5 Keys to Staying Focused During an MCAT Study Session

Setting aside time to study for the MCAT can be challenging, but staying focused during that time can be even more difficult. Here are 5 tips to help you stay focused and maximize the study time you do have:

  1. Turn off distractions. Engaging in deep, focused and meaningful learning requires you to stay tuned in the entire time without interruptions. To avoid such interruptions, you should turn off or put away your phone and silence any notifications that may show up on your computer. Such notifications can quickly pull you away from your precious time to focus on MCAT studying. Think about it — each one minute interruption could actually interrupt your focus for five or more minutes. With limited study time, the interruptions just aren’t worth it.
  2. Set aside blocks of time for studying. When planning your day, instead of just telling yourself that you will study as much as you can, plan in chunks of time throughout the day during which you will be 100-percent focused on MCAT studying. These chunks should be at least 30 minutes and no more than 60 minutes. During these chunks, you shouldn’t be doing anything except studying for the MCAT, staying completely focused.
  3. Take regular breaks. Between study blocks, you should take time for a break. During this time, allow yourself to do whatever you want, whether it is checking your phone or email or even playing a video game. By allowing yourself to do pleasurable things during your breaks, you are less likely to think about or engage in these activities during your study blocks.
  4. Carefully plan what you will accomplish during each study block. If you know that you have 45 minutes to watch 13 videos, you will accomplish much more than if your goal is to simply “get done what I can” during those 45 minutes. Remember, good goals are time bound and specific.
  5. Plan variety into your study blocks. Doing the same thing for hours on end isn’t just boring, but it also makes it extremely difficult to focus. To fight against this, plan a variety of study activities into your day. For instance, instead of spending three study blocks in a row watching videos, perhaps you could spend the first block on videos 1 through 12 from the video playlist, the second block on the Kaplan book reading assignment, and the third block going on a walk while testing yourself on Quizlet flashcards. This infuses your studying with some much needed variety, helping your brain stay on task.

I hope this MCAT study tip will help you have more engaging and effective study sessions. And as always, if you have any questions, please be sure to reach out. I am here to help!

Warm regards,

Andrew  George

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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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