MCAT Prep: Here’s What You Need to Know

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has accredited approximately 170 US and Canadian medical schools. Like regular undergrad universities, students have to score well on an exam to gain entrance to those institutions. Just like those exams, prospective medical students have to score really well to get in.

Unlike the ACT and SAT, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is far more competitive. High school students who receive lower scores on the standardized tests for a four-year college might not get into the most prestigious university but there are always other options available, including community college. Those who receive low MCAT scores might not get into medical school at all. In fact, that’s a very real possibility, even for students who receive average scores. 

That makes it even more important to take a proactive approach to studying before applying for AAMC MCAT registration.  

Know What’s On The Test

The MCAT is a 7.5-hour standardized test that’s broken down into four sections

. The Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems part tests students on basic organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. It’s a 95-minute section that includes 59 multiple-choice questions. 

The Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundation of Behavior portion of the exam also contains 59 multiple-choice questions and is 95 minutes long. It tests the students on introductory biology, sociology, and psychology. 

Next up is the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of this test. This one is a lot like reading comprehension tests that are administered in other tests. The students are given 90 minutes to answer 53 multiple-choice questions about passages that come from social sciences and humanities disciplines. 

Finally, there is the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems portion of the MCAT. This part of the test is 95 minutes long and has 59 multiple-choice questions about basic biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and general chemistry.

Take Notes the Right Way 

There’s a lot of debate about what the right way is to take notes for the MCAT or any other test. The reality is, the right way to take them is whichever way helps you learn and retain the information in your long-term memory. Everything you learn in college will be the foundation for medical school later, so it’s very important that you not only know the material but understand the concepts. 

Cornell note-taking is a popular way to take notes because it emphasizes the of understanding the lesson, not just memorizing it. To do this you create three sections on a sheet of paper

 for the notes, keywords and questions, and the summary. 

The note section is where all of the notes will go. The keywords section is where the student adds prompts and hints that help them recall the information they learned. And the bottom of the page is where they will summarize their notes into a few brief sentences.

Another method to take notes is to write down the information in concise sentences and then quiz yourself on the concepts by breaking the information down into steps. 

Make Studying a Priority

Taking the MCAT as early as possible is a good idea. That means you will have to prioritize studying. Carve out an hour or two a day to go over the material you learned that day and review what you learned the previous days as well. Break it up into sections, like the actual test is. If you find you are having trouble understanding a concept, reach out and speak to someone. 

Take Practice Tests

Don’t underestimate the power of practice tests. These will show what areas you need to focus your attention on when you are studying. They will also show you whether you are scoring in the range you want to get into your top choices for medical school.