MCAT Secrets from a top MCAT Scorer and MCAT Instructor

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MP 281: MCAT Secrets from a top MCAT Scorer and MCAT Instructor

Session 281

This week, let’s take a little break from the diagnostic test as we introduce another one of the many instructors at Blueprint MCAT. Joining us is Jason, a Blueprint MCAT Live Online instructor, and a top scorer. He will be with us over the next several weeks to break down the diagnostic test.

Today, we talk about Jason’s background, what he thinks is the biggest struggle of students when it comes to MCAT prep, and when he thinks is the best time to take the MCAT. If you would like to follow along on YouTube, go to

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:44] John’s Background

With a degree in psychology, John took a lot of the prerequisites for the MCAT. He never had any desire to be a doctor or go into medicine at all. But he found that it was valuable to be able to help students to do well on this test.

Studying for the MCAT was pretty much different for John compared to other students because he already had a standardized testing background. He has been doing a lot of tutoring for SAT, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT.

And so for him, it was just shoring up content. Whereas a lot of people who take the MCAT over-prioritize content because they don’t have the critical reading and reasoning background first. John points out that both of those things really need to be developed in order to succeed here.

[06:01] The Biggest Mistake Students Make with Their MCAT Prep

John says the number one mistake he sees among students why they struggle with the MCAT is not practicing enough. 

He adds that many students think there are only so many MCAT questions available for them to practice on. And so, they’re just going to study all of the content and get it all down. Once they’ve got the content ready, they will go ahead and start applying that to passages and questions. But John clarifies this is absolutely the opposite approach that you need to take.

[07:36] What the MCAT Really Is About

Students fear being told that they’re not smart enough. And they fear that if they score low on the practice test or Q-banks, they’re going to be told they’re not good enough.

That is not what the numbers are saying. They’re just a reflection of your preparedness at that moment. You just have to overcome that fear.

John adds that it’s not that you are bad at standardized testing, there’s really no such thing. By definition, a standardized test should be something that is a level playing field for everybody. It means you’re not yet aware of strategies and ways of getting through a standardized test to take advantage of the format of that particular test. You’re not quite tuned into exactly what the MCAT is asking of you, and exactly what each question is trying to get.

'The MCAT is a test to see how well you can take the MCAT, nothing more, nothing less.'Click To Tweet

[10:58] Ways to Build Your Critical Thinking Skills Outside of Just Practice Questions

For passage reading and understanding, John recommends picking up a magazine, newspaper, novel, or a bunch of short stories. Practice reading those excerpts with a mind towards why the author is doing what they’re doing.

What purpose does each paragraph serve in the overall narrative of what this article or story is trying to convey? 

The more that you can think like the author, and take a peek behind the curtain in terms of just past the content of the passage and into what and why the author is doing it, you are well on your way to understanding CARS.

By understanding CARS, you can understand how to deal with science passages. You can understand what information is going to be relevant for questions and what you can very quickly dismiss as probably not being terribly important.

'Read as much as possible – and not just passively reading it. Scan over a bit asking critical questions while you're reading it.'Click To Tweet

[13:44] When to Know You’re Ready

John explains that even the top MCAT scorers still feel like they should have done better on the MCAT. Everybody always has that anxiety.

And so, knowing that you’re not going to feel ready is actually a big part of acknowledging when you are ready because it’s not about a feeling. 

John says that if you’re waiting to sign up for the test until you feel ready for the test, then you’ll never be signing up for the test. What you’re looking for is a number of practice tests where you’re scoring in a range that you would feel comfortable with on test day. So it’s not about necessarily spiking that one score on the practice test and then going, you’re ready to do it.

'Being able to score consistently, at least a couple of times in a row, at any score range you feel comfortable reporting to your schools, is a good indicator of being ready.'Click To Tweet

Because MCAT seats are limited, you have to go and register with the hope that you’re going to be prepared. That also comes with the risk that you may need to reschedule.

Ultimately, part of this process is making some educated guesses on when you think you’re going to be ready based on your schedule. Take advantage of Blueprint MCAT’s free Study Planner Tool. Look at what that workload may be, if you take it in January, March, or April, based on your school, calendar, workload, etc.


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