How to prepare for the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) While Staying at Home
Updated: Feb 16
Sharing this to inspire those preparing for the NMAT through self-review
I do not usually share the story of how I got my 99+ unless someone asks for advice personally. But seeing that a lot of future doctors preparing for the NMAT are being disheartened and unmotivated because of our current situation, I might as well share this to try to lift your morale as you do self-review at home.
This 99+ got me through med school without spending a single centavo on tuition. It boosted my application for a scholarship in FEU-NRMF, which I will eternally be grateful for.
But the process of getting 99+ was not easy. I did not expect it to be. Growing up, I was taught at a young age that if something is worth it, you will have to work hard for it.
I did not have funds to enroll in a review center for the NMAT. I did not want to burden my parents with this. I had 4 more siblings in college and high school so I thought the money would be better spent on their education.
So, I decided: I will self-review for the NMAT. That is the only way.
These were I think my best practices during my self-review:
1. I made my own timetable and religiously followed it. I think this is the most important advice every "self-reviewee" needs. Staying at home, you will have too many distractions. You are solely responsible for pacing your NMAT preparations. Stick to your timetable. Make a weekly plan of what you will be studying. For every topic in your study plan, write down what material you will read and for long. Make SMART goals.
2. The highest form of learning is teaching. I tutored some of my batchmates preparing for the NMAT. Whatever I studied at night, I taught it to them the next day (for a small fee, of course). This pushed me to master what I was reviewing. This was also part of the humble beginnings of Legend Review Center. To date, we have helped thousands of students all over the country in their exam preparations by applying what I have learned teaching small groups (we have expanded into other programs aside from NMAT review).
3. I studied books, not just handouts. I gathered my high school and college textbooks. If I am going to master the subjects, I will have to rely on the textbooks and their lengthy but comprehensive explanations. This is something I learned while preparing for the MedTech boards, to which I owe my arguably excellent performance (I placed 2nd in the boards). Make outlines of what you have read. Pause once in a while and try to explain to your self what you understood.
4. I made my own study materials. I made outlines and flashcards. This is something I have emphasized to all my students for the past years. If you make your own materials, there would be greater retention because of active learning. It would be a slower process, but it will be more effective than just reading passively.
5. I constantly tested myself. This was the only way I will be able to know if I am indeed mastering what I am learning. If I find difficulty in one area, I will read on the topic again and again. Do not give up on understanding one thing. You will never know when that topic will save you and your score.
These best practices are suited to my learning style. It might not work for everyone, but I believe some of you will benefit from these.
This also does not in any way discount the benefits of enrolling into a review center. I am writing this for the benefit of those unable to enroll in review centers. Review centers are a plus especially if you enroll in one that knows the needs of the individual learner. You will benefit from the pacing inherent to review programs, aside from the materials and examinations.
Final words: Aim high while preparing for the NMAT. Do not charge into battle with the mindset that you will be fine with just the required NMAT score for your school of choice. This is not a healthy mindset going into Med school. Every doctor should aim to be the best doctor they can be for their patients. Strive to get that 99+. Do not aim for something lower. You are capable. You just need to study harder and smarter.
Good luck, future doctor!
Dr. Gabrielle Paul Pascual, RMT
Founder and CEO, Legend Review Center
2nd placer, March 2021 Physician Licensure Exam
2nd placer, September 2014 Medical Technology Licensure Exams
Cum Laude, Doctor of Medicine at Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (FEU-NRMF)
Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor in Medical Laboratory Science at Saint Louis University
Finalist, 2014 Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP)
Finalist, 2013 Jose Rizal Model Students of the Philippines (JRMSP)
Here's a side story:
On my first day of class, a professor was trying to kill time during our orientation for our Histology Laboratory Class. The good doctor was trying to be funny, talking about random stuff.
I was seated in front of the class. He saw me, and he made a gesture towards my direction. I wasn't sure if I was the one he was pointing at. I did not pay attention to him because I was not fond of small talk.
"Oh, ikaw iho? NMAT mo siguro 40 lang din, noh?"
Now, it was clear he was trying to talk to me
"No, Doc. 99+," I replied.
There was an awkward bit of silence. He then resumed talking about other things.
I would have let it passed had I not worked hard for my NMAT score. But I took some offense. I worked hard for my NMAT, and no student should be judged hastily.
Here's another lesson for everyone: You will be judged all the time, not just in Med School. Be polite, but don't just let it pass. The greatest clap-back is working hard and showing them what you're capable of. 😉