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Preparing for the Exam Creating a Study Plan MCAT Test Day Tips Board Examinations and Licensure

Creating a Study Plan

While there is no one way to prepare for the MCAT, your study plan should begin at least three months before your chosen exam date. Here's an outline you might want to revise to fit your situation:

  • Obtain a copy of The Official Guide to the MCAT exam
  • Read and understand the MCAT Essentials (PDF, 24 pages)
  • Read Preparing for the Test Sections below
  • Make a note of any material that is unfamiliar to you or that you haven't studied recently.
  • Review the science topics using relevant course materials, including textbooks, course outlines, and notes.
  • Work through MCAT practice tests, using the diagnostic reports in the online practice tests to identify topics and skills that need additional review.
  • If your pace on the practice tests is slow, take advantage of any services your college offers to help improve reading speed and comprehension.
  • If you have a study partner, each of you can use your strengths to help the other address areas of weakness.
  • Avoid last-minute "cramming."
  • Make sure to get enough sleep, food, and exercise, especially in the days preceding the test.

When should I take the MCAT exam?

Medical school admission officers usually suggest that you take the test in the calendar year prior to the year in which you plan to enter medical school. They generally recommend a Spring testing date because receipt of the Spring scores allows for summer or early fall completion of your application. A Spring test date is also recommended because it permits examinees who feel that their scores do not accurately reflect their abilities to retest in the Summer or Fall. Later scores may then be submitted to medical schools in the same application year as the earlier scores.

Am I ready to take the MCAT exam?

You may have taken the SAT or ACT as part of the college application process. The MCAT is different from these tests in that it goes beyond testing general knowledge. The MCAT also tests knowledge of specific subjects: biology, chemistry, and physics; it also assesses communication and critical thinking skills.

Ideally, your undergraduate education has prepared you for the MCAT. If you have taken the requisite science courses, as well as classes in the humanities and social sciences you should be skilled at reading a wide range of material. Rigorous coursework and extracurricular reading expand your vocabulary, develop your reading pace, and increase your familiarity with texts and arguments in various disciplines.

If you have already completed an undergraduate program, but need to take more science courses to meet medical school admissions requirements, you should explore Postbaccalaureate Premedical Programs.

Preparing for the Test Sections

Multiple Choice Sections: Content Outlines

Multiple Choice Sections: How to Prepare

Writing Sample

Preparing for the Exam Creating a Study Plan MCAT Test Day Tips Board Examinations and Licensure
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