When it comes to preparing for the MCAT, there are so many ways to tackle it. I have posted some examples below. Remember, these are just a few of the many ways to approach this exam. The examples below are in no particular order and all of them are the resources I am aware of. Feel free to message me and share more!
- Take a prep course
A. Kaplan- https://www.kaptest.com/mcat
B. Princeton review- https://www.princetonreview.com/medical/mcat-test-prep
C. Exam Cracker- https://examkrackers.com/
- Buy study materials and do independent studying
A. Exam Cracker books:
B. Kaplan or Princeton Review books:
- Hire a tutor to assist:
A. Varsity Tutors
B. Private tutors
No matter how you tackle the task of preparing for the MCAT there is no one correct way. It’s important to know yourself and know how you best study, prepare and learn.
Remember this is a marathon not a sprint!
For my own personal preparation, I knew that I would need to stay on track and be in a classroom setting to obtain the information and have homework assignments to help me, so I decided to take a preparation course. Lucky for me, I participated in a ten week summer program that offered Kaplan test prep and it was the best choice for me. In addition to the classroom sessions every Friday, I dedicated 5hrs a day to studying and 8hrs on weekends. Every other weekend I took a practice exam and assessed my progress and made adjustments to my studying from there! I found this style of preparation very helpful for me!
Here are some general preparation tips:
- Choose a timeline to prepare for your exam with a test date scheduled:
Remember to be true to yourself and choose a study time period that best fits you. The time can be during the semester, during the summer or during a gap year. You can take 2 months, 3 months or more, it’s up to you! Your test date can be tentative, but it may give you more of an incentive to be more proactive if you paid and scheduled a date. If you notice along the way that you have to change your test date that’s okay, do what is best for you, but have an original date to start off with. I took 2.5 months (basically the whole summer) to prepare for the MCAT and that was an adequate amount of time for me.
- Choose your resources/study material:
From the list mentioned above, choose what resources you will use. Will you take a course? Do independent prep? Or hire a tutor? It’s all up to you, but solidify what resource (s) you will use and begin to gather your materials and finalize everything. I would also ask students who have gone through the process that you know if they have study materials that they can allow you to borrow or buy off of them. Once again I used Kaplan test prep for my preparation.
- Create a study schedule and do your absolute best to adhere to it:
I think the best way to set your self up for success is to create a schedule and stick to it. It will decrease stress and anxiety and make the experience an enjoyable one. You can use word documents calendar template or create your own. Create the schedule and be mindful of other events and activities going on in your life (i.e. weddings, graduations, school exams, etc). Remember be honest with yourself and try and schedule everything. Input practice test days, self-care days, classes, extra-curricular etc. I can’t stress it enough, please do your very best to adhere to your schedule, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way that will ultimately aid in your success. I used word documents calendar template and edited it along the way. I would recommend googling example calendars to see other peoples examples.
- Take a practice exam before dedicated study time:
Before you begin your journey of preparing, it’s very important to take a practice exam to get a baseline of where you are. This gives you a great sense of what you need to work on first as well as your strengths and weakness. This ensures you are not going into your dedicated study time blind. A big mistake many people make is not getting a baseline and being blinded about their progress.
- Practice exams:
Assess your progress along the way weekly or bi-weekly. You want to ensure you are increasing your score and improving on your weaknesses. It’s critical that you take a practice exam. You want to ensure you simulate the test day by taking a timed exam in a quiet area. You also want to give yourself designated breaks. After you take the exam, review it and alter your study schedule accordingly and then take the rest of the day off, you deserve it!!
- Self care:
It is so important that during your dedicated study time that you take care of yourself. Self care is so important in order to function at your optimal. Take the rest of the day off after a practice exam or take a day off during the week if you can. Also stay in touch with family and friends and still do things that bring you joy.
Remember this process is a marathon not a sprint!