The MCAT is often a source of anxiety for students who are planning to apply to medical school. The Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, is a required standardized test for medical school applicants. This article will present some MCAT preparation tips to help you do your best on this important exam.
MCAT Preparation Tip #1: Improve Critical Thinking Skills
The MCAT tests a student’s ability to apply their basic knowledge to new situations. In other words, it tests your ability to problem-solve. For this reason, it is more advantageous to practice critical thinking skills. A great way to do this is to play logic puzzles. You will train your brain to think critically. In addition, logic puzzles are a fun and productive way to de-stress during study sessions. If you work on a few of these puzzles each day, you will improve yourself with very little effort.
MCAT Preparation Tip #2: Take Practice Tests
Because the MCAT focuses on extrapolation of knowledge rather than wrote facts, it is essential to take practice tests. Many students spend way too much time trying to memorize material. This is not the most effective use of your study time. Instead, you should focus on answering MCAT-style questions and practice tests. Answering questions will teach you to apply your knowledge in new situations. In addition, practice questions will show you any subjects of weakness you may have.
Other important skills for MCAT success are endurance and time-management. For most people, the MCAT will be the longest test that they have ever taken. Therefore, it is important to prepare for managing this new test form. At least one time per week, you should take a full length practice test. Try to simulate the conditions of the real MCAT as closely as possible. Do not allow yourself snacks or trips to the restroom until scheduled break time. Full length practice tests can be grueling, but you will reap many benefits.
MCAT Preparation Tip #3: Schedule Your Test Wisely
It is imperative to schedule your MCAT wisely. Although AMCAS will send your electronic application to medical schools without reported MCAT scores, this is not an ideal situation. It is very unlikely that medical schools will begin to consider your application unless they have the opportunity to review your score. MCAT releases scores approximately 30 days after the test date. Therefore, you must take your test at least one month prior to submitting your medical school application. However, it is a good idea to take your test much earlier than that. Rather, the ideal time to take the MCAT is in January or February. This will give you enough time to retake the test and receive new scores if you are disappointed with your score.
MCAT Preparation Tip #4: Set a Strict Study Schedule
You must prepare for the MCAT if you expect to perform well. Even the brightest student will not able to score highly on this test without adequate practice. Therefore, you must set aside adequate time to study for the MCAT. Ideally, you should allocate a minimum of three months for MCAT preparation. This length of time will give you adequate time to review the material and develop MCAT-specific test skills.
You should treat your MCAT review sessions like a job. If possible, clear your schedule of any academic or employment obligations and put all your energy into studying. Plan on studying each day for eight hours with a one hour lunch break. Adhere to this schedule for six days each week. Set one day each week for an “off day”. On your off day, study for a minimum of three hours, but take time to engage in some fun activities. This MCAT schedule is strenuous, but it will deliver good results.
The MCAT is an important part of the medical school application process. Prepare wisely and you will put yourself in a good position for the upcoming medical school application cycle.