4 Strategies for Memorizing MCAT Content
It’s no secret that online MCAT prep requires extensive memorization. Flipping through content review books can be overwhelming, and it can seem downright impossible to learn everything in time for your MCAT test day.
Luckily, several strategies help many of my students maximize their content memorization. In this blog post, I will share some tips I used in my studies, as well as advice I give to students who worry about their ability to memorize content. The goal is to get the best MCAT score possible and the best way to set yourself up for success is mastering the content! These four strategies will fit seamlessly into the MCAT Self Prep Course and boost your confidence on test day.
1. Take time to focus
Many students are intimidated by the amount of content on the MCAT. It can be tempting to rush through the material, especially when it comes to familiar topics. However, focus is crucial in efficient memorization. Here are some strategies I used to maintain my concentration:
- Taking short breaks: For every 50 minutes of studying, reward yourself by spending 10 minutes doing something fun. I found that watching a funny skit on YouTube or making a quick snack helped me feel refreshed and energized.
- Studying outside: I highly recommend getting fresh air while studying! If I felt bored or spaced out, I would go for a walk while reviewing Quizlet flashcards on my phone. Even watching videos while sitting outside can help when feeling drained.
- Checking for comprehension: To ensure that I wasn’t flying through my flashcards, I would focus on each question individually. I found it helpful to ask myself what the question is asking and why the correct answer is correct. If I couldn’t explain these two points to myself, I would mark the flashcard for review.
2. Make connections
Although MCAT material can seem detached from everyday life, it’s all around you! Making connections and assigning meaning to concepts will aid you in your attempt to solidify information. While walking to class, explain how your brain and sensory organs process the various stimuli around you. If you have a cold, visualize how your immune system responds to this infection. These brief, meaningful applications of material will make it easier to retrieve that information on test day.
3. Teach others
I genuinely believe that teaching material reflects a mastery of the content. If you are part of a study group, take turns explaining concepts with your peers as if they are entirely unfamiliar with the material. Schedule a session with your tutor and “teach” while they carefully listen to your explanations for accuracy. Even pretending to present material to an audience can help identify weak areas that need extra review!
4. Lock it in for test day
It’s unrealistic to keep every piece of information memorized throughout studying. In fact, attempting to re-learn all of the content every single day does more harm than good.
As shown on the left side of the graphic below, the Memory Prevention System is detrimental to students’ ultimate preparedness for test day. Students review all of their previously learned material throughout their studying period in this strategy. Although frequent review may seem like a good idea, it’s essential to keep the volume of information in mind. While this approach may work for some undergraduate courses, the sheer amount of information encompassed by the MCAT makes this strategy unfeasible. Attempting to review all the content you’ve learned so frequently will likely lead to burnout and detract from other aspects of your MCAT study plan.
The more efficient approach to memorization is the Test Day Centric System, as shown on the right side of the graphic. Although this strategy also involves memorization, it does not encourage students to review all material as frequently as the Memory Prevention System. The Test Day Centric System’s fundamental principle is that students don’t need to have everything perfectly memorized until test day. My students save time by cutting out inefficient review. With newfound time, students can put time towards mastering new material through content modules. It also opens up time for students to maximize their success through the Strategy Courses and Mastery Courses.
MCAT Self Prep’s philosophy is centered on the Test Day Centric System. Learning content through the modules and flashcard review is efficient and leaves my students with confidence in their knowledge as they progress through the program. The last month of preparation, MCAT Boot Camp includes an intense, extensive review of all previously learned material. This final stretch will boost your memorization and set you up for your greatest potential on test day.
Although the immense amount of information needed for the MCAT can seem daunting, being fully prepared is absolutely possible! Try implementing some of these strategies into your study plan to maximize your comprehension and efficiency. Your future self will thank you!
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