T Nation

MCAT Prep?

To be blunt, I have the Medical College Admissions Test coming up soon. I don’t know how many T-members we have that are in the medical profession but I’d imagine that there are quite a few (Professor X for example if my memory serves me). My question is: “What did you do to prepare yourself for this monster exam of 5.5 hours i.e. what helped the most???” Posting of score is of course optional but I’d just like to see what the general populous is.

Nutrition. Studying strategies. Nootropic combo’s (major props to the "brain func. thread and Bushy). Psyching up rituals. All is fair game. Thanks in advance for contributing if you do. :slight_smile:

I am really interested in this as well. I’m only a sophomore but I figure the sooner I know this stuff the better.

I spent about 2 months studying up on the background knowledge needed for the test. During this time, I took a few practice tests to gauge where I was at. After each test, I went back over my mistakes. I then made a note of what concepts I was weak at and studied them some more. Then, about 3-4 weeks out, I took as many full-lengths as I could, all the while going over the conceptual stuff on my off-test days.

The best practice for the test is to take full-length practice tests as often as possible. Take them all in one sitting, around the time of the real exam. This will get your body in tune as far as hunger during the test goes, and also importantly (and often overlooked), your shitting schedule. Seriously. One kid in my testing room left for 10 minutes during the bio/ochem section to take a shit. You can’t be having that.

I paid for the Kaplan online syllabus because it is the best resource I know of for full-length and section tests. It’s pricey, but it’s the best prep out there, imo. The course isn’t worth it, I did that too.

I didn’t take any mental stimulants during my prep or on test day. I ate a turkey sandwich and brought some nuts to snack on. Have a friendly breakfast and be careful of what you eat the day before.

If you have prepped well, you won’t need to psych yourself up because hopefully you’ll already be very focused and will know exactly what to expect.

If you have anymore questions, let me know.

I took the Kaplan practice test and I thought it was one of the hardest tests I’ve ever taken, and I usually rock out standardized tests.

I remember it having a bunch of organic chemistry questions on it, like picking out the Diels-Alder reagent. I don’t think I’ve ever had a doctor that could answer that off the top of their head, but I digress.

I’m not much help, sorry.

LOL, define “soon.” You’re gonna need at least 4 weeks. I have 8 friends in med school, and the average length for studying was one semester. I did have one friend that took a practice test two weeks before, brushed up on his O-chem for a week, went out and got a 38. He’s a total genius though.

EDIT: I think Professor X is a dentist. They take a different exam.

I took the Kaplan course and the practice tests were really helpful–they make you sit as if it were the actual test. I was lazy and didn’t start studying hard until spring semester but I did spend most of spring semester (and spring break) studying.

I got a 38…didn’t end up going to med school though.

I hear the Examcrackers books (or however they spell it)are pretty good, and the consensus on my campus is that the Kaplan course is worthless. Try taking your practice tests on a computer rather than out of a book, just like the real thing.

Good luck!

You should probably go to the studentdoctor site. They have entire threads on how to prepare. Most take prep courses.

I’m going to be taking princeton review this summer.

I used to teach MCAT verbal classes for The Princeton Review. Their Hyperlearning course was the best one out there at the time - they actually bought the Hyperlearning company, which had started out in SoCal, and incorporated their programs. They were still rolling them out nationwide when I last taught, but that was years ago.

One thing I will tell you is this: start reading now.

The MCAT is a reading comprehension test - even the science sections are largely reading comprehension, to which you must add your science knowledge. The verbal is hard reading comp.

Think of it this way: There are approximately 3 applicants for each available spot in an AMA accredited medical school in the U.S. The MCAT is one weed-out factor they use to determine whom to cut from consideration.

Of the people applying to medical school, you have many more science majors than liberal arts majors. Thus the average V scores are lower - and getting a higher V score will make you stand out more (and maybe, just maybe, give you an edge).

Generally, liberal arts majors do better than science majors on the MCAT - even on the science sections. This is because, as I stated above, the MCAT is a reading comprehension test. Too many science majors forget how to read, other than “scan, memorize and regurgitate” - that method serves you well when you’re memorizing stuff for a biology test, but it will fail you miserably on the MCAT.

So, to prepare: read lots of hard stuff, like academic articles, pieces from Foreign Policy magazine, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, political pieces from from magazines such as The Economist, The New Republic, The National Review and Mother Jones. They used to really enjoy pulling passages of Stephen Jay Gould’s books and putting them on the test, so read him. Read the The Financial Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times - the news and opinion sections, not sports and lifestyle… and make sure you understand them. The best way to do this is to read the same thing as some other smart person and then have a conversation critiquing the author’s argument.

And of course, brush up on your science - that’s necessary but not sufficient.

As for test-taking stamina: take full-length practice tests. Get into a routine in which you’re getting a good night’s sleep, exercise and good nutrition for at least the week ahead of time (as you’re a reader of this site one hopes that won’t require any adjustments).

Little things that should go without saying but don’t: Know your way around the place where you’re scheduled to take your test, including availability of weekend parking and where your particular building is located (you don’t need that kind of stress); get a good breakfast and bring a good lunch.

I took the GRE and rocked it. I know its not the same, but with all the available resources at your disposal, you should be able to prepare yourself accordingly. Take a Spike an hour before and you should be just fine. If anything, you will be the most lively person to take the exam, ever.