Thursday, 21 July 2011

How to Study for the MCAT...

...Step 1: Don't be like Jeff.

I always tell people that ask me “What do I  need to do to get into medical school”,  that you just need to jump through a few hoops. Some of those hoops are big and easy to jump through but some of those are tiny, flaming and covered in Chlamydia. The MCAT, in most people’s minds, is more of the latter. I taught an MCAT prep course for 3 years and through my own writing of the test and teaching others I have come across a lot of advice. A lot of it is crap but I will give you what I think works. 

Studying for the MCAT kind of runs like a bad drug commercial with 1 benefit and 57 side effects including things like anal leakage or a decrease in the size of your testes . The most important side effect happens to be favourable; the fact that it is required for almost every medical school in Canada and the US and if you do well you are one more hoop closer to getting into medical school.  
Now let’s talk about the unfavourable ones:
  1. Let’s start with when you should take the test. Regardless of when this ‘MCAT drug’ is taken it will take away your summer. I recommend taking it after your second year so that all that organic chemistry you just took can go to use before it is drank away.
  2. Any relationships you have or are trying to have will probably cease to exist as you start to look less like yourself and more like your Exam crackers 1001 verbal passages book.
  3. Any job you have, you will probably wish you didn’t have. A few weeks into studying or after you take a diagnostic and realize you can’t critically think about verbal (Jeff for example who for the life of him can’t pull off anything above a 7) all you will want to do is study.
  4. I do recommend taking a prep course (any one really) if you have problems with the idea of ‘individual study time’. These classes not only offer  teachers who are highly attractive, witty, and wonderful people…sorry I am talking about the other instructors … but they also offer a lot of strategy which cannot be taught through a book. The side effect of these classes is that the people in them will become more like your family and the memory of your own family will begin to die away.
  5. All of the studying that you are doing is useless if you don’t actually practice any full length MCATS. Writing full tests is really the best way to improve. I have seen too many students focus strictly on content, forgetting that it is only 1/3 of the actual test. Your familiarity with the tests after all this practicing will be so bad that you see those review screens in your head when you go to bed at night.
In all honesty though and seriously for once, it is not the worst thing in the world to have to write the test. Just write it  get it over with and do well because having to be like Jeff and write it again sucks a whole lot more then just doing it well once.

...Step 2: Be like me,

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