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12 MCAT Strategies and Techniques That Work

What are the best MCAT testing strategies?

Everyone knows the MCAT is a beast of a test. Before you approach the content of the exam (specifically biology, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry), you need to understand a few MCAT strategies and techniques that are specific to the test. These will help you maximize your study time, but more importantly approach each MCAT question with a clear understand of what you need to answer the question correctly! So, without further adieu, here are 12 quick MCAT strategies and techniques that work to improve your study experience and score.

  1. Use mnemonics to help memorize difficult concepts and terms. The more outrageous your mnemonics, the more effective they are.
  2. Instead of doing one practice passage at a time, do a set of several passages in a row. Pacing is an important skill to develop for the MCAT and you can’t learn it by doing one passage at a time.
  3. Set up checkpoints for yourself during the exam (e.g. ~42 minutes after passage 5, ~18 minutes after passage 8). With checkpoints, you can make sure that you don’t end up with 5 minutes left and 2-3 uncompleted passages!
  4. Try different approaches for highlighting the passage text. There are many ways to use the highlighting tool and you need to find a method that works for you.
  5. Don’t highlight everything. Highlighting everything is the same as not highlighting at all.
  6. Come up with a plan to organize your noteboard booklet (i.e. scratch paper) during the exam. Good organization can save you time when reviewing questions by allowing you to more efficiently find your work/notes/calculations for questions.
  7. Don’t expect score improvements immediately when trying new strategies. It takes time to get used to new strategies, so it may be awhile before you start to see improvements.
  8. Before reviewing the solutions to practice questions, try re-applying your strategies to all the questions you got wrong. If your strategies still don’t work when you have unlimited time when reviewing questions, you may need to adjust your approach.
  9. Review all the questions you get wrong AND all the questions you get right. Sometimes you get questions right with flawed logic and that flawed logic may not work with other questions.
  10. Keep a record of all the questions you get wrong. This will allow you to identify trends in your weaknesses and come up with strategies to get those questions correct in future practice passages.
  11. Use process of elimination when approaching questions. You don’t have to figure out the right answer if you can find three wrong answer choices!
  12. Know when to skip questions. Every question on the MCAT is worth the same amount of points, so you want to make sure you complete all the easy questions first before coming back to the harder ones.

Hopefully you found these quick MCAT strategies helpful. There are a whole lot more out on the web including here so check out How to Study for the MCAT as a good starting point! Also, be sure to check out MCAT Study Plan Tips as another great resource to help you get started on your MCAT studying.

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Ken Tao

Ken is nationally recognized as a premier MCAT mind. He has worked with thousands of undergraduate students as a graduate teaching assistant and MCAT instructor/tutor for the Princeton Review. At Princeton Review, Ken was the only tutor certified in all subjects, was one of the highest rated MCAT tutors ever and was a teacher trainer. Additionally, Ken worked to found Magoosh's MCAT division. He has written content for dozen's of MCAT books and guides. He is now the Director of MCAT at MedSchoolCoach

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