When Should I Start Doing MCAT Practice Problems?

Which is more important? MCAT Practice problems or content review? 

The short answer is that both are more important at different times. When you first begin studying for the MCAT, you should be spending the majority of your study time learning the content and a minimal amount of time doing practice problems. Once you have most of the content under your belt, you will be ready to give practice problems the majority of your focus. The final month should largely be spent doing practice exams. Our FREE Ecourse seamlessly integrates this transition from content to practice problems. After finishing each of the 10 content modules, you will complete a few brief mini-exams to track your progress so about 80% of your time will focus on content. Once the content phase is complete, your final month of MCAT Bootcamp will largely consist of practice problems from the AAMC. 

Here are the objectives for MCAT Bootcamp:

  1. Take 7 or more full-length practice exams. Now that you’ve covered all the MCAT content at least once, you are ready to hone your test-taking skills and build up confidence for test day. As you take practice exams, be sure to mimic the test day environment as best as possible as this will leave you feeling all the more comfortable when test day arrives. And don’t forget to carefully review every single problem and answer choice. If you take practice exam after practice exam without reviewing them in-depth, you will never make any progress.
  2. Review every single MCAT concept one last time. During the content review modules, you should have learned all the content, but it is extremely important that all that content is well memorized for test day. To ensure that every piece of information is in your brain, you should review every single flashcard (and Quizlet Practice Question) that you either created or studied from. As you review these flashcards, mark (or star) the ones you get wrong, and then review these marked flashcards one final time during your final week of studying before test day.
  3. Develop an AAMC-mindset. The MCAT was written by the AAMC, and for this reason, we want to eat, breathe, and sleep AAMC practice problems during the final month. You should plan on finishing up any AAMC practice problems that you still haven’t done yet during this final month. And even once you’ve done them all, don’t hesitate to do them again. They are that important!
  4. Focus on the most high-yield topics. The final month is not the time to learn organic chemistry or memorize convoluted equations. Your time needs to be spent on the topics that the MCAT is most likely to test you on. This is why I’ve created my Memorization and Strategy Courses. Each one focuses on the most high-yield topics, and these courses are easy to learn and review quickly. Even if you already worked through these courses during the content review phase, I’d recommend reviewing them again during MCAT Bootcamp. Students have found these to provide a significant boost during their final study period.
  5. Keep your CARS skills sharp. MCAT Bootcamp is no time to let up on your CARS practice. Continue to read CARS passages for a consistent amount of time each day. And if you feel like you are putting hours and hours into this section with no tangible results, don’t forget to take advantage of my Ultimate CARS Strategy Course.
  6. Get as much support as possible. MCAT Bootcamp is the most stressful month of MCAT prep. It is tremendously helpful to have an experienced tutor coach you through this otherwise anxiety-inducing process. Since you will be taking many practice exams during this period, it is also extremely important to get help with some of the more difficult practice questions. Finally, working on your MCAT test-taking strategy regularly during this period is crucial. For this reason, I’d highly recommend signing up to work one-on-one with one of our Elite Tutors. The final month is the most important and most popular time to rely on this program.

When should I start doing practice problems? 

You should make practice problems an integral part of your MCAT study plan from day one. Doing so will allow you to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and build your study plan around improving where you need it most. While you may think that you need to know all the content before you start doing practice problems, this is not the case. In fact, working through MCAT Prep books will involve mini-exams at the end of each chapter to solidify the content that you’re learning. You will be surprised by your ability to answer practice problems with very little content under your belt. This is largely due to the fact that most MCAT questions are passage-based. However, your ability to increase your accuracy will increase with a greater understanding of content. 

What else can I do to spend my study time wisely? 

Sometimes it can be hard to know how much time to spend on certain study activities as opposed to others. This is why it is essential to study with someone who has already conquered the MCAT. Our 519+ tutors will be able to help you make a personalized study plan, helping you milk every minute of study for all it is worth. They will guide you in a step-by-step manner to MCAT success. Schedule your first tutoring session to get started today.

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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