10 Great MCAT Study Tips

Are you using the summer to study for the MCAT? Here are 10 MCAT study tips to make things easier:

  1. Start early. 3-6 months is what most people need to study for the MCAT, depending on the amount you plan to study each week.
  2. Have a plan. Make a study schedule and stick to it.
  3. Take practice tests. The best MCAT practice tests are from the AAMC, including one for free. Kaplan and Princeton Review each have free practice tests. I also checked out practice tests from the library, although these are not electronic obviously.
  4. Itentify weak areas and focus on those. The practice tests will give you an idea of what you need to work on. Focus on studying in the areas where you are weak until you see your scores in those areas improve.
  5. Limit study sessions to two hours. As Cal Newport at Study Hacks notes, your productivity drops dramatically after two hours. If you want to study four hours a day, have one session in the morning, take a nice break and relax, and then have the next session in the evening.
  6. Practice problems and reading sets. Much of the physical sciences is doing simple calculations. The only way to study for the verbal section is to practice. Check out these books for practice problems:
  7. Examkrackers MCAT101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning

    Examkrackers: 1001 Questions in MCAT in Physics

    Examkrackers 1001 Questions in MCAT Chemistry

    Examkrackers: 1001 Questions in MCAT, Organic Chemistry

  8. Quiz yourself. Some parts of the MCAT are basic memorization. Cover up formulas with a piece of paper and practice writing them or saying them out loud.
  9. Check out forums for FAQs about the MCAT. The MCAT forums at SDN are active.
  10. Rise early as the test approaches. Most test times for the MCAT are at 8:00AM. The week before the test wake up at the time you would plan to on the day of the test. Take practice tests starting at 8:00AM.
  11. Stay healthy. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep leading up to the MCAT. The last thing you need is to be battling both the MCAT and a nasty cold or flu.

Hope these tips are  helpful. Good luck studying for the MCAT! If you need to get some study materials, check out my review of the ExamKrackers MCAT Complete Study Package.

How Many Applicants Get Into Medical School? 2009 Data Released

The AAMC recently released applicant and enrollment data for 2009.

What are your chances of getting into medical school just based on the numbers? About 43.5% based on the 2009 data. The ratio was also 43.5% in 2008.

While the number of slots in schools have increased slightly, so have the number have applicants thus the constant ratio.

Click on the link above to read more about the numbers based on gender and ethnicity.

Keep in mind these numbers represent MD schools only, AACOM has not released acceptance numbers as far as I know. Applicant data for DO schools for 2009 is here.

What does this mean for you? We can expect the numbers to be similar for this year, meaning 56.5% of us are going to be very dissapointed. Good luck to all who are applying.

My MCAT Strategy- Part 1

I took the MCAT Jan 31st, and am very happy with the 32 I received. Now that I have a good score back I feel comfortable sharing the methods I used to achieve that score. 936394705_3de472288a_b

(New to the MCAT? Check out my basic MCAT overview)

Let me preface this by admitting that I did not study as much as I could have. I say this not to sound arrogant, but rather to give you hope that it is possible to score well without sacrificing your entire life for 6 months. It still takes a lot of hard work, but don’t dread studying for the MCAT thinking that it will take over your life.

That said, here are a couple tips and strategies that I found useful.

Take as many Biology, Chemistry and Physics classes as possible before taking the test.

Because I decided to take time off before medical school, I finished a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry before taking the MCAT. This helped immensely. Biology classes hammer home the basic concepts (even if it’s just a quick review in the advanced courses), which is what you really need to know for the MCAT. I struggled the most with the Physical sciences section, which directly corresponded to the amount of General Physics and Chemistry classes I had taken.

Practice Tests. Start taking them early and take as many as possible.

I took two practice MCAT exams early on in my studying (5 months and 3 months before the test) to identify weak areas. Then I studied those weak areas and did a quick overview. With about 3 weeks til the test I started taking practice tests more often. Again I identified the weak areas and focused my studying there.

While practice tests are useful for identifying weak areas to study they are most useful to give you an idea of the pace of the real test. You need to know about how much time you can spend on each passage.

I found some practice tests from the local library, but the most useful are the tests you can by directly from the AAMC. Click here to access these tests. Be ready to drop $35 per test. Lame, I know.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my MCAT strategy. I’ll give some more tips and talk about the types of preparation material I used.

(Source pic)

January 31st, 2009: MCAT!


Yes, my posting frequency has dropped off the map lately. Don’t worry, there’s a good reason. I’m taking the MCAT soon! Jan. 31st to be exact. 

I’ll be sure to tell you all about the MCAT experience. I’m studying hard, but it’s a difficult test. It’s at 8 in the morning, so I just hope my mind is clear…

Anyone else taking the MCAT the same date?