Let’s face it. You could probably think of a million things that are more fun than studying for the MCAT. This might include going down a giant waterslide, backpacking through Europe, or jamming out with your super awesome, on-the-verge-of-being-discovered band. But, when it comes to getting into medical school, studying for the MCAT is one of the best (if not the best) ways of improving your chances.
Whether you’re balancing MCAT studying with taking classes, working a full-time job, or even exclusively focused on the test itself, you’re taking a big step towards your future career as a doctor. Check out April’s Blog Post to get a sense of How Long You Should Study for the MCAT.
Your motivation levels will be sky high as you begin your endeavor to conquer the MCAT. But as you read about the Citric Acid Cycle, Newton’s Laws, and passages about Plato, you might find that you need some inspiration or a nudge to keep your efforts going strong. So, what can you do to make studying for the MCAT as fun as humanly possible? Let’s find out!
How to Avoid Getting Bored While Studying for the MCAT
- Take Breaks: This means taking breaks in the short term as well as the long term. For every hour you study, take at least a 5-minute break and listen to a pump-up song, take a quick walk or climb up & down a flight of stairs, or daydream about the moment you walk out of the MCAT testing center. For every 4 hours you study, take at least a 20-minute break. You can watch a music video, catch up on social media, or plan out your next vacation. For one day out of each week of MCAT studying, do something completely non-MCAT related. By giving yourself a day to relax, you will feel reinvigorated to hit the books hard the next day!
- S.L.E.E.P: You’ve heard it a million times- getting a good night’s sleep is important for so many reasons. When you’re studying for something like the MCAT, your brain uses sleep time to process everything you’ve learned and incorporate it into your long term memory. If you pull all-nighters or get less than 7 hours of sleep regularly, you may get more studying in, but odds are that you won’t remember what you learned for very long. Check out this post by Ken about Memorization Techniques for the MCAT.
- Make Short Term Goals: Since there’s so much material on the MCAT to go over, it’s easy to lose motivation if you don’t have concrete goals that you’re working towards. Instead of simply having a goal of getting a minimum score of 500 on your next practice exam, make goals you can achieve over a shorter period of time. For example, your goal could be to learn, review, and get at least 70% of translational motion questions correct by the end of next week.
- Socialize (in moderation): There’s this idea that you completely abandon your social life when you’re studying for the MCAT. If you’d like to get a good score, continue to socialize with your friends and family as you study. This can be something as simple as a 10-minute phone call with your best friend, grabbing lunch with your dad, or going on a quick bike ride with your workout partner. This keeps you fresh and exercises parts of your brain that aren’t involved when you’re studying.
- Alternate Subjects as You Study: Instead of covering all the content from the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section before moving onto Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, alternate your studying among the four MCAT sections. This keeps all of the material new & interesting and helps you retain the information from each section over a much longer period of time.
Anything Else I Can Do to Avoid Getting Bored While Studying for the MCAT?
As Ken mentions in this post that has the Top Five Strategies for MCAT Success, there is simply no substitute for hard work. With so much content to remember and critical reasoning skills to apply, the more time you put into effectively studying for the MCAT, the higher score you’ll get. So use the tips above to keep your motivation levels riding high but at the end of the day, be prepared to work hard and work smart, future doctor 🙂