The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) may be one of the most essential assessments you will take during your academic career if you are aiming to be a physician. Your MCAT score, when combined with your overall college grade point average (GPA), will be one of the first factors considered by an admissions committee at a recognized medical school when determining your eligibility for admission.
Without mincing words, passing the exam can help you gain admission to the medical school of your choice. Hence the need to study real hard.
In this post, we’ll be taking a look at some very helpful tips on How To Effectively Study For The MCAT And Pass.
What Is MCAT?
The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a nationwide standardized test that is used by almost all medical schools in the United States to evaluate applicants for admission into their programs. The MCAT assesses students’ scientific knowledge as well as critical thinking, analytic, problem-solving, and writing abilities. Most medical school admissions committees assess an applicant’s MCAT score just as heavily as their GPA. When a student’s MCAT score and GPA provide contradictory appraisals of an applicant’s qualifications, admissions committees frequently give the MCAT score greater weight.
There are four portions of the MCAT. Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics), Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry), Verbal Reasoning, and Writing are among these subjects.
It comprises 52 multiple-choice questions in the Physical Sciences portion, which must be completed in 70 minutes. The Biological Sciences portion has 52 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in less than 70 minutes. There are 40 multiple-choice questions in the Verbal Reasoning segment of the exam, which must be completed in 60 minutes. Finally, there are two essays in the Writing Sample part that must be completed in 60 minutes.
How To Study For MCAT
It’s very common to see students cram MCAT preparation into their full-time jobs and/or school obligations, and this is probably the most prevalent reason why students extend or repeat their MCAT prep. Here are few tips on ho to study for MCAT:
1. Make space for the MCAT
Make arrangements with your employer so that you can study for longer periods of time, or study for the MCAT while you have a reduced course load. Make mental space as well; it’s difficult to study for the MCAT when you’re taking multiple rigorous courses at the same time. Finally, you require personal space. It’s not good for your health to be always on the move!
2. Don’t just study for the MCAT — Strike a balance
Students who clear their schedules and focus solely on the MCAT are on the other end of the spectrum. This type of student is frequently plagued by guilt if they are not studying, probably due to the fact that they (or their support system) have had to make sacrifices in order to do so. Expecting yourself to study 16 hours a day, seven days a week is unrealistic. Treat it as if it were a full-time job, with breaks and days off. Consider adding some volunteer time to your application as an example. Sleep, like food, is not a respite but a necessity.
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3. Self-reflection is necessary!
Be truthful to yourself. Is your tried-and-true method of “making flashcards for everything” truly effective? Is it true that reading a chapter and taking copious notes aids in subject comprehension? The MCAT is a much different experience from your college classes. Be honest about what works for you, and be willing to change your preferred study methods so that you can continue to improve.
4. Plan out your study blocks
Planning is advantageous for a variety of reasons:
- You won’t lose time every time you sit down to study trying to figure out what to do.
- You keep on track with deadlines, which is critical for test dates and application deadlines; and
- It provides you with a sense of progress that goes beyond the percentages you obtain from quizzes and practice tests.
Make the blocks specific, reachable, and time-limited as well. It’s not enough to have a block that says “Optics”—how do you know when you’re done? Make your jobs like this instead: “Monday 9-10 a.m.: Watch this optics video and take notes” or “Block 3 (1 hour): Memorize these equations, then practice these 10 questions and review.”
5. Study with practice questions
Nothing is more frustrating than investing a lot of time and effort researching a topic in-depth only to discover that the MCAT doesn’t actually ask for those specifics, or that you need to approach the topic differently.
Get as many MCAT practice questions as you can, and utilize them to see what specifics you’re missing and practice test-taking tactics outside of practice tests.
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6. Use multiple practice tests to build endurance, and space the out
A 7+ hour test is no laughing matter! Taking the exam without having built-up stamina is a horrible idea, just as you wouldn’t decide to run a marathon one day. Similarly, preparing for race week by running a full marathon every day would just exhaust you. Start taking practice exams as soon as possible to give yourself time to build up stamina, and space them out (preferably once a week!) to get the most out of the review process.
7. Focus on the quality of the review and not the amount of practice completed
To some extent, cramming as much practice as possible will assist, but savvy test-takers will spend just as much (if not more!) time examining the explanations, remembering, and considering other ways to connect the subject to the questions. The evaluation process will assist you in generating appropriate takeaways so that you don’t repeat the same error!
8. Verify that your content review is appropriate for the results it produces
When you examine the enormous diversity of topics covered in each module, the start of your MCAT journey can seem intimidating. However, not all topics are equally tested, and the MCAT rarely asks for a lot of detail on a given issue. Instead of studying all areas equally, shorten your study time by focusing on what is most relevant for the MCAT. Your undergraduate texts are simply too dense with information, wasting your time and effort. Get your hands on materials designed exclusively for the most recent MCAT edition.
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9. Research the MCAT score requirements for medical school
MCAT score standards vary widely among medical schools, making it difficult to have a single target score for everyone. Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) from the American Association of Medical Colleges allows you to find and compare information on medical schools in the United States and Canada. Your target score will help you choose how long you should study when you should take the MCAT, how many hours per week you should set aside, and when you should take the MCAT. Think of this as your “one-and-done” MCAT.
Steps To Take Before the MCAT Exam
Asides from studying for the MCAT, there are some other very important steps that need to be taken.
The procedures below will assist you in preparing for the MCAT exam.
The MCAT is primarily intended to assess your core knowledge and critical thinking abilities. As a result, you should concentrate your college studies on scientific concepts and their applications in many settings. Take lessons and courses in Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics), Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry), Verbal Reasoning, and Writing to help you pass all four sections of the MCAT.
Before taking the MCAT, make sure you understand the entrance standards for each medical school to which you intend to apply. Despite the fact that most medical schools in the United States require applicants to take the MCAT, some do not. If you want to apply to medical school early, you should register for the MCAT as soon as possible.
Register for the April or August test. The majority of participants select a date that best fits their preparation timetable as well as their intended medical school admission date. Before taking the MCAT, review the admission requirements and deadlines for each institution you plan to apply to.
After February 1, complete the MCAT registration packet when it becomes available. The material can be obtained through the MCAT Program Office or a school advisor by calling (319) 337-1357.
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Inquire about the exam fee reduction option if you believe you qualify. The test fee reduction option is based on financial needs. On the AAMC website, you can learn more about the Fee Assistance Program.
Don’t just show up for the test and hope for the best. You are not prepared if your practice test results do not suggest that you are within range of your objective score. Even though colleges only utilize one score, they keep track of all the scores, so there’s no point in taking the test if you know you won’t obtain anything that would help you get into medical school.
FAQs On How To Study For MCAT
How long should I study for the MCAT each day?
Remember that the less time you have until the MCAT, the more time you’ll need to study per day. We recommend studying 5–6 hours each day for the MCAT if you have two months to prepare.
How much time should you devote to studying for the MCAT?
Most folks will need 10–15 hours per week for at least four to six months to study for the MCAT. In total, you should study for the MCAT for at least 200 to 300 hours.
Is the MCAT difficult to pass?
No, passing the MCAT is not tough. For the 2016–2017 application cycle, the average new MCAT score was 502. That indicates that 50 percent of those who took the MCAT and applied to US medical schools this year scored higher than 502, while the other half scored lower.
Is two months enough to prepare for the MCAT?
To be above average, Kaplan suggests that you study for 300-350 hours. If you plan to take the MCAT in two months, you’ll need to set up a significant amount of study time each week in order to achieve a competitive score.
Is the MCAT a multiple-choice exam?
The Medical College Entrance Test, or MCAT, is more than just a requirement for admission to medical school. It’s a standardized multiple-choice, computer-based exam that’s necessary for entrance to medical schools in the US and Canada.