How to Memorize MCAT Content: 4 Strategies

You may know what you need to memorize for the MCAT, but knowing HOW to memorize MCAT content is key. 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 have helped many of my students maximize their content memorization.

In this article, 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

The best trick in learning how to memorize MCAT equations is by teaching them to others. Teaching the 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

You don’t want to spend your final weeks of studying focused on how to memorize MCAT equations. 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.

How to memorize MCAT equations

The Test Day Centric System

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! And if you want extra help mastering how to memorize MCAT equations, check out my tutoring page below!

Warm regards,

Jess Hack

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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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