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When do I begin studying for the MCAT?

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I just finished my first year as an undergraduate student. I'm majoring in biochemistry and minoring in psychology. I know these two fields are very helpful for the MCAT. (I am very interested in those fields as well, so it was not the only reason I chose them.) When did you begin studying for the MCAT, and would it be too soon if I began prepping now? I got an MCAT practice app recently and do a few questions a day. #july20 #premed #college #physician #mcat #study #medical #biochemistry #psychology

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Dan’s Answer

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It all depends on how you study the best. For most students it may be a bit too early now since you haven't gotten the other pre-req courses out of the way yet but doing a few questions here and there is great -- can't hurt. For myself, I studied for it during the latter half of my junior year, made a strategy with studying so that I peaked around test day. I myself couldn't not sustain that amount of intensity for more than 2 months.

It all boils down to how you learn and how you like to prepare to exams.
Definitely sounds like a good idea. Thank you so much! Aleksandra B. Translate
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Richard’s Answer

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About 2 years before you want to apply. So you could devote the summer between sophomore and junior year to MCAT. Then if you take the MCAT at the end of the summer you can have a chance to retake if you are not satisfied with your score. Then apply to med school during the summer between junior and senior year.
Thank you so much! Aleksandra B. Translate
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Angela D.’s Answer

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Great question! The following are my gentle suggestions. Your local public library or university may have free test prep guides/books, reviews, practice tests by subject, and other study skill books available online or to download. There may be an online study group, tutoring, and other resources through your school. Alternatively, you can study with a buddy or form your own study group. Then there are fee-based options, such as purchasing books and/or study guides, test prep organizations (can have free practice tests too), and targeted tutoring. Practice taking timed tests and pace your test-taking so you can retake the test at least twice. Basic test taking strategies still apply: use process of elimination; be careful of absolute terms (e.g., always, never, etc.), slang, extreme words, long answers; and answers that have the word "and" in them as two or more conditions must be met. There is a helpful website below that contains several free resources...caveat is that they also list trial/paid services as well. Wishing you the best in your endeavors, Dr. B

https://www.aamc.org/
https://testprepnerds.com/mcat/study-guides/
Hi Angela, this is a wonderful and informative response but it doesn't directly answer the student's question on when they should start studying. When should they start prepping? Gurpreet Lally Translate
Exellent point! Usually 3-6 months prior to the test date is a goal, but this should take into account one's individual needs...generally successful students study at least 200-300+ hours beforehand...what should be avoided is overload or cramming. Retrieval works in several ways, such as cuing, recognition, elimination, etc. Angela D. Blaver, Ph.D. BACKER Translate
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Will’s Answer

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I think that it is premature to start studying for it at the end of your first year. You need to study extensively for it (e.g. 6 weeks dedicated, full time or studying for it over a whole semester with a very light course load). However, I think at this stage of college that is not necessary. If you want to matriculate immediately after college, I recommend taking it no later than the beginning of the summer following junior year. This gives you plenty of time to work on applications that summer, as it is absolutely essential to apply early (the early bird gets the interview worm!) I took only two easy classes the spring semester of my junior year and studied the whole semester for the MCAT, and then took it at the beginning of June. For now, I would focus on enjoying college as studying for it now would be overkill/pointless, and you need to focus on getting the best grades possible in your pre-reqs. MCAT is super important, but so is your GPA and overall wellness!
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Gizem’s Answer

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Although I have never taken MCAT, I work with a lot of undergraduate students who are planning to apply to medical school. Most of them take MCAT in their junior year (either in the fall or spring semester) and dedicate about 1-2 months to intense studying. However, before that they focus on the class material and take the courses that will be helpful for MCAT. So they already have a strong background, before the last two months of intense studying.

I think it really depends on your studying/learning style. Some people are more comfortable and successful when they study at their own pace without having to deal with the stress of an upcoming deadline. Whereas other students are more efficient when they are under pressure. There is no set way to go through this process. You know what works best for you.

Best of luck with everything!
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