Preparing for the MCAT can take a lot of time and dedication. Students often spend between 200 and 300 hours studying for the exam. Experts recommend three to six months of preparation, so you are still technically within those bounds. That said, remember that while three months may seem like a lot of time, you can run out if you don’t organize yourself.
You still have enough time to reach your goal, as long as you buckle down and follow expert strategies and tips to improve your knowledge for the MCAT.
Identify Your Weaknesses
Since the MCAT is broken down into four sections that analyze four skill areas, you need to discover your weakest point between those and focus on that area first. Doing this will prevent you from leaving the section you like the least behind. It also significantly improves your performance right from the beginning.
Look into practice and mock exams, so you can see what kinds of questions trip you up. From there, you can begin your preparation.
If you don’t see any improvement after three or four weeks, don’t over-stress yourself. Start to study the skill you like the most. Variety is an integral part of studying, as it helps you stay motivated. If you get fixated on one subject for too long, you can lose precious time.
Streamline Your Day-to-Day
Taking care of your work-life balance is as important as studying. If you’re struggling with this, consider taking time off or working a reduced schedule. Remember you need to have free time, or you’ll burn out before you achieve your goal.
Make the most out of your free time. Taking strategic breaks is good for your brain, so practice your favorite hobby, go for a walk, visit a spa, and take time to relax. You need to take care of yourself. For example, not getting enough sleep can seriously affect your learning. The same happens if you don’t eat a balanced diet.
Build a Study Schedule—And Stick To It
Creating a schedule with realistic goals can set you up for success, but only if you follow it thoroughly. To do that, you need to hold yourself accountable. Sometimes it might be challenging to stick to your schedule, so motivation and accountability are key.
While following your schedule, alternate between subjects. This keeps your brain fresh and ensures that you are constantly discovering new things. The AAMC offers a guide for building a study schedule. Keep in mind that you have more time than some, but not a ton, so you want to focus and stick to the plan.
Use Every Resource Available
Research and find information that can help you achieve your goal. For example, prep books and online flashcards are important resources. You can also build a study group where you can research and study together. This can make things sail smoothly if done correctly.
One of the most beneficial things to do is to find someone to teach you, such as an online or in-person tutor or preparation course. Try to get the best MCAT prep course for your needs, to help you succeed.
Solidify Your Crunch-Time Support Structure
Studying for so long can be trying both mentally and physically. This means that you might need help to do certain things such as childcare or cooking.
Letting a partner or a friend aid you in this endeavor is like taking a huge weight off your back. They can help you clean, cook, and do other basic tasks for a while. Also, you could need emotional support from time to time when facing such a difficult task, so having someone to comfort you can be of great help. Additionally, if you make your goals known, they can help hold you accountable.
Organization is Key
Preparing for the MCAT requires focus, organization, and a well-planned schedule. Understanding your weak points is key to learning more efficiently and getting to know when you should push through and when you should give yourself a break.
This is why you need to hold yourself accountable for your schedule. Surround yourself with people that can help and aid you to get through this difficult period. Remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.