Recently the college-age daughter of a friend talked to me about her dream of becoming a doctor. She was doing well as a psychology major and in her pre-medical courses, was working as a research assistant for a pediatrician at a nearby medical school and volunteered on the cancer ward at a children’s hospital.
I was impressed.
But her enthusiasm dipped sharply when she told me she was preparing for the MCATs, the Medical College Admission Test, the required standardized test that measures mastery of the pre-medical curriculum. She was putting all her extracurricular work on hold so she could focus on reviewing biology, physics, chemistry and organic chemistry for the exam. “Does my ability to memorize the Krebs cycle and Bernoulli’s equation really have anything to do with what kind of doctor I’ll be?” she asked.
The answer, it turns out, is yes — and no.
Read the rest of this excerpt at NYTimes.com: