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First-Year Medical School Survival Guide: Taking the MCAT . . . Again

We know an MCAT score doesn’’t define your ability to be a strong doctor. At American University of Antigua, we don’’t consider your MCAT scores for admissions. However, if you are accepted, you are required to sit and provide us with your MCAT scores. Although your score will not impact your matriculation, it would be a great boost to self-esteem to earn a high score.

Examine Your Strengths & Weaknesses

Start by figuring out your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve already taken it once, you can look back and see what material was a struggle, what was extremely easy, and what you did not know. What kind of learner are you: visual, auditory, kinesthetic? Play to your strengths and focus on making your weaknesses stronger. Learn the material in an environment conducive to you.

A good way to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are on the MCAT is to take practice tests. This will show you exactly what you’re great at, and what you’’re struggling on.

Take Practice Tests

When you’’re preparing for the MCAT, you want to make the most of your time and make sure you’’re studying from the right materials. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time.  The test requires knowledge in general and organic chemistry, biology, and physics.  On top of that, you will need to understand and comprehend verbal passages and write essays styled specifically for the MCAT. Studying your undergrad textbooks is not a beneficial strategy. They will be full of frivolous details that are not tailored to this kind of test.

What is good to study? There is a world of resources and books specifically designed for the MCAT. These books and resources are the ones you should get your hands on.  Either buddy up with someone who’s taken the MCAT before and can give you their materials, or search the bookstores for your own copies.  Just make sure the materials are still relevant and from within the past couple years.  The Princeton ReviewExamKrackersAudio(auditory resource), and WikiPremed (online resource) are great study materials.

Schedule Your Study Time

The best thing you can do for yourself when preparing for the MCAT is a well-managed schedule that you can stick to every day. Start by creating goals. For example, in a month I will have biology mastered, by month two I will master physics, etc. Determine the timeline you have before the exam and give yourself plenty of time to prepare and decide how much time a day you will devote to preparing.

Create a calendar to manage your time. Input when your classes are, any job you may work, extracurricular activities, fitness (remember you need exercise to stay healthy). Once you can see where all your time is going currently, you can work in where you will have time to study.

A good practice when it comes to time management is focusing first on the subjects and materials you know nothing about, then brushing up on the stuff you know later. When you focus first on things you’’re weak in, you guarantee that you’’re going to be prepared for the harder things. When you have leftover time, you can refresh your memory on you stronger points.  It may seem more alluring to do the stuff you know first (what an ego boost when you get all the questions right) but you’’re not helping yourself prepare for reality.

Split your time between studying the theories and notes and actually taking practice tests. There’’s a huge difference between reading the things you’re supposed to know and actually comprehending the material. Read over the concepts, and then test what you learned with some practice tests. Repeat this process and you’ll be well on your way to success.

Do a Simulation

Once you feel like you may be ready for the MCAT, take a simulated test. This will help you manage the time it takes you to take it and give you an idea of what to expect the day of the exam. Use a timer and time yourself as if this were the real deal. When that timer goes off, stop. You want to see how you react in test-like conditions, so try and keep it as similar as possible.

Hopefully, after you’’ve completed enough simulated practice tests, you’’ll be so used to doing it that you will have the confidence to master the real thing.