Any college admission test is difficult without an appropriate study plan and an effort to study for it. The Medical College Admission Test or MCAT is no different. There are no particular methods to prepare for the test; however, the best way to study for MCAT are explained below.
Before you learn how to study for it, you should know what MCAT is. It is a standardized test that students take for admission to med schools. Developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the test measures a student’s knowledge in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, General Chemistry, General Biology, Sociology and Psychology, as well as critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS).
Though you may have started studying a long ago for the MCAT, there are some important tips you need to follow to ace it. They are:
Find Out Where You Stand by Taking a Practice Test
Your MCAT study plans depend on where you stand and where to start. This requires you to take a diagnostic test for it will help you understand your baseline. A day-long exam, MCAT demands a study schedule to perform well. If you want to avoid taking the exam again, you should ensure an optimized study plan.
With a proper diagnostic test, you can assess your current knowledge accurately. Moreover, the test allows you to experience the structure, level and length of the real MCAT. Not knowing what an MCAT exam is like will leave you guessing what to study and review to improve your knowledge.
Plan a Study Schedule
You need not cram hard for the test; instead, you are required to dedicate yourself to prepare for the MCAT for at least three months. Plan a study schedule, which could ideally be 300 hours or more. Collect the necessary reading materials, including textbooks, course notes, review videos, relevant projects to improve your critical analysis skills. Develop good MCAT study habits by setting aside two or three hours daily, in which about 70 percent should be devoted for reviewing content. You should stick to it, without allowing any tendency to procrastinate.
Self-Realization and Understanding
The MCAT is meant to test your critical analysis skills and general reasoning abilities. Therefore, your test prep should not revolve around remembering information and formulae but focus on comprehension. A lot depends on how you extract essential information after reading the passage quickly and find answers by analyzing critically and reasoning it. Here, self-realization plays a key role.
You need to check whether the techniques you use for the MCAT prep really works for you or not. For instance, are you comfortable with taking notes after reading the passage and understanding it. You need to be honest and frame strategies that suit you.
You can develop your strategy for CARS from reading materials or text books related to science and non-science topics. The passages under CARS require you to determine the thesis statement and evaluate the author’s arguments based on the evidence given.
Take Practice Tests and Review Them
It is important to take practice exams to know your progress. When you attempt the test, record all the missed questions and their answers. You need to refer those missed questions regularly to reinforce the concepts. Once you have taken practice exams or quizzes, keep a record of the MCAT scores to review them later. Reviewing the mistakes is important after every practice exam, which can be done on your own or with your friend or classmate.
See whether the explanations given are clear and give enough time to understand them to help you approach them in a better way next time. To improve your MCAT score, you need to approach a full-length practice test and review the types of mistakes for highly targeted practice and improvement.
Endurance is Important
Since you have to take a lengthy test, you need to build concentration and endurance to surpass it. You can start working with passages with short breaks and then, spend longer hours with very few breaks to help yourself get ready for the test day. Practice tests are good enough to give you the required stamina. Give space by taking it once in a week and gain maximum benefits by reviewing content.
Taking a test of this magnitude requires you to avoid or have fewer distractions. There are several students who have a family, are doing some research, or are working. It is essential that you study and practice problems under ideal conditions.
Practice under Real Test Conditions
When taking full-length practice tests, take it as if you are taking it on the real test date by simulating the MCAT conditions. This helps you complete the test at one stretch, by taking breaks only when allowed.
Use Practice Tests as Evaluation Tools to Work on Your Weaknesses
Students who look for the medical school admission generally use the MCAT practice tests as an evaluation tool to find out the topics that are challenging for them. This helps them devise a better study schedule to suit their need. This approach, along with answering every individual question, will help you develop your comprehension.
Focus on Quality Review
Practice is the key and one of the best study tips would be spending equal amount of time for every section. You need not be overwhelmed by the range of topics covered under each section for not every topic is tested equally. For instance, in organic chemistry, you get only 6-12 questions for which you are not required to spend studying hours or days. Your text books are full of details, which you need not spend memorizing them. Instead, you have to just understand the principles to apply in problems.
Take a Break
The day before the test day is crucial, and you should approach it with a fresh mind. You can take a break and not stress yourself by studying at the last minute. For most students, this helps.
The tips explained can help you prepare for the MCAT effectively, which otherwise is difficult and stressful for most student applicants for medical schools.