5 Great Tips for Preparing for the MCAT

Do you want to ace the MCAT? It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get the score you want. This is especially true if other people have told you that the MCAT is one of the one most difficult exams for people who want to go to medical school. Fortunately, if you prepare well and follow up your study plans with hard work, you will join the ranks of the students who pass this challenge.

To prepare well, you need to practice tests, supplement your study material with reputable MCAT resources, maintain a balanced life, design a realistic study schedule, and only take the MCAT when you’re ready.

Let’s now take a closer look at each of these 5 tips:

Tip #1: Practice Questions and Tests

Many students make the mistake of thinking all they have to do is memorize the information to pass the exams. Although this is a logical assumption, it’s not an accurate one. You also need the ability to interpret the meaning of questions and answer them quickly and accurately.

How do you develop these test-taking skills? By taking practice tests and working on practice problems.

There are 3 main benefits to this approach:

First, you will become familiar with the wording and how to answer well.

Second, you will develop mental stamina. The MCAT is a mental marathon. It takes 6 hours and 15 minutes, not counting breaks. Learn to pace yourself so you do not lose focus out of sheer fatigue.

Third, you will become so familiar with the test that you will not have as much test anxiety. In fact, the actual test will feel as familiar as all the practice tests you took repeatedly.

Tip #2: Supplement Your Study Material with MCAT Resources

Besides all the study material you’re using, it’s a good idea to supplement this with some additional resources.

Two excellent resources that successful students often recommend are Khan Academy MCAT Test Prep and the MCAT Official Test Prep bundles offered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) MCAT Test Prep, who create the MCAT.

Khan Academy will break down the material for you while the AAMC will furnish you with practice tests that will be closer to the actual MCAT than any other test preparation resources.

You need not restrict yourself to just these two resources, but you must include them when you’re gathering supplemental learning materials.

Tip #3: Maintain a Balanced Life

You are more likely to fail if you study 10 to 12 hours a day every day until you take the MCAT because you will burnout. Although you may put in the hours, you will experience the law of diminishing returns on your investment of time and effort.

So, while you need to study hard, you also need to maintain some life balance so you approach each study session with a fresh mind and a positive attitude.

Also, consider studying with friends. Although you will still need to spend a lot of time studying on your own, reviewing materials with friends will be enjoyable and offer you a fresh perspective on your ideas.

Tip #4: Design a Realistic Study Schedule

Set yourself a schedule on when you will study, when you will take practice tests, and when you will review what you with fellow MCAT students. Your first study schedules will probably not work out as well as you planned, so keep on experimenting until you get a better idea of how long your various study projects take.

Tip #5: Only Take the MCAT When You’re Ready

You will know when you are ready when you start scoring well in practice tests. Rely on the scores in your practice tests to help you gauge your readiness.

Closing Advice

If possible, speak to people you know who have passed the MCAT. They will give you invaluable tips based on their own personal journey.

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About the author: Wifred Murray

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