MCAT studying is a whole different ball game. For starters, unlike class exams, one decides when to take the MCAT, so it’s important to create a structure around the exam, to be discipline in your studying, and make sure to be ready when the date rolls around. Claire tells us that at first she did not have a designated study period, and that was not a good approach. “I assumed that I would take the test when I was ready,” says Claire. “This was a terrible plan as I continued to procrastinate. Once I created a timeline of 4 months, I was able to really focus and get good work done.”
Taking courses vs. studying on your own
“I took an in person course, which actually was NOT a good use of my money. The teacher did teach us some strategies, but I did not find it as helpful as I was hoping. I wish that we would have learned more content and ways to remember all of the information. I mainly read the books, watched online lectures, and did question bank type activities, which were very helpful.”
Qbanks, qbanks, qbanks!!
According to Claire, reading the books and taking light notes while attending/watching lectures lays a great foundation to cover all of the material on the exam. Claire claims that creating a good foundation is a good start, but that qbanks are really where is at. “Once I had a foundation, I used qbanks a lot. Qbanks are great!”
Divide and conquer
Organization is key when studying for an exam that covers so much material. According to Claire, Kaplan says that students only need to know about 60% of the material, but Claire still felt compelled to learn all of it, which can be overwhelming. “Trying to cover everything is incredibly challenging,” says Claire. “Luckily, I had Cram Fighter to help space out the time.I tried to study each subject for about 2-3 days and then switch to a new subject.”
As dedicated and focus to the MCAT as Claire was, she also acknowledged that taking breaks was important for her mental and emotional states. Claire chose Friday as her MCAT free day.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Studying for the MCAT can be awfully stressful, and at times, you are your worst enemy. Remember that if you do your best in preparing, you will do well. The MCAT measures how much you’ve studied for the MCAT, so if you know you have, you will do just fine. Beating yourself up has never helped anyone.
Have a realistic approach
According to Claire, “studying for this exam is a full time job and it is really difficult to work/go to school and study. There is a lot of information that needs to be covered and you will not be able to learn it all. Try to know the “hot topics” extremely well, and have a surface level understanding of the rest.”