5 Tips to Prep for the MCAT During the School Year
- Aug 11, 2019
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Prep
As much as it pains us to say, summer is coming to an end and school is about to start. You might already be wondering how you’re going to juggle your full course load while still building up your medical school application resume. However, there’s also one big hurdle you have to cross before you start thinking about applying: the Medical School Admissions Test.
Let’s face it, the MCAT is a difficult exam to study for at any time. It gets harder when you try to prep for it while you’re still in school. Fortunately, it’s definitely not impossible, and with the help of the below tips, you’ll be able to enter the room on your MCAT test date confidently and well prepared.
1. Accept Your Fate Now
Sorry to say, but you’re probably going to have to skip a lot of parties and wild nights with friends. You might even get upset to find that you’re paying for a streaming service you’ll hardly use. Between your classes, homework, volunteering/shadowing, MCAT prep, and sleeping, you won’t have time to devote to much else. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to say “No” when your roommate invites you out for drinks on a Wednesday night. Our advice? Have as much fun and get as much partying out of your system now so you can be prepared to get down to business once school starts. Remember the sacrifices you make now will pay off in the future.
2. Use a Planner
It’s easy to say you’ll commit to completing some content review every Monday and Wednesday and taking a practice MCAT every Saturday. However, unless you create a schedule, you run the risk of forgetting or simply procrastinating. Use a planner to keep track of your class assignments, life stuff, and your MCAT prep schedule. Next Step students get to use our state-of-the-art online MCAT planner to lay out their year and easily move things around if needed. A written plan will help keep you accountable and organized.
3. Be Realistic
We know your heart would sink to your stomach if we said you absolutely need to devote four hours to MCAT prep every single night. Sure, some students might be able to commit to that, but many of you won’t—and there’s nothing wrong with that! Aim for quality over quantity. A couple of really focused study sessions will always surpass nights where you are exhausted, half-asleep, and likely to forget half of what you read by the next morning. However, if you find that you have enough time in your day to watch episodes of “The Office,” you might have more free time to devote to prep than you originally thought.
That said, there’s always the possibility of extending your prep and taking the MCAT at a later date. If you’re truly pressed for time and don’t want to rush through your MCAT prep (which you shouldn’t), start prepping at least six months before your proposed test date, keeping in mind where you will be in the medical school application cycle. To help make your life easier, you can get a full year of MCAT prep and a free hour with an admissions consultant when you purchase the Next Step Online course before August 13th.
4. Get the Right Materials
If you’re going to spend hours studying for the MCAT and making sacrifices towards your dream of becoming a doctor, wouldn’t you want to use only the best materials? Representative MCAT prep materials are vital to your success. The official AAMC resources are a given in any strong prep plan, but they are not enough to cover all of the content you need to know. Try to find MCAT prep materials that are as close to the real MCAT as possible. If you really want to push yourself, use practice tests that are slightly harder than the official tests, like the Next Step MCAT Practice Tests.
5. Sneak MCAT Prep into Your Daily Life
Finally, here’s a not-so-secret trick to keep MCAT content at the top of your mind: make it part of your daily routine. Are you taking organic chemistry or a psychology class this semester? There’s part your content review for that section. Can’t tear yourself away from social media? Follow some of MCAT or pre-med Instagram accounts to receive motivational quotes, tips, and Questions of the Day in your feed. The MCAT prepares you to one day save a life, so why not really make it part of your own while you study for it?
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