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


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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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

Equations Guide for the MCAT: Your Key to Success

Posted by Farees on 4/10/17 9:00 AM

Equations are a MCAT test taker’s best friend, yet many students are afraid of them. They are powerful tools because they encapsulate a huge amount of information in a tiny package that you can easily memorize. They’re not everything—you still need to learn loads of conceptual information and facts to do well, but understanding how to use them is the most direct way to improving your score on the science section if you’re encountering general problems.

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Tags: MCAT

The #1 Question Strategy for the MCAT: Total Justification

Posted by Henry on 1/4/17 5:40 PM

What is Total Justification?

Most students pick the correct answer on a multiple choice practice problem, and think they have gotten the most they can out of the problem; they are wrong. Answering a question on the MCAT is essentially the task of appraising answer choices to see if they fit certain criteria, such as being factually correct or logical in the context of the passage. Appraising answer choices in the context of certain criteria is the meat of the MCAT, and practicing it just once per question is a massive waste. For this reason, I recommend that students explicitly justify why every correct answer is correct, but also, why every incorrect answer is incorrect: Total Justification.  

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Tags: study skills, MCAT

Biology on the MCAT: How to Simplify Complex Problems

Posted by Henry on 11/21/16 5:59 PM

Many problems on the MCAT seem quite complex upon first inspection but can actually be reframed to be more simple. This allows a test-taker to serve time as well as avoid the errors that come with repeated detailed analysis. To demonstrate this tactic, see the example below.

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Tags: MD/PhD admissions, MCAT

The Four Most Essential MCAT Resources, Ranked by an Expert

Posted by Weike Wang on 9/12/16 7:00 PM

Are you ready for the four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by our expert MCAT tutor Weike?  Read on to get the essential list!

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Tags: MCAT