hubbsbubbs

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Hi All,

I just got my score back today, got 523 (131/130/130/132) 100th percentile
This was my second try. Last time I got 512 (128/127/126/131) 87th percentile

I wouldn't recommend retaking anything above a 510 unless you are extremely confident you can score higher (I was sick during my first test).

Also, PR practice tests are not representative. They may help you prepare, but don't be afraid if you score low on them. I sure did. I've heard they purposely deflate your score to make you think you need to take their classes. You can take a look at my full length practice exam scores in the order that I took them:

Next Step: 510, 512, 511, 510 (In order from 1-4)
AAMC: 513 (Practice Exam 1)
Princeton Review: 507 (free test that comes with book)

I took the PR test one week before my MCAT, and got 507....which was below my first score. In summary, Princeton Review is terrible, and don't get depressed because your scores are low -- it's not worth it. If you start to feel discouraged after a harsh practice score, just repeat after me, "Princeton Review sucks." Repeat it until it's true.

For inspiration, on the whiteboard in my bedroom, I wrote three messages:

1. Pain is temporary, MCAT is forever.
2. Feeling tired is just an illusion.
3. Goal: 520

I was working full-time and taking a summer class, but I studied every weekend. I studied way more my first time around, but I think the difference was studying smarter, not harder. Here was my general approach to each section and my overall approach.

CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL

For the chemical and physical component of the AAMC section bank, I took notes on every question (all 100 - took a whole day). I wrote the subject matter of the question (e.g. kinematics, equilibrium), the knowledge required to answer it, where the answer was (in passage, solving), what traps led me astray, and generally, anything that could have helped me answer it correctly. I went back and analyzed my own decision making (this was three days before my exam), and I really think it was this exercise that made all the difference.

For this section especially, the toughest part was getting used to guessing. Remember that the sections are graded on a curve. You don't need 100% to get a high score. Everyone gets some wrong. Recognize which questions those are and don't fret about them. During practice tests, I noticed that the questions I marked were always in line with the questions I got wrong. So if you mark a question, why spend the extra time if you know you typically get them wrong?

The actual test never required a complex equation of any sort, always simple stuff with 2 or 3 variables. Memorizing is less useful than developing skills. Practice practice practice.


CARS

I used the NextStep book of practice tests to study for this. It was pretty good, I think. I like the princeton review hyperlearning, but felt it was easier than the real thing. The EK style of how to approach this section was closest to my preference. Reading the Kaplan strategy was useful, at least for understanding the types of questions. Knowing what types of questions trip me up (analogy questions, or what topic would the next paragraph be about) was useful too, because I could allocate more time for them or skip them if I knew it was hopeless. Philosophy passages were the hardest for me, as were politics, so I would save those for last.

For CARS, being an avid reader or having majored in the humanities won't really help you get a better score. Understanding the different types of questions, and the ways the answer choices lead you astray is a good way to avoid incorrect choices. Out of scope or extreme answers are typically easy to spot and thinking about questions in terms of what answer the test maker is looking for can be more useful than what answer is logically correct.

For nearly every practice CARS section I took (nearly 20), I always scored within 125-128. Your practice score isn't important, it's about the learning. Try taking a few tests with double time, or doing five passages in 2 hours. Then switch to timed. Endurance matters, and timing matters too. I checked the clock after every passage, making sure I was on track throughout. I noticed there's usually one passage that's shorter with fewer questions that takes only 5-7 minutes (usually around passage 7 or 8) -- this was the case on the real thing for me too.

I didn't have any special strategy, like taking notes on passages or highlighting (though highlighting seems like it could have been useful if mastered).

I attribute the difference in my score to two things: endurance and experience. Taking practice tests prepared me to push through and force myself to think even when I was exhausted. And I had enough experience to recognize which questions I would get wrong and not even read the answer choices, just guess and go back if time allowed.


BIOLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL

This was the toughest section for me, especially because it was after lunch (postprandial state), and it was hard to focus. I finished with fifteen minutes to spare and barely used them, choosing instead to sit in a stupor with my head spinning. For me, endurance was the most important here.

Like the psych section, this one is heavily focused on experimentation. Knowledge was more important here than in the physics and chemistry section, but knowing how a change in the experiment could affect the result, or following the logic of why the experiment was being conducted is usually helpful.

Molecular Biology techniques is very helpful here. There were two questions on H-NMR and I'm confident that I missed both of them (an example of when knowledge matters).


PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL

I was a psych major so this section was a breeze. My advice would be to skim the review book and not spend too much time on knowledge (which is what practice tests do. Even after scoring 131 my first time, I never got above 130 on practice tests. Usually got 127-128). Instead, watch a couple Khan videos before bed every night and soak in the general principles. Read popular experiments and focus on why they were conducted that way (Harlow monkeys, Stanford Prison, Milgrim obedience, etc.). What research question were the experimenters trying to answer and why did structuring their experiment in that method contribute to proving their point? This section is primarily about methodology (as is psychology).

There are some questions you can't prepare for. Things you never would have known about, nor would appear in study material for the MCAT. Roll with the punches, guess, and move on. I memorized a question that I had trouble with and looked it up after the test. I got it wrong. Still got 132. The point is that you will miss questions, so don't linger and waste time. Focus on questions that you could get right if you have more time to spend on them.

OVERALL

I used the Kaplan books and took notes on each chapter. I then took review notes on my notes, and then re-review notes on those notes. I ended up with a post-it note for each chapter of each book. When I took the test a second time, I only read my notes.

I took about 10 practice tests overall (PR, EK, Kaplan, AAMC, NS) and there are benefits and pitfalls for each one. None of them are representative.

In order from most representative to least (opinion): AAMC -> NS -> EK -> Kaplan -> PR
If I could go back, I would just use AAMC and NS. EK is good but expensive.

The actual MCAT that I took required very little knowledge about each subject, and was mostly a test of how you could reason through an experiment or a passage. This is the main way that the practice tests (even the AAMC section bank sometimes) is not representative, because there are a multitude of questions that ask for a piece of knowledge point blank. My actual MCAT often did not rely on being able to recognize vocabulary words. If I could go back, I would have spent a lot less time reading the review books and more time studying the AAMC section bank, sample test, and practice exam.

I would recommend going through the section bank very slowly, going through each question and analyzing the process required to answer the question correctly. Then, once you know you can get the majority correct without being timed, practice doing it quick and switch to timed tests.

Taking practice tests was key. For practice tests, I would mark on a piece of paper what I thought the answer was. If I was between two answers, like B and C and I thought B was better I would write "B > C." Then, when I went back, I could see what I thought of each answer, and see the logic behind my own decisions so that I could revise faulty logic. If you're between 2 answer choices a majority of the time, there's a problem. It usually means you aren't familiar enough with the types of questions that are being asked, and what kind of distracters are used to lead you away from the right answer.

For practice tests and the real thing, I used what I call 'the box method.' I drew a box on the bottom right hand corner of the scratch paper. I drew a line down the middle of the box. Then a second line down the middle of the right box. The result is three columns, with the leftmost being twice as wide as the other two. When I encountered a question I definitely would not get right, I put it in the right most column, guessed, and moved on without reading the answer choices (I'm serious). If the question was pretty hard and I didn't want to spend any more time, I put it in the middle column. As for the left column, which was the biggest, I put questions that I was pretty sure about but there was something holding me back from moving on. For these easier questions, there may have been a tempting answer choice or a sentence I didn't understand. Spending more time on these questions wasn't useful, as I rarely changed my answer. The purpose of this is to see which questions you are getting wrong on your practice tests so you can determine how to allocate your time. If I finished with extra time (usually 5-30 minutes depending on the section), I would do the left column first, the middle next, and the right last. So for those hard questions, I wrote the number of the question down as a way of letting go of that question. I was giving myself an opportunity to go back if time allowed, knowing that I probably wouldn't. The important part is letting go of any individual question, and allowing yourself to miss questions that you know you won't get right even if you tried.

As you can tell, timing was my biggest issue, that's why I had to use a system like this, to allow me to move on from easy questions with a strong grip on my attention, and to move on from hard questions I knew I would get wrong. I studied the same review books for both tests I took, so my knowledge of the subjects did not change at all. The major difference was my willingness to be wrong and to take a strategic approach that allowed me to maximize time spent on questions that I had the potential to get right and skip questions that I was going to miss no matter how much time I spent.

IN SUMMARY

Guess when you don't know the answer and move on. Timing is everything. Endurance is key (practice, practice, practice).

Reading review books is great, but the test involves more reasoning skills than blanket recall.
Once you've mastered the material, put down the review book. Take practice tests, slowly then quickly.

Hope this helps. Good luck.


Edit:
In response to the many people that have messaged me, here is an FAQ.

#1. How much time was between your two tests?
One year. I studied for about two months for each test. For the second test, I was working and taking classes so I studied much less. But the difference was that I focused on taking more practice tests for my second try.

#2. Should I retake my 512?
I can't really answer this for you. Even if you were scoring higher on your practice tests, I wouldn't recommend it. I hesitate mostly because I don't know anyone who had a jump in scores like I did. For three people that reached out that told me they decided to retake and were willing to share their scores, all three were within 2 points of their original, one with a drop. For one of them, I spoke to them on the phone for over an hour explaining my reasoning for not retaking but to no avail.

At the same time, had someone told me not to retake, I likely wouldn't have, which would have precluded me from a much higher score. Still, though, the downsides of retaking coupled with the risk of not scoring much higher is far greater than the benefit of a higher score. Also, what you give up with another test is time spent doing meaningful things, like eating dinner with your father or volunteering your time to people who need it. I personally see no difference between a 520 and a 523. Especially at higher ranges, point differences become less meaningful. Own your 512; it's a great score.

As for admissions, there are often several rounds (though the exact process differs at each school). This was also explained by a UCSF adcom at an open talk I attended a few months back and by a Stanford adcom at the SUMMA conference. Round 1 is a screening, either computer or administrator that will take your highest, most recent, or average score. Round 2 is an individual reader(s) that are administrative or volunteer faculty that are recommended by the AAMC to use the average score. Round 3 is an admissions dean or an entire committee that makes a holistic decision that involves evaluating all scores and what they say about an applicant. Number of rounds and what consists of a round varies by school. Retaking and scoring marginally higher may help with Round 1, but likely be negligible at Round 2, and even detrimental at Round 3 if you are perceived as making poor decisions.

Apologies for the long rant, but this is the most frequent question I receive.

#3. What were your practice scores for your first test?
About 503-511. Second time around was 507-513. My strategy studying the second time was very different though. I focused a lot less on trying to obtain a high practice test score, and much more on understanding which questions I was getting wrong and how often I was getting stuck on certain questions (see box method explanation above).

#4. I've been trying to use your study plan but my score is not improving. What should I do?
Stop using my study plan. It won't work for everyone. My major pitfall was overthinking questions and refusing to let them go. As a result, I wasted time ruminating on what I couldn't solve rather than try to answer more questions, which resulted in not finishing on time.

#5. Did you study or memorize equations not listed in the AAMC outline?
The only equations I memorized are posted in the first page of this thread by a friendly user (because I'm some kind of special idiot that can't figure out how to post images). I call them my post-it notes, for the obvious reason that they are written on post-its.

#6. If you could go back, what practice tests would you have taken?
Just Nextstep and AAMC, including sample test and section banks. EK if you've got the cash. I felt that Kaplan and PR (and even the psych section for the AAMC section bank) were too content focused. Perhaps they were taking shortcuts? I felt there were more research and passage analysis questions on the actual exam.

#7 Is there a reference you could recommend that discusses typical distractors used in answer choices on how to spot them?
The Kaplan CARS and EK CARS methods both had a list of distractors. The EK method as a whole resonated more with me, but both had good ideas of traps. For me, taking a few practice tests very slowly and really analyzing why certain answer choices were better (even without reading the passage) really helped me hone in on what answer choices were created after the fact. Think of of it this way. Imagine the question and the answer stand alone. You are a test maker, and need to construct 3 'false' answers to accompany the correct one. What do you come up with?
 
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MDProspect

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No offense, but this guide is just terrible. Telling someone to guess? Really? If you scored that well, you clearly had an advanced understanding of the subjects, or by some miracle, you just got lucky. Some poor soul will follow this advice and screw themselves out of ever becoming a physician.
 
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lexswift

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You got a 513 on AAMC scored and 523 on the real? Or was that before your first MCAT? When did you take it and how do you think you improved so much on the real exam?
 

redsox93

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You got a 513 on AAMC scored and 523 on the real? Or was that before your first MCAT? When did you take it and how do you think you improved so much on the real exam?
jesus i got a 514 on the AAMC scored and 51o on the real thing haha.
 

lexswift

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jesus i got a 514 on the AAMC scored and 51o on the real thing haha.
At least that was sort of close to what you got on the scored. If OP got 10 points higher on the real that's crazy... Literally so bizarre...
I've heard people usually score within 2-3 points of their scored exam.
 

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Titus Andromedon

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At least that was sort of close to what you got on the scored. If OP got 10 points higher on the real that's crazy... Literally so bizarre...
I've heard people usually score within 2-3 points of their scored exam.
I also scored significantly higher on the real thing than on the scored - 9 points. I hadn't heard of it happening to anyone else until now.
 
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hubbsbubbs

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You got a 513 on AAMC scored and 523 on the real? Or was that before your first MCAT? When did you take it and how do you think you improved so much on the real exam?
I took it about two weeks before the real thing. I think the major difference is in the way I looked at the questions. See section bank explanation above. Focusing on what types of questions are asked and the types of answers that are usually correct.

No offense, but this guide is just terrible. Telling someone to guess? Really? If you scored that well, you clearly had an advanced understanding of the subjects, or by some miracle, you just got lucky. Some poor soul will follow this advice and screw themselves out of ever becoming a physician.
Yes, really. We can agree to disagree. Guessing helped me move past questions I knew I had no chance of answering. And like I explained, it's not reasonable to expect to get every question right. If you're focusing on the guessing aspect, and not how it contributes to providing more time in spaces that you need it, you clearly didn't read the guide. My strategy won't work for everyone but it proved useful for me. Thanks for being so polite.

Why did you retake 512?
During my first attempt, I didn't finish on time for the CARS section and missed almost an entire passage. I felt I could improve my score.
 
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I feel this honestly has been the best study plan someone has put out here on SDN. Everyone wants these secrets to how to get a top score, but there is no secret. You made it very plain that it is practice and exactly how you did it. Thank you for this! Many will criticize your guide, but it is right in line with what I think will help people get top scores. Great job!


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Congrats on the awesome score! I definitely agree with the advice on guessing / moving on + the importance of timing. Thanks for the advice!
 
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Singerpremed

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I used the Kaplan books and took notes on each review book. I then took review notes on my notes, and then re-review notes on those notes. I ended up with a post-it note for each chapter of each book.
I wanted to know if it was necessary to take so many notes and how long this took you? How much time did you spend on content review? I heard reading it and making sure you understand the answers to the questions well is what I should do. I'm currently taking the Kaplan MCAT live online review. I plan to test Jan28. Thank you for your advice and congrats on your crazy amazing score!!!


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hubbsbubbs

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I wanted to know if it was necessary to take so many notes and how long this took you? How much time did you spend on content review? I heard reading it and making sure you understand the answers to the questions well is what I should do. I'm currently taking the Kaplan MCAT live online review. I plan to test Jan28. Thank you for your advice and congrats on your crazy amazing score!!!
I don't think it was necessary in the end. I focused too much on review, which is why I think I did not do as well on my first test. It took a few hours a day for a month to get the notes done (about 2 hours per chapter). And then my re-review notes took an hour per chapter. I spent about 65% of my time on content review, when really I should have spent 30%.

I would agree that it is very important to understand the answers to the questions, but I would also focus on the kinds of questions that are asked. Especially for the CARS and CP sections, I felt there were a very small number of question "types." Once you get used to what questions they ask, it's easier to know where to look for the right answer. I used the Kaplan review books and they worked just fine, though I think their tests are a little too detail-heavy. EK and AAMC have better practice tests.
 

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Did a lot of guessing, got a 504. Honestly, you aren't doing much guessing if you are getting 100th percentile.
 
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JaxMD2be

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Hi All,

I just got my score back today, got 523 (131/130/130/132) 100th percentile
This was my second try. Last time I got 512 (128/127/126/131) 87th percentile

YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR SCORE

I never thought I would score above 516, but you can prove yourself wrong.

Also, practice tests are total bull****. They may help you prepare, but don't be afraid if you score low on them. I sure did. Take a look at my full length practice exam scores in the order that I took them:

Next Step: 510, 512, 511, 510 (In order from 1-4)
AAMC: 513 (Practice Exam 1)
Princeton Review: 507 (free test that comes with book)

I took the PR test one week before my MCAT, and got 507...seriously thought I was going to fail. In summary, Princeton Review is ****, and don't get depressed because your scores are low -- it's not worth it. If you start to feel discouraged after a harsh practice score, just repeat after me, "Princeton Review sucks. This score is bull****." Repeat it until it's true.

For inspiration, on the whiteboard in my bedroom, I wrote three messages:

1. Pain is temporary, MCAT is forever.
2. Feeling tired is just an illusion.
3. Goal: 520

I was working full-time and taking a summer class, so I mostly studied on weekends. I studied way more my first time around, but I think the difference was studying smarter, not harder. Here was my general approach to each section and my overall approach.

CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL

For the chemical and physical component of the AAMC section bank, I took notes on every question (all 100 - took a whole day). I wrote the subject matter of the question (e.g. kinematics, equilibrium), the knowledge required to answer it, where the answer was (in passage, solving), what traps led me astray, and generally, anything that could have helped me answer it correctly. I went back and analyzed my own decision making (this was three days before my exam), and I really think it was this exercise that made all the difference.

For this section especially, the toughest part was getting used to guessing. Remember that the sections are graded on a curve. You don't need 100% to get a high score. Everyone gets some wrong. Recognize which questions those are and don't fret about them. During practice tests, I noticed that the questions I marked were always in line with the questions I got wrong. So if you mark a question, why spend the extra time if you know you typically get them wrong?

The actual test never required a complex equation of any sort, always simple stuff with 2 or 3 variables. Memorizing is less useful than developing skills. Practice practice practice.


CARS

I used the NextStep book of practice tests to study for this. It was pretty good, I think. I like the princeton review hyperlearning, but felt it was easier than the real thing. The EK style of how to approach this section was closest to my preference. Reading the Kaplan strategy was useful, at least for understanding the types of questions. Knowing what types of questions trip me up (analogy questions, or what topic would the next paragraph be about) was useful too, because I could allocate more time for them or skip them if I knew it was hopeless. Philosophy passages were the hardest for me, as were politics, so I would save those for last.

For CARS, being a great reader or having a solid handle on the humanities won't really help you get a better score. Understanding the different types of questions, and the ways the answer choices lead you astray is a good way to avoid incorrect choices. Out of scope or extreme answers are typically easy to spot and thinking about questions in terms of what answer the test maker is looking for can be more useful than what answer is logically correct.

For nearly every practice CARS section I took (nearly 20), I always scored within 125-128. Your practice score isn't important, it's about the learning. Try taking a few tests with double time, or doing five passages in 2 hours. Then switch to timed. Endurance matters, and timing matters too. I checked the clock after every passage, making sure I was on track throughout. I noticed there's usually one passage that's shorter with fewer questions that takes only 5-7 minutes (usually around passage 7 or 8) -- this was the case on the real thing too.

I didn't have any special strategy, like taking notes on passages or highlighting (though highlighting seems like it could have been useful if mastered).

I attribute the difference in my score to two things: endurance and experience. Taking practice tests prepared me to push through and force myself to think even when I was exhausted. And I had enough experience to recognize which questions I would get wrong and not even read the answer choices, just guess and go back if time allowed.


BIOLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL

This was the toughest section for me, especially because it was after lunch (postprandial state), and it was hard to focus. I finished with fifteen minutes to spare and barely used them, choosing instead to sit in a stupor with my head spinning. For me, endurance was the most important here.

Like the psych section, this one is heavily focused on experimentation. I don't have good advice on this one. Knowledge was more important here than in the physics and chemistry section, but knowing how a change in the experiment could affect the result, or following the logic of why the experiment was being conducted is usually helpful.

Molecular Biology techniques is very helpful here. There were two questions on H-NMR and I'm confident that I missed both of them (an example of when knowledge matters).


PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL

I was a psych major so this section was a breeze. My advice would be to skim the review book and not spend too much time on knowledge (which is what practice tests do. Even after scoring 131 my first time, I never got above 130 on practice tests. Usually got 127-128). Instead, watch a couple Khan videos before bed every night and soak in the general principles. Read popular experiments and focus on why they were conducted that way (Harlow monkeys, Stanford Prison, Milgrim obedience). What research question were the experimenters trying to answer and why did structuring their experiment in that method contribute to proving their point? This section is primarily about methodology (as is psychology).

There are some questions you can't prepare for. Things you never would have known about, nor would appear in study material for the MCAT. Roll with the punches, guess, and move on. I memorized a question that I had trouble with and looked it up after the test. I got it wrong. Still got 132. The point is that you will miss questions, so don't linger and waste time. Focus on questions that you could get right if you have more time to spend on them.

OVERALL

I used the Kaplan books and took notes on each review book. I then took review notes on my notes, and then re-review notes on those notes. I ended up with a post-it note for each chapter of each book.
I took about 10 practice tests overall (PR, EK, Kaplan, AAMC, NS) and there are benefits and pitfalls for each one. None of them are representative.
In order from most representative to least (opinion): AAMC -> NS -> EK -> Kaplan -> PR
If I could go back, I would just use AAMC and NS.

The actual MCAT that I took required very little knowledge about each subject, and was mostly a test of how you could reason through an experiment or a passage. This is the main way that the practice tests (even the AAMC section bank sometimes) is not representative, because there are a multitude of questions that ask for a piece of knowledge point blank. My MCAT often did not rely on being able to recognize vocabulary words. If I could go back, I would have spent a lot less time reading the review books and more time studying the AAMC section bank, sample test, and practice exam.

I would recommend going through the section bank very slowly, going through each question and analyzing the process required to answer the question correctly. Then, once you know you can get the majority correct without being timed, practice doing it quick and switch to timed tests.

Taking practice tests was key. For practice tests, I would mark on a piece of paper what I thought the answer was. If I was between two answers, like B and C and I thought B was better I would write "B > C." Then, when I went back, I could see what I thought of each answer, and see the logic behind my own decisions so that I could revise faulty logic. If you're between 2 answer choices a majority of the time, there's a problem. It usually means you aren't familiar enough with the types of questions that are being asked, and what kind of distracters are used to lead you away from the right answer.
For practice tests and the real thing, I drew a box on the bottom right hand corner of the scratch paper. I drew a line down the middle of the box. Then a second line down the middle of the right box. The result is three columns, with the leftmost being twice as wide as the other two. When I encountered a question I definitely would not get right, I put it in the right most column, guessed, and moved on without reading the answer choices (I'm serious). If the question was pretty hard and I didn't want to spend any more time, I put it in the middle column. As for the left column, which was the biggest, I put questions that I was pretty sure about but there was something holding me back from moving on. For these easier questions, there may have been a tempting answer choice or a sentence I didn't understand. Spending more time on these questions wasn't useful, as I rarely changed my answer. If I finished with extra time (usually 2-30 minutes depending on the section), I would do the right column first, the middle next, and the left last. So for those easy questions, I wrote the number of the question down as a way of letting go of that question. I was giving myself an opportunity to go back if time allowed, knowing that I probably wouldn't. The important part is letting go of any individual question, and allowing yourself to miss questions.

As you can tell, timing was my biggest issue, that's why I had to use a system like this, to allow me to move on from easy questions with a strong grip on my attention, and to move on from hard questions I knew I would get wrong. I studied the same review books for both tests I took, so my knowledge of the subjects did not change at all. The major difference was my willingness to be wrong and to take a strategic approach that allowed me to maximize time spent on questions that I had the potential to get right and skip questions that I was going to miss no matter how much time I spent.

IN SUMMARY

Guess and move on. Timing is everything. Endurance is key (practice, practice, practice).
Reading review books is great, but the test involves more reasoning skills than blanket recall.
Once you've mastered the material, put down the review book. Take practice tests, slowly then quickly.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
This was the most well thought out "study plan" that I have seen that isn't really a plan. The techniques resonated with me and I copied and pasted your words so I can reread them often as I move forward in my ... learning? Yep. I guess that is the perspective I am taking away from this. My first test I approached it like I was studying for a test just like you did. Thanks for this!!
 

samsam66

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since you seem to have insight into the test's vibe and test maker mentality....can you shed some light on your tactics for dealing with situations where you are locked at 50/50 for a Q or worse (having maybe 3 seemingly valid answer choices).....this is in reference to P/S and cars more than anything.
 
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since you seem to have insight into the test's vibe and test maker mentality....can you shed some light on your tactics for dealing with situations where you are locked at 50/50 for a Q or worse (having maybe 3 seemingly valid answer choices).....this is in reference to P/S and cars more than anything.
Remember that there's always one right answer. If you're between two answers, it might help to look for which answer is faulty, rather than look for evidence to support either answers. Commonly, an answer might be factually correct but outside the scope of the question (or it may not answer the question). This is something I struggled with in CARS at first.
For PC, if it's a question that asks what an experiment is trying prove, or what result you can infer, there trap answers usually have things that are plausible, but not directly related to the content presented. Wrong answers might give off the sense that they could be true, but are maybe a bit of a stretch.

I didn't run into that situation too often, so not sure if I have the best advice. Perhaps a deeper reading of the passage, and less time dissecting the answer choices could help.
 

Welshman

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As bad as it sounds, I would agree with the guessing part, or at least it feels like guessing since it's hard to be 100% sure on answers under such time constraints. The key is ~guessing good~
 
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Noctámbulo

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Regarding the C/P section, do you have any tips for those of us who seem to be having trouble with calculations? E.g. did you end up memorizing formulae, mostly using unit conversions, etc.?
 

Welshman

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Regarding the C/P section, do you have any tips for those of us who seem to be having trouble with calculations? E.g. did you end up memorizing formulae, mostly using unit conversions, etc.?
Memorizing the forumulas is a must.

The best tip I can give us that no calculation should take you very long. The MCAT loves to trick people into wasting precious time with calculations. Theres almost always some short cut that will get you the answer faster i.e. A proportional relationship between variables or something with units that will help you eliminate answer choices.

Next time you review a FL or section see if you can find them.
 
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Noctámbulo

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Memorizing the forumulas is a must.

The best tip I can give us that no calculation should take you very long. The MCAT loves to trick people into wasting precious time with calculations. Theres almost always some short cut that will get you the answer faster i.e. A proportional relationship between variables or something with units that will help you eliminate answer choices.

Next time you review a FL or section see if you can find them.
Thanks for the tips. There are just so many possible formulas that memorization seems like an impossible task. Did you use any formula sheets from companies like kaplan, NS, etc., (any of them that you like?) or just memorized them as you did content review?
 
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hubbsbubbs

hubbsbubbs

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Thanks for the tips. There are just so many possible formulas that memorization seems like an impossible task. Did you use any formula sheets from companies like kaplan, NS, etc., (any of them that you like?) or just memorized them as you did content review?
I went through the Kaplan review book and wrote down formulas as I went through each chapter. I ended up making a post-it note for each chapter with a few formulas for each topic. There really weren't many overall, so not too hard to memorize.

Edit: The post-it notes are posted below
 
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Welshman

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Thanks for the tips. There are just so many possible formulas that memorization seems like an impossible task. Did you use any formula sheets from companies like kaplan, NS, etc., (any of them that you like?) or just memorized them as you did content review?
My Kaplan teacher gave us 4 pages of formulas to memorize which basically covered everything under the sun. I rewrote those pages until I knew them all by heart. The more you work with them the more you'll understand them and how they work together.

Keep practicing and the important thing is understanding how all of these formulas are related. Once you have them written down there's an excersise I've seen on the forums called "the hat trick" which seems really worthwhile, try that with all of your formulas
 
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prepod2016

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I went through the Kaplan review book and wrote down formulas as I went through each chapter. I ended up making a post-it note for each chapter with a few formulas for each topic. There really weren't many overall, so not too hard to memorize. I still have them. PM your email and I'll send them to you.
the notes i posted were in reference to this. i posted them with hubbsbubbs' permission, who was nice enough to share it with me and everyone else
 
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DameJulie

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Did you use the Khan Academy P/S video notes?? I am wondering if the 100 page version is enough to score high or the 300 page version is a must. I am reading the 300-page version now and I feel burn out after ~40 pages...
 
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hubbsbubbs

hubbsbubbs

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Did you use the Khan Academy P/S video notes?? I am wondering if the 100 page version is enough to score high or the 300 page version is a must. I am reading the 300-page version now and I feel burn out after ~40 pages...
I'm not sure which version sorry. I just watched videos on subjects I didn't have a strong background in. Not sure very much depth is necessary to score high. At a certain point, practice tests become more impactful than content
 

Spectar

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I 100% AGREE with the guessing strategy. This is ESPECIALLY the case for the chem/phys. There are just some questions where you just won't know how to do or can't solve in a reasonable amount of time, guess and move on (I got a 519).
 

KimV7

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Thank you for this post! I definitely will use all your advice. My question is, what type of learner are you? This will guide me to see if what you did will work with me. Thank you for your time!
 
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