In my mind, there are two main phases to studying for the MCAT: (1) Content Review Phase, and (2) MCAT Bootcamp. During the Content Review Phase, your focus is on developing a very solid content foundation. Only once this foundation is fully established should you start doing full-length exams as part of MCAT Bootcamp, your final month of MCAT studying.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do any practice problems during the Content Review Phase, but the purpose of doing them is different than during MCAT Bootcamp, when you are trying to mimic test day and develop stamina. Practice during the Content Review Phase has several purposes:
- Gain a feel for how the AAMC will test you on the content you are learning. By doing the AAMC Mini Exams at the end of each Content Module (lesson 15), you will begin to gain an idea as to how you need to understand the content in order to properly tackle questions from the AAMC.
- Adjust your studying based on your progress. By taking AAMC Mini Exams at regular intervals, you will be able to see how and in what ways you are progressing. In lesson 15 of each module, Basic Pro Plan Members receive guidance as to how they should adjust their studying for the next Content Module based on their AAMC Mini Exam results. Adjusting your studying every step of the way based on real-time progress is an essential aspect of a solid study plan.
- Test yourself to confirm that you are correctly learning the content. Oftentimes, students will learn a concept from a video or book, think they understand it, but then fail to answer a question based on that concept. This reveals that the student didn’t truly understand the concept as it was taught. To prevent this from happening, I believe it is crucial to test yourself immediately after learning concepts to confirm that you learned them correctly. Advanced Pro Plan Members are easily able to do this using the Quizlet sets at the end of each eCourse lesson. They are completely comprehensive for all the content taught in the Khan Academy videos, Kaplan Reading Assignments, and Princeton Reading Assignments contained within each lesson.
- Practice passage-reading strategies. Developing passage-reading skills should not wait until MCAT Bootcamp. They need to be developed slowly over time through consistent practicing of proven comprehension strategies. I teach these strategies in my Ultimate CARS Strategy Course and Science Passage Reading Strategy Course (half-price as part of the Deluxe Pro Plan Bundle). Each course includes 10 Strategy Modules, each walking you through an essential and proven comprehension strategy. Learning the strategies is important, but practicing them on a daily basis is the key. This is why each course includes 100+ homework assignments that allow you to slowly practice these strategies over time in a consistent, proven manner. The best part is that the 10 Strategy Modules integrate perfectly with the 10 Content Modules of the eCourse. For instance, within each lesson of the eCourse, you’ll find science passages that relate to the content of that lesson, on which you can practice your passage reading strategies while reviewing the content you just learned. It is very effective.