Dec 9, 2019
20
4
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Hi guys
I am completely and utterly lost on where to even start studying for the MCAT. I bought the Kaplan books but I have no idea how to start studying them. Do I alternate between subjects, read the whole book and take notes? Make flashcards? I've asked for advice on some facebook study groups but most of them just promote some sketchy MCAT study program that you have to pay for. ANY advice helps pls!!!
 

PigsHaveWings

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May 10, 2020
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There are several study plans for MCAT on SDN. the most popular is the SDN 100 day plan.
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

2+ Year Member
Dec 5, 2017
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I second the 100-Day SDN plan. I used a slightly modified version with essentially the same materials. Before you do anything though, know what you need to do well on the MCAT. I would start by reading this thread (click here). That will give you some insights into what the test expects of you.
 
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Mar 14, 2019
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Hi guys
I am completely and utterly lost on where to even start studying for the MCAT. I bought the Kaplan books but I have no idea how to start studying them. Do I alternate between subjects, read the whole book and take notes? Make flashcards? I've asked for advice on some facebook study groups but most of them just promote some sketchy MCAT study program that you have to pay for. ANY advice helps pls!!!
There really are no rules, and different things work for different people. How strong is your science background, are you still in school, etc.? Some people do very little content review and just jump into practice questions and exams, others spend months reviewing content before doing question banks. Some do anki, other don't. Some take a review course.

The only universal advice is to buy and use ALL material AAMC makes available, since nothing else compares. Review courses are valuable to people who need structure (sounds like that might be you! :)), but are expensive and are generally shunned by the SDN crowd who are obsessive and neurotic enough to not need the structure. Personally, I looked into taking a course since I wanted to do everything possible, and came to the conclusion that I didn't need the structure and wanted the freedom to focus on my weaknesses rather than having to follow a plan geared to a wide audience.

You don't need a sketchy study program. There are plenty of free programs floating around that are probably better, and certainly no worse. I didn't use a plan at all. I just dived into the books and started reading and doing the questions at the end of each chapter. When I was done, I started alternating question banks and practice exams, starting and stopping several times as my test was moved twice from my original test date.

When do you plan on taking the test? How much time do you have to devote to studying per week? What is your target score?
 
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jhmmd

supernatural
Apr 28, 2020
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You want to gather tips and tricks by taking notes on the SDN threads stickied in this forum.
You want to buy Examkrackers & annotate Examkrackers with Kaplan.
You want to take all practice tests under test conditions (i.e. in a crowded computer lab, eating the same snack you'll bring to the MCAT, with the same routine before the MCAT, during the MCAT, and after the MCAT).

Have you completed the pre-reqs yet? The most common mistake most pre-meds make is signing up for the MCAT before they've finished the pre-reqs.
Good luck!
 
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Dec 9, 2019
20
4
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
There really are no rules, and different things work for different people. How strong is your science background, are you still in school, etc.? Some people do very little content review and just jump into practice questions and exams, others spend months reviewing content before doing question banks. Some do anki, other don't. Some take a review course.

The only universal advice is to buy and use ALL material AAMC makes available, since nothing else compares. Review courses are valuable to people who need structure (sounds like that might be you! :)), but are expensive and are generally shunned by the SDN crowd who are obsessive and neurotic enough to not need the structure. Personally, I looked into taking a course since I wanted to do everything possible, and came to the conclusion that I didn't need the structure and wanted the freedom to focus on my weaknesses rather than having to follow a plan geared to a wide audience.

You don't need a sketchy study program. There are plenty of free programs floating around that are probably better, and certainly no worse. I didn't use a plan at all. I just dived into the books and started reading and doing the questions at the end of each chapter. When I was done, I started alternating question banks and practice exams, starting and stopping several times as my test was moved twice from my original test date.

When do you plan on taking the test? How much time do you have to devote to studying per week? What is your target score?

Hi KnightDoc! I am a full time undergraduate student and my science background isn't extremely strong. I am trying to get a plan together ahead of time since I'm super overcommitted with my time. I would probably be able to study weekends or maybe a day or two in the week if I'm lucky. At the moment I don't have a set score, I would just like to do well enough to balance out my GPA. I've heard great things about the AAMC so I will definitely look into getting that.
 
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Dec 9, 2019
20
4
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
I second the 100-Day SDN plan. I used a slightly modified version with essentially the same materials. Before you do anything though, know what you need to do well on the MCAT. I would start by reading this thread (click here). That will give you some insights into what the test expects of you.

Thank you, Super helpful!
 
Mar 14, 2019
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Hi KnightDoc! I am a full time undergraduate student and my science background isn't extremely strong. I am trying to get a plan together ahead of time since I'm super overcommitted with my time. I would probably be able to study weekends or maybe a day or two in the week if I'm lucky. At the moment I don't have a set score, I would just like to do well enough to balance out my GPA. I've heard great things about the AAMC so I will definitely look into getting that.
What year are you in school? What is your GPA? Don't count on the MCAT balancing out a GPA too much. Adcoms here have advised the MCAT is used mostly to confirm a GPA rather than mitigate a bad one.

My honest advice, given that you are over committed and not super strong in science, would be to focus on doing well in your classes, and not worry about the MCAT until AFTER you have taken classes in the topics tested on the MCAT (bio, chem, biochem, physics, orgo, psych). You will need to have a set score, based on the type of school you are targeting as well as on your abilities, in order to have something to shoot for and to benchmark your progress. People who just wing it end up having a much more difficult time.
 
Oct 16, 2020
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Totally agree w/ everyone above about the variety of free resources out there, and that if you're still taking classes and overbooked, MCAT prep should probably wait—doing well in your courses will help you when it's time to focus on the MCAT.

That said, although study plans can differ tremendously from person to person, most plans boil down to the following core components: (1) learning the science, (2) learning the test [by which I mean both CARS and things like understanding how the MCAT likes to test material], (3) practicing [the more realistic, the better], and (4) learning from your practice and getting better. Tons of resources exist for each of those goals, and it should absolutely be a priority to use materials made by the AAMC (the official test makers).

The only other thing I'd say is, if at all possible, give yourself plenty of time to study, especially if you've got other obligations in life. I mean...easier said than done, right....but life happens, people get sick, things come up, we get busy, some things wind up being harder than you expect, etc. Good luck!!
 
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lull

2+ Year Member
May 29, 2018
220
213
Hi guys
I am completely and utterly lost on where to even start studying for the MCAT. I bought the Kaplan books but I have no idea how to start studying them. Do I alternate between subjects, read the whole book and take notes? Make flashcards? I've asked for advice on some facebook study groups but most of them just promote some sketchy MCAT study program that you have to pay for. ANY advice helps pls!!!

You can alternate subjects if you want. Read a chapter, learn how to use anki, and make flashcards/use premade cards, do related practice problems (Uworld, Khan Academy).

Revisit your flashcards daily as you review the new content. Emphasize the stuff you don't know, brush over the topics you do know. Use your practice problems as a guide on what to emphasize.
 
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anniekat2025

2+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2018
84
78
Hi guys
I am completely and utterly lost on where to even start studying for the MCAT. I bought the Kaplan books but I have no idea how to start studying them. Do I alternate between subjects, read the whole book and take notes? Make flashcards? I've asked for advice on some facebook study groups but most of them just promote some sketchy MCAT study program that you have to pay for. ANY advice helps pls!!!

I wrote a very long and detailed post about my study strategy if you would like to read it. I studied for 16 weeks, 6 of content and 10 of practice questions and tests. I ended up scoring a 519, which was way higher than I ever thought I would score.

If you don't want to read it (no hard feelings haha) I would say the 3 main points are:
1. You need to be a good reader, so start reading journals or articles outside of your studying on a regular basis. I personally recommend The New Yorker.
2. Doing lots of questions is more important than rote memorization. Get UWorld.
3. When you get questions wrong, figure out WHY and address that issue. Don't just take a test, note your score, and move on. Meticulous reviews of practice tests suck, but it's so important. Make anki decks for the questions you get wrong and topics you struggle with consistently.
 
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Dec 9, 2019
20
4
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
I wrote a very long and detailed post about my study strategy if you would like to read it. I studied for 16 weeks, 6 of content and 10 of practice questions and tests. I ended up scoring a 519, which was way higher than I ever thought I would score.

If you don't want to read it (no hard feelings haha) I would say the 3 main points are:
1. You need to be a good reader, so start reading journals or articles outside of your studying on a regular basis. I personally recommend The New Yorker.
2. Doing lots of questions is more important than rote memorization. Get UWorld.
3. When you get questions wrong, figure out WHY and address that issue. Don't just take a test, note your score, and move on. Meticulous reviews of practice tests suck, but it's so important. Make anki decks for the questions you get wrong and topics you struggle with consistently.
This is great thank you!!!
 
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