5 Resources That Can Help You Study For the MCAT

You’re in your third year of undergrad, you finished all of your science prerequisite classes and now you’re dreading the challenging MCAT. You have two options: take a class or study on your own. Although a class can keep you accountable and be beneficial, it can be expensive. I’ve decided to self-study for the exam and would like to share some free and paid resources that I have found helpful in my preparation for the MCAT. Before we get started, I recommend that you look over the outline and structure of the exam so that you know exactly what to expect. You can learn more about the MCAT on the AAMC website.

Content Review

If you don’t want to purchase a set of books like Kaplan or the Princeton Review, you can review the content on the MCAT by using Khan Academy. This is a great free resource available to everyone that provides videos for visual aid learning in preparation for the MCAT. The only disclaimer is that this platform will no longer be available after September 30, 2021. If you plan on taking the MCAT soon, take advantage of this platform before it’s gone.

Anki Flashcards

If you aren’t familiar with Anki, it’s a program in which you can create or download premade flashcards to study. The feature that makes this program stand out from all the others is that it uses long term retention learning. It automatically repeats flashcards based on your level of understanding. For example, if you mark a flashcard as “easy,” the feature won’t show you that flashcard again until four days have passed. If you mark it as “again,” the flashcard will pop up again in a shorter period of one minute. However, these settings can be changed to your preference. This program is designed to be used daily to get the most out of it. So, if you plan to use Anki, make sure to take some time out of your day to review these flashcards. The software can be a little confusing to get used to, so here’s a link to a tutorial that can better explain how to use Anki for your MCAT studying. You can find some premade decks on Reddit if you would like to save some time from creating the actual flashcards. Anki can be downloaded on your computer for free or you can buy the app on your phone for $24.99.

UWorld Practice Questions

Content review is important for preparation but practice questions are just as important, if not more. UWorld provides MCAT style questions that mimic the AAMC question format. You can find over 2,000 questions with detailed explanations. In addition to practice questions, you can create your own flashcards for concepts you missed. You also have access to customized exams. For my visual learners, you’ll be happy to learn that UWorld provides various images to offer visual aids in helping comprehend the material.

There are three payment options based on the amount of time you want to have access.

The basic option gives you 90 days of access for $239.

The standard option gives you 180 days of access for $180.

The elite option gives you year-round access for $339.

If you would like to try it before you buy it, there is a 7-day free trial available.

Jack Westin CARS Practice

The best method that I’ve learned to study for the CARS section is through practice. Jack Westin is a free service that provides a new article every day in addition to hundreds of articles already posted. It mimics the MCAT and explains each question. I suggest you time yourself to ensure that you’re using your time appropriately. Mark your progress to see your improvement.

Facebook

There are plenty of support groups on Facebook that are filled with students preparing for the MCAT. My personal favorite is MCAT Preparation Study Group + Premed + Med Application. In this group, you can find other students just like you who are more than willing to help you in support of your journey into medical school. Individuals in this group share their own helpful resources, such as schedules and tips.

MCAT Schedule

Before you even begin studying, I’d advise getting organized and set a plan of what and when you plan to study. Split up your week based on what content you want to review and practice each day. This can include questions from UWorld, reviewing flashcards on Anki and reading a few CARS passages. It’s beneficial to evenly spread a few practice exams into your schedule, too. This will familiarize you with what test day will be like. Most importantly, leave at least one or two days a week to rest and recharge to avoid burning out.

I set up my schedule on an excel spreadsheet and check off the content that I complete daily. In a separate tab, I list out the questions that I get wrong, along with the material that I need to study further. Overall, this schedule lets you know exactly what you should be doing and keeps you accountable in preparation for test day.

Remember to take your time and put your health first. To perform to the best of your ability, you need to have the right mindset. These resources are here to help you if you need them, but you are the only person who knows yourself the best. What works for one person may not work for you. It may be three long months of continuous studying, but just keep reminding yourself of the reason why you started your pre-med journey. Believe in yourself, and I wish you the best of luck in your preparation for the MCAT!