(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.