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My MCAT experience (or how I learned to be more productive)
It was January 2019, and there was about a month left before my MCAT test date. I was exhausted by this point: the test prep was taking up the majority of my time outside of school. During a study break, I vividly recall looking at the data usage statistics on my cell phone and being shocked. These metrics indicated that I had been using my phone ...
How to crush MCAT content review
The MCAT is a monster of a test. Even talented test takers approach this exam with some degree of apprehension. Fortunately, the MCAT is all about how you prepare, and I'm here to tell you that you can absolutely hit your target score with the right preparation.
How to study for the MCAT while working full-time
Just as there is no one right path to medical school, there is no one right time to take the MCAT. And as it turns out, there’s never a perfect time to drop everything and study full-time for a six to seven-hour multiple choice examination. Studying for the MCAT is challenging even if you have all day to focus on it, let alone if you’re also ...
Drawing the chair conformation of a pyranose ring
Welcome back! In this blog post, we will complete the following example problem:
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part II)
Welcome back! If you missed part I of this post, please check it out here. Now that you've made an MCAT study schedule, adjusted your lifestyle, and figured out the fuel your body needs, you're probably wondering...
Achieving the MCAT body of your dreams (part I)
Summer is officially upon us, and some of you may be working on your ideal summer physique. No, I’m not talking about washboard abs or a chiseled upper back (though those are great goals to have as well). If you’ve found this post on your own (or read the title), then you already know what I’m talking about: preparing your body for the MCAT! 
Fetal circulation: three shunts, one rule
Hearts are pretty cool, and so are developing fetuses. Unfortunately for the student preparing for the MCAT, they’re also both pretty complicated, and fetal circulation differs from adult circulation in three main structures. In the next couple paragraphs, I’m going to break down these structures with one rule. If you’re not familiar with adult ...
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 2: SDS-PAGE is Still About Dinosaurs
Welcome to Part 2 of our foray into lab techniques! In my last post, we discussed the basic principles behind gel electrophoresis. In this post, we’ll build off the principles behind gel electrophoresis and talk about its cousin, SDS-PAGE, with a focus on how it is different from gel electrophoresis. If you need a refresher on gel electrophoresis, ...
MCAT Lab Techniques Part 1: Dinosaurs and Gel Electrophoresis
There are a lot of lab techniques tested on the MCAT. Many will be techniques you haven’t seen before in real life. They might have meaningless names like “Western blot” or “SDS-PAGE.” And the MCAT expects you to know not just what they are used for, but also how they work. Sucks, right?
8 tips for MCAT success
1. Take a diagnostic test The MCAT is a monster of a test, and it will very likely be the most comprehensive exam you’ve ever taken. Everything from mRNA to Sigmund Freud will be on there, and it will encompass all that you’ve learned in your college science courses...and then some. So how do you even start? Well, we all have our own strengths and ...
How to make an MCAT study plan
When I taught high school science in DC Public Schools, my colleague had a saying whenever he would assign lengthy class projects. “There’s only one way to eat an elephant,” he would say, “one bite at a time.” Although his advice was intended for our class of grumbling adolescents, I found it increasingly applicable to my own extra-curricular ...
How to make the most of the two weeks before your MCAT
I’ve always been someone who gets caught between cycles of procrastination and wild activity when a deadline is impending. The MCAT was no different for me; however, I really made the most out of those two weeks leading up to my exam date. With the right study execution, the final two weeks can be used to sharpen your exam-taking skills, leading ...
Pearls of knowledge: what my older pre-med mentors taught me
As I suddenly realize that I am halfway through my gap year and that 2020 has been swallowed by the gaping maws of that-which-shall-not-be-named, I find myself with more time than usual to sit still. To be quiet and reflect on the years that have led me to the point at which I find myself. 
How to balance redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions
Balancing redox reactions is an essential skill for the Chemical and Physical Foundations section of the MCAT, the GRE Chemistry Subject Test, and the AP Chemistry Exam. Today, we will learn how to use the half-cell method for balancing redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions. We will first balance a redox reaction in acidic solution, then ...
Hormones of the female reproductive system
The female reproductive system can at times feel like a difficult jumble of hormones that all seem to be related, but fluctuate in unpredictable ways. To make sense of the particularities of the female reproductive system, especially for exams like the MCAT, it is important to not only know what hormones are involved, but also to understand what ...
Gametogenesis and spermatogenesis and oogenesis, oh my!
Meiosis is one of those processes that we all learned about in high school biology as a deceptively simple concept. You take the diploid cell, divide it twice, and it becomes four haploid gametes that are each capable of participating in fertilization. Easy, right?
Mnemonics for memory: your MCAT best friend
Anyone who has studied for the MCAT will tell you: there is A LOT to learn. At times, learning new information about your own body can feel pretty rewarding. Other times, the sheer magnitude of information you are responsible for can feel quite overwhelming. At its best, conquering content related to the MCAT should feel like an ambitious ...
Pituitary gland hormones made simple
What is the pituitary gland? Even though the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea, it plays a very important role in regulating a lot of our body’s endocrine functions. Located in an area known as the sella turcica at the base of the brain and suspended from the hypothalamus by a stalk, the pituitary gland consists of two parts: the ...
A perspective on the CARS section from an English major
One February morning in my junior year, sitting under the harsh lights of the reference room in my college library, I decided to open ExamKrackers’ 101 Passages in MCAT. While I bemoaned the fact that this moment heralded the beginning of the dreadful MCAT study period, I was secretly confident that CARS would be a feel-good start to my MCAT ...
Working with lenses and mirrors: how to draw a ray diagram
Ray diagrams can look intimidating, but they don’t have to be! In this blog post, we will tackle five examples of ray diagrams.
Applying to medical school with a low MCAT score
Pre-meds all over the world freak about the MCAT. It’s a long, overwhelming test that functions as a predictor for how well you might perform in medical school. For some schools, it’s the metric for whether or not you are offered an interview. So, pre-meds study hard, and some do well, while others are less than pleased with their scores. Low ...
How to study for the MCAT when you're not done with science coursework
A lot of folks have asked me how to study MCAT material that they have never seen in class. It is a good and important question. Many of the topics covered on the MCAT—particularly on the Chem/Phys section—are covered in classes that students tend to take later in their college careers, such as second-semester physics (E&M). In this brief ...
Premed during COVID-19? How to put your time at home to good use
A common concern among undergraduate premed students these days is how COVID-19 may impact their application plans to medical school. Before offering some ideas for using this time productively, a gentle reminder: Most medical school committees are comprised of physicians, all of whom would much prefer that you practice social distancing and basic ...
The-MCAT-subsection-that-must-not-be-named: CARS
When you’re talking about the MCAT, there’s one subsection whose name strikes fear into the hearts of science-oriented premeds: CARS. As someone who never took more than the bare minimum of required humanities classes and learned English as a second language, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
How to stay focused (and off social media) while studying for the MCAT
There’s no question that studying for a test like the MCAT takes discipline—from making a study plan to reading prep materials and taking those dreaded 7-hour practice tests. When I prepared for the MCAT, I struggled to stay focused for long periods of time: after doing just a couple practice questions, I would find myself on Twitter or Facebook, ...
Spaced repetition and why it’s important while studying for the MCAT
Spaced repetition at its simplest is the idea that the more frequently you’re exposed to information, the better you remember it. It’s more effective to repeat something 7 times over the course of one week than over the course of a single day. Your brain needs time to process the information you’ve learned and make connections with other stuff you ...
3 essential tips for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section
Studying for the MCAT Psychology/Sociology section can feel daunting at first – there are so many terms to memorize, and often test-takers have never taken a formal psychology class. Though it may seem impossible to learn this on your own, there are several techniques that can make preparing for this section manageable (and even fun!).
Building on existing reading skills to improve your MCAT CARS score
As an MCAT tutor and former test taker, I have often encountered a subset of students who struggle with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section (CARS) of the test. It can become a significant source of frustration during studying, and there are many students who may even have to re-take as a result of a poor CARS performance.
MCAT score plateaus: why they happen, and what to do about them
One of the most common frustrations that I’ve seen students run into during their MCAT studying is the dreaded score plateau. A student’s studying is going well, they are improving on their practice exam scores and feel confident in their content mastery, but then several exams in a row show the same score. It can feel demoralizing, but remember, ...
5 ways to improve your MCAT studying without studying for the MCAT
OK, let’s state the obvious – the MCAT is daunting. Just take a look at the MCAT topic list PDF provided by the AAMC. It is one-hundred and twenty-five pages of topics alone. And while there is no substitute for good old-fashioned content studying, there are strategies to improve your studying that have nothing to do with studying itself.
One tutor’s guide to MCAT study materials
One of the very first questions a student asks about a standardized exam is invariably, “Which study resources should I use?”. For the MCAT, the answer is far from simple. With the multitude of test prep publishers out there, each claiming to guarantee students the best possible score, it can often be difficult to find sources that are truly ...
A comprehensive guide to MCAT resources
The purpose of this post is to update a previous I had written about MCAT practice tests. Since that post, my recommendation for practice tests has remained the same. AAMC tests (sample test, practice 1-3, in total 4 tests, practice 1-3 are scored) are still your best resource. After that, the next best thing would be the Examkracker tests for the ...
How to ace the MCAT in 3 steps!
The MCAT is not a memorization test. Let me be more specific: it’s much more about recall than it is about recognition. When you’re prepping for the Psych/Soc section of the MCAT, you’ll learn about different types of memory—sensory, working, procedural, episodic—how memory is stored, and how it’s retrieved. You can retrieve stored memories ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 5
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 ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: Phase 2
  Phase 2: Reviewing Content While Staying Sane Welcome back! Having learned about Period A and Period B from the Phase 1 article (see link), we will delve deeper into the structure of Period A. As mentioned, the major focus of Period A is content review (fun!). While the structure offered by online prep courses can help (again, I took the ...
Structuring and strategizing your MCAT studying: phase 1
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, ...
How to prep for the MCAT as a full time student
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 ...
Mindfulness and the MCAT: 3 steps for avoiding burnout
Pre-Med students are no strangers to stress. From Physics midterms, to O-Chem lab reports, to the inevitable march into finals week, you have plenty of experience juggling assignments and managing that cortical response of your brain saying, Yeah, this is a little too much. Stress itself isn’t the problem. In fact, after a certain point it shows ...
CARS: proven strategies for the MCAT’s strangest section
  As a premed student, you’re likely comfortable with science questions. Even if you don’t know all the material, you’ve had plenty of practice answering experimental and knowledge-based questions, and generally know how to approach them. That experience will serve you well in the bulk of the MCAT.
How to take a systematic approach to problems on the MCAT 
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 ...
Essential tips for learning the anterior pituitary hormones
Learning the anterior pituitary hormones for your biology class or the MCAT can be a little overwhelming. It is easy to get lost in the weeds and struggle to see how it all connects. One thing that helped me when I was learning the anterior pituitary hormones was to visualize the connections between the most important structures. This both helped ...
Total Justification: the best question strategy for the MCAT
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 ...
The four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by an expert
Are you ready for the four most essential MCAT resources, ranked by our expert MCAT tutor Weike?  Read on to get the essential list!
Why you're picking the wrong answer on the MCAT
While many students blame incorrect answers on a lack of knowledge or careless mistakes, these explanations don’t account for the many ways an MCAT test writer can mess with a poor unsuspecting test-takers brain. If the MCAT were a simple matter of knowledge and diligence, the studying process would be far easier. Knowledge is easily acquired ...
Why you should take the MCAT CARS seriously
 In my opening email to students, where I introduce myself as their tutor, I will frequently ask about their reading comprehension ability.  My exact words are “Think back to your SAT, ACT days and how you did on the verbal sections”.  The reason I do this is because verbal (or CARS, as the MCAT calls it, which stands for critical analysis and ...
When should you take the MCAT?
As all pre-med students know, the MCAT is one of the biggest (and sometimes scariest!) hurdles on the way to medical school. It is also steeped in uncertainty -- how do you study? What score should I be aiming towards? When will I be ready to take it? 
A comprehensive guide to MCAT practice tests
The MCAT is a daunting test. I think I have said this to every one of my students. These students then ask me what is the best way to study and my answer to that really varies student by student. Some students need more structure, a day-to-day agenda. Some students like more flexibility. But what has not varied from student to student is taking ...
Enzyme inhibition and Lineweaver-Burk plots: MCAT test prep
We’ve already covered a little bit about the basics of enzyme kinetics,  so now let’s move on to discuss an important application of enzyme kinetics in the body (and in medicine)...
Advice on MCAT breakdowns, depression, and stress
The MCAT is a brutal test.  Having taken it and tutored numerous MCAT students (as well GMAT and GRE students), I can say with absolute certainty that I seen more students break down over the MCAT than they have with any other test.  Every one of my MCAT students has, at some point, teared up over this test and cursed it to hell.
MCAT statistics crash course: what do I need to know? (part 2)
We already talked about Research Design and Execution, but there’s more to know about MCAT statistics! Here, we will be discussing topics that AMCAS wants you to know about Data-Based and Statistical Reasoning. Here’s what AMCAS wants you to know, and some tips to help you learn it! Use this post as an outline to guide your studying, and then come ...
A guide to enzyme kinetics on the MCAT
Enzymes are hugely important in the human body both for normal function and for drug therapies. Their kinetics (or function with respect to time) are also easily graphable, making them a very testable MCAT topic. Even more importantly, once you’ve aced the big, bad MCAT, you will need to revisit enzyme kinetics in every medical school curriculum, ...
MCAT statistics crash course: what do I need to know? (part 1)
As most of you know, the AAMC has published an extensive outline of topics and skills assessed by the new MCAT (the complete guide can be found HERE). It is important to look at this list before you start studying a subject, and going back to it periodically to make sure you are on the right track. This list is not exhaustive, and only covers ...
What to do when you don’t understand a science passage on the MCAT
One overarching theme of the MCAT exam is its unusual application of basic knowledge (well, “basic” once you’ve completed four years of pre-med classes and studied for a few months). Passages will often present familiar phenomena in the context of complex systems, or expect test-takers to predict the outcomes of perturbations to the novel scenario ...