Are you looking for effective MCAT strategies to add to your MCAT prep?
We've noticed a lot of our students come to us needing strategies when they're dealing with plateauing MCAT scores and a sense of urgency because the MCAT date is too close for comfort.
We hope you have some time before your MCAT test date, but if not, don't worry because in this article we'll cover 5 effective yet easy-to-apply MCAT strategies that can lead to a very quick score increase, no matter what your starting point is...
The fact that you're even reading this and have found this article is evidence that you're thinking ahead and smarter than most of the students who are going to be writing the MCAT with you on exam day. Why is that?
Because anyone who achieved a competitive MCAT score, did it by applying strategy to their MCAT prep.
Our entire website is dedicated to learning from those top MCAT scorers who are now in med-school.
The biggest reason most premeds end up writing the MCAT more than once is because they didn't understand that they need to study for the MCAT differently and a lot more strategically than how they've been studying for exams all their life.
They usually realize this after they bomb the first (or second) MCAT.
With that said, there are hundreds, if not thousands of MCAT strategies/tips out there. How do you decide what to use?
That question alone can be super overwhelming, on top of all the monster of the MCAT you have to deal with...
Which MCAT Strategies Do I Use When There Are Thousands Available Online?
Most MCAT strategies are put out by people who don't have any evidence to back up their claims.
The evidence we focus on is the only one that matters; the MCAT score.
Do you REALLY want MCAT study strategies and advice from someone who scored a 500 on the MCAT? Or even 505 or 506?
We wouldn't. We want to talk to someone who's scored 514 or higher.
If I'm going to spend my valuable time and energy applying someone's MCAT study strategy or tip, I need to be sure it works. I need to know what their MCAT score was and how many other high scorers applied the same strategy.
The key to achieving a competitive MCAT score is using the same strategies 90+ percentile scorers have used to master the MCAT and get into med-school.
Without a high MCAT score, med-schools don't even bother looking at any other aspect of your application. The MCAT score is how they filter out who's application they're going to spend time looking at.
If you understand that one simple insight, you're already ahead of most MCAT writers and med-school applicants. Now, your level of success on the MCAT depends solely on what you do with this knowledge and if you actually apply it.
At MCAT Mastery, we're the intermediaries between MCAT writers like you and 90+ percentile MCAT scorers.
We do the research, we run paid interviews, and we bring top-scorer strategies directly to you for you to apply and skyrocket your MCAT score...
So you can achieve a competitive MCAT score and greatly increase your chances of getting admitted into your choice of med-school.
Here we've compiled 5 simple 'quick application' top-scorer MCAT strategies you can start using during your MCAT prep right away.
We recommend you take the time to read through and actually try out each one because most of the tips here can lead to an almost immediate increase in your next practice test score.
So let's begin...
[MCAT Strategy 1] How Top MCAT Scorers Recommend Extracting Passage Ideas for Speed and Identifying Correct Answers
One of the things that makes the MCAT super stressful is the limited amount of time they give you to get through sections.
While you're writing, especially on exam day, it can actually feel like a ticking time bomb. So tell us, how clearly can someone really think when there is that kind of pressure to deal with?
Most likely not very clearly at all.
So here's a potential solution...
What if you developed the ability to speed read?
Speed reading has been around since the 1950s. It’s not about skimming – when you skim you don’t remember much.
If you’re interested in going deep into learning speed reading, you can read up on it in detail later. For now however, here’s all you need to know for the MCAT...
When reading any passage, restrain yourself from reading from one sentence to the other. Instead, start reading from one idea to the other idea.
An idea can be expressed in one sentence, or it can be expressed in several sentences. As you keep track of ideas, your reading speed will increase, AND so will your comprehension.
Remember to never read word by word.
One more thing, make a habit of using your finger or a pen/pencil to trace your reading and guide your eyes to specific words.
This alone will significantly increase your reading speed, while also decreasing distraction AND increasing your focus.
Another benefit of focusing on ideas instead of getting lost in details is in the CARS section, where having a solid understanding of what the author of the passage is communicating is extremely valuable.
For example, a great top scorer technique is after each paragraph in CARS, writing what the paragraph is about. When you're reading for ideas, this will be easy to figure out.
When writing out the key idea of the paragraph, write like you’re explaining it to your close family or friends. Keep it simple and informal. Keep it to a few words max, explaining what the author is trying to convey in the paragraph. This will help in figuring out the main idea of the entire passage.
Also, before reading any passage, observe any tables, figures, and charts that are also provided. Sounds simple but you’ll not only be able to understand more this way, but also go through the passage faster.
You'll also notice that at the end of every passage, in tiny letters, is the author name, the year, and the title. Read all of that. Why? It will give you a big hint of what the passage you’re reading will be about!
Lastly, carefully reading the title for science passages is also a great little hack because most scientists will tell you their conclusion in the title itself 🙂
[MCAT Strategy 2] How Top Scorers Strategically Place Their Attention & Energy On The Highest Yield MCAT Topics
There are some things that only experienced, smart, strategic MCAT test takers can teach you. Without their wisdom, most MCAT writers struggle to crack the MCAT.
Which is why we make sure everyone in the MCAT Mastery Community has access to these true MCAT masters...
So you can learn from them. So you can follow in their footsteps and get into med-school.
Here we're going to show you how a top scorer decides on how much time he or she is going to spend on each section of the MCAT...
Through a strategic breakdown of the MCAT.
So let's get straight to it. Here's an approximate breakdown of what AAMC exams look like:
Take that in...
Half the MCAT is basic Bio and basic Psych. These are extremely high yield subjects!
Generally, the highest MCAT scorers know that Bio, BioChem, Psych, and Chem make up 75% to 80% of the MCAT. This is where top scorers spend most of their attention and energy. Physics is less than 10%!
A lot of students make the mistake of taking advanced coursework, but it's not necessary. Top scorers know that 80% or more is all based on introductory classes from the first two years.
Organic Chemistry on the other hand, is generally only 5% of the MCAT. This is a difficult area to study for most students, and because it's so hard, students spend way more time than necessary on this!
The key strategy with Organic Chemistry on the MCAT is to learn the basics, that which is easy to remember. Focus on the concepts, not the details. Don't make the mistake of taking an OChem course when the MCAT is near. It's not worth it.
What's the worst case scenario? Let's say you know nothing about OChem, but know all the other sections extremely well. The impact on your score will be minimal (5%).
Many top scorers think about it this way:
If the MCAT had 100 questions, only 5 would be OChem. 3-4 of which would be pretty straightforward questions addressing the basics, which you should have studied. 1 or 2 might be the most difficult ones for which you would need to know details for. You still could guess on those but even if you get them wrong, so what?
Note that this is not a reason to give yourself the excuse of ignoring OChem or anything else completely. Use these insights with caution as they're general guidelines. There's always a chance you can get an 'out of the ordinary' exam. For example, Peter Kim, a 513 scorer we interviewed said that by not focusing as much on OChem, he lost more points than he wanted to in C/P.
Shifting your attention right away to smartest areas to study for the MCAT, can enable your score to increase extremely quickly.
Hopefully this is giving you a taste of how top scorers think through their MCAT study process. Without this type of "high leverage" strategy thinking during MCAT prep, it's extremely difficult to cross the 500 or 510 mark on the MCAT. This is what we call "studying smart" for the MCAT.
Over the years, we’ve seen how brutal the MCAT struggle can be. There’s so much content and it sometimes feels like you can never relearn it all! There’s a constant fear of being unprepared when test day arrives.
Even using basic top scorer strategies like understanding what aspects of the MCAT to give your most attention to based on a simple percentage breakdown of the MCAT, helps remove the burden of feeling like you have to learn everything on the MCAT.
If that was one of your frustrations, we hope you're already feeling lighter after reading this article.
If you want to study smart for the MCAT using insights like this, if you want to feel more confident during MCAT prep knowing you're studying in the most optimal way possible, if you want to apply 'high leverage' 90+ percentile scorer principles to your MCAT prep right away...
You can download everything you need here
Invest a little time going through these resources, because what you'll learn here will get you a score that opens doors to med-school.
You have what it takes.
Next, let's move on to a top scorer strategy for greatly improving your timing on the MCAT...
[MCAT Strategy 3] How Top Scorers Leverage These Hacks To Improve Their Timing on the MCAT
From our 90+ percentile MCAT scorer research, we can safely say that mastering your timing is one of the most important skills you need to work on if you want a competitive MCAT score.
Every top scorer applied smart strategies to make sure they never ran out of time on the exam. We've covered some of the most brilliant MCAT timing strategies in our Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide, but here are some quick top scorer timing strategies you can test right away...
Our first top scorer recommendation for you is to time yourself when reading passages and answering questions.
Not only will this help you understand how much time it takes you to get through passages and questions, but you’ll also get great practice with having a timer running in the background.
Kind of an obvious hack but you'd be surprised how many students we come across who don't do this. Please, do this.
Do this enough times and unlike everyone else, you won’t be nervous at the thought of the timer running during the actual MCAT. You’ll be used to it.
Another technique is for exam day itself. In fact, practice doing this during your practice exams (which you conduct under real testing conditions).
During the few minutes you get for the tutorial, jot down important equations on your notes page. Unleash them from your mind while they’re still fresh – we’re talking diagrams, equations, sin/cos values, etc.
Everything you know will be valuable! When you need to make use of them when they’re needed, you’ll be thankful for the time and mental energy you saved just by taking this little step.
Lastly, many times it's anxiety that slows you down. If you haven't experienced it yet during a practice exam or on the real MCAT, you will soon. For this we recommend constant practice of mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. Sometimes all that's needed is having an MCAT Coach/Mentor to be there with you throughout this experience.
[MCAT Strategy 4] How Top Scorers Increase Their Ability To Identify the Correct Answer
A huge mistake most average MCAT test-takers will make on exam day is NOT picking the answer choice that actually answers the question.
This will usually happen when they're stuck between two answer choices.
You too, will most definitely have experiences where you'll find yourself stuck between two answer choices.
The key is recognizing that even though both answers are correct statements, only one actually answers the question.
Remember, if the statement is correct but does not relate to the question, it is wrong.
Keep this in mind because we've seen that it stumps a lot of MCAT writers, confusing them in the midst of such a high-pressure exam.
Also, another trick to keep in mind for long questions is to read the last sentence of the question first.
Why? A lot of times a question is just overly-wordy and confusing, and as you’re wasting so much time reading it, you get to the end and realize that it was asking something very simple.
Save yourself all that trouble and read the last sentence first for really long questions (AND quickly look over all the answer choices as well).
[MCAT Strategy 5] How Top Scorers Recommend Making The Most Of Your Practice Exams
What do you do after you take a practice exam? Do you just check the answers, read up on the wrong answers and then move on?
That's what every other average/low scoring premed is going to do. Top scorers on the other hand, know how to squeeze out all the value you can get from practice exams.
Here's a mini strategic top scorer approach to maximizing the value you get from MCAT practice exams:
For example, you'll now never look at MCAT answer choices the same way again. You'll know exactly what to do when stuck between two answer choices.
If you're able to see the power of knowing and applying these shortcuts, imagine the improvement in your score after you discover and use our most effective and most valuable top scorer MCAT (including CARS) strategies...
Think about it like this; you just read 5 mini strategies that individually may not make a massive difference in your score...
But if you're applying 50+ small and major proven top scorer hacks in your studying process, that don't take much more time than you're already putting in (in fact they save you time)...
How likely are you to actually rock the MCAT this year?
Once you're finished going through them, you'll light up with a whole new understanding of MCAT prep and you'll know exactly what you need to do to achieve a competitive 510+ MCAT score.
Most people are forced to write the MCAT more than once because they don't apply the correct MCAT study and testing strategies the first time around.
We want this to be the last time you ever write the MCAT.
We want this to be the year you dominate the MCAT once and for all...
You got this,
The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors
P.S. We've said it many times before (throughout this blog) that the majority of those students who are sitting with you on exam day, won't have prepared with a special attention to strategy...
Yet alone top scorer, proven strategy that could have given them incredible confidence throughout MCAT prep and on the big day.
In fact, most will be extremely nervous on MCAT day and their anxiety will further cloud their ability to remember everything they studied.
You won't be in that position.
You can get a competitive score on the MCAT having put in far less effort, stress, and time, when you leverage all the effective, proven-to-work top-scorer strategies we have here.