How To Study For MCAT?

How to study for MCAT is always a topic of interest for numerous MCAT test-takers. In this article, we will give you a 5-step studying process to ace this exam.

May 13, 2022

In terms of the medical school entrance, the MCAT is one of the most crucial tests. The Association of American Medical Colleges administers the MCAT, a standardized, multiple-choice test. Prior to applying to medical school, all would-be physicians must complete the MCAT, and their results may have a significant impact on whether or not they get noticed by an admissions department. Investing the time required to study for this test is essential. Use these MCAT suggestions on how to study for MCAT to ace this challenging exam. Let’s get started!

What is on the MCAT?

how to study for mcat

The 4 portions of the MCAT are: Science (chemistry and physics), Biology, Verbal Reasoning, and Writing are some of the more tangible branches of study covered here. Within 70 minutes, it is required for you to successfully answer 52 multiple-choice questions in the Physical Sciences portion. There are 52 multiple-choice questions within the Biological Sciences exam and they should be finished in less than 70 minutes. This portion of the MCAT test consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 60 minutes. At last, there are 2 different 60-minute research papers in the Writing Sample part.

How is the MCAT scored?

Verbal Reasoning and Physical Sciences are both multiple-choice examinations. They are scored solely on the basis of how many questions they get right. Incorrect responses are not penalized. Finally, each part is scaled to a 15-point total utilizing the scores from the separate sections. In order to arrive at a final score for the three multiple-choice parts, the students’ individual marks are added together.

The MCAT’s Writing Sample portion consists of two 6-point essays that are scored by distinct individuals. For each article, the graders assign it a score out of a possible three. The raw score for the full Writing Sample portion is then calculated from the four scores. Afterward, the raw score is translated into a letter grade ranging from J (lowest) to T (highest).

Why do you need to learn how to study for the MCAT?

MCAT is exactly what it says on the tin: a standardized test used by medical schools to evaluate candidates’ knowledge and skillsets. Medically related mathematics, thinking, and humanities are all tested in this exam. When applying to medical school, your MCAT score and GPA are often regarded as the “make-or-break” elements, influencing your chances of admission. Numerous admission officers will disqualify your registration in case you score low on any or both of these tests, regardless of your medical educational institutes’ personal statement or reference letters.

The MCAT has a unique position in the postgraduate evaluation landscape. The GRE, USMLE, and COMLEX, on the other hand, are taken by students who want to pursue advanced postgraduate study. When it comes to future doctors, many consider medical schools to be graduate study institutions, but the MCAT serves as a type of midway point between initial entry examinations and the more sophisticated license and certification exams connected with residency.

The route to becoming a doctor may be long and convoluted, but completing the MCAT is the very first accomplishment that is inextricably linked to medical school and the path of medicine as a whole. When it comes to the substance of the MCAT, the American Association of Medical Schools (which is also known as AAMC for short) is responsible for developing and administering the test each year. Year after year, the test’s general format and questions are largely the same.

How to study for the MCAT?

Studying for the MCAT is becoming such a specialized field in the field of exam preparation that it has practically grown into its own business. Determining the ideal study methods might be difficult when there are so many alternatives available. It’s a good thing that there are certain underlying facts about MCAT preparation, and you may utilize them to manage and maximize your time leading up to your test day.

Step 1: What is the best time to start preparing for the MCAT?

This is a two-step process. It is fairly uncommon for schools to participate in the MCAT shortly after their second year of college in order to have a leg up on the competition. Pre-medical students begin preparing for the MCAT the moment they enroll in their first course.

If you’re not enrolled in a health science program, you should use your undergraduate science classes as MCAT prep. It is indeed! Obviously, you’ll need to examine your curriculum notes, assignments, and publications throughout sessions to ensure that you retain the information. Spend an hour or two each day during breaks going over the content from the classes you just completed. Pay special attention to places that seem “dangerous” or like they’ll get forgotten in the jumble if you transfer to your next semester.

This is not always a major, all-night undertaking. You’ll be well on your way to completing your MCAT prep if you set aside an additional 7-10 hours each week throughout the season break in addition to the 200-300 hrs you’ll need once test day arrives.

It is imperative that you begin a systematic MCAT study plan around the halfway point of your second undergraduate year.

  • How to realize when you’re ready for the MCAT?

In order to capture the MCAT, you need to have completed the majority of your bachelor’s undergraduate courses and have proved your ability to understand, recall, and apply mathematical formulae. The MCAT’s creators realize that you’re a well-informed individual. Therefore, they are significantly more concerned with measuring your capacity to comprehend and apply ideas than they are with your ability to gather knowledge and statistics. To test your knowledge of physical, biological, and biochemical mechanisms, specifically. To determine your readiness for the MCAT, sit down with a friend and demonstrate to them how you would go about solving a problem or explaining a subject.

Taking practice exams might also help you gauge your readiness for the MCAT. You’re not prepared if your preparation test results don’t even come close to your goal score. Don’t attempt the MCAT if you are not motivated enough. Rushing to take the MCAT is one of the most common errors made by pre-med students who are nervous about their chances of getting into medical school. Postpone taking the MCAT if you can see you’re not equipped and give yourself an additional chance to plan.

how to study for mcat

Step 2: Initial evaluation 

MCAT diagnostic procedures are the 1st step in a comprehensive study plan when you’re ready to begin. At this point in your career, the most significant component of your early job is the data it provides you with. Because this is a requirement for medical college, you do not even know with certainty whether you have organic chemistry down pat until you put it to the exam. To adjust your numerical rating, utilize our MCAT Scaled Score Calculator.

Any of the AAMC’s four official preparation formative assessments, as well as their free authorized practice MCAT, will serve as excellent diagnostic tools for you. Any one of these 230-question tests is based on the real test’s topical arrangement. Before you do anything else, try one of them. Use an error log to uncover trends in your blind spots and keep a detailed record of your findings. To begin with, just take one of the full-length practice exams. You may save the others for periodic evaluations of your performance while you study; think of them as progress reports.

Given that you’ll need more time to study and evaluate information before moving on to practice problems, focus on areas where you’ve struggled. The next step is to make a plan and stick to it, which brings us to the following step.

Step 3: Create a study schedule for your coursework

Allow yourself some leeway in your time management if your scheduled test date is six months or more in the future so that you have time to concentrate on your studies while arranging regular MCAT-specific sessions throughout the semester. Regardless of how long or short your time frames are, you will benefit much if you are as fundamentally organized and planned in every part of your life. Make use of a blank calendar and plan out each day down to the hour if you can, making sure to include non-academic activities like exercise, leisure time, and social engagements. Initially, it may seem strange, but sticking to a well-thought-out plan can ease a great deal of stress.

With all of these considerations taken into account, our Six-Month MCAT Study Plan is the gold standard for achieving job satisfaction in the hectic weeks running up to your test day. Shorter timetables may still work for learning if this is the case; this is typically the case with non-traditional candidates. The main negative is obvious—completing 300 hours of training over 180 days isn’t terrible at all, but doing it over 30 days is going to be a real bit of a nuisance.

Working people may still score well, but they must be prepared themselves for the realities of putting in 10 or even more hours of study each day to succeed. To be successful in such a short period of time, you must have a thorough understanding of the content prior. Attempting to master the principles of biochemistry in one week, one month before your exam, is not suggested at all.

The topics and focus areas of your preparations should be organized in addition to the time constraints of a scheduled study schedule. In order to get the most out of your preparation, you’ll need to focus on the areas where you need the most support, whether that’s physics calculations, biology problems, or psychological sections.

Step 4: Gathering your study materials

In addition to the instructional content and diagnostic assessments, it is important for you to include extra study resources in your encounters as you advance in your program of study.

  • Textbooks and Course Notes

Preparation for the MCAT should begin with a focus on topic study. Even if you have completed all of your medical school requirements, it is quite probable that you will have some gaps in your knowledge of the MCAT subject.

At the beginning of your preparation, make sure you have all of the supplies you will need. As soon as you get started, you don’t want any distractions. Obtain your course texts and notes from the university. If the AAMC’s guidelines and your textbooks and notes don’t cover everything, When preparing for the MCAT, it’s a good idea to check out a few books from the library to help you brush up on what you missed in class. You may utilize these resources to fill up any gaps in your knowledge.

The organization of notebooks, textbooks, and other learning resources is critical. To ensure that they are available whenever you need them, do this early in your preparation. What’s on the MCAT Exam provides an overview of the themes and subjects that will be covered on the exam.

  • Books

Reading hard literature outside of the MCAT’s key topic areas is a good way to prepare for the exam. Why? So that you may study MCAT CARS properly! Reading and evaluating unexpected information is one of the best ways to become used to what the CARS part assesses. As a part of your MCAT CARS strategy, you should focus on developing your ability to read actively—that is, paying attentive attention to a book and analyzing its main points, ideas, and concepts. Through reading difficult new materials, rather than reading known or simple stuff, you will be able to improve your analytical and cognitive abilities.

Step 5: MCAT formatting preparation

  • Prepare for Exams by Practicing

When it comes down to it, the only way to really become familiar with the exam’s structure is to take practice exams. There is no use in studying for the MCAT if you are not able to apply what you have learned to the passage-based style of the exam.

You should really begin with a diagnostic test, as we previously said. In addition to gauging your level of material understanding, you’ll get a taste of the MCAT exam structure as well. In reality, the sequence of events structure is so strange to everyone that you could not perform well even if you have taken all the requirements. You really do have to work extremely hard to get acclimated to it.

how to study for mcat

The best way to keep tabs on your progress is to take practice examinations. The MCAT is the only method to tell how well you’re doing in your MCAT preparation. You may think you’re learning and digesting new information, but only practice exams can prove it.

The most important thing to remember while preparing for a test is to emulate the exam setting as closely as possible. A quiet environment with no interruptions is ideal for taking practice exams. Don’t bring your phone or a calculator inside the exam room, since they are prohibited items. Start timing yourself as you improve your accuracy. Get familiar with the exam format as soon as possible.

Additionally, take section-specific quizzes to monitor your progress while preparing for the examination. A good rule of thumb is to take as many full-length practice exams as possible. Allow yourself to get overrun by the number of copies you obtain. As many as possible at the content review stage, and at least six or seven during the practice stage, are the ideal numbers to aim for. Every week leading up to your test, you should basically take 1 full-length practice exam.

  • Accuracy vs. Speed

When you first begin taking practice examinations and practice questions, your primary focus should be on answering the questions correctly. MCAT time is critical, but your primary attention should be on accurately applying your information. Taking practice examinations in sections and in their entirety may show you how well you’ve learned the material and whether or not you’re ready to study at a faster pace. Monitor your progress by taking practice exams.

Are you completing the quiz questions more often? Does your score seem to be getting better? Keep your concentration on the task at hand and don’t switch to speed. Active learning methodologies and material evaluation should be carried out in the future. In other words, don’t compromise precision for efficiency.

Slowly increase your pace when you see an improvement in your practice test results. Don’t sweat the time in your first few practice exams. Do not panic when you spend too much time during your first few practice exams, as long as you complete them in the allocated time. Take complete practice exams on a weekly basis, and pace yourself to ensure you complete each part within the allotted time. Each segment of the test has its own clock and you must keep track of how long it takes you to complete it. While accuracy is critical at this point, so is the ability to finish each part within the specified time limit.

  • What’s more important, content review or formatting?

We’ve spoken about it before, and we’ll talk about it again: content review is a critical aspect of your MCAT preparation throughout the first few months. According to your MCAT study plan’s duration, the very first portion of your timetable should contain a material review, but this doesn’t indicate that reading books and notes is all you need to accomplish. Take advantage of active study methods to refresh your memory on the material you need to master.

Try putting your newfound knowledge to use by taking some practice tests or by describing what you’ve learned to family and acquaintances. With so much information to process, only proactive learning will help you get through it all. It’s a good idea to look over the questions you did correct and incorrect on your comprehensive and segment practice examinations. Reflect on what you don’t know and what you know but have to know for the exam. Even if you believe you’re an expert in a certain subject area, don’t discount it.

There are many students who are concerned about how difficult it is to be accepted into medical school due to the MCAT’s structure. The MCAT is one of the most difficult examinations out there because of its lengthy duration, a large number of topics and questions, and the fact that it is based on passages. Consequently, in addition to ensuring that you cover the appropriate material, you must also practice in order to get familiar with its structure.

Keep track of when you’re feeling drowsy or hungry when you’re studying or taking practice exams. As a component of your study strategy, you should address exhaustion and hunger. Taking practice exams in the same atmosphere as the exam can help you cope with these issues. A good strategy is to arrange your practice sessions to coincide with the MCAT’s test schedule, which means taking breaks and eating food at the same times each day.

How to study MCAT effectively and then lead to a high score depends on you. Let’s get started with our free MCAT practice test to pass the exam on the first try with a high score.

We hope that this article on how to study for MCAT can help you during your studying process. Good luck to you!