How to study for MCAT 10+ years after taking Orgo/physics/Gen chem?

Oct 22, 2019
  1. Resident [Any Field]
I am making this post for my wife as she isn't really an avid interneter like me. She took all her med school pre-reqs 10+ years ago. She has two bachelors degrees and is a nurse practitioner. She is planning on taking the MCAT to apply in the next year or two. She met with staff/advisors at her top choice of med school and they told her that there's no reason to retake those classes for grades and to only retake them if she wants a "refresher" before taking the MCAT. She's a pretty smart (ie very smart) cookie so if she can do self-study and avoid racking up more student debt (and wasting a year doing so) taking those classes, that would be preferable.

My question is, what would be the best way to self-study for the MCAT after not seeing any of those topics for a decade? I took the MCAT 10 years ago so I have no idea what it's like now. It looks like now there are YouTube videos galore, 2 billion MCAT prep books, and online prep courses. For someone who is very clearly above average intelligence, can those things prepare someone for this test these days?


2+ Year Member
May 29, 2018
I guess with no commitments she could teach yourself, but the best approach would be to retake the prereqs especially if they're so long ago.

The bulk of my content review came from Kaplan books, Khan Academy, youtube videos (Orgo tutor, Leah4sci, chad's video, crash course, etc). The aamc list of topics is the best place to start in terms of getting a sense of what topics she would have to know from the exam. I actually did not read through all of my Kaplan books and found a lot of the Youtube videos to be sufficient, but the only classes I had not take were phys II and orgo II (so n=1).

You know, I honestly recommend going on r/mcat, there's a lot of resources that can help you that are already outlined in the sidebar. For the p/s section, for example, it's better to watch khan academy videos and go through the premade 300pg outline they have than to read the P/S section of the review books because a lot of them are lacking.

As she's going through content, it would be best to get a spaced repetition program like anki that you can download on your computer and phone and test yourself wherever. Some people spend a lot of time during content review making detailed notes, but I personally thought it was more efficient to go through flashcards (ANKing youtube videos are helpful for navigating anki). There are also premade decks that are helpful to use along with her own cards she makes.

People see the biggest improvement doing practice problems, so while content review is important, having a way to test yourself as you learn is important. Most people use UWorld for this (they have 2,000+ passages/discrete questions that is good to go through during content review).

There's still the aamc material (+ more full lengths) that should be saved for the last couple weeks before the exam.

robinson annulation

2+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2017
  1. Pre-Medical
i suggest checking out AK Lectures, i’m gonna post the link below. he has a comprehensive lecture series of all the science content on the MCAT, possibly even more in-depth than you need to know. nonetheless, EXTREMELY extremely helpful. best of all, it’s free!

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7+ Year Member
May 10, 2013
  1. Pre-Medical
I'm in a similar boat as your wife, taking classes around 10 years ago. Personally, when i took the old MCAT, my weakness was physics and O chem. Bio and gen chem I feel like I could relearn on my own and do half decent on so I'm not going to retake them. However, I am taking pysch and sociology currently. Then I plan to redo o chem and physics in the next semesters. After that, I plan on following the Kaplan book set and doing the offical AAMC tests. Have her call schools admissions to get an idea first hand of what they'll accept.
Aug 30, 2020
  1. Advanced Practice Provider
I also took these ~8-10 years ago and am a mid-level clinician (similar to your wife, but just specialized in a certain field!). I gave myself 6 weeks (not enough, would definitely recommend more especially if she's working) to study and I'll be sitting for the exam in a few weeks. I actually have been doing ok, just got 507 on my first AAMC full length practice exam today! I think she should figure out where her weaknesses are first, I knew mine were going to be o-chem and physics as I had struggled the first time with these as well, and likely gen chem as it has been the longest and the one I use the least during work. I took a diagnostic test and showed the same. I would also guess she's got a good chunk of bio down being an NP!

If your wife had a good foundational basis for chem/physics, I don't think she would need to actually retake courses. I've been using Khan academy youtube videos which have been a good refreshers, sprinkled with practice problems from an old princeton review set I inherited.

Psych/sociology will depend - I was a psych/bio major so it was a matter of refreshing myself on all the random theories/associated vocab - I imagine there are videos for these too though, sociology I never took but most seems to be relatively common sense, probably don't need to take a course to learn it. It'll all depend on what type of learner your wife is, but there are definitely resources that won't require her to retake courses!

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