How to Study for the MCAT?

August 26, 2023
By AdmissionSight

How to Study for the MCAT?

How do you study to obtain a good MCAT score? Unless you plan to attend one of the few medical schools that don’t require the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), you’ve likely spent time during your premed undergraduate years pondering the best preparation strategies for this challenging exam.

The key is smart studying! You don’t want to find yourself wondering in the future about entering medical school with a subpar MCAT score. Effective scheduling is crucial, but it’s equally important to ensure that the content and structure of each study session are as productive as possible.

three students studying outside

In this guide, we’ll delve into how to study for the MCAT by organizing your study sessions and detailing how to combine essential materials for optimal test-day results.

What is the MCAT?‍

The Medical College Entrance Test, also known as the MCAT, is without a doubt one of the most significant examinations required for admission to medical school. The majority of medical schools in the United States and Canada require applicants to take a standardized exam that consists of multiple-choice questions and is administered on a computer.

The test is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in order to supply medical schools with measurements that may be used for looking at and evaluating the qualifications and readiness of applicants for medical school. Scores on standardized tests like the MCAT and grade point average are taken into consideration by admissions committees.

A high score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) will not only have a good impact on your admission to medical school but will also provide you a competitive edge over other applicants if you prepare well in advance and study in depth. On the other hand, you shouldn’t just automatically assume that you’ll have no trouble doing well on the MCAT.

The MCAT is an interdisciplinary exam that assesses your understanding of areas such as physics, chemistry, and biology. This examination is significantly more rigorous than a test that you might take in college. In addition to this, the MCAT will assess your ability to solve problems by asking you to “reason beyond the text” in the challenging MCAT CARS component of the exam. This will evaluate your ability to think critically and independently.

Group of student working on a table.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is scheduled to span roughly seven and a half hours, which is another hard feature of the exam. Since maintaining one’s mental stamina for an extended period of time is required to get a good score on the test, the time allotted should be taken at a deliberate and measured pace.

Why is it Important to Study for the MCAT?

The MCAT is the primary standardized examination that is utilized by medical schools to evaluate the applicants’ levels of knowledge and ability. In addition to testing reasoning and understanding of the humanities and medically related disciplines, this exam assesses fundamental scientific knowledge.

The MCAT is an essential component of the application process for medical school; in fact, your score on the MCAT and your grade point average are typically regarded as the “make or break” components of your application, as they have a significant impact on the likelihood of your acceptance into medical school.

If you perform especially poorly on either or mediocre on both, many admissions committees will reject your application without considering the other more qualitative aspects of your application such as your medical school personal statement or letters of recommendation. This is because these aspects are more subjective in nature.

View of a male student studying in front of a laptop.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) occupies an intriguing position within the larger framework of post-secondary evaluations. The ACT and SAT are far more general assessments, whereas those who intend to pursue graduate studies in a specialized field will need to take other examinations such as the GRE, USMLE, and COMLEX.

Even though medical schools are technically graduate study programs, they are in many ways the primary medical training for future physicians. As a result, the MCAT is in many ways a kind of middle-ground exam; it is more difficult and specific than initial entrance exams, but it is more generalized than the specialized licensure and certification exams that are associated with residency.

If you haven’t yet taken the MCAT, you may be curious about how long it takes to become a doctor. While the path to becoming a doctor is long and can be winding at times, taking the MCAT is the first milestone that is directly related to medical school and the path of medicine as a whole.

If you are curious about how long it takes to become a doctor, you should take the MCAT. The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is designed and administered annually by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), which also routinely adds new information to the test, making it dynamic in terms of its subject matter. The format of the test as a whole and the questions that are included in it are very consistent from one year to the next.

How Do You Study for the MCAT?

Because there are so many different resources and approaches for MCAT preparation, it has figuratively become its own industry within test preparation. Faced with a vast number of possibilities, determining the most effective study methods can feel like wading through an ocean. Thankfully, there are some universal truths regarding MCAT preparation that you can leverage to organize and maximize your study time leading up to the exam.

University students talking in front of a laptop.

The average MCAT score for test-takers in the United States during the school year 2021–2022 was 505.99. However, the average score for those accepted into medical school was 511.9. Given the intense competition in the medical school application process, it’s wise to aim for a score above the national average. Achieving this requires meticulous planning and considerable effort. Consider the advice below on how to study for the MCAT.

Avoid Procrastination by Creating a Timeline

When it comes to being ready for the MCAT, multiple experts agree that the most important things to keep in mind are to get an early start and to maintain your dedication. Studying for the MCAT should take at least 200 to 300 hours, it has been recommended that pre-med students shoot toward this goal. Plan to devote even more time to your studies if the information is still unfamiliar to you or if it has been a significant amount of time since you last examined it.

Dr. Richard Beddingfield, the author of the book Med School Uncensored, suggests that students start preparing for the MCAT early in the junior year of their undergraduate studies, with the intention of taking the exam in the spring of the same year. This recommendation can be found in the book. To put it another way, you won’t be able to prep for this test during the week of spring break or in the weeks coming up to the test itself.

Do not put off beginning your MCAT preparation until you have made a final decision regarding when you will take the exam. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to take in the information that has been provided completely.

Study in Ways You’ve Found Successful in the Past

If you are intellectually talented enough to consider attending medical school, then it is quite likely that you have already mastered the art of studying. And if you already have a good handle on the methods of study that are effective for you, there’s no reason to switch things up when you’re getting ready for the MCAT exam.

View of college students studying in a room with a table.

Your best course of action is to stick to the strategies that have been successful for you in the past. If this requires you to review the information on your own with the help of books, make sure that you set aside some time each week to do so. You can attend a preparation course in person or electronically if you prefer something with a little bit more structure and direction. These courses are available.

Create a comprehensive study schedule and ensure that you stick to it, regardless of the study methods you choose. During your preparation for the MCAT, this will be of great assistance in ensuring that you remain on track.

Take MCAT Practice Tests

Taking practice exams to familiarize oneself with the layout of the real test is another essential piece of advice for achieving success that is widely recommended among medical students. Simply going back over the content from the class won’t always be enough. If you work these into your study routine, you will improve your comprehension of the format of the test as well as the allotted amount of time to complete it.

Taking practice exams will allow you to evaluate how well you are doing overall in your preparation for the MCAT. You will also become familiar with the time limits, which will allow you to avoid being surprised on the day of the test.

On the other hand, it’s essential to keep in mind that the majority of students do significantly better on their mock tests than they do on the actual test. Always keep this in mind as you go through the process of reviewing your scores in preparation for your MCAT test date.

Identify Your Weak Spots and Strengthen Them

In addition, it allows you to examine the aspects of your performance in which you might benefit from some additional practice. When you see how well you did on the practice questions, you’ll be able to modify your study strategy so that you focus on strengthening the areas in which you performed poorly.

You will also need to think about how well you have learned all of the topic information that is on the MCAT in school. In the event that your undergraduate studies do not cover all of the topics that will be tested, it is your responsibility to acquire the essential knowledge in those disciplines.

Set Goals for Yourself

You may have found that a high-level overview of the content was sufficient for the other tests you’ve taken during your time in college. However, going through your notes or other study materials mindlessly just before the test is not an effective MCAT study technique.

Obtaining a particular score is likely your ultimate objective; nevertheless, you should also make it a point to establish more manageable objectives for yourself as you progress through the studying process leading up to the exam.

This might include how much information you will cover in the space of a week when it comes to studying, how many hours you want to spend studying each day, or what score you would like to achieve on your practice exams. Along the way, you may keep yourself accountable by setting shorter-term goals like these, which will also help you get closer to your ultimate objective.

Aim for the Best the First Time

It is true that you can repeat the MCAT if you are dissatisfied with the score you received the first time. But you should also keep in mind that it is an expensive, time-consuming, and stressful exam; and if you do decide to retake it, most medical schools will actually look at both of your scores or take an average of them. If you do decide to retake the exam, you should also keep in mind that most medical schools will look at both of your scores.

It is in your best advantage to perform as well as you possibly can on the test when you are taking it for the first time. It requires a significant amount of effort, but it will be well worth it to avoid having to go through all of that again.

How is the MCAT Scored?

The components of the exam that pertain to Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning all utilize the multiple-choice format.

The only factor that goes into determining their final grade is the percentage of questions that were correctly answered. There is no consequence for providing answers that are inaccurate. The raw individual scores from each of the three sections are then scaled using a point system that ranges from 0 to 15. After that, the points are added together to get an overall score based on the three different multiple-choice sections.

The Writing Sample portion of the MCAT consists of two essays, each of which is scored on a scale ranging from 1 to 6 points by two different graders. Each essay is given a total score that is the average of the two different grading scales. After those four points have been calculated, they are added together to produce a raw score for the overall Writing Sample portion. The raw score is then transformed into a letter grade that ranges from J (the lowest possible grade) to T (the highest possible grade).

When you’re getting ready for the MCAT, you have a wide variety of strategies and tools at your disposal to choose from. It will take a significant amount of time, effort, and mental capacity on your part to do well, but keep in mind that passing it is the first step toward realizing your goal of becoming a physician.

If you need help studying for the MCAT and improving your chances of getting into your dream medical school? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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