30 Point Improvement on the MCAT

Studying for the MCAT can be a daunting task, especially when you have no idea where to start or how to structure your studying. I spent a few days online trying to research the best ways to study for the exam, and I was super overwhelmed by the endless suggestions I found through Reddit users and other study plan advertisements.

Getting Started

I stumbled across MCAT Self Prep during this search and was intrigued by the layout and reasonable price. After reading some of the testimonials on the website, I decided to get the basic pro plan. I wanted to see what it was all about, figuring at the very worst I had just wasted $20. It turned out that the $20 had been a wise investment after all. Andrew’s help in creating a custom study plan with his premade template was invaluable. I feel like just getting started was what was hardest for me, and this simple program laid out everything that I felt I needed to take those first few steps on the MCAT journey.

After getting my custom study plan set up, I had enough faith in the program that I decided to purchase the Advanced Pro plan. I had already been using ANKI to study general flashcards, but I wanted to see if these cards offered additional information. Again, I was glad that I made this purchase. I know that many people say that you should make some of your own flashcards, but by using Andrew’s, I never really felt the need to do so. The cards have an awesome interface, and the flashcards are written in a thought-provoking, question-based format so that you have to really put your recall skills to the test. I found it super easy to use these flashcards on my phone and I would go through them as I walked to my classes (as well as during my classes haha), sat bored in waiting rooms, and as others drove me in the car. 

Content Review

Once I had the flashcards and the study plan, I began my content review phase. Each free e-course module is set up nicely on the Self Prep website, and I loved the fact that I was able to watch the videos at double speed. I enjoyed watching the videos for each unit, taking notes, and then assessing my knowledge of the material afterward with the flashcards. A few weeks into my content review phase, I decided to take Andrew’s advice and take a diagnostic exam. I was immediately surprised at how difficult the MCAT’s questions seemed to me. Being a good student at a university that really pushes its students and having done much of the prerequisite work for the MCAT, I had assumed that things would go easily and I wouldn’t have to put much effort into securing a good score on test day. I had a goal of scoring above a 515 on the MCAT, but after taking the diagnostic exam I almost gave up all hope. Looking at the 492 on my screen was a real wake-up call for me, and I realized how much help I was truly going to need.

I continued to put in about 10 hours per week going through each module on the MCAT Self Prep Website, reviewing the flashcards after each lesson. I decided to trust the process and utilize extra resources to supplement what I was already doing. I studied the MilesDown MCAT ANKI deck pretty seriously every day, and I found that it was extremely helpful for memorizing facts, acronyms, and equations that were essential for the test. I also purchased 10 practice tests from Altius (I only did 5 of them) on their Black Friday sale to go along with all of the AAMC tests that I had purchased previously. I found that there was nothing quite as helpful as doing a test every two weeks or so and reviewing it seriously. Overall, I was probably spending 15-20 hours per week studying for the exam once my date was 6 months away.

As I trusted the process and used all of the materials at my disposal, I found that my score began to increase rapidly. I scored a 504, 506, and 508 on my exams following the diagnostic test. Simply by familiarizing myself with content through MCAT Self Prep and flashcards and exposing myself to questions every day, I began to see big jumps. I was really optimistic about my progress when I seemed to hit a plateau just a month before my test date. I scored a 508 on three exams in a row, which was not comforting considering my goal was to score a 515. I decided to spend more time using Andrew’s flashcards each day and I purchased a one month subscription to UWorld. By answering hundreds of questions per day during that last month, I realized my weak areas and devoted my content review to those areas only. Once I switched up my strategy, I saw big jumps in my scores again. I scored a 515, 518, and 519 on my last three exams leading up to my test day.

Test Day

On the day of my test I was feeling incredibly anxious. I felt like I still hadn’t mastered everything completely, but I did my best to push out those worries and trust the work that I had put in over the last 7 months. Because I had modeled each of my practice tests as close to the real testing experience, I felt like I had been there before. The test felt fairly difficult, and walking out of the testing center I couldn’t help feeling like I had blown it (which is a common feeling from what I understand). Opening my score and seeing that 521 made all of the pain and sacrifice worth it. I am so grateful for the resources that MCAT Self Prep provided me on my journey, and I couldn’t recommend it enough for those of you trying to make a huge jump in your scores.

I wish you the best of luck on your own MCAT journeys. You can do this!! 

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How we Matched up the Khan Academy Passages with the eCourse Lessons

Each lesson of the eCourse contains links to 1 to 5 Khan Academy science passages for the purpose of providing you with non-AAMC material to practice your science passage reading skills on. By completing all the linked passages within every lesson, you will have finished all the freely available Khan Academy science passages.

To match up the Khan Academy Science Passages with the eCourse lessons, we carefully examined the passage and question content of each one. Then we decided which lesson of the eCourse best correlated with that content. You may notice that some passages don’t match up perfectly with the current lesson. If they don’t match up with the current lesson, they should match up with one of the previous lessons in the module. We did this carefully so that you could practice your science passage reading skills on passages that contain the content you’ve already learned.

Why we don’t recommend non-AAMC CARS practice questions

We recommend practicing CARS by reading non-AAMC CARS passages but not doing the associated practice problems. The reason we don’t recommend doing the practice problems is because the MCAT is written by the AAMC. They have a very unique style in which they write CARS practice questions that third-party companies (try as they might) are unable to replicate. When students spend time on non-AAMC CARS practice problems, they get familiar with the wrong style of questioning, leading them to overthink and incorrectly respond to the questions written by the AAMC. Thus, it is in your best interest to solely practice on AAMC CARS practice questions.

That said, we highly recommend practicing your reading skills on non-AAMC CARS passages. In our Ultimate CARS Strategy Course, we provide you with 1,000 free CARS passages and 100+ homework assignments, giving you ample material to practice on. Reading countless passages while practicing the proper reading habits and strategies will prepare you well to conquer the CARS section as it was written by the AAMC.

Which books do the lessons match up with?

The books we use in each lesson are linked below. We plan to stick with these older editions of the books since very little has changed and the older editions are much more affordable:

First Edition of the Kaplan 7-book Series
First Edition of the Princeton 7-book Series

Do the chapters match up perfectly?

The Kaplan Books, Princeton Books, and Khan Academy Videos were all produced by different authors. For this reason, there are some chapters in the Kaplan Book or Princeton Book that are not even found in the Khan Academy Videos and vice versa. For instance, the Kaplan and Princeton Books have chapters that cover certain experimental procedures that the Khan Academy Videos do not cover.

Our goal in matching up the books with the videos was to correlate the content as best as possible while also covering ALL the content from every resource. For this reason, when nothing in the Kaplan Books matched up with one of the video playlists, instead of leaving the reading assignment for Kaplan blank, we inserted material that did not fit in anywhere else (i.e. one of those chapters on an experimental procedure that was not covered by Khan Academy). So, when the assignment doesn’t appear to match up right, please know that this was intentional.

*If you follow the reading assignments outlined, you will finish the entire Kaplan 7-book series and/or Princeton 7-book series by the time you finish all 10 content modules.

Do the sections match up perfectly?

If the sections assigned in our eCourse do not match up with the sections contained in your content review book, you may have a different edition. The sections should still match up the large majority of the time, but in the rare instance that they don’t, I’d recommend simply reading sections that do match up and saving the ones that do not for a future lesson.

MCAT Launchpad Required!

Before jumping into our free eCourse, you’ll need to complete orientation by watching MCAT Launchpad. During this free 35-minute intro session with Head Tutor Andrew, you’ll learn 6 Keys to Earning a Top MCAT Score, the 5 Essential Elements of an Effective Study Plan, 12 Tips for Taking the Best MCAT Study Notes, and more! Andrew will also provide you with a detailed overview of the Free MCAT Prep Course, teaching you how to get started.

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