Hello again, Austin here,
As the semester is winding down, with finals on the horizon, it’s fair to say that most of the student body is looking forward to the stress relief that comes with winter break. Many of us will be enjoying the vacation by relaxing with friends or traveling with family for the holiday season while some students may use the intersession to take some extra courses. Although I won’t be taking any classes, my five week vacation will consist of some heavy studying for the biggest exam of my life…the MCAT. Arguably the most important piece of the admissions application to medical school, the MCAT, is unlike any other exam that I have ever taken. It consists of a physical science, biological science, verbal reasoning, and two essay components. Although it is a daunting task that stands in the way between me and medical school, it is something that can be conquered with some extensive preparation and determination. There are several ways to prepare for the MCAT, and I will be utilizing every last one of them.
First and foremost, a great way to prepare for the MCAT is to study the material covered in the biological and physical science sections in textbooks. There are dozens of books out there designed for students preparing for the MCAT, narrowing down the material that you should absolutely know. I myself have purchased both books and flashcards that discuss the biology, chemistry, physics and organic chemistry material covered on the exam. I have been using these textbooks since this past summer and they have been extremely informative and helpful in reviewing for the exam. There is also a verbal reasoning section on the test and two essay questions. Unfortunately, there isn’t much factual information that can be studied for these areas on the exam.
Another way that I will be studying for the MCAT is via my IPhone. I know it sounds crazy but having this all-knowing, all-doing device has allowed me to download some very helpful applications for preparing not only for the MCAT but for medical school in general. My personal favorite is an audio book of all the topics covered on the test. Almost every night before bed I try to listen to at least one section. Another application that I have is a pool of over 5,000 practice questions. You can choose to take practice exams of an hour, two hours, or three hours in length. The program will show you which questions you answered correctly and incorrectly and will record what your grade would be on the exam.
Finally, one of the most popular, and in my opinion, the best way to succeed on the MCAT is to take a preparatory class that accustoms students to both the material covered on the exam and the way in which your knowledge will be tested. I myself am taking the Kaplan MCAT Advantage- On Demand course over break. The On Demand Course allows me to take the regular course taught in a classroom setting, online from the comfort of my own home. The course has 54 hours of recorded lessons from certified teachers spread across 24 different teaching sessions. It also gives me access to 5 different practice exams which I can submit and have graded. This allows me to study at my own pace, when and where I want. If this is too informal for some students you can also choose to take a course in a classroom setting where students can get hands on experience with their instructor. Students can also take a private tutoring course through Kaplan which allows students to have one-on-one time with their Kaplan tutor. Regardless of how you study, the MCAT is a tough task to overcome and requires a lot of preparation. Let’s hope that my studying pays off and I can say that I not only survived but I conquered the MCAT.