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.

Applying To Medical School This Summer? Check Out This Checklist

If you are applying to medical school for the 2011 cycle, hopefully you have started working on your primary application. If not, it’s ok, you still have some time. Click for AMCAS (MD applications) or AACOMAS (DO applications) to get get going!

Here is a checklist of things you need to keep track of for your application.

    Transcripts. You must send your transcripts from every college you attended (even if you only took a class) to AMCAS or AACOMAS.
    Letters of Reccomendation. If you have not asked for letters of reccomendation yet, today is the day. If you’re applying to DO schools, do they need a letter from an osteopathic physician?
    Personal Statement. This is your time to shine. Do you have a good working 1st draft? Have you asked for feedback from multiple sources who know you well? Make sure you edit carefully! Check out this post from a med student on how to ace the personal statement. Hat tip: Pre Med Hell
    MCAT. If you’ve taken it already, great. If not, do you have a study plan? Have you thought about what you will do if your score is not as high as you would like?
    AMCAS or AACOMAS (or both). Even if you have your personal statement done and all your activities listed, this can be a huge time sink. The most time consuming part? Probably entering in every grade from every class you have taken. It’s maddening.
    Money. Applying to medical school is expensive. Do you have enough money saved up? Think around $500 for the primary application, and then about $100 per secondary application. Then flying for interviews. It all adds up very quickly.

The application is long, but do not be discouraged. In the big scheme of actually getting into medical school, you are towards the end of the road. Finish strong.


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MCAT Examkrackers Complete Study Package: A Med Student’s Review

Are you considering the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package? Read my review first!Examkrackers complete package

The MCAT can make or break your medical school application. Choosing how to study for the MCAT is important and should be considered carefully. There are basically two options:

I knew I could study well on my own. After exploring pre med forums, it was clear that the Examkrackers books were the most popular option among successful MCAT test takers. What follows is a brief review of the MCAT Examkrackers Complete Study Package.


  • Comprehensive. The Examkrackers books cover Biology, Organic Chemistry, Chemistry, Physics, and Verbal Reasoning in great detail. The necessary formulas to memorize are clearly displayed. All the material is relevant to what you may encounter on the MCAT.
  • Easy to Understand. The books are written in plain English with a light-hearted tone, tossing in cheesy jokes without compromising the material.
  • Colorful. You´d be surprised how this makes studying the books more attractive.
  • Great Practice Questions. Practice questions are key to mastering the MCAT.


  • Writing section. The preparation for the writing section is weak and downplays it´s importance. I took this advice and scored poorly on the writing section.


I loved the Examkrackers Complete Study Package and was very pleased with my score of 32 on the MCAT. Click here to check out the Examkrackers Books at Amazon. It is well worth the investment.

Click Here!

Also check out these other titles from Examkrackers:
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

Affiliate links are present in this post.

Pre Med Resources

495524570_415c91b283_mThis is the best list of relevant websites, articles and blogs regarding the pre med journey that you will find on the internet. Bookmark this. I’ll be updating the list as I find more useful info.

Pre Med Basics

MCAT Links

Perhaps the most dreaded part of the pre med journey. Be not afraid.

Medical School Application

Best Books for Pre Meds

These are books that I have either read and used or heard great things about.

Pre Med and Med Student Blogs

Pre Med Forums

MCAT 2010 Registration is OPEN

If you’re on top of things and want to register for the MCAT now’s the time.

Click here to register for the 2010 MCAT.

I personally chose to take the MCAT in January and it worked well. I had no stress deciding whether to apply to schools or not waiting for my score. Read more about my experience and find some MCAT tips.

Some more MCAT links.

Will you be registering for the exam? If so, what is your biggest fear regarding the MCAT?

2010 MCAT Test Dates: Updated

 Here are the upcoming 2010 MCAT test dates. The last date to take the MCAT in 2009 was September 12th.

January 29th at 8 a.m.
January 30th at 1 p.m.
March 27th at 1 p.m.
April 10th at 1 p.m.
April 17th at 8 a.m.
April 23rd at 8 a.m.
May 1st at 8 a.m.
May 21st at 8 a.m.
May 22nd at 1 p.m.
May 27th at 1 p.m.
June 27th at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
July 8th at 8 a.m.
July 16th at 8 a.m.
July 29th at 1 p.m.
July 30th at 8 a.m.
August 4th at 8 a.m.
August 5th at 1 p.m.
August 12th at 8 a.m.
August 13th at 1 p.m.
August 19th at 8 a.m.
August 20th at 1 p.m.
August 24th at 1 p.m.
September 2nd at 8 a.m.
September 3rd at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
September 9th at 8 a.m.
September 11th at 1 p.m.

Note: Registration for the 2010 MCAT will probably begin  November 2nd.  Click here for complete schedule and registration dates.

I took the MCAT in Janurary this year and it was great to know my score before making the decision to apply. I recommend doing the same.

For more help check out my basic MCAT overview and MCAT links page.

35 pounds, 35 on MCAT- a new blog to check out

I found a great new blog written by a student who is doing post-bac pre med requirements. The author’s name is Mel and her writing skills far surpass my own. She has a goal of losing 35 pounds and getting a 35 on the MCAT by the end of the year.

The blog serves as a sort of journal of her progress, and I’m grateful for the effort she puts into it as it is an entertaining read.

Check it out here:


Good luck Mel, I hope you achieve you goals and look forward to reading about your adventures along the way.

Restructuring pre-med requirements?

Here’s an interesting article I stumbled across titled Changes could be coming for Pre-Meds and the MCAT. It’s worth reading, especially if you’re early in the pre med process.

Here’s an excerpt:

Say 10 years from now, your recommendations have been implemented. How is a typical pre-med’s life different from today?

It’s going to open up the ability to colleges to be more innovative and — this is the key word — interdisciplinary in teaching. We could envision courses where you learn physics and chemistry and biology in the same course and see how they interrelate to each other, whereas right now a pre-med takes, say, a year of physics, a year of chemistry, a year of organic chemistry.

The hope is that these science courses will be much more interesting. Pre-med students and biology undergraduates will be drawn in by how fascinating science is, rather than seeing it as this awful thing to get through in order to get to medical school.

Interesting ideas. I’m curious who they would get to teach such classes that would combine physics, chemistry and biology. It sounds great, and I would love to know more about how those disciplines interact, but making that actually happen may take some time.

The article seems to suggest that changes in the MCAT may take even more time. And they were short on specifics.

Do you have any suggestions for how the pre med process could be improved?

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)

The Basic MCAT Overview

One of the most feared stepping stones in the journey to medical school is the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT. Fear is often of the unknown, and I know that the MCAT is a huge unknown for many pre-med students. Don’t be afraid! Here is a brief, hopefully useful basic overview of what the MCAT is all about.

What is the MCAT?

The MCAT is a test administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. You must take the MCAT to complete an application to any medical school in the United States.

What does the MCAT test?

The MCAT focuses on basic science principles from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Organic chemistry. It also tests reading comprehension through the Verbal Reasoning section as well as basic writing skills.

How is the MCAT organized?

The test is divided into four major sections:
1. Physical Sciences. This focuses on Physics and Chemistry. It is 70 minutes long.
2. Verbal Reasoning. This section features 7 reading passages, each with questions about that particular passage.
3. Writing. Here you write 2 essays with 30 minutes to write each one. There is no break in between, so it lasts 60 minutes.
4. Biological Sciences. This section tests mostly biology concepts with some organic chemistry thrown in. It is 70 minutes long.
Between each of these four sections is a 10 minute break.

When should I take the MCAT?

That depends on a variety of factors. Most important is when you want to go to medical school. The AAMC recommends taking the MCAT the year you want to apply. If you want to start the application process in 2009, you should take the MCAT some time in 2009. However, many schools will accept scores from 2-3 years back.

I think the best answer to the question is this: you should take the MCAT when you’re ready to! If you’re in school and don’t feel like studying for the MCAT is a possibility, wait for the summertime or when you’re no longer in school.

Important MCAT Links:
The AAMC MCAT site: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/

Studentdoctor.net MCAT discussion:


2009 MCAT Schedule: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/mcatschedule.htm

Do you have any other questions about the MCAT?