What is the Best Way to Learn MCAT Testing Strategy?


Session 51

In this episode, Ryan talks about the best ways to learn about MCAT strategies. The MCAT is a test that focuses less on content and more on critical thinking as you break down the passages, the questions and the answers. You can spend all the time reading books to learn the MCAT but if you don’t learn the strategies, then you’ve failed in your MCAT prep.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is preparing for the MCAT with Khan Academy videos and the Kaplan 7-book set and has learned concepts as well as when you pay for a $2500-prep course but not the exam strategy as much. Is there any other way to learn exam strategy (i.e. YouTube, website, or practice) or is the only real way to enroll in a prep course?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

The number one way to learn MCAT strategy is to learn from an instructor.

The best way to practice taking the MCAT is to take practice tests. But the best way to learn strategies is by watching and learning from an MCAT tutor and instructor.

Other ways of learning MCAT strategies for free:

  1. Listen to the MCAT Podcast

There are also YouTube videos but be careful though because most of the stuff you will find may not be of the best quality.

  1. Buy a set of practice tests.

Start with AAMC practice tests (2 scored and 1 is not)

Ryan recommends Next Step Test Prep and use the code MSHQ to save some money on that.

About Next Step Test Prep:

They are known for their one-on-one tutoring but they now also offer an MCAT Prep Course at $1,250 with a discount using the MSHQ code. Next Step Test Prep gives you access to live office hours with their course.

Links and Other Resources:


The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to get a discount off their materials and services)

AAMC practice tests

Khan Academy – MCAT



Dr. Ryan Gray: The Old Premeds Podcast, session number 51.
You’re a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms. You may have had some hiccups along the way, but now you’re now ready to change course and go back and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your nontraditional journey to becoming a physician.
Welcome to the Old Premeds Podcast if this is the first time joining me here, I’m glad to have you here. If this is not your first time, welcome back, I’m glad to have you back for another exciting installment of the Old Premeds Podcast, where we take questions directly from the www.OldPremeds.org forums, which if you’re not signed up over there, please do. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s a great environment. Again, www.OldPremeds.org.

Learning MCAT Strategy

Today’s question is about the MCAT, and obviously nontraditional students need to take the MCAT just like traditional students need to take the MCAT. And this student is asking about the best way to learn MCAT strategies. And if you haven’t heard me talk about before either on this podcast, or on The Premed Years Podcast which is the main podcast that we produce- or not the main one, but the longest running one, or the newest podcast, The MCAT Podcast. The MCAT is less a test on content and more a test on how you can use critical thinking to break down the passages, the questions, and the answers. And so you can spend all of your time inside of a book, and watching Khan Academy videos, and reading every book out there written for the MCAT. If you don’t learn the strategy like this poster is asking, then you have failed in your MCAT prep. So let’s dive into the question.
It says, ‘I have been preparing for the MCAT with Khan Academy videos and the Kaplan seven book set. I feel this allows me to learn the concepts as well as any $2,000 MCAT prep course, but doesn’t teach exam strategy as much. Is there any way- is there any other way to learn exam strategy (i.e.: YouTube, website, or practice), or is the only real way to enroll in a prep course?

Alright great question, and the fact that this poster is asking this question means they’re ahead of the game, the fact that they understand that there is a strategy to the MCAT. So the number one way to learn MCAT strategy is to learn strategy from an instructor. That’s the best way to learn strategy. Now if the question was, ‘How can I get practice on an MCAT?’ the best way to practice taking the MCAT is to take practice tests. But the best way to learn strategies is by watching and learning from a tutor, MCAT tutor, an instructor, whatever. With that said, go listen to The MCAT Podcast, we’re going to dive into answering questions on The MCAT Podcast, like breaking down passages and talking through things. So that’s one way of learning strategy for free which is awesome, www.TheMCATPodcast.com.

You might be able to find some stuff on YouTube about MCAT strategy. You have to be careful there because most of the stuff that you’re going to find is probably not the best quality. A lot of the ‘MCAT material’ that you find on there, you’re probably not going to find- like what I’m doing with Next Step Test Prep, with The MCAT Podcast, we’re actually using Next Step Test Prep materials to create this podcast, and to run through practice questions on the podcast. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find an MCAT company that’s out on YouTube putting out content, because they’re giving away their stuff and a lot of companies don’t like to do that.
But I would recommend you go and buy a set of tests, practice tests. I highly recommend Next Step Test Prep, you can use the code MSHQ for Medical School Headquarters, MSHQ to save some money on that. So you go www.NextStepTestPrep.com and use the code MSHQ to save some money. They have I think four packs, and six packs, and ten packs maybe for tests.

So that’s what I would recommend doing, getting a lot of practice tests under your belt. If you’re still not doing well at that point, then the question is do you need something more? Now you mentioned paying $2,000 for an MCAT prep course. Next Step Test Prep just came out with their own MCAT prep course, and they’ve always been known for one-on-one tutoring but now they have an MCAT prep course, and it is I think $1,250 with the discount, again using that MSHQ code, so a lot less than the $2,000. It’s still a lot of money, but I would start with the practice tests, see how you do, and from there figure out if you need something more in depth like the prep course.
Now Next Step’s prep course is a little bit different because it’s not an online course that just gives you all the content again, and gives you access to tests, you have access to live office hours with their course which is pretty cool.

So with that said, I don’t want this to be an advertisement for Next Step Test Prep. Obviously they sponsor The Premed Years show, and I highly recommend them, I have a great working relationship with them, and everybody that I send over there has great things to say about them. But you can go to any of the other companies and get practice tests. Obviously the AAMC, I would start with them as well, they have three practice tests at this point, and two of them are scored, one of them is not. So go check out The MCAT Podcast. We talk about a lot of this stuff in there and it’s free, and if you’re listening to this one and you’re not listening to that one, you should go do that.

Final Thoughts

Alright thank you for that great question. If you have a question go to www.OldPremeds.org, sign up for an account, it’s free, and ask away.

Alright I hope you have a great week. As you go through this process, as you’re struggling with your MCAT prep, with your prereqs, with whatever you’re doing, remember why you’re doing this. You’re doing this so that at the end of this journey you can call yourself a physician. Fulfill possibly that lifelong dream of becoming a doctor and treating those in need. Have a great week.

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