Med school tip: mastering the MCAT

The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) to prospective doctors is the equivalent to the ACT or SAT for undergrads. It is one of the many important aspects of getting into medical school and requires much time and dedication in mastering it.

The MCAT is usually taken a year before a student is planning on entering medical school. Although the exam is evolving and has changed since the last batch of medical students have taken it, there still seems to be underlying tricks to doing well on the exam.

“I just bought a McGraw Hill review book and went to work. I studied for three hours a day, for three months straight, then decided I was ready,” first-year medical student David Hales said. “Also, take as many practice exams as you can, because these will give you a feel for pacing yourself, and how hard it will be.”

Although it is important to fully prepare oneself for such an important exam, there is such a thing as beginning too early.

“You don’t want to begin too early, it’s hard to retain that volume of material for that long. It’s normally recommended to begin in December to begin really studying,” first-year medical student Trista Osantoski said. “It’s beneficial before that to start learning about the MCAT. The MCAT is a complex test and it’s almost like you need to study the test before you begin studying for the test.

When it comes down to actual study habits, every person is different.

“For me, alone was better,” Hales said. “People have certain areas they need to work on while other may need to focus on other areas so it is hard to study with a group given the vast amount of information the MCAT covers. If it was a more focused exam, for example an organic chemistry exam, then I like studying in groups.”

The important thing is to put in the necessary time and focus for an exam this large. Completing the exam takes about four to six hours, so preparation for it should be taken seriously.

“It is extremely important to get a good score because you will not get into medical school with a low number. However, you can retake it as many times as you want, and therefore if you did get a low score there is hope,” Hales said.