Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Win the MCAT: Boring Version

OK, so I have been very tongue in cheek about, well, everything so far. But I figure some people out there might actually benefit from a more sober discussion of the MCAT. I oblige. So here are my actual scores:
May 2008: Phys: 9
Verb: 12
Bio: 11
Total: 32O
Apr 2011: Phys: 13
Verb: 11
Bio: 12
Total: 36P

So basically, my verbal and bio didn't change much, but I gained 4 points in Physics which gave me a 4 point boost in my total score. I'm stoked. Here's what I did differently the second time round:

1) Took a Kaplan course

This definitely helped somewhat, but mainly because of my different approach overall. The biggest thing I did differently was to take practice tests. The first time round, all I did was study from a book, and then went drinking the night before the MCAT. It was dumb. This time around, I started taking full-length tests 4-5 weeks before the real thing. That made the biggest difference, mainly in that my timing was way better. The first time around, I didn't even finish the physics section, and barely finished the other two. This time I finished each section with 10-20 minutes left, and then I went through it all again and caught some easy mistakes.

2) Trained like a frikkin athlete

I started waking up at 5am a week before the MCAT and doing problems early in the AM. By the time the real thing came along, it pretty much felt like business as usual. As I mentioned above, the first time round, I literally was hanging out with friends and drinking the night before the MCAT. I had no idea where the test center was, so I spent the half hour before the exam in a panic trying to find the place.

3) Don't do math if you don't have to

And most of the time, you don't have to do much. Classic mistake: trying to memorize every equation and apply it in the test by plugging and chugging. Plugging and chugging on test day is a sure way to get bogged down and lose time. I memorized the big important equations, but on test day, I think I did maybe a total of 3 minutes of actual math. Instead, try to understand the relationships of the variables. If P increases, does T increase or decrease? Directly or by the square-root? If you know that shit, then you are pretty much set. 2 of the answers will be clearly wrong, and out of the last 2 answers, one will say T goes down by the square of P, and other will say it goes down directly with P. Boom, you have your answer. Don't do math.

4) Answer every question!

There's no penalty for guessing! If you leave a question blank, you are throwing away 1/4 of a point guaranteed. If you have 2 minutes left and 20 questions unanswered, take 30 seconds and just put C for all of them. Then go back and start figuring them out.

5) Don't freak out.

If you are freaking out and sweating and whatnot, you won't do well. This is a thinking test as much/more than a content test, and if you are too busy shitting your pants, you won't think straight. Do lots of practice tests under realistic conditions (I went and did them on Saturday mornings at my empty lab), and then you'll be more accustomed/less nervous on the day.

OK - that's it. This is my most informative/most boring post ever, and I felt dirty writing it. I felt like a dirty dirty ho. So just take it and leave ok!? I hope you're happy!


  1. Hahah, I won't ever take the MCAT and even I learned something. Great post bro :]

  2. Hey man, I am Marty's friend from Bates. Your brother really helped to inspire me to pursue guitar more seriously and without his help I would not have progressed to where I am now (finally able to nail some Van Halen solos!). I am definitely a fan of your blog and appreciate the metal insight as well as the MCAT advice. My countdown to annihilation has begun seeing as to how I am slotted for a July 16th test date. I did a similar route as yourself pursuing a masters degree in Anatomy after college and completing a research thesis. I took the Princeton Review course (some of my friends from my program taught it) and am also working the exam krackers material as well as taking a slew of practice exams. With a month to go I was wondering if you had any super secret advice you could give me regarding a day to day study plan as I approach D-Day. I have approximately 8 practice exams left and want to use them wisely. When not studying I Thanks dude and nice blog! Someone get me a doctor!

  3. Hey dude - did we shoot guns together? Haha, good times. It sounds like you have a good grasp on the MCAT situation if you only have 8 exams left. I would say pay special attention to #2 above - make sure you are doing your full lengths on a Saturday morning at 8am in an isolated place, and do the whole thing, even the writing section, just to get used to the pacing. Other than that, just be confident,know that you are going to rock it- being a cocky shit is half the battle ;) Good luck man- let me know how it goes!

  4. Thanks brother, I appreciate it!

  5. Haha, and yes, I am pretty sure we did. Little did Marty and the gang realize that the trip would inspire me to purchase my own Glock, modify the shit out it, get a concealed carry license, and train with a bunch of cops and marines at a private range :)