Taking the MCAT soon? Here Are 3 Tips From an MCAT Expert
Teaching the MCAT has always been a fulfilling experience. Lots of sharp, focused students who are motivated to do well. It’s a great environment for anyone who wants to help others succeed.
After teaching the MCAT for 10 years, I’ve learned three tips that are timely right now for anyone about to take the MCAT and apply in the upcoming admissions cycle. (Note: The AMCAS application opens on May 1st, so the time is near, woot!)
Tip 1: Take practice tests — a LOT of practice tests. First question I ask when a student asks me for help on the MCAT is, “What do your practice test scores look like?” I’m always surprised when the answer is, “I haven’t taken any practice tests yet.”
Practice tests are the only opportunity to build up your stamina. You got to put the hours in, training and rehearsing both your mind and body to sit for nearly five hours, cranking out answer after answer. It’s a unique skill that needs time to develop.
Tip 2: Use practice test scores to track your progress. I know it’s tempting to delay taking a practice test until you “study a little bit more first,” but let me assure you that tactic doesn’t result in higher test scores. You really need the feedback from your practice results to help get you on track and keep you there. Sure, getting a low MCAT score might feel scary, but I’d rather see you get a 20 on a practice test, and then study some more, than get a 20 on the actual test, and lose a whole year.
Tip 3: Use the practice test score on your last practice test to predict your actual score. You can pretty much bet that your practice test score a few days before you take the actual MCAT will be within 2 or 3 points of your actual test results. If you’re targeting a 32 on the actual MCAT, and you get a 30, or a 31 on a practice test a few days before the real test, then you’re right on track.
On the other hand, if your practice score a few days before the test is substantially lower than your target, then I recommend you reset your test date and do some additional preparation. Avoid wishful thinking, get a great MCAT, and you’re on your way to med school.