Everything You Wanted to Know about the MCAT

Now let’s talk more about the
Everything You Wanted
to Know About the MCAT
(But Were Afraid to Ask)
Christina Chapman, MS4
Derek Mazique, MS1
Alyssa Reyes, MS1
A lesson learned…
Janell’s Case: MCAT Stress
 Janell was a junior and studied for the MCAT for two
months. She hadn’t taken organic chemistry yet but
heard it was only a minor part of the test, so she wasn’t
worried. To prepare for the biology section, she
studied intently from her dusty biology book that she
used freshmen year for Bio 101. She registered a month
before the test, and was surprised when she got put at
a testing site 1 hour away and had to wake up early on
testing day. When her scores came back, she felt
frustrated as she got seven points below the average for
her target school.
 How can we help Janell?
Create an Academic Schedule
 Learn about the subject areas tested in the MCAT
 Biology
 Physics
 General Chemistry
 Organic Chemistry
 All sections except the Writing Sample will have many, many
passage-based questions!
 Don’t forget about the Verbal Reasoning and Writing sections of the MCAT
 Consider summer programs or scholarships that provide free or reduced MCAT
 You should plan on taking the MCAT at least during the spring of the year in
which you plan on applying to med school
 Have a conversation with your pre-medical advisor ASAP to discuss your plan
Preparing for the MCAT
 Don’t resort to calling yourself a “bad test taker”
 Study, seriously, don’t be the type who sits in the library and talks to your
 However you prepare, do lots and lots and lots of practice MCAT’s. These
will be your best predictors of performance on the real exam.
 Read explanations for all correct and incorrect answer choices
 If you have a wide variability in your practice test scores, you’re probably
not ready
 Test Prep Courses
 Berkeley Review, Kaplan, Exam Krackers (EK) and Princeton Review (PR)
all provide materials and may provide in-class tutoring
 PR, Kaplan, and EK allow you to sit in on the course
 Each company has its own strengths and weaknesses
 Prep books (sometimes with accompanying CD-ROMs) by Kaplan, Princeton
Review, and other companies can be purchased new or used off websites like
Amazon.com for prices ranging from $6 to $110.
Preparing for the MCAT continued
 Nature is an excellent resource for reading comprehension of scientific
articles. Devote time reading it in order to develop speed and
 The AAMC provides one free practice exam online  Order others for $35
each from website
www.e-mcat.com – This site includes free access to a single, full-length MCAT
with all the features of MCAT Practice Online. For a fee ($40), you can
access hundreds of additional MCAT items, including several full-length
practice tests. Additional features include automated scoring, diagnostic
reports, and daily test-taking tips.
 However you prepare, spend at least three months of intensive studying
before taking the MCAT
More Creative Ways to Prepare!
 Free on Facebook! The Kaplan MCAT Qbank Daily
Challenge app is free from Kaplan Test Prep and gives
you daily MCAT practice questions.
 Several iPhone apps – Search “MCAT”
 Both Kaplan and Princeton Review give FREE practice
MCATs to advertise their services – take advantage of
these sessions!
 Register early and sign up with the AAMC Medical Minority
Applicant Registry (Med-Mar) Program when you take the
The registry distributes biographical information about examinees and
their MCAT scores to diversity/multicultural and admissions offices of
medicals schools interested in increasing opportunities for applicants who
are underrepresented or are economically disadvantaged.
MCAT: Test Day and Beyond
 Get sleep the night before
 If you get stuck on a problem, move on and come back
to it later
 Pace yourself with a watch
 Continue to live life while your wait for your scores
 Retake if necessary, but study harder – again, for 3
months or more – or else your score will be unlikely to
How is the MCAT Scored?
 How are these sections scored?
 Physical Sciences (gen. chem and physics), Verbal Reasoning,
and Biological Sciences (organic chem. and biology) are all
scored on a scale of 1 (low) to 15 (high)
 The Wring Sample section consists of 2 essays, with each
scored on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (high)  This is eventually
converted to an alphabetic scale from J to T
Aim To Take the MCAT Once, but if you
take it more than once …
Know that medical school admissions committees
have varying methods to evaluate multiple sets of
MCAT scores.
Some will take your latest set of MCAT’s (Penn Med)
Others average scores
Still others might take your highest score from each set of
Christina Chapman, MS4
[email protected]
Derek Mazique, MS1
[email protected]
Alyssa Reyes, MS1
[email protected]
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