I have taken a lot of tests and learned a lot of techniques to improve my memory. I have one tip and two sure-fire methods about how to study for MCAT testing.
These tips and methods do not matter if you are studying for the biology, chemistry, or physics categories.
The first is simple and easy. It involves using auditory and visual techniques.
Few people learn by reading a science textbook verbatim. We need stimulation and triggers to remember dry facts.
The stimulation and triggers will provide a reference point (and memory) that will allow us to recall info.
Example: Cranial bones
I could never remember the cranial bones in anatomy. I learned that mnemonics can help you recall information, especially in biology.
My mnemonic for those cranial bones is Old People From Texas Eat Spiders and replay it as an image or movie in my mind.
Can you imagine an old, wrinkled person sitting on their porch watching for spider delicacies to catch and eat?
I can and that is why I know the parietal, ethmoid, sphenoid, temporal, occipital, and frontal bones!
As long as I can remember the image and easy to remember mnemonic, I can recall the data.
This will serve as the best tip when you start studying.
Method 1: High-yield content books
Buy a single MCAT review book the moment you are considering medical school. This doesnt matter if you are in college or high school.
Get the a comprehensive, high-yield book as early as possible.
By high-yield, I mean a book that provides the overall content of what to expect in the MCAT.
These are thin and dont have a lot of pages. The content is condensed and provides an overall picture, not the small details.
Take the high yield MCAT review book with you to school and find where your that corresponds to your low-yield textbook, which has a lot of pages and details.
Notate your MCAT review book during lecture. You will be able to pick out the high-yield content that will need to be retained for the MCAT.
After you have highlighted and annotated the book, you can then re-open it and study from it before you take your MCAT.
The high-yield review book will be one you are comfortable learning from because it is not the first time you saw it.
As crazy as it sounds, it is easier to remember and study from a book you are comfortable using.
Method 2: Reverse engineering
I prefer Method 1, but I have used Method 2 with success. This method is about reverse engineering those big, thick MCAT review books, which you will need.
This stack of books will serve as your reference point, but to make it work you will need to get your hands on as many MCAT practice tests as possible.
Before opening the book, take practice tests. You will get the answers wrong. That is the point.
The questions provide the content you need to study. The questions cover high-yield topics, which you need to review.
Crack open that big, thick, low-yield textbook and study the high yield material you missed in the practice test.
This will serve as your foundation. As time allows, go back and learn the mid and low yield information, which will help you improve your MCAT score.
What MCAT Score Do I Need for Medical School?
I dont like statistics. But I found that the Association of American Medical Colleges provides data about MCAT scores, which will help us answer the question, what MCAT score do I need?
The MCAT is graded on a scale up to 40. Like a GPA, the higher your MCAT number is the better situated you are to get accepted into medical school.
You should strive for an MCAT above 30 and a GPA between 3.80-4.
These numbers would have given you an 82.3 percent chance of acceptance between 2008-2010, according to data from AAMC.
But theres nothing wrong with a score in the high 20s as long as you have a good GPA.
A applicant with a score between 27-29 with a 3.60-3.79 GPA had an acceptance rate of 51.5 percent.
Keep in mind that not all medical schools are created equal. If you are applying to a top tier school, you better have an awesome score and an overall application package.
Overall package, not just MCAT score
But numbers alone are not enough to get you into medical school.
You, also, need to have good references, interview well, have volunteer work, and clinical experience.
The entire package that you bring to med school is what gets you in. Sure, you dont want a super low MCAT score because of diminishing returns.
Example: A GPA of 3.60-3.79 and a MCAT score between 24-26 granted 29.2 percent of applicants into a program between 2008-2010 according to AAMC data.
That is a 22.3 percent acceptance difference between having a MCAT score between 24-26 and 27-29.
As you can see, a low MCAT score can impact your chances of acceptance, but with a few tweaks listed in this article, you should have no problems increasing your numbers now that you know how to study for MCAT testing.