7 Essential Tips for ANY Standardized Test

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 8/15/18 6:56 PM

Whether you’re applying to college, graduate school, law school, medical school, or even some jobs, standardized tests are often part of the process. They can be intimidating, long, arduous, and confusing, but with some practice, you’ll learn how to overcome any test-taking anxiety and stay focused. Here are a few tips and tricks for going into a test calm and prepared.

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Tags: study skills, LSAT, test anxiety, ACT, GMAT, SAT, MCAT, PSAT

The MCAT: How to Transition into Pure AAMC Material

Posted by Cole on 8/10/18 4:21 PM

Pssst... this is part of a series.  Be sure to read Cole's other posts on the MCAT by going to his profile here.

We’re almost there!! Fair warning, this article is word heavy, but bear with me. At this point, you are probably splitting your time between practice passages and content review (with a heavier emphasis on the former). Depending on which company you decided upon (i.e. Princeton Review, Kaplan or Examkrackers), you have been using the practice passages/exams that their company had provided. While this material is intended to imitate the type of material you will see on the real MCAT, many times it is very different. The biggest difference I found was that material produced by companies other than the AAMC focus heavily on content and don’t force you to dissect the passage as much. For example, the passage you read may be about some bacteria, but the questions they ask don’t refer back to the passage but instead ask you something about DNA. These passages are helpful for ensuring you have memorized your content, but don’t exactly reflect the type of questions you will be asked on the real MCAT. So, to make sure we are ready for the real MCAT, we need to transition into working exclusively with AAMC material.

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Tags: MCAT

The MCAT: Balancing Content Review and Practice Passages

Posted by Cole on 7/27/18 5:29 PM

pssst...this is part of a series.  Read the first and the second post!

Now that you have made your super study guide (applause all around), we want to review it but also begin to focus more heavily on practice passages. Just to reiterate, at this point we are in the Period B of studying (see Phase 1 article if confused). We have reviewed all of our content and are now trying to make sure we can recall it. As time ticks down and the MCAT date approaches, we want to be continuously adjusting our daily study schedule. See the diagram below for a less-wordy explanation (yay diagrams!).

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Tags: MCAT

MCAT: How to Process Content for Internalization

Posted by Cole on 7/6/18 3:55 PM

You made it to Phase 3 and you are still alive, so congratulations! At this point, we are now in ‘Period B’ studying (if that makes no sense, refer back to the Phase 1 article). By now we have successfully reviewed all of the content in our books and have taken a few MCAT practice exams. Things should be starting to feel a little more comfortable, but I wouldn’t expect you to have the exact pathway and effects of adrenocorticotropic hormone memorized right now. However, Phase 3 is where we change that! The primary purpose of this article is to help provide tips for internalizing material. I purposefully use the word ‘internalize’ rather than ‘memorize’ because the goal is to create a massive web of interconnected details rather than memorize isolated facts.

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Tags: MCAT

Structuring and Strategizing your MCAT Studying

Posted by Cole on 6/20/18 5:49 PM

Phase 1 - Introduction & Scheduling the MCAT; Tips for Timing

Introduction

Right now, you might feel that even hearing the word “MCAT” may induce a full-blown panic attack. I get it, not too long ago that word (acronym, technically speaking I guess?) was the bane of my existence. It’s an exam that requires painstaking diligence, long hours, sacrifices, relentless studying and enduring patience. In many ways, having completed that journey, I found that it also requires much more. You might be thinking right now, “Okay, enough with this article it’s stressing me out.” If you feel that way, you’re not alone. To give you some numbers (albeit, slightly dated numbers), in 2015 and 2016 over 125,000 people took the MCAT {1} (yikes). What’s even sadder than the culminative stress generated by all those anxious pre-med students is this one tragic fact – the vast majority of them were structuring their study habits entirely wrong, likely causing them to receive a lower score than what they were capable of attaining. My goal, in this series of 6 articles, is to try and help you avoid that same fate.

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Tags: MCAT

How To Prep For the MCAT As A Full Time Student

Posted by Connor on 2/7/18 5:38 PM

The hardest part of studying for the MCAT isn’t the studying itself. Given enough time, most people could study enough to do reasonably well. The problem is, most of us don’t have all that time: the majority of MCAT preppers are in college or work full time jobs. Both of these commitments are enough on their own, so trying to stack studying for the hardest graduate school entrance test in the country on top of that is a tall order. It’s not something one can head into blindly. Thankfully, there are several organizational strategies that can help the full time student or professional study for the MCAT in their off time.

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Tags: MCAT

My Strategy for a Perfect Score: ACT Reading and MCAT CARS

Posted by Shaq on 1/5/18 6:16 PM

If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re looking to improve your reading score on either the ACT or the MCAT and ideally, you’re in one of two boats:

1) You are consistently a few points shy of that 36 on the ACT Reading or 132 on MCAT CARS and are looking to bridge that last gap

2) Are struggling with the reading section in general, and are looking for a strategy that will give you a clear, structured approach

Both the ACT and MCAT reading sections can be fickle contributors to your composite score—just missing one additional question can bring your score down a whole point. Here’s the portion of the raw score to scale score chart for the ACT on Princeton Review’s website.

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Tags: ACT, MCAT

How long does it take to study for the MCAT Test?

Posted by Henry on 12/4/17 3:55 PM

I am going to estimate how long a student might take to study for the MCAT test using the books I recommend for my students under the premise that someone is studying full time. This is an estimate, but I think it paints a decent picturse of what a fulltime MCAT student can expect. For part time students, they would spread this over a longer period of time (I hope).

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Tags: MCAT

The Best Standardized Test Tip? Comparitive Process of Elimination

Posted by Henry on 7/26/17 5:30 PM

Last month I wrote a post on how I initially teach my students to look at multiple choice problems. If you have not read it, I would recommend doing that first before reading on.

As I wrote, I initially give my students two dimensions on which to assess an answer choice: truth and relevance. I start with these two for a few reasons. Firstly, whether or not a student can tell me if an answer choice is true generally correlates with their level of knowledge and to some extent the quality of their knowledge or content studying. Additionally, I ask students to assess the relevance of the answer choice to ensure that the students are always going back to the question with each answer choice. This prevents a common misstep: choosing an answer choice that is factually correct, but does not answer the question. These dimensions are helpful but do not encompass all of the dimensions in which answer choices may differ. However, there are myriad ways in which answer choices might differ, and as such it stops being efficient to memorize dimensions and assess them one at a time. This is what I call a direct approach, and while useful, there is a better way.

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Tags: MCAT

How to Take a Systematic Approach to Problems on the MCAT 

Posted by Henry on 5/24/17 6:33 PM


Before I went to college, I was professional ballet dancer and I loved to practice pirouettes—turning around on the tiptoes of one foot.  One of the first things I learned about pirouettes is that if I tried something completely different in my technique every time I practiced, I wouldn’t improve. Occasionally I would get lucky and do a few more pirouettes, but it never stuck, and I always regressed back to where I had been. I thought I was just bad at pirouettes in some intrinsic way, the way many of my students claim they are “bad test-takers.”

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Tags: MCAT