Those who wish to enroll in medical school first need to pass the Medical College Admission Test. Called MCAT for short, it’s a comprehensive and challenging exam meant to test an individual’s comprehension regarding a wide variety of subjects. There are sections covering biology, chemistry, physics, and critical thinking, among others.
As you can imagine, passing the MCAT is not easy. But it’s necessary for those on the path to becoming licensed physicians authorized to practice medicine.
The good news is that if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re poised to take the MCAT, you likely already have a strong work ethic and an equally impressive understanding of the subject matter. The only thing left is to prepare accordingly.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at seven ways to prepare for the MCAT:
Use MCAT prep materials
There’s no shortage of quality prep materials designed to help improve your understanding of the content and format of the MCAT. With this in mind, those gearing up to take the MCAT should take advantage of these materials as much as possible. MCAT prep options include online courses, animated videos, tutoring sessions, and practice exams.
Join a study group
Study groups are a great way to gain knowledge and insights crucial to passing the MCAT. That’s because you’ll get to speak to others who are also preparing to take the MCAT and who likely have different strengths and weaknesses than your own. In other words, the other members of your study group will likely help you grasp material you struggle with, and you’ll return the favor.
Take practice tests
There’s no better way to prepare for the MCAT than to take practice tests in the same conditions as the actual exam. Doing so gives you the best chance to understand the nature of the test, its content, and its format. Practice exams will also highlight your strengths as well as your weaknesses, giving you the opportunity to focus on the weak areas in order to improve your comprehension.
Review your weak areas
Chances are you’ll encounter at least one part of the MCAT that you struggle with at first. Thanks to practice tests, you’ll be able to identify these weaknesses and recalibrate your study sessions in order to make them the central focus. The important thing is to run toward your weaknesses rather than run from them; there’s no point in avoiding the most challenging aspects of the MCAT when you’re destined to confront them eventually.
Stick to a study schedule
The human brain loves a predictable routine. That’s because it takes a lot of the stress out of information processing, allowing the mind to focus on the material rather than logistics. With this in mind, make a point to stick to a consistent study schedule. Doing so will help you make the best use of your time and give your brain one less thing to worry about in the days leading up to test day.
Get plenty of sleep
College students have a habit of sacrificing sleep in pursuit of studying. While pulling an all-nighter is seemingly woven into the fabric of academic experience, sleep deprivation is all but guaranteed to lead to limited focus and overall mental fatigue. With this in mind, it’s essential to get plenty of quality sleep, especially on the nights leading up to your exam.
Get enough exercise
You’re probably wondering what exercise has to do with preparing to take the MCAT. For one thing, it gives you a respite from studying while still providing plenty of stimulation. Exercise is also great for cognitive health, helping you think better, learn faster, and solve problems more effectively. As a result, those studying for the MCAT should consider taking 30 minutes to an hour out of every day to exercise.
Are you determined to become a medical doctor someday? If so, then successfully passing the Medical College Admission Test is an essential stepping stone. If you can pass the MCAT with flying colors, then your passion for becoming a physician is justified. But in order to do so, you will need to prepare.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys writing about business, finance, health, and travel.