The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is a nationwide standardized test that is used by almost all medical schools in the United States to evaluate applicants for admission to their medical programs. The MCAT assesses students’ scientific knowledge as well as their critical thinking, analytic, problem-solving, and writing abilities. Most medical school admissions committees give an applicant’s MCAT score the same weight as their GPA. If a student’s MCAT score and GPA provide contradictory judgments of an applicant’s qualifications, admissions committees are likely to give greater weight to the MCAT score.
The MCAT is divided into four parts. Physical Sciences (chemistry and physics), Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry), Verbal Reasoning, and Writing are among them. The Physical Sciences portion is made up of 52 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 70 minutes. The Biological Sciences portion contains 52 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in less than 70 minutes. The Verbal Reasoning part of the test consists of 40 multiple-choice problems to be answered in 60 minutes. Finally, the Writing Sample portion requires two essays to be completed in 60 minutes.
Are you ready to start your MCAT study and wondering what the best approach to prepare for the MCAT is? Discover the top 10 MCAT study practices that can help you improve your score and kickstart your career as a doctor.
1. Find Your Baseline
Your baseline score is the score you would earn if you took the exam right now. Before you begin preparing for the MCAT in earnest, take a full-length practice exam that closely resembles the actual testing environment. The results of this first practice exam will assist guide your preparation by indicating which areas you should concentrate on the most.
2. Don’t Sacrifice Practice for Content Review
Here’s what the MCAT truly looks for:
your capacity to apply fundamental knowledge to a variety of, perhaps novel, circumstances
your capacity to think through and analyze arguments
Do you still need to be familiar with your science content? Absolutely. But not to the extent that most test takers believe. Your science expertise, for example, will not aid you in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) part.
3. Focus on Accuracy
Is speed your top priority? You should continue with untimed practice. When learning a new skill, you must first learn to do it well before learning to perform it rapidly.
When you first start working on practice problems, perform the section or passage untimed and concentrate on increasing your accuracy. Later, start keeping track of how long it takes you to complete a paragraph or part. Even if you’ve been studying for a while, it’s still a good idea to perform some untimed practice problems, focusing on avoiding the sorts of mistakes you’re prone to making.
4. Build Stamina
Under normal circumstances, it is difficult to maintain focus for several hours, let alone under stressful ones. Prepare for exam day by practicing passages for longer and longer amounts of time with fewer and shorter pauses until you can easily focus for a few hours at a time.
5. Take as Many Full-length Practice Tests as Possible
Experience builds confidence. Once you’ve gotten the hang of performing many passages at once, start doing more and more practice exams.
6. Simulate REAL MCAT Conditions
Complete the entire test in one sitting, with pauses in between parts. Except during the pauses, do not consume any food or water during the exam. Unless you’re on a break, don’t put on or take off clothing if you become cold or overheated.
7. Practice Dealing with Distractions
Perform passages or practice exams under less-than-ideal settings. Go to a somewhat quiet coffee shop or a section of the library where people are moving about (but not talking loudly). While working, practice tuning out your environment.
8. Manage Your Stress
It is just as vital to manage your psychological and physical health as it is to study and practice. Working all day every day is pointless if you are so exhausted that your brain no longer functions. Make time in your calendar for leisure, including exercise. Use the outcomes of your practice tests to teach yourself how to improve.
9. Evaluate Your Work
The key to continuous progress is constant self-evaluation. Don’t just answer the questions and then count your score. Use the outcomes to teach yourself how to do better in the future. What kind of questions do you regularly overlook? What types of sections make you sluggish? What types of response traps are you prone to falling for? What led you to choose the incorrect answer to each question you missed?
10. Even the Answers You Got Right!
Consider not only the questions you answered incorrectly, but also how you arrived at the correct answers. Did you dodge a frequent stumbling block? Are there any question kinds in particular that you excel at? Did you use an MCAT pacing technique successfully?
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