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The Most Common Mistake MCAT Students Make

  • by Allison Chae
  • Jun 20, 2013
  • MCAT Blog, MCAT Info, MCAT Long Form, MCAT Prep, MCAT Retake

The Most Common Mistake MCAT Students Make

MCAT students overwhelmingly make one common mistake that hurts them more than any other. Simply put, they don’t adequately review their practice exams.

Usually, when a student is reviewing a practice test, the temptation is to just click through the test quickly, thinking, “okay, got that right, got that right, got that right, okay that was a silly mistake but whatever, oh okay now HERE’s one I had trouble with…

A good rule of thumb to follow is this: when reviewing MCAT material, it should take anywhere from 1.5x to 2x as much time to review something as it took to do it. So if you take a 70 minute timed physical sciences section, you can easily spend an hour and a half to two hours reviewing it.

That sounds like a lot, and it is. But it’s also absolutely essential to improving your score.

As I mentioned in a previous post, simply doing practice problems by themselves doesn’t raise your score. If you’re not learning from your practice, then you’re just spinning your wheels in neutral.

You have to be very self-disciplined, methodical, and thoughtful when you review your work. Review every single question. I can’t say that enough: REVIEW EVERY SINGLE QUESTION. It doesn’t matter if it was easy or hard, whether you got it right or wrong. The question itself (and whether you got it right or wrong) is irrelevant – what matters is the lesson behind the question.

Ferreting out that lesson takes time. Whenever you do MCAT practice questions, go back through each of them carefully. Re-read the problem. Re-solve it. Ask yourself, okay if I thought this was easy, why did I think it was easy? How will I get a question like this right again when it matters on the real exam?

If you got a question wrong, don’t just dismiss it with a thought, “Oh well whatever that was a dumb mistake.” You’ve got to stay focused and ask yourself why you made that mistake and how you’ll avoid making it when it matters on the real exam. This is the one place where being well-prepped can help. A prep course, or better yet a one-on-one tutor can help guide you through that thought process if you’re getting stuck on your own.

Simply put, the most common mistake MCAT students make is that they fail to thoroughly review every single problem when they’re going over their work. Don’t fall into that trap yourself.