“Yeah this one right here goes out to all the pre-meds, meds
Meds, meds, pre-meds, meds
Yeah, go like this…”
(If you didn’t get that reference, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems…okay okay I’m done lol).
SO! I was recently asked to do a post about
(the dreaded) MCAT studying, and at first I thought I wouldn’t have much to say, given that I took the exam over 3 years ago (geesh, time flies). But upon further thought, and reflection on my recent Step 1 studying, I was able to scrap together a few words of wisdom. These rules are general enough that you can apply it really to any major exam prep.
Here are a couple things I found helpful/wish I did during MCAT prep:
1. Make sure to incorporate both practice questions and textbook study early. I started off only focusing on understanding concepts and I wasn’t doing many questions. Practicing the pace and employing strategies for getting to the right answer quickly is important. At the end of the day, you can know everything and still not have enough time to answer questions if you don’t move quickly enough— and the test scorers only care about what you get to answer, not what’s in your head 😊
2. Create a study schedule. This could go a couple of ways: based on topics, page numbers, etc. Whatever works best for you. I get bored easily and made sure my day-to-day was varied in terms of what I covered. Some days I didn’t stick exactly to it, if you feel you need more time in one area than another, feel free to adjust as time goes on.
3. Sleep! You need it and it’ll help you feel better.
4. Eat good food. Similar to sleep. Don’t subject yourself to fast food everyday based on convenience, it’ll just make you feel yucky after a while and your brain won’t be as sharp.
5. Do lots of practice tests. Even if you feel you don’t know much. I did 5 total before my actual MCAT exam.
(Transparency moment) My first score was like the lowest you can get lol so don’t let that alarm you in the beginning. Just use the practice tests as an opportunity to do more questions and review concepts you keep getting wrong. Overtime, you’ll improve as your knowledge base grows. Also, you often learn from the incorrect questions more than anything ’cause you’ll be sure not the make the same mistake again.
6. Take time off. MAJOR KEYYYYYY. I did one day a week where I didn’t do any studying of any kind. It was rejuvenating.
7. On the day before the exam, try not to overdo it. Maybe skim over one-pagers if you need but don’t plan on doing a full day of studying. It’ll tire you out and if you don’t know it by then (or if you do) it won’t make a difference!
8. Reward yourself! I’m a foodie, so whenever I did a full practice test I’d treat myself to a good meal. Or I’d do a dance class on Friday nights. Something small to look forward to and keep me motivated along the way.
9. Be consistent & don’t give up! It’ll feel like forever and you may get tired. But keep in mind that the time will pass anyway, so you might as well make the most of it. You’ll learn an incredible amount in such a short time.
Hopefully this helps someone, in some way. Best of luck!
Blessings & exams & late-night studies,
The I.T. Factor