How to Catch Up on Content Knowledge for the MCAT After Remote Learning
- Jan 24, 2023
- MCAT Blog, MCAT Prep
By Connor Hatfield (Blueprint MCAT Tutor)
If you experienced remote coursework during the COVID-19 pandemic, you know that it was far from perfect… Amidst the stress of a global pandemic, colleges and universities had to pivot from an in-person learning model to a fully online model in a matter of weeks. Though public schools and professors did the best they could, there was undoubtedly a decrease in the quality of the education offered to most students. With fragmented course plans, technological challenges, a less-than-ideal home-learning environment, and little accountability or structure for students, many of us fell off the rails a bit when it came to virtual learning and internalizing our course content. So, as a pre-med student, how do you return to in-person learning or bounce back from that period of remote online learning coursework and make up for any MCAT-relevant learning losses?
If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It
Higher education does A LOT of things right. Though we just talked about the challenges and shortcomings of higher education during the pandemic, this was a HUGE curveball thrown their way that they could not have seen coming.
Typically, higher education courses are structured, and it is clear what you must do to excel. The professors are subject matter experts with years of experience who make themselves available outside of class time to answer your questions. The courses consist of content review (often a lecture), practice problems, projects, and exams–activities that provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge, identify their weaknesses, and learn from their mistakes. There is also a high level of accountability, as academic integrity is taken very seriously at most (if not all) institutions.
Lastly, you are surrounded by peers on the same academic or professional track, giving you someone to lean on for practical and emotional support when things get difficult. What this amounts to is a clear path–equipped with guardrails and guideposts–for students to follow to be successful.
If you find yourself struggling to catch up this school year on content that you “learned” as a pre-med student during the pandemic, these are the elements you should look for in an MCAT prep program or MCAT study schedule. It’s not just about having access to the information–anyone with a computer and internet access can read about nuclear physics or watch videos about fluid mechanics. What most students need is a structured approach to learning, applying, and refining that content knowledge in an MCAT-relevant way. Ideally, the student should also be able to speak with someone who knows the material inside and out and can provide clarification when the textbook or video just doesn’t make sense.
Before I dive into where you can find an MCAT program like this, there are two things to note:
- 1. There is no substitution for time spent with the material. If you “lost” an entire quarter/semester (or more) of prerequisite coursework to the challenges of virtual learning, you cannot expect to fully understand those topics after just a day or two of studying. If you want to know how to increase your MCAT score in 2 weeks or want to reach your goal MCAT score, you must be willing to dedicate some additional time and effort to the content areas you’re weaker in. So, be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and strengths, and be realistic about how much time you need to learn, study, and review for the MCAT. (Note: You can use Blueprint’s free, half-length diagnostic exam to help you identify your content strengths and weaknesses. You can also schedule a complimentary consultation with a Blueprint MCAT Advisor to discuss studying timelines.)
- 2. To succeed on test day, practice like it’s test day. A common report from students who took prerequisite coursework during the pandemic was that there was a major lack of accountability (particularly when taking exams). Rather than studying and internalizing the material, many students treated exams like open-note assignments during COVID online learning. While this may have helped their GPA at the time, they ultimately set themselves behind in terms of preparing for the MCAT. So, as you prepare for the MCAT, study with the intention of being able to recall the most important facts, theories, and concepts from memory–that is exactly what you will need to do on the MCAT. Then, practice like it’s the real thing–put your notes in an entirely different room, close all other internet tabs, and do whatever is necessary to remove all temptation.
The Blueprint to MCAT Success
So, where can you find a program that provides the resources, structure, and support you need and has a proven track record of success? At Blueprint Test Prep, this is our bread and butter. We have been working for years to refine and optimize MCAT preparation for students like you. Our mission is “to provide the most personalized and innovative experiences to help our learners achieve their goals.” Here is how we actually do it:
Whether you sign up for our live online course or our self-paced online course, we provide the resources, structure, and support you need to efficiently learn the most MCAT-relevant content. Our videos and textbooks go into sufficient depth to ensure that there aren’t any gaps in your content knowledge, but not so in-depth that you get lost in the weeds of low-yield information.
-Within our MCAT courses, you can “test out” of content modules that you already know well–this allows you to move on, confident that you have the knowledge necessary for that topic. You can then dedicate more time to those content areas that you aren’t as comfortable with.
-Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you can send your questions to our MCAT staff or support team (via email or Discord–yes, we have a Discord!!) and receive an answer from an MCAT expert within 24 hours.
-We hold office hours 6 days a week, allowing you to get live answers to your questions and work through practice questions with one of our MCAT staff instructors.
-With our MCAT Study Planner Tool, you can create (and re-create, if necessary) your entire MCAT study plan that works with your school or life calendar in less than five minutes–this means less time and energy spent trying to decide what to study each day.
-We offer thousands of high-yield, pre-made flashcards that you can study with our spaced-repetition software. Daily practice with our flashcards will help you efficiently retrieve critical content knowledge during the MCAT diagnostic test.
-You will have complete access to our MCAT Qbank, which now has 4,000 practice questions–that’s 4,000 opportunities to refine your content knowledge and test-taking strategies.
-All courses include a half-length diagnostic exam and ten full-length practice exams. Apart from the AAMC materials, these practice exams are the most representative of the real MCAT and have the most realistic user interface.
-All practice questions and exams come with passage breakdowns and thorough explanations of each answer choice. This will allow you to extract key insights into how you think, and more importantly, how the MCAT test writers think.
-We are proud to say that we have an exceptional team of MCAT tutors who can work with you one-on-one to refine your content knowledge and test-taking strategies. They will personalize your study plan (even more than our software already does) and provide the accountability, support, and guidance you need to achieve your goal score. (Tutoring services are not included with the purchase of a Blueprint MCAT course, but we strive to make tutoring affordable and accessible to as many students as possible.)
-Our unbelievably detailed analytics help you clearly identify your weaknesses, strengths, and test-taking tendencies.
-You will have access to our Blueprint MCAT Discord server, where you can build community and accountability with other MCAT students. You can ask questions about MCAT content, look for an “accountabili-buddy,” or share the triumphs and challenges you experience along the way.
-You will receive the AAMC MCAT Official Prep Bundle as part of your purchase of either of our MCAT courses. These materials are created by the organization that writes the MCAT, meaning they will be the most representative of what you can expect to see on exam day.
To provide some context, I am not writing this as a marketing employee who hasn’t tried the course for themselves. I am a former Blueprint MCAT student, and prior to Blueprint, I tried prepping for the MCAT on my own. I quickly realized that I needed more structure, more support, and more accountability if I was going to achieve my dream score and get into my dream school. Blueprint totally changed the way I studied and approached MCAT prep, and I saw a 19-point increase from my half-length diagnostic exam to my actual MCAT. I can confidently say that I would not be where I am now in my academic and professional journey without Blueprint. But don’t just take my word for it–click here to read hundreds of reviews from other students with stories similar to mine.
Sign up for a free trial today, and see for yourself why Blueprint MCAT Prep is the optimal way to make up for remote learning losses.
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