Medicine Premed advice

How to study for the MCAT

01. Create a schedule

Set a realistic schedule. Some people dedicate anywhere between 3 to 6 months to study for the MCAT. 3 months is what I’d recommend to avoid burnout, but if you’re working full-time while studying for the MCAT, it might be best for you to spread out your study time to a longer time frame. You could divide your schedule in 3 phases: (1) content review (2) questions (3) full-length exam. By the 3rd month, you should be doing weekly practice full-length exams. If you have time to do it, set your study schedules for 12 hours with breaks in between.

02. Be ready for the hills and valleys.

There may be good days and there may be bad days. It’s completely normal for your performance to fluctuate. Ideally, you’d want to see your practice MCAT scores improve each time, but that doesn’t always happen. Don’t feel discouraged. It’s better to get these questions wrong now than on actual test day.

03. Changes are okay.

It’s ok to veer away from your schedule. Sometimes shifting your study schedule is essential for your mental health. Self-care is more important. Take mental breaks. If you’re having an off-day. Take the time you need to recharge your brain. Go for a hike. Watch a movie. But as soon as your allotted break time is up, get back to work so you don’t have to veer too far off your schedule. It's better to do be exposed to the material in some capacity (i.e. videos reviewing content, flashcards, etc.).

04. Questions. Questions. Questions.

During your content review, it’s really important to do practice questions! Much of the time, you’ll want to wait on doing questions because you feel like you don’t know enough, but it’s important to test yourself and review the concepts that you aren’t answering correctly! Use question banks as a learning tool and review each answer choice. Know why the correct answer is right, but also review all the wrong answers and know why they're wrong.

05. Build up your stamina.

Being laser focused for the entire duration of the MCAT can be very tiring. You may feel fatigue towards the end, but you can buildup your stamina by utilizing the Pomodoro technique and increasing the time increments each day. The practice you have with longer study periods, the better you’ll get at maintaining focus.

06. Have a cut-off time.

Know when to STOP. You’ll be at the end of your study day .It might be 7 or 8pm and you may feel like you haven’t gotten enough done or you want to finish up one more section, but your brain shuts off at a certain time. Extra hours don’t impact you very much. That extra hour you want to spend is better spent decompressing and doing something for yourself. Go for a run or end the study day with an episode of your fave show.

07. Accept that you won't know everything.

The MCAT is a beast. There is so much to know. Focus on what you do know and develop those test taking strategies. You won’t know everything and that’s ok. You can absolutely score a 520 and let your test taking skills carry you to a great MCAT score.

08. Stay positive.

You may encounter a road block. What am I doing? Am I even smart enough for this? Cry, wipe your tears, and pick yourself up. Tell yourself 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐂𝐀𝐍 𝐃𝐎 𝐈𝐓. You’re used to success. Showing weaknesses isn’t done. You’re not the first and you’re not going to be the last one to go through it. It gets better.

Studying for the MCAT is like a marathon, but it is worth the investment. Spend the time and put in the effort. Go in with the mindset of only taking it once.

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