Well, it’s official. I have taken the MCAT. Honestly, while I felt prepared, I am glad it is over! I will not have my scores back for another month, but I thought I would share some tips I learned while studying for this mammoth test.
Take a Self-Assessment: With the large range of topics covered on the MCAT, it is impossible to study everything. In fact, the first three years of college classes is preparation for the MCAT. So, to study everything it would take you about three years! No one has that kind of time, so taking a self-assessment is crucial to your studying strategy. I took the Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences self-assessments offered by AAMC. While these are long tests, they are extremely helpful in learning which subjects are your strengths and which ones you need to work on. Luckily, you are able to pause the test and come back later. The AAMC science tests are $45 a piece and the Verbal Reasoning is $40, but there are many bundle options available, some even with full length practice tests.
Review Books: Review books are also extremely helpful in condensing the topics that need to be studied. If you studied all 1632 pages of your physics book, it will not only wear you out, but it will be way more than what you need to know. MCAT review books tell you exactly which topics to study and which you can ignore. They even come with lots of practice problems, tests, and tips to maximize your MCAT study time. I used the Examkrackers review books, but I’ve heard the Kaplan ones are also really great.
Find a Review Class: There are many review classes available for the MCAT. A lot of these are very expensive, but might be worth the money. I took a MCAT class through my school that was much less expensive than through a test prep company. If you are looking for alternatives to save money, try to find one at your school or another school nearby. You might be surprised at the amount of locally sponsored classes you can find.
Stagger Studying: The MCAT is a mental marathon, so preparing your mind is almost just as important as studying redox reactions. However, your mind can only take so much. Make sure to take plenty of breaks in between study sessions. Give yourself time to recover and retain the information you just reviewed before moving on to the next topic. In the long run, this will be much more effective than studying for hours and hours on end.
Take Plenty of Practice Tests: The best way to prepare for the MCAT is by simulating the actual test. While full-length tests are long and exhausting, they are crucial to your studying tactic. They help you learn what to expect on testing day and give you a score with which you can track your progress. What I found most helpful about the AAMC full-length tests was being able to review the questions I missed. After the test, you can go back and read an explanation of the correct answer and record why you got it wrong, like you misread the question, didn’t understand the topic, or missed a key concept in the passage. A few weeks before the big day start taking practice tests on the same day and at the same time as your real test. This will help your body prepare to take the test at that time and make the real thing just a little easier.
Do you have any MCAT study tips? Any questions about preparing for the MCAT? Leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer as best as I can. Good luck with preparing for this stage in the path to becoming a doctor!
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