The MCAT is one of the most feared exams as an undergraduate medical student. Your score on this exam can ultimately decide your chances of being accepted into medical school. Unfortunately minority students tend to underperform on this exam.
I personally took the MCAT once. I had paid for a course to take over the semester to help prepare me for the MCAT. I was taking rigorous premedical science courses with labs at that time, and unfortunately my MCAT prep got pushed to the back burner. During the summer I then stayed at school and studied on my own for the exam. I did as many sample questions as I could, and hired a tutor for recurring problem topics. I then submit my AMCAS application and sat the MCAT a month after that. Here is the advice I would give students based on my experience and common myths.
Realistically evaluate how you study best.
You must decide if you are going to study alone, use an in person course, use an online course, or use tutors ad hoc. Do you need structure or are you more discliplined?
Plan for the exam early.
Think about when you want to take the exam. Mark that month on a calendar. Decide when you are going to start studying to be ready for that date, bearing in mind if you are in school at the time you will need longer than if you on a break and have all day to devote to studying.
Do your research on the various study resources available.
Read online reviews and talk to students at your school about recommendations for various courses, books, etc. Not all prep materials are the same.
Do not take the test until you feel ready.
Scores of practice materials can gauge where you stand at the time. Know that you will not perform better under the stressful conditions on exam day if you are not at that level now. A poor score at the MCAT will be a blow to your self esteem and set you back when you go to study again.
Do as many questions as possible.
Multiple choice tests take into account your knowledge and your test-taking skills. You have to be able to interpret the questions, recognize when there is a NOT in the question stem that would change your answer, see what kinds of distracting answers they include as choices to throw you off, etc. Unless these skills come naturally to you (and to me they don’t), they can only be learned through repetition and pattern recognition.
By: Demetra Gibson
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