MCAT and Test Anxiety

Hi folks,

Signed up for 9/11 MCAT. I have some test anxiety, and in the past, this has at times adversely affected my scores. Mostly, it’s about not being confident or nervous and I don’t think clearly.

I’m going to work on that this summer. I heard about an audio program called “Full Potential MCAT”

( program/) Anyone heard of it or used it?

Also–meds? Anyone tried propranolol? I have thought of it but don’t want to slow my brain down!

I’m open to any feedback and would love to hear from you!

Propranolol is a beta blocker. Who told you to take propranolol??? (just curious…)

It’s mostly used for people who have high blood pressure; not so much (if at all…) for anxiety. Just my two cents but I would strongly recommend against taking it.

Just to share a bit…

I too am dealing with anxiety; bad! I don’t know what it its but the more I study for this MCAT stuff the less confident I feel and he more I start thinking, “what the hell are you doing Julio?!”

But…I find some pretty effective ways to cope. For one, right this very moment I’m debating with myself whether I should go workout or just go to sleep to get rid of these waves of anxiety that I keep feeling.

Anyways, my best advice (again my two cents) is to find an “anxiety out” anything; hobby, exercise, puzzles, etc. Just don’t take any pharmacological intervention that will screw with your brain. I think in the end it may very well end up doing more harm than good bro.

Hope this helps Blaze.

Another thing I thought of maybe some sort of MCAT audio program while you go for a run or walk. That’s exercise and you get to study to boot! Win-win!

Let me know if this helps. Good luck to you brother!!!

Hi there Julio-

Just a FYI for the record. Propranolol is a beta blocker that is used to treat hypertension, but is also used by folks who are speakers, musicians, etc, before a public performance. With the beta blocking mechanism, so to speak, it slows everything down and makes one less shaky and nervous. It can be used for anxiety, though you have to watch for hypotension and cognitive effects. I worry that the “slowing down” piece is not the right direction!

I do think that meditation and audio are good. I just worry that I’ll panic on test day!

Good luck!


I know someone who took a beta-blocker on test day. She has a long-standing prescription for public speaking, and she was obviously comfortable/familiar with the drug’s effects. You do NOT want to be testing a drugs pharmacological effects on yourself for the first time on test day.

Much of the body’s sympathetic response (to tests, anyway!) is under our control. Like most things, though, it requires practice.

Not a psychologist/psychiatrist , don’t play one on TV, didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

There is something simple at the root of test anxiety. Your fear of failure? Your worry that you just won’t know something on the exam? Etc. etc. etc.?

Find a way to be conscious with yourself about these thoughts/feelings, and to work through them rationally. Personally, I just take time to focus on the positives before a big test:

-I prepared well (this is key - really believe that you have done most everything you could to get ready)

-I have made it this far (quiets the “impostor” self-flagellation)

-MOST IMPORTANTLY - I want to do well, and to do well I need to be my best, not a ball of nerves.

I just chimed in on another thread, but I took time before each MCAT - practice and real - to have a conversation with myself about why I chose to follow this path, why I chose to sit in that seat, and to think about what is really important to me in life. With a few minutes of that, I felt great about taking the test.

You’ll do well if you are dedicated to the process, not the outcome.

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Great words. Thank you!

Keep it SIMPLE!

  1. I know this stuff, or I would not be here.

  2. I am a lovable, capable, phenomenal human being that is not measurable by a test score.

  3. My (insert here - dog, cat, hamster, spouse, parents,children) loves me NO MATTER WHAT!!

  4. This is NOT the be all end all - worst case scenario?? I’ll find out what I don’t know and need to work on next time.

  5. BREATHE - long, slow, cleansing breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. STOP and take at least 3 of these when you feel fear coming on.

  6. Remember that FEAR is just that - F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real. What is real? The truth of your grades, your recommendation letters, and the FACT you came this far. You are NOT going to come this far and just fall off a cliff. BREATHE.

  7. And in my world?? A strong mental image of Mother Maybelle singing “Keep on the Sunnyside, always on the sunnyside, keep on the sunny side of life.” Search the video on You Tube and emblazon it on your brain…you can NOT have fear and picture this in your head at the same time…

Thanks Vicki!