This week, I want to talk about probably one of the most beneficial ways to prep for the MCAT that doesn’t cost a dime – and that is with a study group.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The Benefits of Having a Study Group or Study Buddy for MCAT Prep
Overcoming Challenges and Staying Motivated
Having a study group or study buddy during MCAT preparation can be incredibly beneficial. While individual studying is possible, it can be challenging to sustain the motivation and effort required for this demanding exam.
Collaborating with a study partner helps alleviate the burden and prevents feelings of loneliness or isolation. It also provides an opportunity to take breaks, spend time with loved ones, and make plans to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
“Not only can it be difficult to keep up that effort and to sustain that motivation over time… you can also be lonely or isolated.”
Understanding and Support
One of the key advantages of having a study group or study buddy is the ability to connect with someone who understands the challenges of MCAT prep. Sharing worries, discussing difficult topics, and seeking clarification become easier with a supportive companion. Whether it’s virtual collaboration or in-person study sessions, having someone to rely on helps foster a sense of camaraderie and accountability.
Sustaining Motivation and Accountability
When faced with moments of low motivation or the temptation to skip practice exams, having a study partner becomes invaluable. In situations where one person lacks the drive to study, the other can offer support and encouragement, maintaining momentum for both parties.
The presence of a study buddy ensures a shared commitment to success, making it less likely for either person to falter in their preparation.
By forming a study group or finding a study buddy, individuals can enhance their MCAT preparation experience. The mutual support, understanding, and accountability provided by these partnerships contribute to increased motivation and ultimately better performance on the exam.
The Challenges and Benefits of Study Groups: Overcoming Comparison
The Importance of Individual Progress
Especially if you’re studying with a group, it’s normal to notice variations in scores among your peers. Different people have different strengths, and it’s natural for them to excel in certain sections while others may shine in different areas. However, one significant challenge of study groups is the tendency to compare oneself to others. This can steal away the joy of personal progress.
“Comparison as a thief of joy, not being able to look at your own progress without comparing yourself to your study buddies.”
The danger lies in constantly measuring your own achievements against those of your study buddies. It’s essential to recognize that each person has their own unique journey and abilities. If constantly comparing yourself to others is difficult for you, it’s crucial to be mindful of this risk.
To address this challenge, consider setting boundaries within your study group. For instance, instead of sharing exact scores, focus on celebrating individual improvements. By openly communicating and supporting each other without fixating on scores, you can maintain a positive and motivating environment.
Embracing Individual Journeys
Remember, everyone is on their own path, and being part of a study group doesn’t diminish the value of your personal progress. Embrace the idea that you are coming together to support one another, while still acknowledging that each person will have their own unique journey.
To ensure a healthy study environment, it’s crucial to openly communicate with your study group and establish guidelines that work for everyone. If someone suggests not sharing scores but focusing on score changes or improvements, consider embracing this approach as it can alleviate unnecessary stress and comparison.
How to Create Study Groups for Virtual Learning
There are several ways to create study groups and connect with fellow students, even in virtual or online settings. Here are some suggestions:
- Utilize course platforms: If you’re taking a course, whether it’s offline or online, make use of the course platform or discussion forums to connect with other students. You can create a post or message asking if anyone is interested in forming a study group.
- Online communities and forums: Explore online communities and forums related to your field of study or test preparation. Websites like Reddit, Student Doctor Network, or Facebook groups can be helpful in finding study groups or connecting with other students who are seeking the same.
- Social media platforms: Utilize social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to connect with other students or join relevant groups. You can search for study group opportunities or post your own request.
- Reach out to pre-health offices: If you’re a pre-med student or an undergraduate, reach out to your school’s pre-health office. They may have resources, newsletters, or contacts that can help you find study group members.
- Organize through newsletters: If your school has a pre-health or academic newsletter, consider putting out a request for study group members. Create a Google form or ask interested students to fill out a form or provide their contact information to form a group chat.
- Premed organizations: Explore pre-med organizations or clubs at your school, even if you are not a current member. Reach out to them to see if they can suggest interested members or help you connect with potential study partners.
Building Study Communities as a Nontraditional Student: Tapping into Volunteer Opportunities
Exploring Volunteer Groups for Study Connections
If you’re a non-traditional student, such as a hospital volunteer, there are opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. Volunteer positions often attract diverse groups of people, including retired individuals and pre-med students. This presents an additional avenue for finding study group members.
Even if you don’t have direct connections to schools or specific clubs, volunteering programs can serve as a valuable resource. Reach out to the director of the volunteering program and inquire about any newsletters or communication channels they may have. Express your interest in building a study community among pre-health students and ask if there are any resources available to help you connect with potential study partners.
Casting a Wider Net for Study Support
If you lack premed friends or a strong network, don’t hesitate to reach out to various individuals and organizations. Take some time to send out emails to different contacts, including volunteering coordinators, pre-med programs, or even peers who are already involved in pre-health activities. The worst that can happen is receiving a “no” response, but you might just find yourself a new study companion or a supportive group of pre-med students.
“Support is so important because… staying positive is really big for the MCAT because it can be hard to do. So make sure you have people in your corner.”
The Importance of a Supportive Study Community
Having a support system is crucial for maintaining a positive mindset during the MCAT journey. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals and pre-med peers can provide valuable encouragement and motivation. By actively seeking out study communities and support networks, you enhance your chances of success and mental well-being.