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Tackling the MCAT

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

My advice:

1. Get familiar with the test: What is on it? What are the test dates? When do you need to register?

The MCAT Essentials from AAMC goes through the test, registering and getting your score. The content guide I HIGHLY recommend. It lists all the topics on the MCAT. I printed this out and made sure as I went through the content review I had hit all these things. In general, there are 4 sections with 59 questions: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (53 questions). I registered for the MCAT a few months before the test. It is best to look up possible test dates and when the signup form will open early.

2. Take a free practice test (optional) & Pick a target score and test date

I saw that getting above a 510 greatly increased my chances of getting in so I aimed for a 515 but a minimum 510+. My real goal was a 528 but short of getting the top score, I aimed for 510-515. I figure I shoot high so if I fall short I'm still in the range. I began this process around May, my last year of undergrad. The MCAT was shortened because of COVID and I wanted to try to take the short version before the year ended. So I registered to take the test in September. Studying for 3 months is possible but it did not work for me and I ended up pushing my test date back to January. This AAMC Accaptence Applicant Grid can help you pick a target score. MCAT and GPA Grid for Applicants and Acceptees to U.S. MD-Granting Medical Schools

I took a free half-length practice test to see what it is like and where I was at. I don't think this is necessary but the idea is to use this to see any areas to focus on and help plan studying. I got around a 497 which I was happy to start with.

3. Pick your resources & make a schedule

My general plan was to start content review using book questions to make sure I am understanding and Anki to help me remember. Then add practice test questions and work my way to test every 2 weeks then every week leading up to the test. Resources Kaplan PDF content review books MCAT Prep Book Questions from the local library Khan Academy Physics Videos Jack Westin CARS Practice UWorld Question Bank Altius 10 FL Practice Test AAMC Bundle Set a realistic plan for getting through content review. Plan to do Anki ( or another method of spaced repetition) to make sure you are retaining and book questions to check you are understanding what you are reading and able to apply it. A good idea is to also start doing 1 or a few CARs passages every day or regularly. For many people, this is the hardest section to improve so it is best to start understanding question types early. Once I was about 50%-75% through all the content review I added in practice test questions. These included passages and were the types of questions I may see on the test. These are different from book questions that reviewed content but did not replicate MCAT test question types. Full-length practice tests are VERY important. They help you get used to the length of the test. In order to get the most out of a full-length practice test, you need to review every question right and wrong. Check did you get it right by chance or did you actually know the concept? Looking back at passages go back and make sure you fully understand the graphs and what was key information to identify in the passage. I could write a whole post just on reviewing practice tests but for now, I'll suggest watching a youtube video on it. To improve your score on every test you have to learn from your mistakes and that means reviewing the full test and then reviewing areas you got wrong. Some things you can get wrong because you forgot, sometimes it's the question type, and sometimes you missed key information in the passage. Check why you got stuff wrong and practice what you need to. Here are some screenshots from parts of my schedule

*Sometimes I missed stuff and sometimes I didn't check off stuff. Flashcards and Anki are the same thing. I worked on different subjects throughout the day to help me stay engaged. Discrete practice are problems from the Kaplan books.

Content Review example schedule

Adding in MCAT Practice Questions

At this point, I did A FL Test every 2 weeks, reviewed 1 section from the test a day, and did Uworld questions. I reviewed all the uworld questions and then would review topics I was getting wrong/ not understanding. During this time I was in school and playing soccer.

I worked my way up to increase the number of practice problems from 10 to 60(timed). I also added in FL test weekly.

Hopefully this is helpful! Please reach out if you have questions!

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