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Preparing for the MCAT

What is the best way to prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)?  While many different methods can help premed students achieve success on the MCAT, planning for the test and figuring out the best study method to suit your learning style are the first steps to ensuring that you perform well. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

1. Become familiar with the structure of and content on the MCAT. To prepare you’ll need to understand the rationale behind the test and the content you’ll need to know. Becoming familiar with the structure of the test is a good first step in your preparation.

2. Use the resources that the AAMC has developed to help you prepare. These include a test of sample questions, an interactive tool, the official guide to the MCAT, and the Khan Academy’s videos (produced in conjunction with the AAMC). As of this writing only one official practice test, culled from actual questions from past MCATs, exists but more will be produced as additional administrations of the MCAT occur.

3. Practice, practice, practice. Whether you take a commercial test prep course or prepare independently you will need to practice diligently. Use as many of the preparation materials as you can:  go through practice questions and make sure you know how the questions are posed so that you are as familiar as possible with the style and structure of the MCAT. Preparation is essential to doing well on the MCAT.

4. Budget your time and don’t rush your studying. It typically takes 3 months of dedicated study time to prepare well for the MCAT. It’s not a test to cram for—be sure to plan well and allocate the time it will take to be fully prepared and thus do well on the MCAT.

5. Build your stamina. The new MCAT is almost 8 hours long. Can you sustain your focus for that period of time?  If not, work up to the test by taking a multitude of practice tests under conditions that mimic that of the real test.

No matter your method to prepare for the MCAT, whether taking a commercial prep course or studying on your own, good luck!

–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting


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