Many struggle, and many many students postpone and retake. But… this is typically due to inadequate preparation or unpredictable circumstances. First of all congratulations! Congratulations again on the , that is amazing! When you started studying for the MCAT, what was your target score and how did you choose that number? My target score was which is equivalent to a 33 on the old MCAT. Was this the first time taking the MCAT?
Yes and no, I attempted the old version 4. When you started studying for the MCAT, what did you feel was your biggest challenge to getting started? I felt like I was going in blind. My friends suggested taking a test prep course, so I did. Before the course I actually just read all of the books, got familiar with the material and highlighted important information. I officially began a course in June and finished mid-August, but I started reading up on stuff in May.
How much time in total did you initially plan to devote to the MCAT? How long did it actually take you? But you have to be dedicated. Definitely the hardest thing was trying to figure out what material to cover each day. You have to make a schedule for every day and make it for the entire 3 months so that you know what to study on weekly basis. So I planned to spend the entire day studying. I also had an internship at the hospital that took up a lot of my time. I would actually study from 9am to 6pm.
I allowed minute break to eat but that was about it. I would study in my basement since no one was there or just study in the library. Did you postpone the exam at any point or was August 21st the initial date you chose? I registered sometime in May and I decided on August 21st. Just a baseline, for people to understand how you got here? Compared to the real MCAT, which practice exams do you feel prepared you the most and therefore the best for the students to use for their studying?
Did you find that questions from the ExamKrackers practice exams were more or less difficult? Did they teach you to think or to overthink? I think that ExamKrackers teaches you to think but not to overthink. I also thought Next Step was pretty good.
I know there are other practice exams available from companies like Princeton Review and Kaplan, that are just purposely hard and meant to confuse you because you have no idea what to expect. They kinda depress you and destroy your confidence. I think ExamKrackers and Next Step are the way to go.
Which books did you use to prepare? I used the old ExamKrackers books since I already had them. I also had the old 1, question sets. The books were really helpful. In addition to the exams and the bundles, did you use any other resources to practice MCAT style passages? I did the passages in the Examkrackers books and re-did the practice tests. For example, I had difficulty with amino acids.
Between your workshop on PI, your amino acids resources and the cheat sheet , I really got it. I never knew PI until your live workshop. Did you follow a particular study method for your MCAT preparation? Examkrackers told us to read every chapter three times. Books can get boring especially reading 3 times, instead follow these 5 steps to master any MCAT sciences I also took notes in a notebook. For example, I had a lot of biochemistry notes because I never took Biochem, as well as lot more Psychology notes.
When my class started it was easier because they put me on a schedule. This way you are not just studying, but also getting to know what to expect from the exam, when you get hungry, what to eat, what to drink, things like that. Did you have any hiccups and failures along the way? If so, what did you do to just snap out of it and get back to your goal?
It was really hard. I think the most important thing is to have a good support system. But, it was really helpful to have my parents support.
Basically, I would take a practice test and then cry for an hour. Do you think that if you gave yourself more than three months to space it out would that have been easier for you?
I did an intensive study schedule that is true. I would have lost my discipline and started forgetting if I gave myself 6 months to prepare. It was full time MCAT and the internship. How many hours do you think you put in given the three months and the amount of hours per week?
If they can not put in hours in three months it might have to be spaced out over 4, 5, even 8 months. If I had my normal college schedule it would be really hard. A couple of things. From the get go set up your amino acid flashcards. You should make them from the start and review them. Hormones, that kind of stuff. Keep the flashcards in your pocket, and always keep studying. Click to learn more about how to use Flashcards effectively Leah4sci: Now, how did you feel the morning of your exam?
I was really nervous. Really,really nervous but I also kept reminding myself that I worked really hard for this. I had to remind myself to stay calm the whole time. How did you manage your stress, if you did feel like you were too anxious or too nervous? Honestly, again this is gonna sound kinda cheesy but I think this technique works really well. Before every session close your eyes for 5 seconds and breathe in, breathe out, and then you are ready to start.
And if in the middle of a section you panic just close your eyes again and breathe. How did you manage your time on the exam itself? I think time management is a skill that improves with taking practice tests.
I wound up finishing with around 10 minutes to spare for each section. Everyone, if they work for it I think can get it. I just worked really, really hard. It made me think that maybe I was not as good of a standardized test taker as I thought. However, for this MCAT everyone has to work their butt off. Did you jump around in any of the MCAT sections, or did you attempt all the questions in order? For the most part I took it straight through. I moved on to the next passage to calm myself down and get my confidence back, then revisited the hard passage.
When I absolutely had no idea what they were talking about I just did a blind guess. Everything else — if I was between the two answer choices I crossed my fingers and hoped I chose the correct one.
I wish they told you what you got wrong instead of just a score report with a number. I tried to find anything in the passage that could help me. All that studying definitely paid off. Looking back then, any last minute advice especially to students who are just starting out or in the middle of the grind, what would you say to them? Put your phone away really study hard and it WILL pay off. The flashcards really come in handy.
For example, make flashcards on amino acids, hormones, psychology terms. You should make some flashcards at the beginning of your studying.
They mix it up. One problem can incorporate some bio and physics and chem and… psychology. Start getting into that mindset to keep moving around.