Can the MCAT Prepare You for Medical School?

Session 160

Today, Phil from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) joins me as we discuss all of the data analysis and gamification of the MCAT and so mu

Also, take some time to listen to The Premed Years to learn all the strategies on how to apply to medical school. Hear stories of students who have overcome extremely significant obstacles. I also have conversations with admissions committee members with deans of admissions at medical schools.

“The MCAT is important but understanding the application and having that motivation and encouragement is so much more than just the MCAT.”Click To Tweet

[04:00] Why the MCAT Changed in 2015

The AAMC has an incentive to create the best doctors and physicians and keep the reputation going. They want to make sure everybody is doing their job well.

The MCAT basically changed in 2015. The first people noticed is the ramp-up in difficulty in terms of the length. As everyone got better, the exam was just wasn’t enough to create the gradation they felt they needed to make informed decisions, hence, the change.

'The MCAT students are good at getting better so it became very difficult to separate students.'Click To Tweet

Another up in the difficulty is data analysis. From the perspective of the student who’s going to take the MCAT, it’s a bit unfair. Even if you’ve taken all of your prereqs or you’re a biochem major, there are going to be passages talking about techniques you’ve never heard of.

Medical schools don’t have time to teach you data analysis and so data interpretation doesn’t get incorporated into that. 

It’s important for a doctor to be good at data analysis. You need to be able to think critically about data and notice when data is not put together in the most obvious, cleanly understood way. In the real world, some information is not presented the clearest way.

[09:35] Getting Into the Head of the Writer

Phil believes that most passages are 80% fluff. Whether there’s a good chunk of stuff you actually don’t need. But they talk about what’s going on and then all of a sudden, there’s a way for them to ask questions about this.

The MCAT has “questionable” content, wherein they put in stuff they can ask questions about. 

A big portion of this is data where you interpret the graphs, charts, and figures. When you finish a passage, take a meta-analysis. Take “the bigger picture” look. So after you do those first six questions, take a step back. Look at the passage and the questions as a whole. Notice where those questions come from and what are the clues.

Look at the overall picture and you start to feel what the test writers are going to be asking. What is it that they really care about? What is that “questionable” content that they can ask questions about?

'Look at the passage and the questions together like an organic whole and look where do the questions come from.'Click To Tweet

Moreover, there are little things that don’t seem obvious. It takes practice. Be aware of context clues. As you read passages, you start to find and nitpick holes.

There is also an overwhelming amount of jargon that is especially prevalent in the bio section. It’s very easy to get lost that’s why it’s important that as you study, focus on figuring out those “questionable” content.

[17:00] The More You Practice, The Easier It Gets

This is actually very relevant once you get out and start practicing. It may not be as crucial during your first two years of medical school. But it’s going to be important later on. It’s painful at first but the easier it gets. Things will begin to make sense eventually.

There are some types of graphs, charts, and figures that the first time anybody comes across it, it blindsides you. Students can get off guard and they struggle with this but the next time they see it, it’s not going to be a problem.

'Push through it. Get past that first 100 pages and it becomes easier.'Click To Tweet

[23:05] Gamify It to Make Things Fun!

Sadly, there is too much pressure that takes you away from it and it makes things harder to learn. But if you’re hating every minute of it, it becomes much more difficult.

One way to stay motivated is gamification. Make a puzzle out of it as if it were a game. For instance, read the passage and predict what’s one question they’re going to ask. Then it becomes a little bit more fun and interesting! More importantly, motivation stays up.

'The MCAT, as well as med school, is not a sprint. It's a marathon. So you have to make the actual action of it more interesting and survivable.'Click To Tweet

[24:33] Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)

Check out where I did an in-depth review of the Next Step MCAT course. My biggest takeaway is the office hours with Phil. You get to have live office hours where you can go and have your personal questions answered by a test prep expert like Phil. Use the promo code MCATPOD to save $50 on the course.


Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)

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