Today, I’m joined again by Ali to talk about how to prepare for the MCAT. How do you prep for the MCAT? What does that look like? How long does it take? What should you be looking at in terms of content review, books, and courses?
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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[02:23] The Best Way to Prepare for the MCAT'One of the best ways to study for the MCAT is to find three other people and make a study group and find one person for each section of the test where that is their strength.'Click To Tweet
Ali says it’s good to have a group of people around you to push you to study better. Find people where your strengths and weaknesses do not match up. This way you’re helping each other.
Now, for students who like to study alone, Ali points out that you actually get much better at things once you start teaching them. It makes a huge difference to not only know the material, but know it enough to communicate it to someone who doesn’t know it as well.
[04:53] What Resources to Use
Ali obviously recommends Blueprint’s materials. But other than that, he clarifies that it doesn’t really matter where you get the books as long as you use one set of books. That being said, reading for the same material in three different ways does not really help the content. Physics has been there for hundreds of years so it does not change much for you to read it from three sources.'It doesn't really matter where you get the books as long as you use one set of books.'Click To Tweet
Prep companies always update their books not because the content has changed. But because MCAT has probably added better questions. Hence, Ali recommends getting a new set of books, that being from at least in 2015 up to now.
Regardless of the book you use, Ali highly recommends googling what’s going to be tested on the MCAT. Learn what’s on the MCAT directly from the source.
[08:49] When to Use a Course
Ali explains some students may need to do an MCAT course and that’s for students who need the structure to study for the MCAT. It’s for those who have started their prep but don’t know where to start and what to do every day. Maybe you have access to a lot of free resources or books, but you don’t know the proper combination of reading content and doing practice questions. Or you just need sources for practice questions. And this is where test prep companies are doing a good job at providing you with all that structure.
Their system and structure have been proven as it has worked for a lot of students. And it can help you adjust your schedule and your approach if things are not working perfectly for you. At the end of the day, you have to have that self-awareness. Know yourself and know what you are going to need.'It's that self-awareness and self-reflection that every student needs to have.'Click To Tweet
[11:52] Self-Awareness is Key
Every student needs test prep, of course, but not everyone needs to do a formal course. They even have free resources to help you do it on your own such as Blueprint’s study planner tool. So take what you can get for free from all of the companies.
Everyone is different. Some people use it as a security blanket because they’re good already and they just want a little extra reassurance. Some people need it. And that’s where self-reflection or self-awareness comes in.
Figure out what you need. But at the core, you need the AAMC material at a bare minimum, which includes the four scored tests, and the one unscored test.
[15:14] How Many Full-Length Exams to Take
For students who are doing really well, Ali recommends shooting for a minimum of eight full-length exams. But don’t do it all in a week as this is the most common mistake students make. Just showing up and taking exams doesn’t actually make you better from the MCAT.'A big mistake that students make is just cramming them all together at the end, and not learning from each exam.'Click To Tweet
[16:20] When You Need One-on-One Tutoring
Ali categorizes students into two types. The first type is someone who needs a tutor. They may have some content deficiencies. And they need someone to sit with them and walk them through it. Even the structure of the course is not enough for them so they need more accountability. They need more communication with a tutor. In this case, one-on-one tutoring would be best for them.
You might walk into your MCAT test prep knowing what kind of student you are. You may already know that you need a tutor from day one and register for a tutoring service.
On the other hand, like a lot of students who go through the course, they are already halfway through their prep when they realize they need the extra help. They need someone to sit for them for a couple of hours hammering content. Or they need someone to hold their hand when reviewing a few passages.
[19:52] Final Thoughts
The AAMC website has a lot of useful information so be sure to check them out especially if you’re planning to just study on your own.
The next step is to go to test prep company like Blueprint MCAT. Register for a free account and see what resources are available.