Oh, My, God.
That was a thriller ride.
Here’s the story: I hanged around facebook looking at friend’s pictures till 12:30am, and decided to go to bed feeling guilty for not doing any work last night. Without realizing it was April 7th – the MCAT registration open day.
So I slept happily till I was waken up by the sun. 8:20am on my alarm clock. Back to bed. Had a short dream, got up, 8:30am. Back to bed. 8:45. Back to bed. It finally went off at 9am, so I got up feeling pretty sleep-full. Without realizing it was 9 hours into April 7th – the MCAT registration open day.
I brushed teeth, hung around facebook to see if my comments got replied. Replied comments to my blog. Turned off computer at 9:20 and remembered I haven’t printed out the notes for today’s biochem class. At that precise moment, I thought to myself: “holy shit, it’s April 7th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
At 9:30am, I realized my career dream with a medical degree was in jeopardy. With “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG” running through my head, I quickly turned on my laptop. My old pal who blue screened last night when I was watching South Park was very cooperative, and opened the infamous waiting page of MCAT.
And I immediately realized there are some _GET variables in the URL, namely the mysterious ‘u’ and ‘d’ that are set to some arbitrary numbers. I stayed a good, timid MCAT registrant for a few minutes, and I noticed that the page was refreshing at a random frequency (I timed 30 sec, 60sec, 50sec on my watch). So I decided to take a look at their page source to see what this “multiple tabs may significantly increase your wait time” business is (mainly cuz I wanted to see how they implement a punishment system for multi-browser registrants).
And I noticed ‘u’ and ‘d’ are parameters used to generate a random waiting interval.
Hmmm… interesting. I don’t know what playing with these would do, and I don’t recommend messing with the MCAT system. But long story short, having a bit of comp sci knowledge can at least make waiting for MCAT a bit more interesting.
Oh, and I am registered for a seat at a good location at a good time, around 10:10am, which I think is better than the average wait time.
P.S. MCAT can really improve their service by telling us how long our wait time would be (or at least give us an estimate).
P.P.S. A friend of mine waited this morning from 8 to 10:50 before he got through the waiting page. He believed that he might have missed the login page when he took a shower at the most unfortunate time. There is nothing on the MCAT website that says anything about the login page disappearing after a period of inactivity though. Actually, there’s nothing on the MCAT webiste that says anything useful period.