Anyone who wants to enter the medical profession will inevitably face the Medical College Admission Test, the MCAT, a daunting exam that can make or break even the most diligent students if they are not well prepared for its rigor.
If you are headed to medical school, you need to carve out some time to prepare for MCAT test, no matter how well you did in your pre-med studies. The vast array of information on the test is one of the first major challenges for future doctors as they get ready to begin medical school.
The good news is that any serious student can do well on the MCAT giving the right kind of preparation. If you’re willing to devote the time and focused concentration, then an MCAT test prep program can pay huge dividends. What’s the secret to MCAT success? In one word, “dedication.” MCAT test prep can get boring at times but there are ways around that minor challenge.
Millions of people have taken the test and a lot of them have shared their tips for success. It’s really just a matter of sitting down and building a study plan, setting aside the time and diving into MCAT test prep. Here are some of the most common ways to streamline your study and design the most efficient attack plan for the MCAT:
Reserve Three Months of Your Life for Full-Time Study
Carve out at least 12 consecutive weeks for study, making sure to spend between 32 and 40 hours each week doing nothing but prepping for the MCAT. It works well to pretend that studying for the exam is your full-time job. Start early, take a lunch break and try to wrap up well before bedtime.
Focus on Test Questions, Not Review Material
It’s tempting to read lots of old textbooks and to go over old class notes. Don’t do it. Simply do one major review of all the knowledge areas that the MCAT covers and then start doing practice questions as soon as possible. Each batch of subject-specific practice questions will teach you what you need to focus on. Look up supporting material in your texts and reference books on an as-needed basis.
Track Your Progress on Practice Tests
As a benchmark for later comparison, take one full-scale practice test under timed conditions. Expect to do horribly on it. Everyone does. But this exercise will give you two very important pieces of information: it’ll show you exactly how hard the MCAT can be without the right kind of prep work, and it will shine a bright light on one or two areas in which you are very strong. Keep this test for comparison later on.
Slowly Work Up to Timed, Full-Scale Practice Tests
Be careful not to jump into real test conditions too early. Wait until your final month of test prep before even taking comprehensive practice exams (except for the first one you do as a benchmark). For maximum scoring on the actual MCAT you’ll be taking, do a few non-timed, single-part practice exams first. Always go back and review every question, not just the ones you didn’t get right. That way, even the ones you guessed correctly on will get the attention they deserve.