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.  

Read More

Tags: study skills, MCAT

What is the Most Important Strategy to Use on the Step 1 Exam?

Posted by Mac S. on 12/7/16 5:05 PM

When I was practicing for my Step I exam, I often found myself frustrated. I would take what seemed like a simple case, find some minute detail, and then pick some crazy complex answer. Eventually, I found a strategy that helped me get over that: treating the patient in the question like a real one.

Read More

Tags: study skills, USMLE

The Universal Standardized Test Taking Strategy: Know the Policy

Posted by Greg on 10/28/16 5:08 PM

This week, one of our Master level tutors shares the most commonly forgotten test taking strategy: know the testing policy. Greg's anecdote sheds light on the responsibility of the student and the tutor to learn the policies of the test, and understand what motivates test policy changes.

Read More

Tags: study skills, GMAT, GRE

A Guide to Midterms: 3 Steps to Getting You Back on Track

Posted by Pat C. on 10/24/16 6:42 PM

As the weather turns cooler it can happen that college life is not all apple picking and pumpkin spice flavor. Around this time, especially if you are taking classes where the professor had to teach you some skills and content before it was fair to give you assignments or exams that tested your knowledge, you may be looking at some papers or exams upon which are inscribed grades that surprised you—and not in a good way. This is a very common experience. You are not alone, although it may feel that way. What to do? 

Read More

Tags: study skills, college

The Most Essential Study Habits for USMLE Step I Exam

Posted by Mac S. on 10/19/16 5:37 PM

In this blog post, I’ll be talking about some of the study habits that I used both during the year and during my intensive study period (the time that BU had designated for exclusive Step I preparation). The most important piece of advice I could have for someone preparing for the step exam is to start early. Also, every week or so, designate some time to reflect on how things are going. Ask yourself “What’s working? What’s not working? How do I reduce the second column and augment the first?”

Read More

Tags: study skills, USMLE

The Most Common Prefixes and Their Meanings

Posted by Alison on 10/17/16 6:00 PM

The English language comprises a plethora of words that can change meanings with the addition of a prefix or a suffix. For example, the prefix re signifies that the base word to which it attaches is happening again, as in "do" and "redo". In theory, one could add re an infinite number of times to the front of a word, and the effect would continue to do the same thing; the word's function would be repeated however many times the prefix re appears. The fact that such a pattern exists in English recalls an aspect of the language (there it is again, re in recall to call to mind again) that dates back to its origins. As much as English is a language full of exceptions to the rules, it also presents patterns that, when understood, can shed light on how and why we use the words that form the English language.

Read More

Tags: study skills, English, SAT

Tips for Managing Stress at School: Start with Self Care

Posted by Anna M on 10/7/16 6:00 PM

We've covered a wide range of territory in the past 4 months, from developing skills in mindfulness-based stress reduction to fine-tuning our routines, diets, and athletic activities for optimal academic success. What results from this potpourri of advice and ideals can be, paradoxically, a sense of pressure to strike the perfect balance in our lives, attaining good grades without sacrificing our physical health, our time with friends, or our space for self reflection. Many high-achieving students are driven by a sense of perfectionism that can feel overwhelming, so how can we best harness it? While still achieving the big dreams that we have?

Read More

Tags: study skills, psychology

The Tools for Success on the USMLE Step I Exam

Posted by Mac S. on 9/30/16 6:00 PM

In this blog post, I’ll be covering an extremely important part of your USMLE step I preparation: Materials. In thinking back to my Step I preparation, I realized that I needed four specific tools: Primary sources, a tool to retain information, questions, and a tool for self-evaluation. The specific implementation of this doesn’t matter very much, but I’m going to define what I mean by each of these tools and provide examples of what worked best for me.

Read More

Tags: study skills, USMLE

Thinking Harder Not Smarter: The Three Key Components of Memory

Posted by Kevin K on 9/26/16 6:30 PM

Debunking the Myth of Cramming

AP U.S. History was a nightmare for me. When did Abraham Lincoln pass the Emancipation Proclamation Act? Did the Alien and Sedition Acts happen under the Adams or Jefferson administration? My problem spilled over into other disciplines: did magnesium sulfate dissolve in water? Did government subsidies affect supply or demand? I responded to my shortcoming the way high school students do across America: I crammed more and slept less.

To no one’s surprise, I did terribly. Only later during a college neuroscience course would I really learn why. Memory, it turns out, does not work like a camcorder. Not every moment spent with your notes is worth the same, and not every memory is recalled perfectly.

Read More

Tags: study skills, psychology

The Key to Undergraduate Success: Unlocking Your Course Syllabus

Posted by Pat C. on 9/16/16 6:30 PM

One of the differences between high school and college can (depending on your particular experience) be how much you know about what you are going to be reading and when, and what days your exams and papers will be. Professors may have different levels of detail but generally speaking the syllabus is supposed to tell you what you’ll be reading, when your assignments will be due, how your grade will be calculated, what you have to do to pass, fail or excel in the class, the rules of the class (the absence policy, what happens if you text in class, can you turn in your work late?), and sometimes the rules of the University that affect the class, like what would happen if someone cheated. Most importantly, your professor and the University assume that you know and understand the policies on the syllabus. At the end of the course, you can’t say you didn’t know about a requirement you didn’t meet or a rule you broke if those things are clearly spelled out on the syllabus. It’s helpful, too: don’t have the money to buy all the texts immediately? The syllabus will tell you which ones to buy first. And you can hightail it to the university and public libraries to see if you can check out any of the required texts.

Read More

Tags: study skills, homework help