The AAMC (Association of American Medical College) offers MCAT tests (Medical College Admission Test) to students seeking admission in most top medical colleges in America. So, admission-seekers must study well and score big in their MCAT exam as that will determine which med school they are eligible for.
If you are ready to start your MCAT test prep, this post will explain how to study for the MCAT.
So, follow closely!
Table of Contents
Brief Knowledge about MCAT
But Before Those Study Tips, Let Us First Understand What Includes On the MCAT. And How One Score!
The MCAT Consists Of 4 Main Sections
- Section 1 – Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Section. And students will get 95 mins to answer 59 MCQs.
- Section II – Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems. And students will get 95 mins to answer 59 MCQs.
- Section III –Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior Section. And students will get 95 mins to answer 59 MCQs.
- Section IV – Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. And students will get 90 mins to answer 53 free-standing and passage-based questions.
Except for the CARS section, the other three sections consist of MCQs. And the grading depends on the number of questions one answers correctly. Also, there are no penalties for answering incorrectly. Graders convert scores from each section using a 15 point scale. Finally, the scores add up as a composite for the MCQ section.
However, for the essay writing section, graders use a 6 point scale. An essay will get two scores from each grader. And all the four scores add up to form a composite score. That further converts into letter grading right from T- top-end to J- low end.
Now Let’s Move To the Main Topic of Discussion – How to Study for the MCAT
Step 1 –
This test is meant to test core knowledge and critical thinking aptitudes among students. So, one should concentrate more on their core scientific concepts.
Look to take classes for all sections. Also, take a full-length practice test that replicates the actual exam format.
This will help you prepare for the MCAT properly. The results of that test will give you a clear idea about your strength and weakness. Then you can focus more on the weak areas.
Step 2 –
Look to improve your knowledge base by reviewing content. Do this during your initial 1-2 months. This content review is essential because the MCAT evaluates your ability to apply your knowledge to varying and even new scenarios. Plus, it tests your ability to reason and estimate arguments.
To improve your knowledge base, buy prep books, and practice exams. Keep working with those mock test papers and use the prep books to go through each chapter and its various sets of content.
Step 3 –
Another crucial step is to focus on your accuracy and speed. Remember, each section comes with its time limit. So, whenever you work with one section, try to complete it to the best of your knowledge and within the set time. Record how long it takes you and focus on improving both your correctness and speed each time.
MCAT takes 6 hours and 15 mins to complete. That makes it the most extended and most rigorous medical school admission test. Look to complete as many mock papers as you can. Regularly doing this will only improve your critical thinking abilities and mental stamina. Always pace yourself and look to improve your completion time as you progress towards the test day.
The ability to complete all MCAT questions is a common challenge for countless students. So, practice hard, and don’t let this be your weakness too!
Step 4 –
Don’t ignore using AAMC study materials. They do provide an accurate indicator of what to expect on the real exam. Although most students save this for last, there is no such rule. You can use the AAMC suitable materials just as you do your other mock tests.
Ideally, AAMC Study Materials Will Feature –
- Question Packs (CARS 1&2, Biology 1&2, Chemistry, Physics). It is consisting of previously appearing MCAT questions.
- Section Banks (C/P, B/B, P/S). This will consist of difficult questions and will give students a peek into the actual content and style of MCAT.
- AAMC Original Guide- an abbreviated AAMC test. This will feature 30 questions from each section, summing up to 120 questions.
- AAMC Sample Test- a full-length sample test
- AAMC Full-Length Tests (1-4)- full-length sample tests
Your aim should be to complete all these practice materials (several times over) and properly review them before your test date.
Also, take full tests in a single sitting and only taking brakes between sections – just like in real MCAT conditions. This also includes doing several passages.
Experience boosts self-confidence. And the more you work with these practice materials, the more you will become ready for the real thing.
For more in-depth learning, you can also opt for study resources from KHAN ACADEMY or other notable online curriculums. They, too, prove to be immensely helpful.
Step 5 –
Self-preparation is fine. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore any opportunity to take advice from previous students with big scores on their MCAT. Interact with them on their approach and study schedule. Ask what study materials and references they used for their preparation.
Also, you can take up an MCAT preparatory course, which individuals with high MCAT scores usually conduct. Attending their classes, you can ask them how to study for the MCAT and resultantly get valuable insight into their successful strategies.
Such prep courses take place at most top medical schools or universities. So, enrol as early as possible as such classes often fill up rather swiftly!
Step 6 –
Take sufficient rest in-between to manage your stress, psychological, and physical condition. While it is true that when preparing for your MCAT, you need to do everything in your power within your schedule. Building some time for relaxation, like working out or going out, listening to music should not exclude.
Studying all day, every day, can often over-stress the brain and exhaust its thinking capability. It needs some time to replenish. So, while you should dedicate the majority of your time in studying, in-between breaks do prove quite beneficial.
Step 7 –
Lastly, it would be best if you continuously self-evaluated yourself, your knowledge level, and your scores in your practice tests. Find your weaknesses like –
- Questions which do you often miss out or fail to answer
- Stanzas that take up most of your time?
- Sections that you find to be the most challenging of the four?
And so on…
Mistakes often lead to awareness. And awareness leads to rectification.
So, keep this in mind. And try to incorporate this habit into your study habits and schedule.
In response to this question – how to study for the MCAT; you can use these tips as your preparation baseline.