Starting your MCAT studies can be exciting, scary, boring, painful, and rewarding–all at the same time. It’s something that starts you on a long journey, not just for the MCAT, but for your entire medical career. Many of the lessons you learn, in content and otherwise, will last you a lifetime. As you begin your studies, here is a list of the top MCAT advice for beginning your MCAT studies.
Top MCAT Advice for Beginning Your MCAT Studies
- The MCAT (and your medical career) is a marathon, not a sprint. While you can certainly cram for the MCAT, studying for the MCAT is best done over time. A little bit every day over a long time is better than a lot for a short time and then stopping completely. Recent learning theory suggests that repetition over a long time is critical for long-term memory and learning. This applies to your medical career too. It’s great to memorize how to balance chemical equations for the MCAT, but you’ll need this for taking care of patients too. So rather than cram, try to take time and learn the content well.
- Accept setbacks as part of studying for the MCAT (and medicine). The purpose of studying is to strengthen your weak points. Because you are working on these weaknesses, there will be days that are hard and frustrating. It’s ok. It’s ok to take a break as well. But ultimately, learning these weaknesses will ultimately help you on your MCAT and in medicine. No doctor knows everything. Not all patients survive despite your best efforts, but striving to improve every day will help you for the MCAT and for your future patients.
- Have balance in life. The MCAT is going to be hard and take up a lot of your time. But it shouldn’t take up all of your time. Make sure to continue to do the things that you love and to spend time with people who will be your support system. Do this for the MCAT, do this for medical school, do this in residency. In a time where physician burnout is rising, having a balanced approach to studying will serve you well in the long-run.