MCAT Study Tips
- UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS TEST
Doing well on this test is important! It is not the only factor that determines a successful application to medical school, but it is a very important part of the application. Doing well on this test isnNot only for securing admission, but for securing admission and increasing potential for scholarships. The cost of any MCAT prep course, qbank, or resource you purchase is an investment into your future. This is not the time to be economical. Paying $2000 for a live Kaplan class, could secure you the score that results in a full scholarship to medical school! It is well worth it.
- KNOW WHATS ON THE TEST
Before you can actually start studying for the test, you need to know the content. Most students know that the MCAT tests knowledge of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics, however, that’s not enough to know. It’s important to know specifically what concepts from those subjects you are responsible for knowing. Knowing the specifics will guide your studying. The AAMC details the specific subject matter that will be tested on the exam.
COMPLETE MCAT 2015 content description: (YOU MAY BE TEMPTED TO NOT LOOK AT THIS, DON’T YIELD TO THE TEMPTATION. KNOWING WHAT’S ACTUALLYO N THE TEST IS WELL WORTH YOUR TIME. IF THE AAMC THOUGHT IT WAS NECESSARY TO PRODUCE A 120+ PAGE DOCUMENT WITH WHAT’S ON THE TEST, IT BEHOOVES YOU TO LOOK AT IT)
- SET OUT TIME TO STUDY.
It’s recommended that students devote 4 – 6 months to prep for the exam.
Arrange your academic schedule so you have adequate time to study. As much as is possible take a lighter courseload during the semester during which you will be studying for the test. So, if your schedule for next semester has more than 15 credits, and the majority of those credits are science courses, consider swapping one for a general education/ prerequisite that will be not take up too much of your time. Plan to study every day and devote more time on the weekends.
- PREPARE MENTALLY
You will need to prepare mentally before you embark on this journey. The preparation isn’t just for you, its for your friends a nd family who will neglect for the 4-6 months during which you will be studying. You have to be diligent about your MCAT study time; it can’t be negotiable.
5. DECIDE WHEN YOU’RE TAKING THE TEST
There are 14 test dates for the 2015 MCAT, from April to September, attached is a copy of the schedule and when scores will be released. A select few of you may be able to take the May test, but that would require you to prepare NOW! If your schedule for the upcoming spring semester doesn’t permit ample time to study for they test, do not plan to take it ” and see what happens”. It is doable to get good preparation in between November and May, but you would just have to be diligent, disciplined and start now and have a schedule that would permit that.
If you are considering taking the July/ August test
1. What else do you have planned for the summer? As much as possible, try to dedicate the whole summer to those final 2 months of test prep. ( I say final two months of test prep because you should not be starting to study for the test during the summer. If you can remotely afford not to work, don’t work. I would not plan to do research during this time. One feasible option to consider is to get some shadowing experience in. Anything other than that may prove to be too time consuming and will take you away from studying for the test.
2. How will you study? Prep class or on your own with materials. If financially feasible, I would recommend a prep class. The investment is worth it.
If you are considering taking the May test
1. Will you have a light enough schedule to study during spring semester? If you won’t have time to study, don’t plan to take the test.
2. Is it more important to you to have the opportunity to take the test again or to have more time to prepare? Keep in mind that there will only be about 9 weeks from the time the May MCAT scores come out (on June 30) and when the September** test is administered, so if you’re thinking that taking it in May gives you time to retake the test; it does, but there will only be about 9 weeks, so there really won’t that that much time to study. There would only be time to address areas where you had specific deficits.
**I say September test, because by there is a possibility that by the time the May scores come out on June 30, there may not be enough time to register for the August test. Registration dates have not yet been published**
6. MAKE A SCHEDULE!
In order to know where you’re going you need some direction, a roadmap, a guide. Same with MCAT studying. You can’t just decide, OK, today I’m going to study biology and then pick up your book , read for 2 hours and then close it. In order to cover all the concepts tested, it’s important to know what you specifically aim to cover within a period of time ( per day or per week) You can create a weekly schedule, or you can go further and plan out what you hope to cover every day. I would recommend studying for at least one solid hours per day with more on weekends and during breaks. Utilize test prep materials now concurrently as you do your coursework.
7. DO TONS OF QUESTIONS
Do tons of questions, and then do them again. You want to familiarize yourself with the test, the testing environment and the material. Kaplan, Princeton Review, Exam Krackers all offer an online question bank. I would recommend that students buy the qbank in about 6 months before you hope to take the test and work on the questions during the school year. I would also recommend incorporating full length practice tests into your study schedule, especially as the actual test date nears and in light of the fact that test is about 7.5 hours long. There is currently a full length new MCAT practice test on the AAMC website. I would do it, and do it again, and do it again. An additional one will be available in the new year.
8. USE YOUR TEST PREP MATERIALS NOW
Use your test prep materials for your current coursework. That way you familiarize yourself with the information and can apply the concepts to what you’re currently doing in class. Obtain test prep materials during Thanksigiving and christmas break and use them along with text books and other resources now and during the spring semester.
To Do List
- Obtain the AAMC official MCAT 2015 guide
- Order Kaplan / Princeton Review / Exam Crackers Online course or plan to take a live course during the summer.
(Kaplan has live classes that you can attend online, that start as early as November 15th)
- Get a qbank
- Obtain the AAMC MCAT 2015 Practice test
- Set up a schedule