So you downloaded your MCAT content outlines and immediately started panicking. You had no idea that it was even possible to throw so much information on a single exam! You feel like you will never be able to remember everything once it’s time to take the test. Just like that, your hopes for a medical school acceptance are dashed. I’m here to let you know that it doesn’t have to be that way! You can and you will remember everything you need to know for the MCAT.
Ok. But How Will I Remember EVERYTHING for the MCAT?
If you have already started studying for the MCAT, you may have noticed that many of the practice questions don’t require rote memorization as much as they require critical thinking. This works to your advantage because it means that there are less “facts” that you have to memorize. Instead, you will need to train your brain to think about the information you’re given and to figure out the best answer based off what you already know.
In many ways, this is exactly how physicians think when they are diagnosing patients and deciding on a treatment plan. While it’s true that doctors have a huge wealth of knowledge, they must know how to apply this knowledge to each patient they see. For this reason, you should not focus your studying on memorization, but instead on critical thinking. The best way to do this is to answer practice questions. Doing so will not only train your brain, but you will pick up on patterns and concepts that you may not have encountered otherwise.
What about concepts that I can’t seem to remember no matter what?
The best way to remember things is to connect them with things you already know and then do it over and over again (i.e. answer some more practice questions). For example, if you’re trying to remember the type of sugar found in milk, you might remember the cow cartoon on the lactose-free milk that your parents drink. You now have a way to associate lactose with milk, even though your association has nothing to do with carbohydrates and everything to do with what you had for breakfast. Keep in mind that the MCAT most likely won’t ask you to name the type of sugar found in milk directly (and if it does, count it as a blessing), so knowing this information is good, but knowing how to apply it is even better.