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How did you prepare yourself, as a student and an individual, for the MCAT?

Being a high school junior, I have experienced scheduling studying for the ACT with regular high school life. However, how were you able to balance such an imposing and important test, the MCAT, with college life? How were you able to find time to do things for yourself and offset that with preparing for med school?

#medicine #mcat #doctor #physician #family-medicine #medschool #medical-school #graduate-school #college

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Danielle’s Answer

I haven't personally studied for the MCAT, but I worked for a test-prep company and am the daughter of doctors so I have some relevant information for you. The common practice is to start prepping casually in the Fall of your junior year of college, but you can start as soon as you want. My father and a lot of my students/clients spent the entire summer between their junior/senior year studying for MCAT like it was a full time job. The most important piece of information you need in order to determine how/what to prep for is the results of your first full-length, sit down for all 7 hours in a quiet room, practice test. You must take the practice test all in one shot to get an accurate measure. How you perform on a section after you've done 4 before it and know you have another behind it is different than if you were to sit down and do one section each day over the course of days. That's practice, not an assessment. Many test-prep companies offer a free test on their website. Those can be trusted, not the random ones you google. Also, test prep companies offer free practice test and score-back events in partnership with schools. At some colleges, student groups like the pre-med club have a relationship/partnership with a local test-prep company and offer classes at a discounted rate. Once you have the results of your practice test, this is what I would suggest: If you're pretty "even" across all your subjects and feel you need 7+ point increase, make an investment to take a prep course, they cover both content and strategy. A lot of times companies will offer them online if they're not available locally. Don't discredit that. For my company, some of my best test prep tutor/teachers would have life events like kids, or relocate for a job, that would put them 3-4 hours away from a local office, and they would certify to do online teaching/tutoring in order to stay active with the company because they are passionate about what they do. You can ask about their years with the company/qualifications. Online offers a ton of flexibility if you're a busy student. Moving back to the score: If you were weighted, strong in a couple areas but significantly lower in another one or two, I would suggest private tutoring, especially if you're only a 1-5 points away from your goal score. If you're price-conscious and incredibly motivated, a lot of test-prep companies offer self-prep courses with thousands of practice questions, 5 or more full-length practice tests, personalized score reports and results-based suggestions, etc. By the way, I no longer work for a test prep company, but I do believe in the materials/strategies and have seen increases when the student is invested in "the process" and puts in the work. What I would consider to be the "ideal/best" plan of action is in the suggested next steps for you.

Danielle recommends the following next steps:

At the end of your Sophomore year in college, once you've been able to get some of the pre-med curriculum in, take a full length practice test, and use those results to help inform your course selection and prep strategy for the Fall of your Junior year.
If you opt to take a prep course in the Fall, plan for it to take up the time equivalent of a 3-credit class and register for classes for school in a way that you can balance both. Don't over-commit, you will be wasting your time if you're spread too thin, it won't "digest".
Take full-length practice tests to measure your progress. A class will have a set schedule for practice tests. Self-prep will have a suggested schedule, if you're tutoring, your tutor will set the schedule based on how you're doing.
Take the official test in the March/April of your Junior year. If you're happy with your score, great, if not, still great! You know how you performed on the real test, and what the course of action is going to be for the summer. A significant amount of students improve their score by taking the test more than once. If you're prepping in the summer, do it like a full time job. I had a friend spend an entire year post-college prepping for the MCAT, she's now an ENT surgeon. My father spent exactly 8 hours every day, 9-5 in a room with no windows or other people/sound, studying for the test for 12 weeks. He scored the equivalent of a 524 and has been practicing medicine for 35 years.
At the end of July take the official test. If you're still not happy, it's time for tutoring to have someone sit down and help you polish. Take the last test mid-late August. If you didn't hit the goal score that is OK, you'd be surprised how many fantastic medical schools are not world-famous. It's about the "best fit" program. You'll become a great doctor in a program where you respond to the faculty and get plenty of experience in rotation working with the type of patients you're think might be your area of interest. Remember this is a SUGGESTED strategy, it's ok to customize based on your timeline, resources, goals, learning style, etc.
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Richard’s Answer

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters

Devote an entire summer to studying for the MCAT and consider paying for a prep course if you can afford it.

My son used MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2019-2020: Online + Book + 3 Practice Tests (Kaplan Test Prep) Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep
Sold by: Amazon.com Services, Inc
It was about $140 and he achieved his goal score.
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Rachel’s Answer

I recommend the Princeton Review MCAT prep course. Study for the test like it is college course. Every day for several hours for a semester. Take as many practice tests as possible.
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Olivia! I had to take the MCAT exam twice! It takes time to build stamina, the second time I took my MCAT I was volunteering, working and helping my family member out with their health care. I think it's really dedication, you have to remind yourself the end goal and set time each and every day to study for the exam. Take practice tests, review notecards, watch videos and really when you sit down the only thing you should be thinking about is MCAT prep. Don't check your phone or social media just MCAT time; take breaks frequently like after an 1 hour take a short 5 min break. Break up your day, so for example I would do CARS first, for about two hours (I struggled with it the most) then I would go into the sciences. I would do Chem one day, Biology/Biochem the other days and Psych/Sociology as well. I used Khan Academy and MCAT Self Prep; both are free websites that offer many resources so definitely check them out. Use AAMC for practice problems, especially CARS, redo them as many time as you can until you build the skills for test day! Take frequent practice exams; for my first attempt I didn't because I was scared and yes in a way avoided it, therefore I mostly reviewed my notes but realized I have to overcome this. Therefore I took about 5 practice exams before actual exam day and mini exams from AAMC QPacks (MCAT self prep taught me how to break up the QPacks and test yourself like a mini exam). I would also recommend to take off one day of the week, just as a breather day because you will need it; usually I would study for 7 to 9 hours a day and I would definitely enjoy my Sunday off with just reading or grabbing a coffee with my friend and having some social support. For studying, I would recommend to choose an environment where you are focused; honestly I like being in a school setting and my home wasn't the best I discovered. So I studied at my local library, it was very quiet and nice, and there was a Dunkin' nearby so my short breaks would be to get some coffee or walk around the block! This advice comes from my gap year so I wasn't in college, if you are going to take it as a junior I would once again devote time but obviously balance it with other classwork. Maybe complete all classwork before 6:30 and then from 7 to 9:30 do MCAT prep, whatever that means for you; so maybe read, watch videos, prepare your notecards ( I would recommend reading and notecards the most- ANKI and Quizlet are the best for these). However before you start your MCAT prep take a practice exam to see where you are; maybe you are stronger in one subject than another and therefore can lean more heavily to study one subject and review the other. For me since CARS was difficult I did CARS every day, I think every student should do a CARS passage everyday, it just changes based on your score. If you score high on a practice exam for CARS then maybe 1-2 passages will be enough but if you struggle maybe 4 a day is more beneficial to build skills. Lastly, the last month of your MCAT prep should only be MCAT, take off from work and other responsibilities, review everything and take practice exams frequently, because this is the finish to the race. You want to make sure you are keeping that stamina high! I would still recommend a day off during that last month especially if you will be studying 10 hours a day for 6 days a week. I know it may seem like a lot but honestly between reviews of notecards, taking practice exams and reviewing them and really fortifying everything, it will just be enough. In the end you will get the score you want, really, I struggled a lot even with my SATs as well, but in the end if you study hard and be disciplined you can do it!

I hope this helps!

Best of luck!
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