The MCAT is one of the toughest obstacles you have to overcome to get into your dream medical school. Tough as it may seem, but it is easier to beat than you can imagine. With a tremendous amount of effort and commitment, you will get a high score.
If you’re looking for tips on how to prepare for the MCAT, we got you covered! Today, we look at 7 MCAT studying tips and tricks that will help you ace the exam. Let’s begin.
1. Create an effective study plan
Having a schedule that is suitable for you is one of the most important aspects of your MCAT preparation. The best way to study for MCAT is to prepare without sacrificing your other responsibilities. Because if you do, you won’t be 100% focused on your studies. You will always be thinking about other important things you need to take care of.
The length of your MCAT prep depends on how many hours you can study per week. Some students have other commitments like a job or extracurricular activities, while others have a lot of time to stay at home and study all day. Your other daily activities play a major role in setting up an effective study plan.
What are some study plans that you can follow?
If you can afford to stay at home and study for MCAT all day, a 3-month study plan is ideal for you. If you have a job and can balance your time well, 4-6 months of preparation should be enough. If you are a busy student with lots of other commitments and spends a lot of time working, 8 months is an ideal length.
The bottom line is, you have to be aware of how many hours a week you can spend studying for the exam. Doing so can make or break your performance on the test day.
2. Take multiple practice tests
Another tip on how to study for the MCAT effectively is taking practice tests on a regular basis. The MCAT is a 7+ hour-long exam. It is lengthy, so it is best to take practice tests early in your prep. Taking it on a regular basis will help you familiarize the questions. The best way to study for the MCAT is by taking a practice test bi-weekly or once a month.
There are a lot of free practice tests available online. These tests are great for your first month of studying, helping you familiarize the nature of the questions and concepts covered on the test.
After the first month of your prep, however, you would want to invest in full-length, premium practice tests that have questions that are relatively close to the actual admissions exam. In taking the best MCAT practice tests, it is a great idea to time yourself. This way, you will get used to the time pressure, something that the MCAT is sure to bring on the day of the test.
3. Use practice questions for content review
Students often wonder if they should focus more on content review than answer practice questions. The thing is, you can review content and practice at the same time by using those same practice questions for content review.
To score high on the MCAT, it’s best that you have a good mix of content review and familiarity with the actual test.
It’s highly recommended that you spend a lot of time on practice questions and just a little on content review. The latter will help improve your performance accuracy and efficiency during the actual admissions exam. This is why you can’t exclude it when preparing for the MCAT.
The advantage of answering practice questions on your content review is that it will help you see what you’re missing out. Using practice questions during the content review will help you ensure that the concepts you are studying are actually asked on the MCAT.
4. Use high-quality prep instruction and materials
In preparing for the MCAT, quality is better than quantity. Even if you’re spending countless hours on review and practicing thousands of questions, if the quality of your instruction and materials are not that good, then you’re not reaching your potential.
If you’re aiming for a very high score, chances are you’re taking MCAT classes or a prep course. If that’s the case, you should look for these qualities in your prep course:
- High-quality instruction, through videos or live instructions
- Provides full-length practice tests
- User-friendly interface or app
- Uses analytic tools
- Score guarantee (recommended)
Some of the best MCAT prep courses have all the features listed above and more. It’s up to you to evaluate each one closely to identify which course suits your needs, study habits, and the length of time you have to prepare.
5. Avoid overloading yourself
Most of the students studying for the MCAT are undergraduate students taking up a pre-med program. If that’s the case for you, it is important for you to not overload yourself by taking too many classes.
If possible, try to lighten the workload in your undergraduate classes. This way, you will be able to spend some time studying for MCAT. Also, you don’t want to take your prep as an additional burden to your already existing responsibilities as an undergrad. Try to balance it out.
6. Track your weak points
Another tip on how to prepare for MCAT effectively is identifying your weak points and working on them accordingly. After taking your first few practice tests, you will be able to identify the areas you need to improve.
In tracking your weak points, it is important to be honest. According to Dr. Sandra McGuire in a podcast with The PreMed Years, mistakes are actually beneficial for a student who is studying for a test like the MCAT.
You will be able to tell where your brain has a tendency to go wrong when you identify mistakes. More importantly, working out your mistakes will bring the most out of your studying.
7. Do some research on med school MCAT score requirements
Your MCAT score is one of the biggest factors medical schools will consider in evaluating your admission. That is why it is important for you to be aware of the MCAT score requirements set by the medical school you are applying to. If you know that specific requirement, you can use that as a baseline or a target score as you prepare for the test.
Also, knowing the MCAT score requirement for the school of your choice will keep you motivated in preparing for the test. If you keep that requirement in mind, you can map out your actions and preparation towards achieving that goal.
However, your MCAT score is not the only requirement for admission to a medical school. In fact, it’s just one of the five most important factors. So make sure to achieve a good balance between preparing for the admissions exams and taking care of other requirements.
There you have it, 7 MCAT study tips and tricks that will help you ace the MCAT! Remember, the MCAT is not the easiest exam there is, but with the right mindset and tons of practice, you can definitely ace it! You got this!
Aaron Simmons is the founder of Test Prep Genie. He believes in studying smart rather than studying hard to be successful. On his blog at testprepgenie.com, Aaron shares tips and tricks on how to develop smarter study habits. Learn how to test prep the right way. Ace any exam and become one step closer to your educational or professional goals.