Preparing for the MCAT: The early birds

Of all the steps one must take in the journey towards a Medical career, the MCAT is the most fabled, revered and universally dreaded of them all.

But, I know and have met people who have taken this god of all tests and have survived. And luckily for us, they are willing to dole out advice on what they did, what they wished they could have done, and what we (who are yet to face this fabled foe) can do to improve our chances of survival. So, over the course of this blog, there will be various posts that will give advice, wisdom, tales (of horror and of triumph), etc. all from the MCAT experience that you (and I) hopefully learn from.

First things first, no matter how far away your taking the MCAT seems, go on the AAMC‘s website, and read their information about the MCAT. Do NOT just take things via ‘word-of-mouth’, do your own research and confirm everything you hear.

So, on to the first tip: Start Early!

A universal response I have gotten from people who have taken this god of Tests is that students should start preparing as early as possible, even the tiniest of things help in the end. Note that if you are in your 1st or 2nd years, you should concentrate more on learning about the test rather than jumping into MCAT test prep, as that would be very counter-productive. In the early years, it is best to stick to learning about the test, and acquiring the knowledge you will get from your coursework that is a part of the test.  To help with this goal, one of our graduated students recommends the following steps that anyone can start taking once they begin a General Chemistry, Orgo, Physics or Biology class.

If you are currently in a PreMed or MCAT required class, there are things you can do to start preparing for the MCATs before you begin to actively study for it.

1. Read through your class’ syllabus and take note of which topics will be covered in class, when they will be covered and whether or not they are going to be on the MCAT. To see if they are going to be on the MCAT or not, click on the links below for a list of topics covered in the MCAT.

2. On that day when you teacher is teaching something that is (or isn’t depending on your choice/how much of what you’re learning is on the MCAT) going to be on the MCAT, take those notes in a separate notebook.

This will be extremely useful when it is time to start studying for the MCATs (and prevent frustrated searches through 300 pages of O-Chem notes…). The links are:

Physical Sciences Topics (General Chemistry and Physics)
Verbal Reasoning Skills
Biological Sciences Skills (Biology and Organic Chemistry)

While this might seem like  a lot of work, I have it on good authority that it will be extremely helpful when it comes time to study for the MCAT.

Good Luck!

-Thanks to Z.R. for her advice featured here

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