As previously stated in Part 1: Logistics of the MCAT series, taking the MCAT can be compared to running a marathon. It looks different for everyone, but a TON of work and effort goes into successfully crushing it. I know there are many resources out there regarding studying for the MCAT. I created this article specifically because I always get asked how I studied for the MCAT. These are just items that worked for me and what didn’t work for me. A quick important reminder: the MCAT does not in any way measure your intelligence. I believe the MCAT only measures how well you prepared to take the MCAT. That’s it. It’s okay to feel like you bombed a practice test, but realize that is part of the process. You are taking one of the biggest exams of your life. Be proud of yourself.
Studying for the MCAT is comprised of two things: content and practice questions. Content work consisted of learning the massive amount of information tested. Practice questions consisted of taking actual practice tests and subject-based tests both timed and untimed.
Each subject on the MCAT tests on specific topics. Learning the topics allow you to realize what you need to focus. Here’s the breakdown by subject:
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems:
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
- Social Sciences
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Systems
I used a variety of study materials on the MCAT. I initially purchased the Kaplan MCAT Prep- Live Online Course. This resource came with Kaplan’s 7- Book Subject Review, 15 online practice tests, questions banks, and AAMC practice material. I also had access to Princeton Review’s Ultimate MCAT Prep Course, which included Princeton Review’s 11- Book Subject Review, 15 practice tests, Medflix videos. I also used Khan Academy MCAT Test Prep and MD Hero simultaneously with the above resources. In order to learn the content, I used different materials depending on the subject and my level of understanding. Below I have described how I used the materials to study for each section.
- For the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, I read Kaplan’s General Chemistry Review Book, Organic Chemistry Review Book, Biochemistry Review Book, and Physics and Math Review Book from the 7-Book Subject Review. I also used Princeton Review’s Subject Books to clarify any points as it was more detailed. I reviewed the MCAT Physics Review on MD Hero to solidify important physics topics. TIP: While studying this section, it’s important to start creating your own personal equations sheet. AAMC does not provide equations, but will give you standard values embedded in the question or passage.
- For the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, I read Kaplan’s Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Review Book from the 7-Book Subject Review once.
- For the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, I read Kaplan’s Biology Review and Biochemistry Review from the 7-Book Subject Review. I absolutely loved Princeton Review’s Medflix videos to review biology and biochemistry concepts.
- For the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Systems, I read Kaplan’s Behavioral Sciences Review Book from the 7- Book Subject Review twice and reviewed the MCAT Psychology and and Sociology Review on MD Hero.
PRACTICE TEST! PRACTICE TEST! PRACTICE TEST! I cannot stress this point enough. You need to set time aside to sit for full length practice tests. Building the stamina to sit through exam is half the battle. The MCAT consists of mostly passage-based questions and some discrete questions. It’s not like a normal chemistry exam taken in undergraduate. These type of questions take time to understand and answer correctly. TIP: After taking a practice test, make sure you review ALL questions (even ones you got correct).
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