How To Start Preparing For The MCAT

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If you are planning on going into the medical field, then you will likely need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This is a standardized, multiple-choice test that is run by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The MCAT can be quite intimidating for some students, especially since it is incredibly long—about seven hours! To make sure this test isn't completely overwhelming, you'll want to keep these tips in mind.

Meet with a Classmate or Tutor

While you may think another person would be a distraction, USA Today says that studying with a partner can help you stay focused and motivate you to keep your study schedule. Find a study partner that has different strengths than you, then you both will be able to help each other with different sections of the exam. A partner is also valuable because he or she may think of questions or concerns that you haven't covered in your own study time.

Of course, some people find that they have way too much fun at study sessions and can't concentrate with a friend. If that's the case, it may be valuable to look into a tutor. An MCAT private tutoring company can help you immensely since they will have experience taking the MCAT and can help you avoid common mistakes.

Focus on Understanding Concepts Rather Than Rote Memorization

The MCAT will test your knowledge of physical science and biological science, as well as your verbal reasoning. While it can be easy to get caught up in the minutia of the test's quirks and focus on flash-card definitions, try to focus on big-picture studying. Since you will need to understand complex systems in your medical studies, it's best to not only memorize facts but logically reason out problems. Again, your MCAT tutor can help you make sure you really grasp the material.

Start Studying Early

Ideally, you will want to take at least a year to study for this test. This gives you the time to really pace yourself and study more intermittingly. If you do have to cram, keep in mind that you will still want at least a couple of months. If you are a short-term studier, then you may want to take the test during a semester break so that you can increase your study time each day since you won't have schoolwork. Be sure that you set a schedule and keep deadlines for any practice tests you want to take.

Get Practice Tests from AAMC and Free Sites

Since the AAMC runs the test, they offer free study outlines as well as practice tests that you can purchase. The online practice tests are valuable because you can take it timed or untimed. You will get feedback on right versus wrong questions and can highlight areas of interest for later study time. If you don't want to pay for a practice test, some non-profit educational sites, like Khan Academy, provide practice questions and even have courses for the MCAT.

Keep these tips in mind and talk with your tutor for more information on the MCAT.