2014 is a golden year for any soccer-loving fans, and this year’s World Cup has definitely not left any disappointed. Surprise early exits for top-ranked teams, thriller last second goals, and certain underdogs doing surprisingly well have made for anything but a boring 2014 FIFA World Cup. Fortunately, for all aspiring premeds out there, the tournament in Brazil also holds some great some valuable pre-med lessons to be learned as well—a fact that should lesson the guilt of anyone skipping a few MCAT review sessions to watch the matches.

1. How you finish may be most important

For Americans and Portuguese alike, the June 22nd match was one of nail-biting agony. For the Portuguese, it was a match that ended in a glorious goal and extreme relief, thanks to a last-seconds goal assisted by the much-loved (and much-hated) Christiano Ronaldo. However, “CR7’s” performance up until that point in the match had been arguably less than stellar. It wasn’t that he wasn’t playing well; he just wasn’t playing as stellar as anticipated. The last few seconds of the game changed that though, with a beautiful assist that prevented Portugal from being eliminated from the tournament. For premeds, it’s important to realize that an “average” performance during the start of your time at college can sometimes be salvaged by a strong finish. A high MCAT and strong upperclassman science course grades can help to land you an interview spot.

2. Know when to take an “injury” break

Franck Ribery, Kevin Strootman, and Marco Reus are just among a few of the key players who won’t be seen on the pitch in Brazil due to injuries, and they undoubtedly feel that their injuries came with extremely unfortunate timing. However, they also know that choosing to attempt to play while injured could just ruin their chances of playing forever. Premeds can take a hint from these guys and realize that sometimes taking a break can be in their best interest also. Plan wisely and be alright with taking a gap year to study for (and dominate) the MCAT or to get your energy back before diving into medical school if necessary.

3. More shots mean more chances

A simple but practical truth, anyone watching the World Cup knows that more shots on goal typically correlates with more goals being scored. When it comes to medical school applications, this truth should definitely be recognized. Even though you really only need to be accepted by one school in order to one day get your MD, applying to more schools increases your chances of getting that one acceptance letter.

4. Rank of your “team” matters very little

As evidenced by the early exit of a top-ranked team like Spain, the rank of your “team” (ie university) can’t be relied on in order to ensure your entrance into medical school. The other side of this is also true; just because you come from a little-known college doesn’t mean that you can’t get into a great medical school. Individual academic performance (and a high MCAT score) is significantly more important than attendance at an Ivy League school when it comes to clinching an acceptance letter.