3 Tips When Preparing for the MCAT

On your journey to medical school, taking the MCAT is one of the biggest hurdles besides applying to medical school. Since your score is part of your overall application package, it is imperative to score well for the best chance at being accepted to your desired program. Here are three tips to help you better prepare for this important exam.

Learn Good Test-Taking Skills

An important factor for doing well on any standardized test is having good test-taking skills, which are often taught if you enroll in an mcat preparation course. It is always a good idea to practice in an environment that mimics the testing center. A library is a good option because it is mostly quiet, but may have uncontrollable variables, such as other people and the temperature. You should always take your practice tests with a timer so you can learn how to ration your time. Spending too much time on any single question is never a good idea. It is best to skip a question you cannot answer and move on. Hopefully you'll have extra time at the end to come back to items you skipped. Additionally, you should learn strategies for answering multiple choice questions. For most tests, it is better to make an educated guess than to leave the question unanswered.

Study Concepts

Studying concepts will give you the best advantage when taking the MCAT, rather than trying to study the test. This is where private tutoring can help. Preferably, your tutor will be someone who has already taken the MCAT and scored well. If this is not an option, you will likely need a tutor for each of the major areas of the MCAT, such as one each for biology, chemistry, physics, and social sciences. Understanding major concepts will mean more of your energy is invested in learning material that can be applied to numerous questions. For example, during biology tutoring, you may want to brush up on the basics of genetics, cellular biology, and human anatomy. Having a tutor with prior MCAT experience will help you to refine your approach and address concepts you might have forgotten about.

Start Early

The most diligent students will begin preparing for the MCAT at least a year in advance. You might choose your course schedule for the upcoming year around your testing date, especially if there are classes that would help your test performance. When you start your preparation early, you can allocate small chunks of time to work on different subjects without becoming overwhelmed. Another advantage to starting early and studying consistently is that you will more likely retain the information you review. Since these are the same concepts that are applicable to other courses and your future as a doctor, the more you can recall, the better your chances of succeeding in your medical career.

Although preparing for the MCAT can be overwhelming, planning your strategy early will make the process easier. Asking for help and investing the time and energy into preparation will give you the best chance at scoring well.

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