Almost all American medical schools require that you to take the MCAT exam before applying to medical school. Some schools place an even weight on your MCAT score and your GPA, so it is important that you do well on the MCAT as well as having a high GPA. In order to best prepare for the MCAT material you will need to have completed introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry courses. You will be tested on your ability to interpret and apply what you know rather than to just know facts.
First of all, it is important for you to know what will be on the test, so that you know what to expect and can properly prepare for the exam. The MCAT is composed of 4 main sections. The first section of the MCAT is the physical science. This section is made up of 77 multiple-choice questions that you will have 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete. These questions are designed to test your science knowledge and problem solving ability in the areas of physics and general chemistry.
The second section is the verbal reasoning section, which is designed to measure performance comprehension, evaluation, application, and incorporation. You will have 1 hour and 25 minutes to complete 60 questions.
The third section is the writing sample. You will have 1 hour to complete 2 essays. The experimental section of the MCAT must be completed in 35 minutes and the number of questions depends on the test that you are given.
The final section of the MCAT is the biological sciences, which you will have 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete 77 multiple-choice questions. This section covers questions on the concepts of biology and organic chemistry.
Now that you have an idea of what is included on the exam, you will need to take the necessary steps to prepare for the exam. Since everyone prepares for major tests and exams differently, you will need to follow a course of action that will allow you to best prepare for the exam.
#1 Make a plan. Whether you need to take a MCAT preparation course or you can study on your own with a MCAT practice exam book, choose the way that you are going to go about studying for the exam.
#2 Create a schedule. You will need to start studying for the MCAT 3 to 12 months before you take it, so create a schedule based on this timeframe.
#3 Practice, practice, and then practice some more. Set up simulated practice test sessions. Use practice tests from books or online. Go back to the areas that you still need to work on and review, practice and study until you have mastered those areas as well.
So now you know the format of the test, what is going to be on the test, and how to study for the test. Now you need to know what to do while you are actually taking the test to totally conquer it.
#1 Read the questions carefully. Do not rush through the exam because you think that you know it like the back of your hand.
#2 Do not leave answers blank. On the MCAT you are graded on the number of correct answers you give. If you do not know the answer to a question, then use the process of elimination to narrow down the choices given as much as possible.
If you do not know the answer and cannot make an educated guess then randomly fill it in. The odds are better for you to answer those questions that you cannot figure out at random than it is to leave them completely blank.
#3 Manage your time. Since each section of the test is timed, you will need to be able to manage your time effectively so that you have enough time to complete each question on the exam. Don’t spend too much time on any one question that will cause you to not have enough time to answer the remaining questions.
#4 Check your work. When you have completed a section and you have time left before the end of that portion of the exam, go back and check your answers. First, make sure that you have answered all of the questions. Revisit the questions that you were having trouble with and recheck your answer choice now that you have a few more minutes to spend on it.
Relax, take a deep breath, and prepare for your MCAT exam. The MCAT is not really a test of academic knowledge where you memorize facts. The MCAT tests your ability to take what you learned in biology, physics, chemistry and organic chemistry, interpret it and apply it to different scenarios. When you are studying, you are not really studying to learn new material. You are really making sure that you understand concepts so that you can then take these concepts and apply them to different situations. By taking the necessary steps to prepare for the exam, you will have everything you need to conquer the MCAT.