Restarting to Study Recommendations

maikelm

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Jan 17, 2017
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  1. Pre-Medical
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm looking to retake my MCAT again, possibly in early 2021. I completed my MPH in May 2020 and I was doing great with studying and working (I work full time) at the same time. However, now I feel like I am unable to get back into the rhythm of studying again. I completed my BS in Biology in May 2016, so I took a few years away from biological sciences.

    In the past, I was able to complete a lot of school work (during my MPH) while in the library. However, due to COVID restrictions, I think visiting a library as a non-student may be an issue.

    How do you recommend I restart studying again? I know I have to complete content review for most subjects, so I feel a bit overwhelmed about that partially.

    Thanks in advance!
    Maikel
     

    GreenDuck12

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    Mar 30, 2014
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      1. Start by studying a little every day. It better to study for one or two hours everyday than to study for four or five hours a few times per week. I find that the forward momentum one gains from studying everyday pays dividends later on.
      2. I highly recommend picking materials that incorporate a lot of question practice. I learn best by trying to answer questions and figuring out why I got the wrong answer. For this reason, I picked TBR for general/organic chemistry, physics, biology, and biochemistry. What I liked about these materials is that each chapter has 3 end of chapter practice sections (one to be completed immediately, the second to be completed a few days later, and a third to be completed two or three weeks later). I found that spaced repetition really helped me retain info. You can replicate this with many other review materials.
      3. Take practice exams during content review. Use 3rd party exams from Kaplan/Next Step/others to practice timing, strategies, and find gaps in your content knowledge. Anyone can get a perfect score on the MCAT if they are given enough time. But under the time crunch, no one has earned a perfect score that we know of.
      4. Save AAMC exams until the final 4-6 weeks before you take the real mcat. This will help you gauge your preparation and learn strategies for the MCAT.

      As for starting to study again, just setup a space and try to focus for 30-60 minuets at a time. Try to work through a couple of hours of work per day. I highly recommend engaging with active learning strategies (problem solving, drawing content maps, reteaching the material, etc) as opposed to passive learning strategies (reading a review book, watching videos, etc). Work up getting used to studying for 95 minutes at a time (the length of 3 sections of the MCAT). The stamina will help later on.
       
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      GoPenguinsGo

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      Dec 19, 2017
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        I would like to correct the very reliable @GreenDuck12 just a little. He forgets to stress the importance of the AAMC Section Bank and CARS Qpacks. The Section Bank should be taken, reviewed, and basically slept on 30 days before your exam. This will teach you how to approach dense research passages you will see on the MCAT. The Section Bank is invaluable and should be done before you start the AAMC exams. The CARS Qpacks are invaluable for learning how to approach AAMC CARS.
         
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        maikelm

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        Jan 17, 2017
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        1. Pre-Medical
          Thank you @GreenDuck12 @GoPenguinsGo and @tornados for your feedback and tips!

          I like the idea of starting with 30-60 minutes per day and moving up to 1-2 hours. I think chunking my studying would benefit me in the long run. Otherwise, I feel like I may get burnt out early on. And that's just counter-productive to anything.

          I should mention that I enrolled in the Kaplan class in the past. I actually have some of their recent books, so I will start looking through those. Of note, I won't be using their CARS methodology since it was the worst concept I've ever encountered. Instead, I will be using @TestingSolutions since they offer more realistic application for CARS.

          Furthermore, I see The Berkeley Review still sells content. Granted, it's for the older MCAT (pre-2015), but I think the information is still relevant. I won't purchase these now, but may consider them in the near future.

          I think one of the drawbacks in the past was that I did not complete enough practice questions with passages. I think I completed single questions about a topic and felt pretty prepared. Key word is "felt" as I got my score and it could be better. This reminds me - I think I will get a head start on content that requires pure memorization (example, amino acid names and nomenclature). Anything else that you can think of with this?

          Something that really opened my eyes by @GreenDuck12 is "active learning strategies (problem solving, drawing content maps, reteaching the material, etc) as opposed to passive learning strategies (reading a review book, watching videos, etc)". While I think passive learning strategies are necessary, I agree that active learning strategies will ensure memory retention and application. I like drawing content maps, so I think that will be useful for basic Biology/Chemistry/Biochemistry pathways.

          Again, I appreciate the feedback and tips/tricks!

          Maikel
           
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