Stuck in bed with a prickling pain in my head all I could do was reflecting back on the past two most traumatic years of my life which I effectively endured. These two years, gap year, include the agonizing period of my life, aka my gap year. So many of you wanted to know about my MCAT routine and guide and how I was surviving the gap year, which I was unable to jot down before as I was preparing for my second attempt however at this point, when I at last made it, I view myself as qualified and I need to share not the bits rather my entire story with all of you. (If you don’t mind, hold on for me as it will be a comprehensive blog post.)
Since the eldest kid of my family, I had the most consideration of my folks and all the expectations associated with me. On the other hand, being the obedient one I never complained and acted according to the commands. I was introduced to school at a very early age as i started talking too early. At school, I was the star child, excellent at academics, never got an A, always got an A* passed my 10th and 12th grade exams without a hitch and continued progressing towards my objectives. However, I confronted the troubled and dark age of my life when I finished my college. Like every pre-med student I, also envisioned to get into the best medical college, because I already gave up on my plan A. (You folks, might be wondering now that medicine wasn’t my Plan A well, that’s another story will talk about it in another post).
So, as soon as, I got done with my exams I was doing what every other pre-med student does. I know I want it at any expense and have everything for that, from good grades to good concept everything; all I need was a little push to get there. I totally committed my time to studies. I still remember those days when I used to get up at fajar, offer prayer then leave for my class at 7 while everyone was having a sound sleep at my home. Early hours of my day turned out progressively aggravated when those bus rides to academy made me all nauseous and tired but I had some important task which I couldn’t neglect at any cost. I needed to get the hang of multiple things, had to learn and tackle the complex queries and learn the art to solve them within seconds. All that made me so unnerved and baffled that I start losing my health, I was doing everything at the stake of my health but I didn’t surrender. There were 5 months and more than 10 text books with bundles of practice papers and topics from other educational boards, I was totally unaware of. Completing reads and pulling all night jitters was no less than an onerous task yet, considering getting the reward after this constant working kept me moving with the similar pace. That was the only meticulous task in my life, around then. While I had so much on my plate there were many family events I scarcely took part, just showed up to mark my presence just for my family. You know, it is quiet common when you are under stress you become insomniac. I was at a point where I used to cram even in sleep, revising content in sleep, the book pages run through my eyes while I was dozing. I was strained and my mind was completely taut. I took the first test, just for the sake of practice, conducted by NUMS. Lo and behold, I flunked to get a good score. I still remember I cried like a baby that day although I took that test just for practice so as to analyze what the NTS test pattern looks like, how will the ambiance be like in the future where I had to take the real test (by that, I mean the one that will be conducted by government institutes of Sindh). The terrible score completely shattered me yet pretentious smiles and mum’s shoulder to the salvage. I summoned up all my courage again and decided to take no other practice tests and spot light only on the time I had left with, focused on the content revision and intense practice. Motivate me by talking to my mentors and seniors. I hardly escape a single prayer in between those days. The only association I had those days was with god and after that with my friends. I barely had time for my family, too. But they understand my condition and always pumped me and gave immense supplications. Finally, the BIG DAY arrived. I vividly remember that morning; so fine and fresh, telling me that you will achieve everything today, you have faced enough now just the last strike and BAM you will be there. I took test which according to me went quiet well, came back satisfied, and hung tight anxiously for the outcome. With every passed hour my heart beat was like insane, muscles all rigid, mind all numb. I was appealing to God for positive results. The results come out and I totally messed up my score. YES, I did. After all the hard work, I scored very less, less than I ever scored in my class tests, less than even the practice test I took. I cried quiet a lot that day. I was shuddering severely even swooned. That day I encountered failure for the first time. I was totally careless of what’s going on around me. My family was reassuring me yet I was hard of hearing, completely under trauma. I flunked and that was the reality. I scored only 69.75, inadequate to get into any medical school. That day I cried on my failure, cried in the light of the fact that my mother had tears in her eyes, cried because I failed my parents, lost their hopes, and taken them down more importantly messed my dream. I.FAILED.MYSELF. It was utterly impossible for me to confront the truth, to accept it what it is. But I overcame that phase with the help of my family and some really close ones because there was no perquisite in crying over spilt milk. Call it fortune or what, but I did get a call from one of the institutes for a self-finance seat but as it was quiet costly for me so I quit. I mustered up the courage again and decided to take A GAP YEAR. Without thinking twice and caring about “ loug kya kaheingay?” and decided to take a gap year and I am so glad my parents endorsed my decision and backed me up entirely. I made this decision because ever since I decided to make my career in medicine, I never thought even once to pick something besides medicine and I was prompted by all means to combat and get what I want. But before starting the whole drill again, I shortlisted few pointers, based on my previous experience, that could be useful to all my readers or anyone who is on a gap year or anyone who needs advises;
First and foremost, do not go through the MCAT, grow through it.
Make a legitimate sleep routine. I didn’t have one and I kept myself occupied all the time in studies or either squandering my time on phone getting instructions from friends or seniors discussing random stuff. Life becomes more chaotic when you compare yourself from another person’s perspective.
Phone on DO NOT DISTURB while you are studying. For me my phone was the major distraction I now realize.
Don’t just passively read textbooks rather actively make connections to stuff you actually care about.
Make a study schedule already; I do not need to reiterate this. Do not indulge yourself into books all day or cram in sleep like I did. Give your mind small treats. For suppose, you complete a chapter reward yourself with a chocolate or do a five minutes yoga. It will help boost your stamina.
Take “break days” for mental health when you are approaching burn out.
I think for all my MCAT resources, I realized quality over quantity matters. If I could go back I would trade all my text books and courses over for just one set of notes and just focus on that. It was a flaw and I worked on that in my second time because it is so important to find the set that you can manage ably work through and find something that contains both review and practice.
Teaching is the most ideal approach to learn. Always a firm believer of this notion.
Practice doesn’t make you perfect but perfect practice does.
Keeping all these pointers in my mind I started the struggle again without panicking about anything, kept my pace slow yet consistent. For distracting my mind I did few things which were equally beneficial for me. I rejuvenate my daily diary writing habit which grew so much that I resumed my freelancing hobby. Mint some money through that, made a photo blog on Instagram too. But all that was a side business and I gave them a halt a lot prior before my MCAT days drawing nearer henceforth, my absence from the blog. This time I scored better than the previous time however, I was still getting a self-finance seat which disappointed me a bit but I opted for private medical schools and managed to get admission there with a 100% SCHOLORSHIP at my hand, alhamdulliah. I never knew that conditions would be so in my favors and almighty would reward me with the greatest gift in the most unimaginable ways, in exchange of what I endured. That day when I finally made it to med school, closing all study tabs, deleting all screenshots and study apps gave me an extremely satisfying feeling which I am totally unable to put in words. Hard work does pay off. I believed this, now with the deepest fiber in my body. Just know that your score does not define you but your progress does. I am satisfied this time because, I progressed. Just dream big so that all other problems seem trivial to you. Don’t hesitate in taking gap years just because “loug kya kahaingay” Never settle for something you can’t entertain yourself with. I would recommend you all who are on the brink to give up, DONOT give up and regret about it later at some point in your life, for the chance you had but you didn’t avail it just because of some mere stereotype. Break stereotypes and demonstrate your worth to those who undermine your capabilities. Compete with your own self and measure your progress. My warm wishes with every student who is currently combating with his/her college and surviving it each day. This phase will be end soon and then when your aptitude time comes close keep my pointers in your head so that you will pass this traumatic phase smoothly.
The article is the first guest article submitted to Discover360. We truly thank Areeba Siddique for writing this article and allowing us to publish this article. Areeba is currently a medicine student, social media marketer and writes at : email@example.com