Regardless of the bad rep that standardized tests have been getting as of late, there’s no avoiding the reality that your performance on the MCAT can make or break your dreams of becoming a doctor.
You don’t want to take any chances, especially if you’re aiming for a med school that places heavy weight on your MCAT scores.
Worry not, though. As long as you keep the following strategies in mind and apply them while you prepare for one of the most important tests you will take in your life, you’ll surely do well.
Top 5 Strategies to Pass the MCAT and Enter Medical School
Identify your learning style.
Our brain works in mysterious ways. So it’s no wonder that each person has a different style of learning for our needs. You may be having a hard time learning by reading, so why not try listening to lessons instead?
Alternatively, you might find it hard to understand a lesson until you’ve written everything down on a piece of paper. Others can’t seem to grasp the solution to the problem without solving another one on their own. Some even have to engage in a conversation with other learners to absorb the information thoroughly.
It is important to remember that learning styles could be preferential, but that doesn’t mean only one would work. Try exploring what would suit you best for every part of the MCAT.
Make a schedule you can keep
Early preparation is key to acing the MCAT. All the best approaches to preparing for the MCAT will only work if you put in enough time to apply them to your everyday routine.
It all boils down to having the discipline to follow the study schedule you set for yourself. To keep your study schedule manageable, you must consider reasonable hours of study every day and ample amounts of rest and play. Playing, or at least relaxing, will help your brain recharge.
On the other hand, getting good amounts of deep sleep every day will ensure that the things you studied will be kept in your long term memory.
When it comes to actual study hours, it is recommended that you study all sections of the MCAT every day. You may choose to make more time for your weak subjects but the important thing is to be able to explore every part of the day. Why? Because this will train your brain to be ready to jump to other topics quickly, instead of staying focused on just one section of the exam.
Your study schedule should also involve taking practice tests to log your progress as the exam date draws near.
Take practice tests
As earlier mentioned, practice tests are essential to be able to track your study progress. You should take practice tests before starting your review and then choose if you will retake the exam after 1-2 weeks. You also have the option to take the practice tests timed or untimed. The timed exam will help you gauge if you can answer all the questions within the time limit. At the same time, the untimed exam will measure the accuracy of your answers.
Moreover, you can choose to do a practice test for specific sections of the exam, especially in logical reasoning and reading comprehension, to enhance your familiarity with the exercise.
Consider taking review courses
The broad coverage of the MCAT makes it overwhelming for some people to prepare for. If you find yourself struggling with simple tasks like deciding what to study on a given day or where to start reviewing, you might need something to streamline your progress.
The formal structure of review courses might help with this predicament, especially if you’ve always felt more at ease with the classroom/lecture set-up than when studying by yourself. A prep course is recommended for those who find it hard to stick to a schedule or organize their study patterns.
Most prep courses also come with several practice tests that simulate the conditions of the actual MCAT. Most importantly, courses offer materials like books, CDs, and other tools to help facilitate your learning even when the prep course has ended.
Work with a goal in mind
Finally, it’s crucial to have specific goals in mind. Do you simply want to pass the MCAT, or do you want to ace it? After identifying your main objective, break it down to smaller goals that will keep you going for the preparatory weeks leading up to the exam.
If you want — or need — exemplary scores, it means you have to cover more topics in a day than someone who simply wants a passing score. If you’re aiming for a top medical school, you have to put in more hours than your friend who is okay with any school that will take him/her… Setting specific goals will allow you to stay motivated while preparing for the MCAT.
Remember that there is no substitute for hard work when it comes to things like the MCAT. But as long as you’re serious about your goals and bear these strategies in mind, you can achieve the score you set for yourself to hit. Best of luck!