A 3 Month Plan for the MCAT

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Aug 12, 2011
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Presented here is a 3 month plan to tackle the new 2015 MCAT. June is almost here, and I have received many requests for the same advice (i.e. "how do I study for the new MCAT?"). I'm writing this in the same spirit that the SN2 Guide to the older MCAT was written. However, I am not posting a day-by-day guide on what exactly you should read/study. Rather, these are the general items that you should tackle if you plan to do well on the new MCAT.

About the Author. First, I am not a MCAT superstar. My scores (516 CP 130/CARS 129/BBC 128/PS 129) are even and good, but I am not among the best of the best. I am simply a good student (biochem; cGPA 3.9) who wants to give some structure to people formulating study plans. This guide assumes that you have taken all of the relevant coursework before taking the MCAT (including a semester of biochemistry), and that you can put in ~3 hrs of solid studying almost everyday throughout the summer.

Late May to June. First, take some time off after the semester is over. Spend a week down at the beach and reflect a little on your life. You are about to go on a 3 month journey of pain and angst. Late in May, start studying for the MCAT. From May to June most of the work should be done on content review. I recommend you do the following:
  • Do all of TBR Biology 1 and TBR Biology 2 (including the passages).
  • Read all of TPR Psychology/Sociology Review.
  • Read the Official Guide to the MCAT and select chapters from TBR Physics 1/2, Chemistry 1/2 to do (do the passages; TBR covers more than you need -- only do the relevant chapters).
  • Read all of (either EK/Kaplan's) Biology 1 and 2; Physics 1 and 2; Organic Chemistry 1 and 2.
  • Do EK 101 Verbal Passages.
First two weeks of July. At this point, do all of the AAMC Question Packs. Figure out a passage mapping strategy for all sections.

Mid July to August. Do all of the practice exams you can get from the vendors. Save the AAMC Exams for last. Do all of the full lengths by EK and Kaplan. I have no experience with TPR or NS full lengths.

After each question pack/exam, look at what you got wrong. If you have content holes, fix them by viewing the appropriate videos on Khan Academy. If you have logical issues, examine the question until you understand them. Keep a notebook of mistakes you made, and review it periodically.

Do not get discouraged with bad results on the full lengths by the unofficial vendors. Many of them are much harder than the official exam.

Last two weeks. The last exams you will take will be the AAMC Official Exams. Be at your most optimal for these exams, and take them under simulated testing conditions. Examine your work. If you are getting 80%+ on each section, you are prepared for the MCAT.

CARS Strategy. Everyone must develop their own CARS strategy. Read books on CARS strategy (Kaplan has a decent one) and try them out to figure out the best strategy that works for you. Many people have issues with reading comprehension -- I recommend reading The New Yorker , and the biology related Research Article Summaries in Science every week. Reading articles in The New Yorker will make you better at reading longer articles (that are sometimes boring). Reading the biology Research Article Summaries (usually 1.5 pages long) in Science will make you better at understanding biology passages.

Good luck! :)

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Nice tips. How beneficial do you feel was TBR for c/p and b/b? How did you practice for psych/soc?
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Nice tips. How beneficial do you feel was TBR for c/p and b/b? How did you practice for psych/soc?

TBR is essential for B/B; useful for learning concepts really well for C/P. I did FL Qs for Psych. Nothing else, other than review work with Khan Academy (only watched videos) and TPR. I did not have a strong psych background coming in.