In today’s episode, I talk with Bryan from Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep) about the changes made to the MCAT for 2015.
Bryan is the Academic Director at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep), where he also serves as an MCAT tutor. Having been in the MCAT game for about 15 years now, Bryan switched over to Next Step to focus on one-on-one private tutoring.
Today, this episode will focus on the MCAT 2015, what to expect, how to prepare for it, and the resources you will need.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
Some Common MCAT Questions
Why does the MCAT stress people out so much?
It’s outside the normal realm of what they’re doing.
Can you take the MCAT with only half a semester of physics?
Generally, you can get away with self-studying a single semester’s worth of content.Generally, you can get away with self-studying a single semester's worth of a prereq for the MCAT.Click To Tweet
What’s added to the new MCAT?
- 8-9 hour day
- Unsettled landscape
5 Things You Need to Do to Start Preparing for the MCAT 2015
Buy and read the official guide from cover to cover.
Go to the AAMC website and buy a copy of the official guide to the MCAT. Find out what’s in this thing, how it’s scored, the duration of the test, and what the practice passages look like. Read it from cover to cover.
Bryan shares a dirty little secret: 99.9% of what MCAT webinars offer come straight out of the official guide to the MCAT. So read the guide yourself, and you will know as much about the MCAT as most MCAT tutors.99.9% of what MCAT webinars offer come straight out of the official guide to the MCAT.Click To Tweet
Plan out your course work.
- Bryan suggests taking 3 semesters of biology or 2 whole years of biology since the whole test now has a flavor of biology to it (even in the chemistry and physics questions).
- All concepts now have a biological-systems feel to them. The more well-versed you are with bio, the better for you.
- Take one semester of each of the following: biochemistry, psychology, and sociology.
- Make sure to have at least one semester of a class specifically devoted to experimental design or a statistics course. Although AAMC does not require this, it would definitely help.
[Related episode: Are There Hidden Prereqs I Should Take for the MCAT?]
Know the best time to take the test.
- In 2015, because it was the first year of the new MCAT, the scores from spring were delayed. That’s no longer the case.
- The best time to take the MCAT is now March or April. This allows your score to get back at the beginning of the application cycle. Further, it allows you time to focus on other aspects of your application after the MCAT is taken care of.
- Listen to this podcast episode where I talk all about MCAT timing as it relates to application timing.
Use other resources such as prep books and practice test materials.
- Many options for prep books to choose from, such as Next Step, Kaplan, and Princeton.
- Consider picking a bigger set of prep books.
- For practice test materials, the content is always straightforward.
- Take all the AAMC practice tests, plus at least 3 or 4 tests from a test prep company such as Next Step.
[Related episode: Which MCAT Materials Are the Best for Me?]
Join a good study group.
- Start an MCAT study group to get support from other people who are also going through this. They can provide you academic, emotional, and social support.
- Run the study group like you’re the teacher.
- Give each other homework, and cross-teach each other to help see how other people think. This gives you cognitive flexibility.
- Your study group serves as your accountability group, not your competition.
Best ways to prepare for the new humanities and social science subjects:
- Verbal reasoning has been changed to critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS).
- Read every day.
- Pick up the philosophy textbook Reason and Responsibility.
- Take a semester of Psych 101 and Socio 101.
- Buy a good set of MCAT prep books.
- You have to be comfortable with psychology and sociology terms.
- Focus on one-on-one private tutoring
- High-quality tutors
- They offer tutoring services online and in-person.
- They offer the best MCAT course, in my opinion.
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my book about the MCAT, co-written with Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep): The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT.
- Free MCAT Gift: Free 30+ page guide to help you maximize your MCAT score!
- Related podcast: The MCAT Podcast, co-hosted with Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep).
- Related podcast: The MCAT CARS Podcast, co-hosted with Jack Westin.
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% Off Exams and “MSHQTOC” for $50 Off Tutoring or Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!