Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that will increase your MCAT score, no simple solution. Instead, increasing your MCAT score is a process of hard work, study, practice, and learning new habits. But the good news is that you can increase your score if you follow these practices. It won’t be easy—nothing worth doing is easy—but it will be worth it.
So what can you do to increase your MCAT score?
Make A Study Plan That Reevaluates the Way You Study
Taking the MCAT is a different experience from taking a test in school, and you need to be prepared with not only the book smarts to pass the test, but you need to be ready to execute within the framework in which the test is presented. This means that your study habits will need to change, and you’ll need to focus not only on “the science of medicine” but also “the way to take this specific test.”
So how will we change your study habits?
Commit To Do the Work
This is the most basic, fundamental part of passing the test: commit to putting in the study time that you need to learn all of the information. That’s no small task, and merely graduating pre-med does not qualify you for taking the MCAT. The AAMC, who administers the MCAT, recommends that you put in 300 to 350 hours of test preparation. To break that down, that’s 37 to 45 days of studying 8 hours a day. And, odds are (and as we’re going to discuss further down) you probably won’t be studying 8 hours every day. So you need to recognize the workload, commit to it, and make the changes in your life that will get you to where you need to be.
Make a Study Schedule
Now that you know how long you need to study, it’s time to figure out how and when you’re going to study. You may have other pressures on you, including work or family or something else, and you can’t study 8 hours a day. But more importantly, it’s probably not a good idea to study 8 hours a day. 3 to 6 hours a day is a more realistic goal; studying for longer than that can lead to burnout and eventually you will no longer be retaining information. Studying in smaller chunks over a longer period of time—say, 3 to 6 months—is much more realistic, and effective. The MCAT isn’t a test you can cram for: it’s something that you need to absorb and make a part of you.
Take Practice Tests, But Not Too Many or Too Often
Taking practice tests is an important thing to do in your study schedule, especially in the beginning, but taking too many tests too often will be counterproductive and can actually hurt your ability to score well on the MCAT. The first thing you need to do is take a practice test (or two or three) and identify the places where you are the weakest. Make a plan for yourself to work on those areas first and begin to patch the holes in your knowledge and ability. Use your test results not as a boost of confidence or a cause for depression, but as a tool that instructs you on what you need to study next.
Find a Study Partner or Group
Of course, you’re going to have to take the test alone—your study partner won’t be there to give you hints—but study partners and groups are great for a number of reasons: first, they help you maintain your study schedule; second, they provide support and positive reinforcement during a period in your life that is going to be very stressful; third, they will help you see insights into the test subject matter and testing format that you may have overlooked; and fourth, they give you accountability: when you make goals, they’re there to keep you honest and make sure you’re doing the work.
Understand the Test Format, and Learn How to Take an MCAT
Taking the MCAT is not merely an opportunity for you to recite the knowledge that you have gained at your leisure. Instead, the test has time limits, different question types, and a standardized format. You need to learn what the MCAT requires of you, and learn how to take the test: learn how to answer X number of questions in Y amount of time. Learn how to read carefully and identify important points. As much as we’d like to think the MCAT is all about how well we know the subject, it’s also about how good we are at taking tests.
Take Care of Your Body and Mind
This isn’t freshman year of college anymore where you can cram for a test downing energy drinks and cold pizza. To be well-prepared for the MCAT you need to be taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional welfare. Continue to play sports, to jog, to do yoga. Meditate. Spend time relaxing your mind as well as filling it full of knowledge. Read a good book, enjoy a night out with friends. Of course, you don’t want to let it interfere with your study schedule, but make sure there’s room in that schedule for your health.
When you’re studying for a test that is measuring not only your book smarts but your test-taking skills, it’s important to get help from people who know exactly how this is done before. Yes, you can talk to those who have passed the test and get their advice, but seeking out the help of tutors and test preparation courses, like the ones offered from Kyo Standard, are a wise choice as well. We make studying for the MCAT our entire purpose—you’re studying to be a doctor, we’ve studied to be test-taking professional tutors. We’re the experts in it, and can help you raise your score. We have worked with students since 2002 and the current average score of our students is 515.2. That’s not bad at all.
Are you ready to raise your score on the MCAT?
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