Understanding how to study for the MCAT exam is an uphill battle that takes time, energy, and unshakable dedication, as any pre-med student knows. Students who want to meet the challenge and pass this exam must be prepared to work hard. Although there are no shortcuts, there are several MCAT techniques, study practices, and strategies that set-top achievers apart.
Here are the ultimate MCAT summer study tips that can help you take your score to the next level:
The MCAT: An Overview
Understanding the MCAT's components is critical to successful preparation. This exam assesses a number of various aspects that go into being a good doctor. These include your critical thinking skills, basic science knowledge, and endurance.
Critical thinking skills.
Can you tell what's most essential and what's just a bonus? Can you figure out what a difficult question stem is asking? Can you draw judgments and assumptions about study outcomes by simplifying figures?
Can you go past your personal prejudices and concentrate on the facts? And, most importantly, can you execute it all in a timely and efficient manner? The MCAT will be easier if you can simplify as much as possible and prepare yourself to do so quickly. It can be challenging to change your mindset, but it is necessary to prepare correctly for the MCAT!
Basic science knowledge.
Be aware that the MCAT will assess your basic science knowledge in ways that may differ from what you learned in your undergraduate courses. The MCAT requires a conceptual comprehension of numerous scientific concepts. With the MCAT, you must synthesize your knowledge across the sciences and be able to reason about their relevance to the passage or question, rather than regurgitating memorized material.
The MCAT has a strong emphasis on applying concepts to the human body. Some of your undergrad subjects, such as special relativity, will not be assessed, while others, such as protein structure, will.
The AAMC (the organization that creates the MCAT) has issued a list of the topics that will be tested on the exam that you may use to assist your study.
The MCAT takes roughly 7.5 hours to complete, including breaks, with timed testing lasting 6 hours and 15 minutes.
It's difficult to maintain your focus and critical thinking for this long, but it demonstrates that you'll be able to handle a career in medicine. You'll have to train yourself and develop tactics for conserving energy and improving your focus throughout the test to get used to its length.
How to study for the MCAT during the summer?
MCAT STUDY ESSENTIALS
- AAMC’s Prepare for the MCAT® Exam
- AAMC Full Length Tests
- AAMC Sample Questions and Sections
- Online Calendar
- Tutor The People MCAT Test Prep
Create a Foundation
Take a timed diagnostic test at the start of your preparation to establish your starting place. This test is only to create a baseline; don't get too worked up about it. You are devoting time to this in order to progress, but you must first determine how far you are from your goal.
Take the exam to gain a sense of your present skills and limitations, and then utilize your result to create a study regimen.
We recommend you use the AAMC Sample Test as the very first practice test to take prior to beginning your study and content review. Do not use the full-length AAMC practice exams (Exams 1-4) at this point as they should be reserved for the testing portion of your prep.
Choose a Single, Dependable Content Source.
Having an interdisciplinary approach to content review might be beneficial, but don't overburden yourself with resources. Most resources cover the important themes in a reasonably consistent manner, and using multiple resources can stretch you too thin and prevent you from learning the content efficiently.
Select a single, dependable material source and rely on it for the great majority of your content analysis. Use Youtube videos, such as the Khan Academy MCAT series to help you comprehend any topics you're having trouble with.
Make the most of your time spent studying by utilizing spaced repetition. This will help you maintain your understanding of facts and concepts, especially in the Psychology and Sociology (PsS) section, where being able to correctly remember and differentiate a variety of definitions will account for a large portion of your score.
Make a schedule and stick to it.
A timetable is an important part of your MCAT preparation. As a general rule, I recommend devoting 1/2 of your prep time to content, 1/4 to practice questions, and 1/4 to practice exams. Begin by focusing on the topic and gradually add practice questions after a few weeks.
Gradually increase the number of practice questions until you finish your content review, then focus on practice tests and questions for the final four weeks of your preparation.
Take the AAMC Practice Exams a week apart during these four weeks, with the last one at least three days before your test date to give yourself time to recover and rest. Supplement with other third-party practice tests if desired, but keep in mind that the quality of these tests varies greatly.
Making significant progress toward your goals requires sticking to a well-planned timetable. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to MCAT preparation that will guarantee your success. Begin by analyzing your skills, weaknesses, and ambitions, and keep in mind that your schedule will need to be altered to accommodate changes.
If you're having trouble with your preparation, consider working with one of Tutor the People’s top MCAT tutors who can help you get back on track.
Believe in the Process.
Don't become too attached to a random test date. Yes, there is a deadline for applications. Yes, you have other obligations. But don't take the MCAT unless you're completely prepared, and your practice test scores are close to what you hope to achieve on test day. Understand that setbacks and hurdles will inevitably occur and that you will need to adapt to them. Commit to studying as much as you need to in order to feel confident on test day and avoid having to retake the exam. It's not a sin to take the time necessary to get things right the first time.
Frequently Asked Questions about MCAT Summer Study:
What are some good study tips for the MCAT during the summer?
Some good study tips for the MCAT during the summer include creating a study schedule, practicing time management, taking practice tests, using flashcards, and utilizing online resources.
How many hours should I study for the MCAT during the summer?
It is recommended to study for the MCAT for at least 20 hours per week during the summer, but the exact number of hours may vary depending on your personal goals and timeline.
Is it possible to prepare for the MCAT during the summer while working or taking classes?
Yes, it is possible to prepare for the MCAT during the summer while working or taking classes. The key is to create a study schedule that works with your other obligations and to prioritize your study time.
Should I take a break from studying for the MCAT during the summer?
It is important to take breaks and prioritize self-care during the MCAT preparation process, but it is also important to maintain a consistent study schedule. Consider taking a break one day per week or scheduling shorter study sessions throughout the week.
What are some online resources that can help me prepare for the MCAT during the summer?
Some online resources that can help you prepare for the MCAT during the summer include practice tests and questions on the AAMC website, Khan Academy's MCAT prep videos, and online study groups or forums.