having important things lined up directly after Test Day, like moving apartments, taking midterms, or writing huge papers. For one night, at least, celebrate your rocking completion of the MCAT.


The first step to a great MCAT score is taking a practice test. Register today for free to see where you stand.

Emily Hause

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

About Kaplan Test Prep

We know test prep. We invented it. Through innovative technology and a personalized approach to learning, we’ll equip you with the test insights and advice you need to achieve your personal best. Results, guaranteed*.

Kaplan is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET), a U.S. Department of Education nationally recognized agency. MCAT® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Kaplan or this website. *Higher Score Guarantee: Conditions and restrictions apply. For complete guarantee eligibility requirements, visit © 2014 The Med School Pulse. All Rights Reserved