30 Point Improvement on the MCAT

Written and edited by the MCAT Self Prep Tutoring Team

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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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