The most time-efficient way to prepare for the MCAT
Here is a quick post about the method I used for preparing for the MCAT. I hope that you find this helpful and simple to implement. For many pre-meds, it is hard to get enough time to truly study for the MCAT. Most pre-meds find themselves volunteering, working, and with a full class load in any given semester. So how does the busy pre-med make the most out of their limited time to study for the MCAT? What studying method will give you the “best bang for your buck”? In this article, we will go over how to prepare for the MCAT in a time efficient way.
Alright, so you are crunched for time and don’t have the luxury to read through all of the MCAT test prep books you bought or go through countless hours of youtube videos. Where do you start and where do you focus your attention? The main key for preparing for the MCAT in a timely manner is to focus on your WEAKNESSES. This means you need to take a practice MCAT exam as soon as possible and see what your weak areas are. Once you know what areas you need the most improvement in, learn and practice whatever topics you missed during your practice exam. Then take another practice exam again to see if you improved in those areas or there are other weak points you weren’t aware of before. Try and get as many rounds of practice test and post-practice test studying in as possible.
Here is the simple method to follow:
- Take a practice exam to learn what your weaknesses are.
- Make a list of all of the topics that gave you trouble (ex. Redox reactions, optics, amino acids, etc.)
- Review and practice all of those topics until you feel confident.
- Take another practice exam.
The practice exam is helpful to improving your MCAT score for several reasons. First of all, it allows you to see what the MCAT is like and the type of questions that it asks. This will let you learn and adapt your studying to the style of questions asked on the MCAT. Learning how to answer “MCAT style” questions is so important and honestly and underrated aspect to preparing for the MCAT. Also by taking the practice exams/questions you will be able to see what areas you are weakest in and therefore what areas you need to focus most on. When it comes to what practice test to use, I would of course reccomend getting the AAMC’s one as its the most accurate. However there are many other ones to use that allow more uses and are more affordable or even free. I personally did most of my practice tests using The Princeton Review’s practice exams that come with their main book. Also The Princeton Review also has an affordable set of high yield questions for about $25 which is another great source of practice questions to use called The MCAT Workout. Another source of MCAT test practice questions for only $25 is this book which offers 7 practice tests , with 5 in the book and 2 online. If you are looking for free practice questions I would recommend using the Khan Academy MCAT practice questions.
I would personally recommend using at least two sources of questions to study from and use this method with. So after you have your practice tests, its important that you are using them appropriately! You need to make a list of the topics that you are missing and struggling with. Make sure you are being honest with yourself! Then compile that list in a word document or excel sheet and re-learn them one by one. The key to this is actually making sure you learn the topic and feel confident that you would get it right if you ever saw it again on the test. Just simply watching a video on youtube or reading the section in your book about that missed topic isn’t enough, you need to test yourself to make sure you understand it. So after you have re-learned it you need to do some practice problems with it or quiz yourself that you remember the information you need to. Only once and I mean only once you really feel you understand that topic you can “check” it off your review list. This is the most important way to make sure you are actually making progress and not just simply going through the motions of saying you re-learned that topic.
This method allows you to really hone in on what you need to work on. Allowing you to prioritize your weakest areas to get the biggest return on investment. After you take your practice exam, go through all of the questions you missed and analyze them. Ask yourself why you missed them and what could you do differently to get it right next time. After analyzing all of your questions, go ahead and make a detailed list of everything you need to review or practice. The more in-depth and detailed the list the better. After you have your detailed list of topics and types of questions you missed, go and review them using whatever resources you would like. Make sure you are confident that you wouldn’t miss those same questions again before taking another practice exam. The time where you are really improving your grade the most should be during your post-practice exam review. The key to getting the most out of your MCAT study time is to really find out what your weaknesses are. Knowing what areas you are weak in will allow you to spend your time on what matters most. Then it is a matter of rinse and repeat. Try this method I have listed here and let me know how it goes for you in the comments below!
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