We assume you landed on this post because you are preparing for one of the biggest exams of your career. Kick start your test prep with these tips for MCAT studying.
Studying for the MCAT is a marathon, not a sprint. As much as you’d like to think that studying until midnight every night will help you cram in more information, it will just lead to you feeling burnt out and exhausted. Make time for yourself, for friends and family, and for sleep!
There are plenty of study techniques out there that have been tried and true for students to help you study more efficiently. Investigate some and try them out! For example:
When you’ve finished studying a difficult topic, ask yourself: “Did I understand everything I’ve just studied?” If the answer is no, revisit the topic and find additional resources that may help you learn it! It is often easy to get into the habit of studying to “check it off the list.” Don’t let your studying become passive.
This is a technique that I found to be very useful. You will come across a topic or a practice question that you don’t understand or get incorrect. When this happens, write it down in a journal in one short sentence that explains the topic or the correct answer.
PRO TIP: Before you start studying new material each day, review your journal!
Did you struggle the most with organic chemistry, or maybe physics in college? Don’t stress, a lot of people have trouble with these topics. Identify this early, and focus your studying on these topics! Don’t be afraid to rely on your expertise in other areas to shift study time to topics that are more difficult for you.
Many people taking the MCAT tend to be perfectionists and may be discouraged if they don’t understand a topic at first or get many questions wrong. The time to get those questions wrong is right now while you’re studying so you don’t get them wrong on the actual test! Understand that getting things wrong or struggling with a topic is a learning experience, and working hard to learn that material will make it stick even better in the long run.
A great portion of the MCAT will involve reading and interpreting research articles. Take the time to explore an article on your own in an area of interest for you. Read through the introduction slowly, take time to understand how the data is presented through graphs and tables, and carefully read through the conclusion. This will help you become more familiar with the format and learn to pick out the important information faster.
There are many materials available for the MCAT, and it can be easy to get lost trying to decide which material is best. The real secret is: there is no best material. People have had great success with Kaplan, Princeton Review, and a number of other resources. The best option is to just pick one and stick to it. I personally used Kaplan, and filled in gaps of knowledge using Khan Academy videos that are all provided for free.
You may have heard or seen similar advice already, but there truly is no replacement for taking practice tests and doing practice problems. Part of studying for this exam is learning how the exam works, the kinds of questions they ask, and which questions you struggle with the most. Take these practice MCAT exams as often as you can, ideally one full length a week, and review your answers. Let the questions you got wrong guide your studying for the next week!
Take a look at how many days you have before your exam (MCAT dates can be found here) and how much material you need to get through. Give yourself a set amount of work to complete each day. And when you finish all your work for the day, don’t be afraid to just call it a day and take a break!
As much as you need to learn the material, you need time to process and store the material as well. With a solid plan, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’re keeping up with the material. And if you plan out your schedule and realize you need more time, don’t be afraid to move your exam back!
We hope this post helped you to learn the best way to study for the MCAT with these tips! We wish you the best of luck!