Taking practice tests is a key step in your MCAT preparation, but many students don’t realize everything that goes into preparing to take the test and reviewing the test afterward. Reviewing the test is one of the most essential steps you can take in your MCAT prep work. After sitting through a grueling 7 hours of science and verbal comprehension, it can be tough to imagine doing anything except binge watching Netflix and eating a bowl of ice cream. Although breaks in your study schedule are good to incorporate, it is important to keep in mind that the biggest bang for your buck from practice tests comes from seeing where you went wrong and making a plan for how to avoid those mistakes later on. Follow my guide below for taking and reviewing a practice test!
Experiment with test-day settings.
During the MCAT, students are not allowed to bring in food or drink into the testing room. Try to rehearse test day settings by using the restroom and drinking your water before you begin, and make use of the ten-minute breaks between sections to understand how much time you will have to stretch, use the restroom, and access your snacks. If you are a caffeine drinker, try incorporate pre-made coffee or tea into breaks and see how that affects you during your practice test sessions so you won’t be caught off guard during the real test with feeling too sleepy or too jittery.
After the practice test, take a break.
You did it! The MCAT is a long test, and you don’t want to burn out from studying too much. Immediately after you take your test, plan to rest your mind and body by doing something outside of your study plan that makes you feel good. You can add in lighter study activities, like watching short content videos, for later in the day as you build up your study stamina.
Be sure to incorporate adequate review time into your study schedule.
While many students set aside an entire day for the practice test itself, it can be helpful to set aside an entire additional day after taking the test to review the test as well. Don’t rush your test review, as this step is the most critical in improving your score.
Write out where you went wrong.
Did you read the passage too fast? Did you lack the content knowledge to find the right answer? Did you misinterpret the question stem? Subdividing the reasons for where you went wrong can help you target your future study to address your personalized concerns and help you understand if you should spend more time reviewing content or if you are having trouble with the phrasing of the test itself.
Incorporate your mistakes into your study schedule.
Review the content for areas in which your background knowledge was lacking. If your baseline knowledge was good, but your reading skills were lacking, cut down on your content review time and increase your short practice passage and active learning time.
Your MCAT study schedule should be based on your own personal biggest challenges. Use your practice tests to your advantage to custom-fit the best way for you to study while you are on the home-stretch of defeating this test!
The road to medical school is long, and the MCAT is one of its most formidable challenges. You will be relieved to know that what you learned in your premedical courses is actually on the test. But studying for the MCAT is more about taking that knowledge stored way back there in the nooks and crannies of your mind, bringing it to the fore, and then learning to twist and stretch it in the ways the MCAT tests. In reality, studying for the MCAT is no more (or less) difficult than spending late hours on a physics problem set or an entire weekend on an organic chemistry lab report. Just like these other tasks, the MCAT requires endurance and follow-through, but it becomes significantly more manageable when you work with a Cambridge Coaching MCAT tutor to apply a structured, systematic, and strategic approach to your studying.
Anyone can study hard - but the real key to MCAT success is learning to study smart. So, while all forms of MCAT preparation require you to crunch a lot of material, we focus on helping you to make strategic choices about your areas of focus at every step of the game. Each Cambridge Coaching tutor is a highly-skilled manager of your personal study process. He or she will do more than just target your weaknesses - your tutor’s goal is to identify the sections where you have the greatest potential for improvement, and teach you to wring every last point from them by creating the roadmap for your studying, and helping you stick to it. Right from the start, your tutor will create a customized syllabus for you, and will then modify that syllabus as needed.
Taking the MCAT in 2020-21? Check out some other helpful blog posts below!: