3 Biggest Mistakes When Preparing for the MCAT

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3 Biggest Mistakes When Preparing for the MCAT

Session 5

In today’s episode, we talk about the 3 biggest mistakes premed students make when preparing for the MCAT, along with how to avoid these mistakes.

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

Bonus MCAT Mistake Before We Get Started

Buy-Another-Book-itis: It’s a disease that med students and premed students get where “everything will be great if they buy another book.” So they end up spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars buying resources that are not necessary.

Learn the MCAT books you already have. Any books from the major test prep companies are going to be good, and you only need one set. But you’ve got to really spend some quality time with them, as we’ll cover below.

Learn the MCAT books you already have. You don't need multiple sets of MCAT books.Click To Tweet

Top 3 Mistakes Students Make When Preparing for the MCAT:

  1. Failing to fully review their MCAT practice exams.

Common scenario:

Students take a practice test. They get a score, and then take another test and get another score and take another test and get another score.

What you need to do:

  • In order to improve your MCAT score, you need to carefully analyze each practice test after you take it.
  • Spend 8 to 18 hours after each full-length practice test, doing an autopsy on every single question.
  • It may feel boring and time-consuming, but it’s incredibly productive. So analyze your test one question at a time.

Reviewing all the questions means reviewing all the questions, including those you got right. Why did you get them right? How will you do it again on your test day?

When reviewing your MCAT practice tests, look at the questions you got right, too. Why did you get them right? How will you do it again on your test day?Click To Tweet

3.5. Not taking enough full-length practice tests.

Common scenario:

Students get lazy and only take part of a practice test.

What you need to do:

Simulate your test day and treat it like your real exam. Wake up early. Take the same length of breaks as you get in the real MCAT. Try to practice like the real thing.

[Related episode: How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should I Take?]

  1. Always rushing ahead to new material without adequately reviewing the material you’ve already covered.

Common scenario:

There is so much material covered on the MCAT that you feel like you have to move on to the next chapter, even if you haven’t mastered the one you’re working on.

What you need to do:

  • You have to spend time reviewing. MCAT content cannot be studied the way you studied for your immunology midterm.
  • MCAT content has to be mastered. Learn it like a musician learns a musical score.
  • Learn the material backward and forward.
  • Look at it multiple times. Sleep on it, and come back to review again 2 or 3 days later to make sure you’ve solidified the material.
Learn your MCAT books like a musician learns a musical score.Click To Tweet
  1. Rushing the MCAT itself.

Warning: Falling into this MCAT mistake will entirely screw up your application timeline.

Common scenario:

  • You end up taking the MCAT before you’re ready because don’t want to push it back.
  • A month later, you receive your score, and it’s not high enough to get you into med school.
  • Now you’ve just spent over a month waiting to get that score back before you realize it’s not the score you needed.
  • So you have to schedule a retake and face the issue of whether you can get a seat to take the test in June or early July.

Making this mistake doesn’t just lose a day or a week. You’re losing a month or more of time and potentially screwing up your entire application timeline. It’s important to apply early in the cycle. Don’t let your MCAT be the missing piece that delays your application.

What you need to do:

  • Take the MCAT as early as you can, but do not take it before you’re ready.
  • Don’t rush the MCAT.

At the end of the day, your MCAT score, although not the only part, is a huge part of your application. So making sure you’re ready to take it is very crucial. How do you know when you’re ready to take the MCAT? It’s all about your practice test scores. We explore that question in more detail in episode 37.

Don't rush the MCAT. Only take it when you're ready.Click To Tweet

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