- #1 Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
- #2 Use Mnemonics
- #3 Read the Answers First
You can read the first part of this post here to learn more about the above tips. Here are the final two tips:
#4: Make Efficient Use of Resources
As you undoubtedly know or will soon discover, there is a plethora of available resources for MCAT preparation. When wading through this morass and attempting how to best spend your hard earned dollars, the first step is determining which items are best suited for the job. For this purpose, rely extensively on reviews and word-of-mouth.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, I recommend purchasing one (or more, depending on whether the subjects are divided) quality review book – one that presents all the essential information in a comprehensive but understandable format. Many of these printed recently include several practice tests, which is fine, but if you can find a stand-alone model with just information, they tend to contain more of it. Then buy up or find as many possible sample exams with complete explanations as you can.
The key is to combine these two resources into one powerhouse of information synthesis. Instead of taking massive piles of original notes, why not use the extensive outlines already provided, and simply fill them in with other useful information? And what better place to get that information than the thorough explanations that accompany the answers to all those practice questions you’re already going through? Together, these two powerful assets can become a substantial yet efficient studying machine.
#5: Use Your Anxiety
Anxiety is nobody’s natural friend – it can be painful and disheartening, sometimes worse. It comes with the territory in test preparation and studying, and there’s really no way around that. Nor would you want a way around that, because while it can sometimes appear meaningless, a certain amount is required to succeed in the world of science and medicine.
As much as we may detest it at times, anxiety is a built-in motivator that helps drive us, often through less-than-optimal circumstances. Use this knowledge to your advantage. If you can harness this energy and turn it into productivity, it will likely pay dividends, academically and otherwise. Exactly how to do this is of course the tricky part, and is entirely personal. But in learning to accept a certain level of anxiety rather than fear it, you can absolutely use it to your benefit.
There is any number of other suggestions – some of them good, many of them less so - that you might heed during your preparation efforts. The key is to personalize all of the above and make it your own, to whatever extent possible. And trust your gut instincts – more often than not, if it feels good and right, whether in studying or in life, it probably is. Keep your head to the grindstone, and best of luck with the MCAT and beyond.
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Gary Rothbard is a Senior Tutor for MyGuru. Gary got his B.S. in Biopsychology at the University of Michigan followed by his MD at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He no longer practices medicine, and has also obtained an MS in Science Education. He has over twenty years of tutoring experience.