MCAT Test Prep: 4 Tips for Success
One of the most important milestones a pre-med student prepares for is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), this standardized, multiple-choice exam is one all aspiring doctors must sit for prior to entering medical school.
While it’s not the only factor when applying to medical school and what admissions committees consider, you know that a stellar MCAT score can help make you a competitive applicant. As you focus on performing your best, you can benefit from structuring your MCAT test prep plan around some tried-and-true tips.
How to study for the MCAT: 4 quick tips
Having a well-prepared strategy will help you go into the exam feeling confident. Consider the following MCAT test prep advice:
1. Establish a timeline
Pre-med students should plan on spending between 200 and 300 hours studying for the MCAT. It doesn’t matter what MCAT exam test date you select, be sure to map out a timeline for the several months prior. Creating a realistic roadmap for yourself will help ensure you’ll be able to cover all the material you’ll be tested on while also accounting for other important priorities in your life.
2. Set specific goals
You can’t perform an aimless review of your notes and expect to do well on the MCAT. The MCAT covers a lot of material, so breaking it into segments and planning what you’ll study at what times can be extremely helpful. This approach could mean having a set number of hours you’ll study each day or determining what subject material you plan to cover each week—whatever method works for you.
3. Take practice exams
MCAT practice tests can assist you in a number of ways. They can help you assess your competencies, track your progress, and get comfortable with the exam format. The timing and overall structure of this 7+ hour exam may be pretty unfamiliar. Knowing what to expect can help curb any potential anxiety.
4. Identify your weak spots
Taking practice exams will not only help you get familiar with the format of the exam, but it will also help you identify what material you’ve mastered and where you still need work. You may find that a certain topic wasn’t covered as thoroughly in your undergraduate studies. The sooner you realize this, the more time you’ll have to adjust your MCAT test prep. If you create a timeline, commit to reaching certain goals, and take practice tests, you’ll be well equipped to strengthen those weaknesses by exam day.
Take the MCAT with confidence
Once you tackle the MCAT, you’ll be one step closer to fulfilling your dream of becoming a physician. Work hard to earn your best score the first time you sit for the exam; even though you’re able to retake it, there are limits for each student, and medical schools are still able to see all of your scores. Applying the MCAT test prep advice outline above can help you succeed.
Achieving an ideal MCAT score is certainly an accomplishment worth celebrating. But remember that academic metrics aren’t the only thing you’ll be evaluated on. Find out other ways you can become a competitive applicant in our article “Medical School GPA: Why Good Grades Are Only Part of the Equation.”