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How do I best prepare for the MCAT?

What are some free or low-cost study materials? When to take it? Should I retake it?

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Raquel’s Answer

The MCAT is a very big and difficult exam, it's 6 hours of testing alone. The questions are all passage based and require critical thinking, not just memorization. All of these things make it incredibly difficult and require a lot of time and effort put in to do well. There are a lot of great resources out there for the MCAT, but cost money. The best free resources are Khan Academy, which has an entire course for the MCAT that was made partnered with AAMC, the company that makes the MCAT. The Khan videos are split into the foundations tested on the MCAT and are great for basic content review. Another great free resource is Jack Westin. This site has a lot of CARS practice passages as well as some discrete practice problems and passages for the other sections. It is incredibly important to take the practice exams provided by AAMC, they are actual past MCAT exams and are the best practice for the actual exam, as well as the best indicator of how you will do. People usually score within 2 points of how they did on the AAMC practice exams on the actual exam.

The medical school application cycle opens in June and ends in April of the following year. It's better to get your application in as soon as possible, anything after August is definitely pushing your likelihood of interviewing and acceptance. It takes one month to get your score back after taking the MCAT, so if you want to have your application submitted by the end of June you need to take the MCAT by the end of May. Test slots usually are opened in October and January and fill up quickly. You want to be checking AAMC's website for when test days are released so that you can schedule the day and location you want. If you wait too long you can completely lose out on when you want to take it or have to travel several hours to a different testing center.
While the MCAT is not the only part of your medical school application, it is a very important metric. It's showing schools that you have the ability to succeed in medical school. But there are a lot of ranges of scores that can get you into medical school. A 500 score is minimum passing. Some schools in the Caribbean and some D.O. schools will take 500 scores. Most M.D. schools in the United States require closer to a 510, but again it's very school dependent on what they are looking for. It's very important to look at what schools you want to apply to and see what the average MCAT score for accepted students is. This will help you decide if you need to retake the exam or not. The MSAR is a good resource for looking at school stats, it shows average GPA, MCAT score, as well as percentages of in-state vs out-of-state students. You do have to pay for access to MSAR, but it can be a good way to find target schools for you to apply to based on your application stats.
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Michael’s Answer

Preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) can be a challenging and time-consuming process. However, with the right approach and resources, you can feel confident and well-prepared on test day. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for the MCAT:

Understand the test format and content: Familiarize yourself with the structure of the MCAT and the types of questions you will be asked. The MCAT includes sections on biology, chemistry, physics, and critical analysis and reasoning.

Develop a study schedule: Create a study schedule that works for you, taking into account your other commitments. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to studying each day or week.

Review the required material: Review the material that will be covered on the MCAT, including the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Use a variety of resources, such as textbooks, review books, and online resources.

Take practice tests: Take full-length practice tests to simulate the actual testing experience and to help you identify areas where you need to improve.

Seek help when needed: If you are struggling with certain concepts or need additional support, consider working with a tutor or joining a study group.

Manage your stress: MCAT preparation can be stressful, so make sure to take care of yourself by staying organized, getting enough sleep, and engaging in physical activity.

Remember, preparation is key and the more you study, the more confident you will be on test day.
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