The MCAT is one of the toughest (if not the toughest) exam for pre-med students. It’s a seven-and-a-half-hour test composed of four sections: Chem/Phys, CARS, Bio/Biochem, and Psych/Soc.
This test is meant to test pre-meds on not just their memorization skills, but also their understanding and application of concept skills. This test is a true beast and takes countless hours of preparation to do well.
As an aspiring pre-med, I took the MCAT this past summer and have never been pushed so hard mentally. Studying for the MCAT is like a marathon. Keeping laser focus for so long while also juggling all the content being thrown at you, the content memorized, and time management is extremely hard and takes tons of practice.
Thankfully there are tons of resources (free and paid) that can help pre-meds crush the dreaded MCAT.
My MCAT journey was hard, but here’s what I used to study and what I recommend for anyone else out there thinking of writing the MCAT:
- BluePrint test prep. BluePrint provided an online virtual course with a bunch of content, practice exams and questions, office hours, tutoring, free flashcards, textbooks, and more. This course helped me not worry about making my own study schedule and feeling like I’m missing content. I was able to feel supported by Blueprint instructors and other users of the program. I loved the course since I could do it on my own time and at my own pace while also holding myself accountable with daily activities to do. It was an awesome mix between learning new content, reviewing content, gaining new test strategies, and getting practice. Although this product isn’t free, it’s very much worth every penny.
- Jack Westin for free CARS practice. Each day there’s a daily passage to complete with explanations for each answer choice. These passages simulate the ones on test day and allow you to practice them both timed or untimed. There are also packages that can be purchased to get even more CARS practice.
- Miles down Anki deck for daily flashcards to memorize key concepts. Anki is a god sent for flashcards since its unique algorithm makes sure you see the hardest cards you keep on missing the most, and the easiest ones the least. There are also daily goals so you can start streaks and stay motivated. Anki makes flashcards and studying feel like a game. The best part is, ANKI software is free for laptops/computers, and the card decks are free too.
- Leah4sci to help with the math portion of the MCAT. Leah’s free videos have great tips and tricks to help refresh yourself with the math used on the MCAT (especially since calculators are not permitted – yikes!).
- Khan Academy free videos to help with other concepts that needed clarification, since their videos are in depth and amazing for MCAT topics.
- AAMC resources for the most realistic practice. Their bundle of resources came included with my BluePrint package. The section banks have tons of questions and practice exams. The resources are also available for purchase without having to buy a course with a prep company, but they’re a little pricey. Most MCAT studiers do recommend purchasing this resource if you’re only going to buy one thing, since it’s the most realistic.
Even with resources, you’ll benefit the most from simulating test conditions. Take the practice tests as if you were taking the real test. Review all answers (even if you got them right) and options to make sure you’re reinforcing your thought process and getting answers the right away, not just by guessing. This review can also help improve timing since you’ll better understand how the MCAT wants you to think.
Overall, the MCAT is a horrible test meant to squish pre-med dreams (just kidding…). Really though, it is a hard test that pushes you to your limits. The best thing to do is take breaks when needed, but never give up. Even if you have to take the MCAT a few times in your life to get the score you need to be successful, that’s absolutely okay. Don’t give up and find the best study methods that work for you! Good luck to all the future MCAT test crushers.