In today’s episode, I talk with Dr. Brett Ferdinand who has turned into one of the biggest MCAT prep gurus. He is the man behind the Gold Standard and MCAT-Prep.com. Today, we cover a countdown of the ten biggest MCAT myths.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
Background on Dr. Brett Ferdinand and MCAT-Prep.com
Brett has vast experience in the MCAT space. He created the MCAT online video library even before YouTube existed. They also had developed online practice tests even before the AAMC made the MCAT a computer-based test.
Today, they offer 7 full-length tests and one free abbreviated test that you can practice with. With over 6,000 practice questions, students will get a balance between knowledge-based questions, application questions, and full-length exams.
It’s not just about performing better for the MCAT but about making yourself a better doctor one day.
Brett’s path to medical school
- Writing Dr. Brett Ferdinand as his name on all his tests back in kindergarten
- Studying physics and math in undergrad
- Taking the MCAT after his junior year and started writing his first book on MCAT
- Getting accepted to all the medical schools he applied to
- Continuing to write books, make sites, and practice tests
Reasons behind Brett’s interest in the MCAT
- Using the basic sciences (physics, math, general chemistry, organic chemistry)
The biggest fear with the MCAT 2015 for students
- Addition of biochemistry on the MCAT
- Full-day testing experience and what it does to your body and mind
Ten Common MCAT Myths
Since it’s standardized, the exam day is the same for everyone.
Think of the exam day in its entirety because every day is different. The weather is going to be different. There are so many different experiences that you can have. Keep your mind open to many possibilities.
Beware of the danger in going to forums. Prepare for all contingencies and understand that not everybody is going to have the same exam experience so you have to prepare for that.Not everybody is going to have the same MCAT experience on test day.Click To Tweet
I will learn everything before the exam.
In a traditional exam, you can learn all you need to ace the test before taking it. For the MCAT, it involves a different way of thinking. Perfect practice makes practice.
Start very early in your MCAT prep. Based on your personality then you can start deciding which learning style suits you best which has to be problem-based learning.
Start with knowledge-based questions. Move on to practical application questions and then full-length practice tests. 2/3 of your time practicing should be higher learning processes you’re applying.
CARS is a reading section so it’s not important.
Reasoning is a core element in the CARS section that makes up one-quarter of your score. This cannot be ignored. Practice and find areas where you’re reading actively. Always get the global idea, summarize, and know the author’s point of view.
[Related episode: How Can I Improve My CARS MCAT Score?]
Every question counts.
If you’re going beyond two minutes when answering a question, assess the value of the question and how close you are to finishing it. The MCAT is a scales course system, which means that even if you miss 1-2 questions, the likelihood is you would get the same score as if you didn’t miss those questions.
Other exam questions are also not scored. Mark questions where you’re unsure of the answers and go back later.
I can take the MCAT as often as I like.
The MCAT is a full-day exam that is so stressful enough that you would want to minimize exposure to the exam. AAMC has also come up with rules on test-taking where one can only take the exam up to:
- Three times in a single year
- Four times during a two-consecutive year period
- Seven times in a lifetime
A high MCAT score is vital for medical school admissions.
AAMC has created a new marking system to make people at ease with the mid-range scores so they have found a way to minimize the MCAT score on medical school admissions.
The hope is that medical schools will put more emphasis on the personal statement and other application materials like the MMI which has a stronger correlation with a person’s clinical performance than the MCAT.
It’s only about the test.
It’s natural for students to focus on the materials but this is an unusual exam. There are peripheral matters that can significantly affect your experience such as stamina. The MCAT is not a sprint but a marathon. So you have to live the experience.
One or two weeks before the exam, live your daily life similar to the exam day. Maintain your body and nutrition in the most stable way possible in anticipation of the exam day. For more on this, listen to our episode of The MCAT Podcast called “Last Minute MCAT Tips Leading up to Test Day.”The MCAT is not a sprint but a marathon. So you have to live the experience.Click To Tweet
You have to know more content for the new MCAT than any other standardized exam.
Not drill and kill. Not lots but hots. It’s not a purely knowledge-based test but it also involves understanding, comprehension, application questions, analysis, and synthesis. It has lower order thinking skills and higher order thinking skills. MCAT has the least amount of lower order thinking skill questions.
Some questions are designed to trick me.
Take a step back to understand the questions. Evaluate graphs, tables, diagrams, research, experiments in a clear way and pay attention to the wording. The MCAT is designed not to trick the students but to help students develop precision and pay attention to details.The MCAT is designed not to trick the students but to help students develop precision and pay attention to details.Click To Tweet
I can’t practice yet.
Once you’ve made a decision to take the MCAT, do a few questions. Take your time. work through them and see what it’s like. By thinking about it, you won’t turn the MCAT into a greater beast. Think like the AAMC where you see the big picture and not just the knowledge details.
Familiarize yourself with questions and problems and that will change how you will prepare for the exam. That will make you not just a better MCAT student, but a better doctor one day.
Products offered by Gold Standard MCAT prep:
Save on Gold Standard MCAT Practice Test 3-month packages or the 1-year Platinum Package!
Click here to send an email to get the discount! Use promo code GoldStandard528.
- 7 full-length test and one free abbreviated test
- Over 6,000 practice questions
- MCAT practice courses
- MCAT University program
- Home study package
- Individual exams
- Other resources from other companies
Gold Standard Biochemistry App
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
A good doctor cures sometimes, diagnoses often, but comforts always. You can take that into your medical school interview.A good doctor cures sometimes, diagnoses often, but comforts always.Click To Tweet
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.
- Related episode: 3 Biggest Mistakes When Preparing for the MCAT.
- Related episode: When Should I Take the MCAT?
- Check out The MCAT Podcast for more great MCAT advice!