The MCAT is not an easy exam, but every year tens of thousands of pre-medical students receive stunning MCAT scores. How do these students do it? This is a great question that students ask me all the time. In reality, there is no one right answer. There are numerous ways for students to study for the MCAT and attain a great score. However, you will find that successful students tend to follow the following five strategies for MCAT success.
1. Make a Study Plan
The MCAT is not a test that you can take without adequate preparation. Successful students are thorough in planning both when they want to take the MCAT and how much time they want to dedicate to studying for the exam. Early on, these students consider when they will have taken enough of the prerequisite courses for the MCAT and have time in their busy pre-medical lives to study for the exam. Some students will choose to study just a few hours a week but give themselves a lot more time before their test date. Other students choose more intense study schedules, preparing for the exam in two months or just one month.
2. Review the Content
As a pre-medical student, you may have already taken most or all of the prerequisite courses for the MCAT. The chances though that you remember all of the information that you need from these classes to excel on the MCAT is low. Successful students know this so they dedicate a good chunk of their studying time to reviewing the scientific concepts.
3. Practice the Content
While content review is great, the best students also know that they need to do practice questions to learn to apply the content. The MCAT is not a test of pure memorization. While there is a good amount of scientific knowledge that you will need to know, the exam also tests your critical analysis and reasoning skills and doing practice passages is the best way to improve these skills.
4. Build up the Endurance
The new MCAT has 6 hours and 15 minutes of actual testing time. Including the breaks, you can expect to spend 7.5 hours at the testing center. At first, students will find that completing just the first of the four sections on the exam to be mentally exhausting. To be able to finish the next three sections without your brain giving up on you is difficult. However, you can learn to build up the stamina to do so by taking practicing tests. Successful students will take as many practice tests as necessary to build up their ability to maintain focus throughout the entire exam.
5. Get Good Study Materials
In order to fulfill #2–4 above, successful students need study materials for the MCAT. There are many ways to obtain study materials. The creators of the MCAT have released a bunch of practice questions for purchase on their website. There are also many test preparation companies with textbooks, practice problems, and full-length practice tests for the MCAT. Finally, you can simply go on the web and find many free online MCAT study resources. You can also check out Magoosh’s affordable MCAT prep!
No Substitute for Hard Work
The five strategies above are great and will certainly help pre-medical students in their MCAT preparation. However, getting the score you want on the MCAT will take more than just following strategies. Success on the MCAT also requires putting in considerable time and effort into studying. It may be tough but with hard work and the right approach, you can also achieve a stunning MCAT score.