Five Last-Minute Tips to Boost Your MCAT Score

Posted by Mac Staben on 8/6/13 1:29 PM

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No, it's not Butterfinger Time.

Two of my students are taking the MCAT on August 15th , and in order to help any readers of this blog who might be taking the test alongside them, I thought I would share some ideas that I’ve learned from them. With nine days left before the test, time may seem short, but enough of it remains that making some of these changes should help a student improve his or her score quickly.

1) Change your mindset:

Think about the MCAT as a chance to show off your knowledge of the sciences and biology. Instead of seeing it as some nasty machine that spits out a number that determines your future, see it as a chance to have some fun by spending a few hours answering some brain teasers about chemistry, biology, and English. Counterintuitively, removing that pressure about performance actually helps improve your score.

2) Use passages to prime your brain:

I wrote a blog post a few days ago about this. Instead of reading every word of the passage, skim the first paragraph to prepare yourself for what kinds of questions will accompany the passage, then go to the questions because many of them will not require any information from the passage. In a dramatic example (one that you should only consider in the direst straits), a student who was pressed for time on the biology section of a practice MCAT test didn’t read a word of the passage and nevertheless got every single answer related to that passage right.

3) Focus on high yield areas:

The MCAT requires a basic amount of knowledge without which a student cannot succeed. Learning all of the hormones, equilibrium, and a few organic reactions like SN1/SN2 and carbonyl substitution reactions will increase your score dramatically. Even better, all of these subjects can be learned in the nine days before August 15th.

4) Land on the right answer first:

When you read a question, think about what the answer should be, then check if it appears as an answer choice. Rather than eliminating answer choices, look for the right answer first. If you’re not sure, then begin crossing answer choices out and don’t be afraid to make a reasoned guess if you’re not sure of the answer.

5) Train yourself to perk up at known trick words:

Like all standardized tests, the MCAT loves dirty tricks. If most students learned the electromagnetic spectrum in terms of wavelength, the MCAT might ask a question about frequency. Acidity and pH move in opposite directions as the concentration of H+ increases and so the MCAT will ding those who read questions carelessly. Besides frequency/wavelength and aciditiy/pH, I’ve noticed that the MCAT exploits compounds with multiple ions (BaCl2,Na2SO4) and the word “Not” as ways to complicate questions.

Making these simple changes in how you think about the MCAT should help increase your score quickly. If you’re not taking the MCAT until later this year, then feel free to take these ideas and fold them to your studying now for an even greater edge. And from all of us at Cambridge Coaching, good luck!

Tags: MCAT