A Simplified MCAT Study Guide

Today’s MCAT review topic: Force, Motion, and Gravitation! Honestly, physics has never been my strong point. I know it’s known as the “most intuitive” of the natural sciences – my best guess is my intuitiveness took a wrong turn somewhere, or maybe that’s a shortcoming of being right-brained (I’m a lefty). Funnily enough, intuitiveness is a part of my Meyers-Briggs personality type (I am an INFJ), and so I don’t really know what the deal is here. In any case, physics is getting the most attention of all the MCAT subjects second only to biology, where I am at a slight disadvantage due to the limited number of courses I have taken on the subject.

Anyways, I’d like to take the time to go over my MCAT review strategy. Most people I know take their MCAT exam during the summer, because they have the time to take a course and devote their full attention to reviewing. This strategy doesn’t work for me for a number of reasons: firstly, I just don’t want to pay the money for a course. In my honest opinion, it’s a waste of cash (considering I am extremely good at self-motivating when I have a plan to follow). Secondly, I don’t have hours a day to devote to pure MCAT review (and nor do I really want to spend that much time on review). I’ve just completed an extremely stressful semester. My grades aren’t quite as high as I’d like for them to be, and I need the time to recharge mentally before tackling the new semester. Finally, my summers aren’t any less busy than the regular school term – as I mentioned in the last post, I am completing a full time internship in a medical school lab whilst working part-time on the weekends and taking a summer course. Finding the time to do eight hours of review just isn’t going to happen. Ever. I keep myself quite busy, and feel stressed when I feel like I’m just sitting around and/or am only devoting my time to one thing.

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Source; I’m definitely more type A than B. 😉

As such, I’m finding that I am extremely busy; adding in a rather large standardized test to prepare for definitely doesn’t simply matters. I’m employing a few simple lifestyle changes for the next few months in order to simplify my life and stay healthy:

1) Go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6. Every single day. This way I know I’m getting my full eight hours of sleep, and I have the morning hours to tackle studying and get to work early.
2) Eat three well rounded meals a day. This one goes unsaid. Fuel the brain, fuel the body.
3) Do some form of physical activity on most days. Typically this is my walk to school/work (it’s a solid 35 minutes each way, so that adds up to roughly an hour). I’ve put all gym workouts on hold until after this test – once it’s done, I’m rewarding myself with a CrossFit subscription (I’ve always wanted to go!) and a yoga class. 😀
4) Take one rest day a week. For now, this works out to be every Friday. I’ve scheduled two hour study blocks Monday to Thursday, but have left Friday blank; this tends to be my date night with the boy – but if I were to miss a review session on any other day of the week, I’d take a two hour session here instead.
5) Take some rest time every day. Right now I have roughly two hours blocked off in the evening for relaxation. Wether it’s reading, writing, blogging, or meeting a friend for coffee, I will not think about anything study-related during that time period.

And without further ado, here’s my rough summer schedule:

6:00am: Wake up. Tuesday and Thursday morning, I complete a verbal reasoning practice section; Wednesday and Friday mornings are used to review the passage.
7:00am: Breakfast. I leave the house by 7:30 in order to arrive at my internship by 8:00.
8:00am: Internship. Here I also review the material for my nutrition course.
4:00pm: Done! Walk home now.
4:30pm: Grab a snack and work on the review session of the day. Mondays = physics, Tuesdays = biology, Wednesdays = general chemistry, Thursdays = orgo.
6:30pm: Supper time!
7:00pm: Two hours of downtime.
9:00pm: Get ready for bed. Read/write.
10:00pm: Lights out.

Fridays are a day off. Saturdays I actually have two review sessions scheduled these are biology and physics. This allows for extra focus on the material I am shaky on. Sundays my plan is to theoretically complete an entire practice exam after work one week and correct it the next, but that’s contingent on my actually purchasing a company’s practice examinations. For now, the plan is to focus on the “high yield” practice problems in the Kaplan study books from the previous week’s review topic.

This plan will allow me to review everything on the MCAT, based on the AAMC’s content outline, prior to the start of classes in September. Once September arrives, I will be doing practice problems during the week and one of the AAMC’s practice exams on the weekends.

A summary of the materials I am using:

1) Kaplan’s Complete review boxed set: For general content review. From what I’ve been through so far, it is quite general, but that’s really all I need. I have textbooks from my courses for practically every subject, and for the gaps there are tons of videos and webpages online available for free that provide excellent explanations if I find myself needing more information.

2) ExamKrackers 101 Passages in Verbal Reasoning workbook (& biology textbook) : I bought the passages book due to the generally high ratings and positive response. The best way to study for verbal is to drill passages under timed conditions, and so that is the plan. I also bought the biology textbook as it had a high rating and I am nervous about the gaps in my knowledge, but I may return it.

3) Kaplan practice examinations: Haven’t bought these yet, but I will be purchasing soon!

4) Princeton Review Hyperlearning Science Workbook: For science practice problems.

 

So, that’s the plan for now! I will be adjusting my study strategy as required. I have approximately five months to rock this exam, and I am fully confident that I will with a bit of determination and focus. 🙂

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