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What to do One Month Before the MCAT

  • by Fehbe Meza
  • Dec 18, 2018
  • MCAT Blog, MCAT Info, MCAT Prep

Many people try and brush off the last month of studying before the MCAT because they believe there’s not much time left for improvement. What are 30 days before the MCAT going to change, right? However, there are several things you can do to ensure that you make the most of your time to achieve the best score possible.

Crank Out The Practice Tests

Build your stamina and get your mind ready to sit through the MCAT by taking full-length practice exams. You want to get as comfortable with the exam as possible, so try to replicate the testing conditions and take representative MCAT practice tests to familiarize yourself with the MCAT. Wake up early in the morning and take the exam around 8:00AM, as this is the time your actual exam will be. Don’t have your phone, food, or drink on the desk until you’re done. Also, don’t take any breaks longer than what you would be given. Schedule one per week to ensure that you are able to finish them all and review them before your exam.

Review. Review. And Repeat.

At this stage of studying, reviewing is of the utmost importance. If you miss any questions, you need to make sure that you go back over these concepts to ensure that you don’t miss them again if they come up on the exam. The new features in Next Step’s online course make it easier to flag and review questions, while also keeping its interface nearly identical to the MCAT. Take the time to understand every concept you see. Even if something is merely mentioned as an answer choice—and it doesn’t have to be the right answer choice—that means there is an expectation that you should have some knowledge about it.

Continue–or Start–Using the AAMC Resources

At this point, you should start using the AAMC MCAT prep material if you haven’t already. Ideally, you’ll start the AAMC resources 5-6 weeks before your exam. Start with the question packs and then work your way through the section banks, both untimed. You can use the four AAMC exams to work on timing but use the other AAMC materials to work on concept review and comprehension. The AAMC MCAT prep materials are not included in your MCAT registration. Fortunately, if you’re a Next Step student, your course comes with access to all the online AAMC resources.

Avoid the Burn Out

Even though this is crunch time and it feels like you need to study 14 hours a day, you need to make enough time for breaks. It does not matter how motivated you are, if you don’t take breaks from studying, you will burn out by the time you get to your exam. Try exercising or decompressing with a hobby. A good way to schedule for this would be wake up early and study in the mornings and the evenings, while leaving time for yourself in between. The exam days will be 7.5 hours of consecutive exam taking, with minimal breaks in between sections, so schedule an off-day the day before. Although it may give you anxiety to take an entire day off from studying, especially during the end of your studying period, rest days are crucial to recover and keep you at peak performance. Taking rest days will pay dividends throughout your last month, as you’ll prevent burn out and unproductive “studying.”

The month leading up to the MCAT is both exciting and exhausting, but don’t lose your motivation. Study up until the day before the test. Spend that day relaxing and keeping your mind fresh for the exam—that means NO studying! When you get into the exam room, remember to stay relaxed and trust that all the time you spent preparing is going to be more than enough to help you reach your goal score. Good luck!

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