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.

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.

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:

 http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=31

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

Do you have any other questions about the MCAT?

28 MCAT



Did you score a 28 on your MCAT? Wondering what to do next?

A 28 on the MCAT is a good score and well above average. However, the average score of students admitted into MD medical schools hovers around 30 on the MCAT each year. This score is above the average for DO schools, so you’ll probably be a strong candidate in those programs especially if the rest of your application is acceptable.

If you’re looking to get into an MD school, your application will have to be strong. A high GPA will help, as well as some activities that make you stand out. Enthusiastic letters of recommendation are always necessary.

If you choose to retake the MCAT, try taking a review course or using the MCAT Examkrackers Complete Review books. Check out the links below.

27 MCAT

Did you score a 27 on your MCAT? Wondering what to do next?

A 27 on the MCAT is a good score and is above average. However, the average score of students admitted into MD medical schools hovers around 30 on the MCAT each year. This score is above the average for DO schools, so you’ll probably be a good candidate in those programs especially if the rest of your application is acceptable.

If you’re looking to get into an MD school, your application will have to be very strong. A high GPA (greater than 3.8) will help, as well as some activities that make you stand out. Enthusiastic letters of recommendation are always necessary.

If you choose to retake the MCAT, try taking a review course or using the MCAT Examkrackers Complete Review books. Check out the links below.

 

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (Kaptest.com)

MCAT Links

The MCAT is a big deal. It tests your basic science knowledge, but more importantly your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills. Medical schools need a way to figure out not just whether you can memorize facts or understand biological concepts. They want to know if you have the brain capacity, focus and work ethic to handle the rigors of medical school. The MCAT is one way they determine that.
If you know very little about the MCAT, here are some links to get you started.

Continue reading MCAT Links