Top 10 reasons that MCAT/Board preparation is a Zen practice

(10) The end is the beginning.

In Zen, there is no end, and no beginning.

For MCAT/Board, the end is the very beginning.

(9) No self

In Zen, there is no self.

For MCAT/Board, there is not a “me” who is taking the test. It is always a teamwork. Your teachers who taught you, your family who support you, your friends who tease you, and the kid who kisses you. Everyone is in the team.

(8) Focus

In Zazen, I sit down, focus on my breath, and let every other thoughts go.

For MCAT/Board, I sit down, focus on the problems, and let every other thoughts (including tonight’s dinner) go.

(7) Theory versus practice

In Zen, it doesn’t help if you read 10 Zen books, but never sit down and meditate.

For MCAT, it doesn’t help if you read all the strategic books about MCAT, but never sit down and practice.

(6) 100% immersion

A Zen practitioner would like to be mindful all the time, in her sitting, standing, talking, and walking.

A MCAT taker would like to live her life with MCAT, at least in the last two months.

(5) No attachment

A Zen practitioner loves the kid most when she loves him without attachment or expectation.

A MCAT/board taker can score the best when she takes the test without self-attachment or expectation.

(4) Beginner’s mind

A Zen practitioner tries to look at everything with fresh and unconditioned mind. “In a beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” – from “Zen mind, beginner’s mind.”

For MCAT verbal, a student scores the highest if she reads the questions with a beginner’s mind, and scores the worst if she answers the verbal questions based on her past knowledge, a.k.a., the expert’s mind.

(3) Posture

In Zen meditation, a practitioner sits straight and is fully awaken.

For MCAT/board, a student tackles the questions with the most energy when she sits straight and is fully awaken (Oh boy, do I need you to tell me this?)

(2) A sense of humor

Keeps a Zen practitioner alive.

And keeps a MCAT/board taker sane.

Have some fun… Spend time with your kiddo, be fully present for them, watch a comedy, and checkout MITBBS JOKE board. Consider yourself super lucky if you significant other is a laughing ball, although you hate that he behaves autistically when facing most of the other people.

(1) Loving kindness being the key

When practice Zen, the ground is loving kindness. Without compassion and empathy, Zen practice is empty.

It is the same when we pursue our dream for becoming a doc.

Your comments please! Thanks!

This is probably the number one reason my pre-med attempt in college failed. Everything was based on others’ expectations, not from being centered within. I actually enjoy studying for MCAT now. Becoming a spouse and parent also taught me a lot about centering myself. My greatest spiritual teachers constantly remind me that I have a long way to go. But I am also way more prepared to take on med school and becoming a doc now than I ever was at 22, even though I was fairly mature at that age. Thanks for the list!

Good stuff, thanks!

Wow this almost makes me somewhat “like” the MCAT–although she is still a demon in disguise!

COOL!! This brings back loooonnng aga memories as a Religion/Eastern Philosophy major!

Ironically, I started re reading the Tao de Ching yesterday to get my mind right, LOL!!!