MCAT Reflection: My Study Plan

The MCAT stands for the Medical College Admissions Test. That’s precisely that – an admissions test. So, as long as you hit the average score of the schools you’re applying for, I believe you’re in good hands. Remember: there’s much more to your medical school application: your extracurriculars, your interview, your grades

My EXAM experience

I took the MCAT on September 4th, 2020. It is a shortened exam for the remainder of this year because of COVID-19 (so, I guess that’s the only good thing to come out of this pandemic?). Fortunately, I scored within my goal of 510+ (I scored a 513, which is about 87-88%). I’m okay with not retaking the exam. (Phew.) 

A graph of MCAT scores and their percentiles

After the test, I did some serious reflection on what I’m proud of and what I regret not doing in preparation. I now share with you what I believe to be the ultimate MCAT study plan.

8 Steps to MCAT Mastery

1. Sign up for a date (ex. 3 months from now).

Yes, this is the first step. Please do it.

2. Divide up the remaining days until the exam into 3 phases:

  • *Phase 1: Content review
  • Phase 2: Practice problems
  • Phase 3: AAMC TESTS

*Everyone is different. Some people prefer to review the content while doing practice problems simultaneously, to each their own.

3. Purchase your materials:

  • A set of textbooks to review (I recommend Kaplan or The Princeton Review)
  • UWorld (the BEST!!!)
  • Third-party full-length practice tests (I recommend Altius)
  • AAMC materials:
    • Practice tests
    • Question packs
    • Section banks
    • Flashcards

4. Join and become familiar with using r/MCAT.

The community r/MCAT is extremely helpful for any questions you may have. From this place, I learned about the Khan Academy 98 Page Psych/Soc document that can replace reading any prep textbook for P/S.

From personal experience, UWorld and reading this document were more than enough to score a 130 on the P/S section.

5. Take one practice exam on the same day every week.

Do your best to simulate testing conditions (i.e., no phone, don’t google answers you don’t know during the test, only pee during your break, etc.). Then do nothing for the rest of the day; your brain will thank you for the rest. 

Make sure you take third-party FL’s until the last month before the exam. You will want to take only AAMC material to prep your brain for their question style and logic during this time. 

6. Review your entire exam the next day.

Go over every question and understand what they’re asking and why the correct answer is right. Bonus tip: all AAMC full-length questions have been asked and explained in detail on r/MCAT. Check it out.

If you’re still confused, post on there as well, and someone will help you out ASAP. I love that community and am forever grateful. 

7. Do 2-3 CARS passages daily.

Check out Jack Westin or Khan Academy for some excellent free practice passages.

8. Use only AAMC material for the last month before the test (phase 3).

No third-party exam can completely replicate AAMC logic; only the AAMC material can. Saving these precious resources for the last month will prime your brain at the perfect time for the approaching test day.

Example schedule

PHASE 1 – CONTENT REVIEW (4 WEEKS)

  • Read (skim) through all of the Kaplan prep books (except P/S).
  • Read the KA P/S doc and make flashcards for unfamiliar terms.
  • CARS daily

PHASE 2 – PRACTICE PROBLEMS (4 WEEKS)

  • Thoroughly complete all UWorld MCAT questions
  • CARS daily
  • One 3rd-party FL weekly

PHASE 3 – PRACTICE EXAMS (4 WEEKS)

  • Complete all AAMC Question Packs and Section Banks
  • Do all four practice AAMC full-length exams & review

Bonus tips

  1. Two days before the exam: light review and CARS.
  2. The day before & day of the exam: no studying! Have confidence. The hardest part is over, now just execute!

Good luck, and deep breath. You’ve studied, and you will do great! Make sure to keep taking care of yourself and stay healthy during your studies.

Of course, let me know if you have any questions or concerns by leaving a comment below. For some self-care tips, check out this article.

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