Entry into a good medical college depends largely on your MCAT score. What is the MCAT and why is it important? Here is a brief about the MCAT exam.
The MCAT, which stands for Medical College Admission Test, is developed and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The test is a computerised, multiple-choice style exam that provides med schools with common parameters that help them evaluate a college applicant’s ability to go through medical school. Your MCAT score, along with your academic records and other supporting materials, is evaluated by college admission committees. So, acing the MCAT exam is very important, as it can determine which college you end up in.
As a pre-med student, preparing for the MCAT can be overwhelming since many other aspects such as academics, extra-curricular activities, and medical school applications constantly demand attention. Many students are left wondering, “how should I study for the MCAT?”. But, worry not. Studying for the MCAT should be the least of your medical school struggles. Take a look at some useful tips to help you start studying for the MCAT.
Tips to Study for the MCAT
- Start the prep early
This is an obvious one. Start your MCAT preparation as early as possible so you have ample time to prepare before taking the exam comfortably. Not giving yourself enough time to study before the exam can stress you out, and cause you to forget information, and thus score less than your actual potential.
- Create a study plan, and stick to it
The topics covered in the MCAT are vast. Familiarise yourself with the structure and the sections of the test. Break down the study material into comfortable sections and set weekly goals for yourself. This will help you feel like you have more control over the preparation, rather than haphazardly scheduling random study sessions. Furthermore, make a daily routine and stick to it. Ensure you are studying, taking breaks, and participating in other activities only when you are supposed to.
- Quiz yourself after completing a section
Quizzing yourself helps reinforce what you’ve just studied, and helps with information retention.
- Take mock exams
Keep practising previous years’ MCAT exam questions to get comfortable with taking the test and being in the ‘exam mode’. Doing mock exams further helps you assess your strengths and weaknesses and builds stamina for the pressures of taking such a daunting test.
- Just memorising the material alone is not enough
Analyze and think critically about the subject material to help with retaining information. Try to think of practical applications of a lesson, and have mental debates with yourself about the topic.
- Group study sessions
Studying in a group can help you learn faster and memorise information better. Quizzing each other makes you identify any lessons or concepts you might have missed.
- Enrol in professional test prep centres
Studying by yourself can be overwhelming as you may experience moments when you feel lost and begin doubting your efforts. Take the help of a professional test prep centre to help you structure your studies. Furthermore, the material provided by professionals ensures you are studying from the right resources, including detailed review books covering the necessary content for the test.
A good MCAT score has a direct impact on your med school application. Different colleges have different cutoff scores, so getting into a good medical college depends on how high your MCAT score is. The MCAT exam tests your knowledge in the different medical subjects and tests your critical thinking and analytical skills. The MCAT requires more than just an understanding of subject matter. Training yourself to interpret and solve complex problems is essential for achieving a high MCAT score.