One of the most important things you can do for your MCAT is create a study plan (and stay on target with that study plan!) This part of our series on 100 MCAT Study Tips focuses in on the MCAT Study Plan, how to create one, and how to stick with it! If you can stick with your MCAT study plan, you will be on your way to success!
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- Create a study plan. The MCAT is a big deal and not a test you want to take without an action plan.
- Identify your target score. Check out the MCAT scores for your top choice medical schools to determine your goal score.
- Take a diagnostic test. It’s helpful to know how far you are from your target score and which sections that will require extra attention.
- Make sure your study plan gives you ample time to prepare your exam. If you realize you won’t have enough time to study, consider pushing back your test date.
- Include break days in your study plan. We all need study breaks and it’s best to pre-plan them, so you don’t fall behind in your studies later.
- Ask your pre-medical peers for personal study tips. It’s great to get advice from others who have conquered the MCAT exam!
- Front-load your studies. Studying hard early on is much less stressful than cramming later on.
- Make sure your study plan involves content review. Let’s be honest. You’ve forgotten a lot of content from your college courses and need to review.
- Switch subjects for content review on a regular basis. You do not want to study one subject at a time, as the MCAT will not test you on one subject at a time.
- Complete all of the MCAT prerequisite courses. Even harder than reviewing content you’ve forgotten is learning content for the first time.
- Make sure your study plan involves practice passages. Memorizing scientific facts alone is not enough to get you your target score.
- Do practice passages and questions in the morning. The MCAT starts at 8 AM and you want to get your brain used to doing practice questions in the morning.
- Make sure your study plan includes multiple full-length practice tests. Practice tests are important for building up the mental stamina to take the 7.5-hour long MCAT exam.
- Do your best to simulate test day conditions when taking full-length practice tests. This includes waking up at the same time that you’re going to wake up on test day, using a computer with a mouse (not a trackpad), and making sure to follow all the breaks between the sections.
- Pick up a set of MCAT books. College textbooks are great but contain too much information that you don’t need to know for the exam.
- Make sure you’re using MCAT books for the new MCAT. The MCAT only changed a few years ago and you want to make sure that you’re not using MCAT books for the old exam.
- Time yourself when completing practice passages and full-length practice tests. The MCAT is a timed exam so you need to get used to doing questions timed as well.
- Make sure to complete all the AAMC practice questions. There are no better practice questions than those written by the creators of the MCAT.
- Find a study buddy. A study buddy can provide motivation to keep you focused in your studies.
- Find a reliable study buddy. Studying can be fun but make sure that your study buddy doesn’t distract you so much that you aren’t making progress.
- Help yourself by teaching your study buddy. You know you understand the material well if you can explain it to someone else.
- At some point during your studies, make sure to go through the AAMC MCAT Content Outline and compile a list of all the unfamiliar terms that you need to study. The AAMC MCAT Content Outline contains a comprehensive list of all the topics tested on the exam.
- Include review days in your study plan. You’re bound to forget material as you study, so it’s good to reserve a few days in your study schedule to review previous topics.
- Eat healthy and get exercise. Good nutrition will provide the energy you need to study and exercise will help you relieve stress.
- Consider getting an MCAT tutor. The MCAT is a tough exam to prepare for and getting a tutor to guide you through the process can be tremendously helpful.
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