So I have already had the opportunity to take the MCAT over the summer. For those of you that have not yet taken it, and are either in your junior or senior year in college, I would strongly recommend that you figure out when and where you are planning on taking the MCAT asap, so that you give yourself enough time to study for it.
I would like to share with you my experience about the day of the MCAT and the lessons I had learned after taking the test. The American Associate of Medical Colleges (AAMC) are very much against anyone revealing specific details about the test itself so I WILL NOT go into any details of the test itself.
My studying began as soon as I decided I was going to pursue medicine, which for me was toward the end of my freshman year of college. I figured out which topics would be on the test and made sure to keep good notes when I took a particular class in school that correlated to the subject (e.g. Biology, Organic Chemistry, etc.), which I then dedicated myself to reviewing throughout my time in undergrad. I even participated in an MCAT study group, that was formed at my school, where we did practice tests and quizzed each other.
I used Kaplan study materials when possible, such as materials online as well as books I borrowed from classmates (I’m too cheap to buy the books myself). I never took a MCAT course and the summer before I took the MCAT, I was doing research fulltime. Because of this I did not have the time to dedicate 40+ hours to studying like some pre-meds suggest, but since I had been studying from my freshman year all the way to my senior year, I feel like I didn’t need to do that.
A Couple of Days Before:
I made sure to drive from my house to the place where I would be taking the MCAT. Why would I do this a few days before, you might ask? So that I could figure out where I was going and wouldn’t get lost on the day of the test, also so that I could figure out how long it would take me to get there.
The Morning Of and Check-In:
I drove down there very early in the morning because my test was at 8am and it was about 45min to get there from my house as long as there was no traffic (there always is traffic at that time of day).
I’ve heard that check-ins are a little bit different for each location, but here is my experience. When my name was called I was taken in the back and they made me put everything I had with me in a locker. I then had to turn my pockets inside out, lift up my pant legs a little; this was to prove I wasn’t taken anything into the test to cheat. Then they had me fill out paper work, take my picture and get my fingerprints. They did this so that when I left the room and came back during breaks, they knew that I was still who I was and not someone else.
During the Test:
The hardest part of the test, for me at least, was that the test was about 7 hours and 30 minutes long. That included 2 breaks that were 15 minutes each and one lunch break that was 30 minutes long.
The test is heavily monitored, both by the people walking in and out of the room at 5 minute intervals and cameras on each test taker.
- Ignore the post-MCAT depression that everyone experiences right after taking it.
- Almost everyone feels that they didn’t do very well immediately after taking it. I promise that most likely you did better than you thought you did. Also the MCAT is only one portion of your application so it doesn’t make or break you as much as you think it does.
- Take advantage of the breaks
- Remember that I said it was about 7 1/2 hours long! Give yourself some time to eat something or let your mind rest.
- Save your notes from college classes and review them often
- I was surprised at how much of the material in my college classes showed up on the MCAT. I guess those prerequisites are good for more than just getting into medical school.
- Double check your answers before moving on to the next section
- The system is usually good at catching unanswered questions but it is also helpful to take a second look at a question in case you realize that you read it wrong at first. If you don’t have time to double check all your questions, at least take sure they are all answered before moving on.
- Work mostly on your reading comprehension and deductive reasoning skills
- Yes you need to know the subjects that are on the test, but I was surprised at how the test focused more on figuring out the answer based on the given information rather than having you strictly formulate an answer based on prior knowledge.
I hope that this clears some things up for those who have not yet taken it. I hope to include some more things about the MCAT but those are the basics. Thanks for reading!