10 Top Tips for Preparing for the MCAT


Practice, Practice, Practice

All the information you learned in class and spent countless hours committing to memory during your college career is coming back to you now. The big challenge is something you don't have as much recent experience with: the exhausting, unnerving task of taking a seven-hour, high-stakes exam.

You're not a total test-taking newbie. The fact that you're even thinking about medical school means that you probably did well on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). But Michael Phelps doesn't go the four years between Olympics without participating in a few swim meets. For $35 a pop, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) offers an assortment of online practice exams made up of actual questions from past MCATs, plus a free practice test that you can take an unlimited amount of times.

Robert Harrax Miller and Daniel M. Bissell, authors of "Med School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Medical School Experience," suggest that you plan to take several practice tests. At first, take one as a diagnostic tool. This initial test will help you determine which areas to focus on the most in your preparation. If you're a little rusty taking marathon tests, don't focus so much on the score this first time around. Instead, use it as a reminder that you need to put in some work to score well. Try to simulate the actual testing-day conditions as much as possible. For example, you're not allowed to use a calculator on the actual test, so don't use one in your practice exams [source: Miller and Bissell].