I’ve talked with hundreds of students who have taken the MCAT and failed to achieve their goal MCAT score. Through this experience, I’ve noticed some patterns in preparation that can be extremely detrimental to one’s ability to achieve a top MCAT score. In this MCAT Study Tip, I want to outline the three biggest mistakes students make while studying for the MCAT (and how to avoid them):
1. Taking notes in a notebook
I can’t tell you how many students I’ve met who used a notebook as their primary means of note taking and failed to achieve their goal score on their first MCAT attempt. The reason that using a notebook while studying for the MCAT fails to lead to success is that it doesn’t allow you to engage in active learning during the review process. You may engage in active learning while writing your notes down, but when you skim over the notes in your notebook just before test day, you are engaging in passive learning. You are not connecting with the material in a significant way, and you are likely to forget it. This is why I stress making high-quality notecards more than anything. Notecards allow you to engage in active learning while making them AND while reviewing them.
2. Not doing the AAMC Practice Problems
Want a guaranteed way to boost your MCAT score by 5 scaled score points? Do ALL of the AAMC practice problems. Do the Question packs, Section banks, Flashcards, and Full-lengths. This is the most high-yield study material out there, which is why we’ve built it into our Free MCAT Prep Course. The AAMC practice materials were produced by the writers of the actual MCAT, which is why students who fail to take full advantage of this resource while studying for the MCAT will most likely fail to achieve their MCAT goal.
3. Failing to find the proper balance between content review and practice
Some prep companies out there will tell you that the MCAT is a 100-percent strategy-based exam. Don’t believe it. The MCAT requires you to know 100-percent of the content and 100-percent of the needed critical-thinking skills. In order to critically think about the material, you need to know the material inside and out. For this reason, it is essential to have a study plan that contains the proper mix of content review and practice. Our Free eCourse has the proper ratio of content review and practice built-in so there is no need to worry if you are getting in the right amount. Or, if you need a customized plan, be sure to reach out to one of our elite tutors, and we will help you craft a plan that finds the balance that’s right for you.
For help avoiding other common mistakes while studying for the MCAT, be sure to check out our many other MCAT Study Tips. And, as always, if you have any questions please be sure to reach out. I am here to help!
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