5 Reasons You’re Not Getting High NMAT Scores

Friday, November 01, 2013 Stef dela Cruz, MD 12 Comments

Many students dream of getting into the medical school of their dreams and I don’t blame them. But it’s time to face facts. Here are 5 good reasons you’re not getting high NMAT scores.

high NMAT scores

If only I had a penny for every email or blog comment I receive asking for NMAT review tips and suggestions on how to get high NMAT scores! The more I receive messages with a genuine plea for help, the more I see why they do need help.

I won’t mince words. Brace yourself. I want to tell you why you’re not getting high NMAT scores.

Why You’re Not Getting High NMAT Scores

You scored low in your first NMAT and you tried again. But your second NMAT score is still not up to par. Story of your life? Here are 5 reasons you’re not getting the NMAT scores you want.

1. You don’t like being in school. You’re probably thinking, “But no student ever wants to study! No student ever wants to stay in school ten hours a day!” Well, you’re wrong. I love studying. My friends love studying. In fact, now that it’s been years since I last stepped inside a classroom, I still buy and read books.

Yes, we love to study.
We are nerds and we don’t mind.

I love learning new things. Do you? Maybe you’re studying just for the sake of passing your subjects. If that’s the case, then you’re studying for all the wrong reasons – and whatever you learn today will bleed out of your ears tomorrow. In a nutshell: If you don’t like studying, then you’re not learning much.

2. You don’t like reading from top to bottom. When you’re reading a novel, you don’t have to. When you’re speed-reading, it’s not necessary to read every single word. But when you’re taking an exam, you should. When you’re about to ask a question on a blog, you might as well do that, too.

If you don’t like reading for pleasure,
you probably don’t like reading for any other reason.

I have noticed way too many students asking me questions through the comments section, the answers to which are actually in the blog post they’re commenting on. It’s obvious they didn’t even bother to read.

Are you one of them? If you are, then that’s probably why you’re not doing well on your NMAT. You don’t bother to read. It’s like being in a conversation without bothering to listen.

3. You’re not getting high NMAT scores because you think the NMAT isn’t important. I’ve been receiving comments about how acing the NMAT doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good doctor. Of course, it doesn’t! Nobody in his right mind will say having a good NMAT profile will ensure success in your career. That’s not what NMAT scores mean.

But that’s beside the point. Here’s the more important truth: How you deal with the NMAT – and how you deal with just about any other task in your day-to-day life – reveals a lot about the kind of person you are.

Don’t say NMAT scores aren’t important.
Don’t be bitter.

If you shun the significance of a nationwide test that will help you get into the best medical schools, it reveals a lot about how you view things. We don’t want a doctor who uses defense mechanisms to trivialize life-and-death decisions. Someone who trivializes important things is someone in denial…

…Or someone bitter about getting substandard NMAT scores.

4. You’re not getting high NMAT scores because a lot of other eager students are getting much higher scores than you. Well, this one’s a “duh”, I know, but hear me out. Maybe you studied like crazy, maybe you’re really serious about taking the NMAT, and maybe you’ve done everything possible to get high NMAT scores, but you can’t quite meet your dream school’s cutoff scores. Thing is, we all have limitations. We can sometimes go beyond these limitations if we choose to, but not all the time.

You’re not the only one
who wants to be a doctor.

No matter how good a student you are or how smart you think you are, there will always be one other person better or smarter than you. And if it’s not just one person but one thousand, that might explain why you can’t do good in the test.

They say, “Do not lose hope!” Okay, I’m all for that. But I also say, “Do not delude yourself. Make sure this is really what you want. Maybe God has something else – something better – for you.”

Think about it. Think long and hard.

5. Maybe you just don’t want to be a doctor. Perhaps it’s self-sabotage. You don’t want to get stuck in a career that your parents chose for you. There’s something  else you want to do and you’re smart enough to know that once you get into med school, you might be spending the next ten years trying to achieve goals that aren’t even yours.

It’s not for you and deep inside,
you know it.

Maybe, just maybe, your subconscious mind is trying to protect you from a future you will regret.

Not Getting High NMAT Scores? What Next?

If you’re not getting high NMAT scores, which of the above is the reason? Believe it or not, knowing helps. It helps you realize what you really want and who you really are. The more you know about yourself, the more you can improve what you don’t like.  The more you know what you like, the more you can succeed in your chosen field.

Even if you don’t get a high NMAT score and never become a successful doctor, you just might become a successful engineer, publicist, architect, nurse, or teacher. You might even end up being a writer, just like me! And if you do, don’t let anyone undermine the fact that you have exchanged your stethoscope for a pen. Dr. Jose Rizal sure as hell didn’t.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. Just want to drop a comment. I will take the NMAT on 24th of November for the 1st time. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for your contents! My strategy was to know the test very deeply and you helped me a lot with that. So, thanks, Doc...

    Best regards :)

  2. Best of luck on your upcoming NMAT, Al! If you happen to be on Facebook or Twitter, don't hesitate to tag me. I hope you study well - better yet, PREPARE well - for your test!

  3. I got a 98th percentile score from my NMAT and I still honestly don't think that the NMAT is as important as people say it is... getting insanely high NMAT scores doesn't really make your med school life any easier

  4. just want to leave a comment, to say THANK YOU. i will be taking the NMAT this November 24 and your blog helped me a lot! (made me super nervous too, though. :D) i really hope i can get the score im aiming and wishing for. thanks doc! :)

  5. You're welcome! Nerves are part of the journey - I hope you can channel your nervous energy into something positive and use it as motivation to learn as much as you can before the test! Good luck!

  6. Hi, Patrick! Just saw your comment buried in spam - sorry for the late post.

    You're right; getting a high NMAT score doesn't make med school life any easier. But it does one thing: It makes getting INTO the med school of your choice much easier.

    There will be a lot of other college grads who want to become doctors. Going into war armed with a good NMAT score will help you get one foot in - hey, maybe even both. :)

    Thank you for sharing your insights, Patrick! Nice to see you here on my blog.

  7. A heart-opener article! Thank you Stef!

    1. Thanks as well for being open enough to take it all in! Hugs!

  8. Hi doc, ive been reading all ur post about ur advice about nmat. Im still waiting for my result, i feel too much pressure and anxiety. DO YOU FEEL THIS WAY TOO WHILE WAITING FOR UR RESULT?

    1. Hi, Meghan! I wasn't anxious about my grades back then, but that doesn't mean your feelings should be undermined or criticized! It is perfectly okay to be anxious about something important to you.

      I realize you posted this comment a year ago. How did you fare? I hope you did well. And even if you didn't, I hope you keep pushing forward. Best of luck to you!

  9. Sa first take ko, I went there walang aral-aral. Basta exam lang, yun na. Next try ko seseryosohin ko na. Gusto ko nga maging doctor, may na establish na akong clinic kaya mas makakatulong kung ako na mismo ang magiging radiologist. Thanks dito, totoo naman talaga lahat ng sinabi mo doc.

    1. Arlene, it takes honesty and humility to say what you just said.

      Kudos to you! I have a feeling your values will take you a long way. Best of luck, and I hope you come back and leave another comment one day when you're finally the big-shot MD running her own clinic. Who knows, I might drop by for an x-ray. :)