hi rachel, can you give some info about your mcat prep? how much time did you spend on studying, how did you study, when did you take it, what advice do you have and stuff like that? thanks!
So I have a few questions about this piled up in my inbox because the answer to how I studied for the MCAT is… poorly. Lol. Let’s talk about it!
To get some quantitative info out of the way - I took it Jan 2016, and scored in the 98th percentile, if that lends any credence to what I’m about to say.
I didn’t study for this exam that way that is recommended - three full dedicated months, 300 hours, 10+ practice exams, etc. Most of the time, YOU SHOULD DO THAT. Especially the practice exams, that’s way more important than any set period of time.
- Summer 2015: I did “content review” this summer. What this means is I halfheartedly started looking over the Kaplan Bio and Psych/Soc books and answering this questions. I also started some physics and began Khan Academy passages and discretes.
- Fall 2015: First semester of junior year. I also “reviewed” physics throughout this semester. But, my primary focus was studying for my biochem coursework like never before. I had been told that biochem was huge on the new MCAT so I treated the class I was taking for my major like B/B content review.
- Winter Break 2015-2016: this was the bulk of my dedicated study time. However, I was also at a full time internship and working on the weekends - again things you typically should not do. I got scolded by my premed advisors lol. But here’s what I did:
- 1. got home - immediately did the AAMC scored. Do NOT do this. Save it for last!! I just didn’t know, and used it to gauge baseline knowledge.
- 2. VERY brief gen chem/orgo content review with the Kaplan books. I tutored chem for a few semesters and felt good about it.
- 3. Binge watched Khan physics videos to teach myself topics that I was not confident in. Did this while i had downtime in the lab.
- 4. I also did nearly every Khan academy practice passage in all subjects, also in lab downtime.
- 4.1 Used Khan to supplement psych/soc concepts that we didn’t cover in my classes.
- 5. Took a week to do CARS and only did the Kahn practice. I am naturally good at this type of reading and reasoning so I didn’t spend too much time.
- 6. Over those 5 weeks, I did 4 other practice exams. 3 Kaplan came with my books and 1 Princeton review because it was free.
- Jan 2016, Week 1 of Spring semester: I came back and did the scored AAMC again, not representative because I had recall bias but just to practice the timing and sitting and focusing again. Then, for three days in a row, i banged out each of the three section banks (C/P, B/B, P/S) one per day. This was up through the Thursday two days before my exam.
Things that helped me the most:
TREAT. PRE-REQS. SERIOUSLY. I didn’t have to do significant content review because I learned it to truly understand the first time around. Go hard in your classes and you with thank yourself.
SECTION BANKS!!!! This was the MOST representative practice material i did and it really helped gauge the difficulty of the real thing.
Study for my biochem course like I have never studied before. Not only did it pay off in the grade, but I didn’t have to study the hard stuff for B/B anymore (anything and everything amino acids, enzyme kinetics, metabolism)
Also, having a lot of research experience really helped me. It’s not a reach to interpret experimental data when you’ve actually seen it IRL.
Things I wish i had done:
The AAMC unscored practice exam and question packs. I genuinely didn’t know that they were different from the scored and section packs. Be aware that the Q packs are reportedly easier than the real thing.
Done more practice exams. Just sucked it up and bought more.
Bottom Line: What I did paid off for me, but only because I genuinely learned it all the first time and knew that I could trust my test taking skills and memory. Dedicate the time and get the resources YOU need to succeed. Also, LEARN YOUR AMINO ACIDS LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. KNOW HOW TO INTERPRET A LINEWEAVER-BURK PLOT. You will thank me :)