Listen to the man.
The MCAT is more like a game than you might think. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an MCAT tutor, it’s that success is not determined exclusively by what you know. Instead, a higher percentage of your score than you might imagine is a result of your test-taking strategy. Although memorizing the hormones and knowing the organic lab techniques are important, your MCAT test prep can make or break your score. Here are two key strategy tips to help boost your MCAT score.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just as with achampionship game, your band’s final concert or your year-end dance recital, you get one chance to use everything you’ve learned and practiced. And the only way to make sure you do that? More practice. You cannot expect to just show up and do well without putting in hours of dedicated time in. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to become a master in your field. Should you spend that much time preparing for the MCAT? No. But this does give you a sense that you have to put in the time to see results.
Doing practice questions and taking practice exams is vital because this will make you feel prepared come test day, thus boosting your confidence. If you have done all the AAMC practice exams, you know what to expect come test day: how the computer testing system works; the wording of the questions; how the timing works; and the types of questions you can expect. Nervousness often stems from being unprepared and not knowing what you are going to see; if you practice, it will help you avoid this type of uncertainty and stem your nerves. Just practicing is not enough, though. Your goal should be to make sure that on test day, you never encounter a single question you do not immediately know how to start answering. In order to achieve this, you must practice in a deliberate, efficient manner – this is where availing yourself of Cambridge Coaching’s Boston or New York MCAT tutor services will come in handy.
Get in the Mindset of Your Opponent
Thinking of the MCAT as your opponent that you need to outsmart, just as you would your opponent in a football game or chess match, can help you get into the right mindset to succeed. For one thing, the MCAT has a major physical component—it’s over seven hours long! And for another, the MCAT definitely thinks of you as an opponent, so get your head in the game. When doing practice questions and taking the AAMC practice exams, don’t just take note of the science topics that you find challenging, but also spend time trying to identify the types of questions and passages you see in each section of the exam, so you’ll know what to do with them the next time. Figure out the wording of questions that often trips you up, the types of verbal or science passages that are most challenging, and the answer choices that you are incorrectly fall for. Then spend extra time practicing these types of questions so you don’t make the same mistakes on test day.
Once you take enough practice exams, you will begin to see similarities in subject matter and structuring of questions and passages. Make sure to take note of these patterns so that you aren’t tripped up by similar questions on test day. If a specific subject or type of question is repeated on multiple practice exams, this is an indicator that it is more likely to be featured on your MCAT exam, so definitely make sure you know how to do those types of questions. Knowing how to do these types of questions quickly can also save time, leaving you precious extra minutes to spend on questions you haven’t seen before.
Just as with any sport, to win you must practice a lot and you have to understand your opponent. Thinking of the MCAT as a sport can help you get in the right mindset for success and be the difference between a good and great MCAT score. If you need further help, give Cambridge Coaching a call. Our expert tutors offer private MCAT tutoring and review in New York, Boston, and online. They have the experience and the knowledge to help you tackle the test fearlessly!
For more relevant reading, check out these other blog posts, written by our private MCAT tutors in New York: 4 Tips to Raise your MCAT Verbal Score, What is on the 2015 MCAT?, and Getting Over MCAT Test Day Nerves.