Why did studying for MCAT got me feeling depressed?

This article will discuss how studying for MCAT can harm your mental health, causing you to even develop depression. The article will show why this process can be so stressful, and how you can cope with it.

Why studying for MCAT makes you depressed? 

Studying for MCAT can lead you to depression because of all the pressure that surrounds this moment in your life.  The first thing to take into consideration is how incredibly stressful this moment is.

Of course, there are some tests like it, but studying to be a medical student demands of you not only to know everything about science since your younger years but how to put this knowledge to practice.

That in itself is already too much. When preparing for the MCAT you will have such a huge study load that it can make you feel overwhelmed just by looking at how much you have to do. But that is only the first reason why MCAT can make you depressed.

It can also happen because of the expectations. Becoming a doctor, once you aspire to it, can be a lifelong dream. Because of how hard it is, it is not something one just decides from one moment to the next. You most likely spent your life preparing, thinking, and dreaming about how it would be to practice medicine.

And now, after so much thought, you reached the point to take this first concrete step toward medicine. And it may feel like your whole future hangs in the balance. Sometimes this pressure can come just from you. You want it so much that you drive yourself crazy, and sometimes even to depression, preparing for it. 

On others, it may be that people close to you, like your family and friends, are also constantly questioning you about this process. They may want to know how your study routine is going, how confident you feel about passing the test, and what your plans for the future are. 

Another reason you may feel depressed when preparing for MCAT is the score you set for yourself on the test. As soon as you start preparing, you will most likely have some medical schools you would like to attend in mind. 

And as you look for the score that is needed to get into the school of your choice, you will have a notion of the effort you will need to put into this process.

This test, which is corrected by a computer, doesn’t consider half rights, you need the best score you can so you can keep that dream of being a doctor alive. And that is overwhelming. With all that in mind, in the process of preparing for your MCAT, an intense sadness can hit you.

You may feel a rush of despair, hopelessness, and constant fear you will fail. Little by little you may start to feel your emotions changing, you can begin to have crying spells, and isolate yourself from others. Depression at that moment can even lead you to think about giving up on everything.

And it is important to care about this so it doesn’t affect how well you will do on the test. Sometimes you can be so nervous about it, that it can prevent you from doing your best work. 

But that is not the only reason why you should care about this. Caring for your mental health in this, and in any other stressful period can prevent the test from taking a more permanent toll on your mental health. 

And here we are talking about not only situational depression, which happens in adjusting to this MCAT situation, but rather preventing you from developing a more severe depressive episode.

So let’s discuss what are some ways you can care for your mental health as you prepare for MCAT.

Why did studying for MCAT got me feeling depressed?

How can I cope with depression while studying for MCAT? 

Preparing for MCAT can be an exercise in mental health more than anything. Here are some ways you can care for yourself in this stressful time.

Understand that it is a process 

Keep in mind that studying for MCAT is very similar to being a professional athlete. You will need to put a lot of effort into preparing for a task, and how you prepare for it will usually determine how well you will do in the test.

Remember how athletes need to focus when they are preparing for their tasks, and how much focus will also help them in the moment of the test. The same is true for you. Try to create a study routine that you feel suits your needs for the test day, and keep true to that. It will help you adjust better to the environment of the test day.

Discover your best learning process 

Learning can be different for each person. As you enter this process, try to find the way learning works for you. Discover how many hours straight you can keep focused on each subject, when you should take breaks, and what is the easiest way for you to focus back after a break.

Knowing all of this, plus which times of the day you are most energized, and what are the best places for you to focus on studying, will allow you to develop a good study routine that suits your needs, but also fits in with your goals.

Keep tabs on your progress 

Finding a way to keep tabs on your progress is extremely important. It is through that, that you will know what you have achieved so far, and where you need to put some extra effort. 

You can do that by making a journal of your studies, or even having a friend that may be going through the same thing and you can discuss what each of you has achieved so far. 

Keep your body active 

Although it may not make much sense to you, know that keeping your body active is a great way to handle the stress from studying for MCAT. Aside from that, you must have some time away from the books. It may seem like a waste of time, but it will allow you to go back to studying with a lot more energy and motivation.

Think about why you want this score 

As said before, determining the score you want on your test may be something that adds up to the pressure. Try to understand if this high score is really necessary to get into the school of your choice, or if it is related to some other expansion. Be it your own to do better than other people, or to show others how well you went.

Ask yourself why do you want to go to Medical school 

It is always important to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Our goals and dreams can change through the course of our lives. So knowing that you are doing this, and putting all this effort into yourself may help you keep motivated to keep studying.

If possible, get a tutor

Although that wouldn’t be everyone’s opinion, and not everyone can afford a tutor, if you can, you should get one. A tutor will help you by creating a good study plan that suits your needs. This can take a lot of the pressure out of you since you will mostly have to focus on learning. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Why does studying for the MCAT make you depressed?

Why is MCAT so difficult?

MCAT is usually so difficult because it requires a lot of the test taker. They will usually be asked about many subjects, and the test tends to be long. Throughout the test, the person will be asked not only to show their knowledge in specific matters but to relate that to others, even if the areas of knowledge are different.

This model that asks the test taker to have an ample vision of matters, and connect different areas tend to be more difficult, and even more tiring for those who are taking the test. Adding up to all of the stress the test can bring.

How can I deal with MCAT burnout? 

If you feel you are burned out while you are preparing for the MCAT, or if you want to prevent it from happening, you may want to put some breaks on your study schedule. Having some free time can help you get your mind out of studying, and if you begin to feel too drained, it may be your body’s way of telling you to slow down.

You should also find some other hobbies or activities to do in your free time. It may be a good idea to do something you are also passionate about or even take some time to exercise. Caring for your eating and sleeping is also important. They will help in your energy levels, and in your ability to focus. 

Have friends and loved ones you can talk to, and spend time with them. Setting boundaries for when it is a fun time, and when it is study time will allow you to take the best of both moments. 

How can I keep myself motivated during MCAT preparation? 

If you are studying for the MCAT, to keep yourself motivated you should first organize your study routine and have good habits as you do it. When you achieve some goals, always keep in mind to reward yourself.

Having your goal in mind is something that will always help you keep motivated, so always tell yourself why you want to be a doctor. 

How can I make studying for the MCAT fun? 

Studying for MCAT can become boring at some point. So to keep yourself motivated, it may be good to find ways to keep it fun. You can do that by studying with a friend, or by putting video courses into your study routine.

Some people may find it good to study while listening to music. And most importantly, try to reward yourself when you achieve some of your goals.

How can I improve my productivity when studying for MCAT?

A good tip for improving your productivity is turning everything off for 25 minutes. Set a timer for that period, and focus completely on studying. When the timer rings, take 5 minutes off. You can do that repeatedly 4 times, and after the fourth time, take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. This will help you study better.


This article centered around the MCAT. It explained why studying for it can have such a huge impact on your mental health, leading you even to depression. It also clarified what are ways you can deal with this moment in your life.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.