Waking up on the day of your exam, hopefully 99% of the work is already done. You’ve studied and all you have to do now is take the test! Treating your test prep like a marathon and planning for every possibility is a way to succeed. Let’s talk about strategies that will help you be ready to rock on “game day.”
1) Practice like you test:
Sure, I said these are game day strategies, but it’s hard not to talk about the stuff that came before test day when we talk about strategies for success. I am a big proponent of the “practice like you test” strategy. Review of material is one thing, but I highly recommend at least the month before leading up to your test, you should start buckling down on practice tests. Take them whole, take them within the time limits, take them at the same time you will on test day, and take them in a place similar to your test day environment. What does this look like? It means going to the library or finding a quiet classroom, setting your timer, and taking the test as if it were the big day! Star questions you’re not sure about, but do not look at the answer choices until you’re all done. If you find you’re taking too much time or too little to complete a session, adjust accordingly. This way on test day, there will be no surprises and no rushing through sections!
2) Eat like a champion:
Do you have a favorite granola bar? Are you a big proponent of PBnJ or prefer turkey and cheddar? Whatever it is, test day is not the day to grab something random as a snack and hope it works out. We are trying to avoid variation right? Especially if you are taking a day-long test like the MCAT, it is crucial to have your meals planned out (just like an athlete!). You don’t want to have an energy crash or stomach ache on the big day. When you’re taking those practice tests that we talked about above, eat the same thing every time. Losing energy by hour 3? Maybe you need to add in a little carbohydrate. Feeling sluggish? Think about if what you’re having for breakfast or lunch is too heavy. And, coffee drinkers out there: you may rely on it on the big day to wake you up but you have to plan your bathroom breaks accordingly! I know it sounds crazy, but you’ll figure out what works for you and on test day there will be no surprises.
3) Warm up and cool down:
Athletes don’t take the field without warming up and neither should you! Especially if you’re not a morning person, its crucial to wake up your brain before test time. Here’s my go-to strategy. Before you leave for your test, sit down in a quiet place for ten minutes. Do three or four practice questions from different sections of your test. And here is the key – don’t look at the answers! How freaked out would you be if you got four wrong right before your test? We don’t want that! Do the questions to stretch out your brain cells but then close your book and go get ‘em!
After the test, don’t forget to chill out. Maybe it didn’t go according to plan and you think you’ll retake, but you should not discount what you just accomplished! Your brain needs a break! Hydrate, nap, get some ice cream, do what you need to to zen out.
The MCAT requires endurance and follow-through, but it becomes significantly more manageable when you work with a Cambridge Coaching MCAT tutor, like Maggie, to apply a structured, systematic, and strategic approach to your studying.
Curious to learn more about the MCAT preparation process? Check out some of our previous blog posts below: