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Study plan

Posted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:09 pm
by casey13

I am planning on taking the MCAT next summer (2020) but am getting an early start on my studying. My main question is how much practice passages and practice tests I should take now versus closer to the MCAT. Would I benefit more by saving the practice tests until the spring and just review content right now? Thanks for the help!

Re: Study plan

Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 8:30 am
by NS_Tutor_Will
Thanks for the question!

There are different approaches, to be sure, so you'll want to try to figure out what will work best for you and then make any necessary adjustments as you go. Typically, a recommended timetable for dedicated review is somewhere on the order of 3-4 months. With that timeline, I usually have students focus on broad content for the first month, then transition to targeted content + practice tests once per week for the second month, and then really dig into practice with continued FLs every week and all of the other AAMC practice material, as well. I'd recommend that you preserve that 2-3 months of pretty serious practice with more focused/targeted content review based on that practice at the end of your prep period.

At this point, if you start taking practice tests, you're probably not going to get all the advantage that comes from reviewing, since your test is still so far off. It's not a bad idea to take a FL every now and then just to check in to see how you're doing, but you don't want to burn through all of your practice when your tests is so far off, either.

One of the reasons doing practice while reviewing is good is that you get a sense for how the content will actually be tested on the MCAT. Just knowing organic chemistry, for example, doesn't mean you'll be able to answer MCAT-style questions that cover that content. That's why a good mix is recommended.

So that's basically a longwinded way of saying that there's no one-size-fits-all, "correct" approach to take to your prep. You'll want to think about your strengths/weaknesses, what will be most effective for you, etc., and plan accordingly. If you're planning to work with a tutor, it might be helpful to meet with them briefly to go over everything and to make a plan for how to best kick off your prep.

Sorry I can't be more definitive, but I hope this is at least a little helpful! Good luck with your prep!

Re: Study plan

Posted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:07 pm
by hhazelwood
Hello, my name is Hunter. I plan on taking the MCAT in the middle of January. I have completed my study plan for the day and wanted to see what recommendations for free time were. Basically, what are some good activities I can do during free study time?


Re: Study plan

Posted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 8:08 pm
by NS_Tutor_Mathias
Hey there Hunter!

It's always good to see somebody planning extensively for their MCAT. This far out (about 6 months), the best thing you can do is get some physical exercise during which you disconnect from any internet use at all. The exam is a lot about understanding the material - and you might find good physical and mental health, as well as extended breaks, can help you take the time to absorb and ask yourself some key questions.

Also consider taking up a critical reading habit: Read papers and write small executive summaries, talk about the background going into the study, describe the figures in detail, be able to explain the materials and methods and key decisions made by the researchers and summarize their conclusions as well as whether those are as well-supported as the study claims they are. A habit of reading discursive writing (political, philosophical, arts and humanities, fiction - anything works!) might also help you get a head start on CARS.