How Jon Bounced Back From A Frustrating MCAT Score Plateau (496 → 510 in 30 Days!)

Want to use the same resources that helped turn around Jon's MCAT score? Check out our Complete MCAT Strategy Course here →


There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours on end doing MCAT prep and seeing no improvement in your score.

And we get it! This test means so much to us because it's what stands in the way of us getting into med school and becoming doctors.

That’s why we want to share this inspiring story from a member of the MCAT Mastery community, to remind you that you can find the motivation and strategies to increase your MCAT score.

In this video, you'll meet Jon, whose MCAT prep might have started great, but eventually hit a major roadblock where, for months, he struggled to increase his score past 496. But he didn't give up because...

Jon finally found MCAT study strategies that worked for him and let him break past his plateau by 14 points to reach his goal score of 510, in less than 30 days.

For some inspiration and strategies that will help you move forward with your MCAT prep and break through your MCAT score plateau, check out Jon’s video on his MCAT journey here!

The Start of My MCAT Prep Journey 

I was a first-time test-taker and I studied using the Examkracker textbooks, which I loved and would really recommend.

I started studying straight content and my scores were going up a lot. I was really excited at the beginning and was like, “This is going well and I’m learning all this new stuff and I’m going to do really well in the end.”

They pretty much provided the necessary information with the least amount of content. I heard from other people who are reviewing for the MCAT that other books can be a little bit too extensive and include stuff that you don’t really know, and it confuses you in the end.

As I was studying the Examkracker books, I got to a peak point where my score wasn’t going up anymore and I didn’t know what to do so I just kept going back and doing more content. 

I had hit a frustrating and difficult MCAT score plateau.

I would go back to any section that I wasn’t 100% on, reread it, and take notes, thinking that what I was doing was wrong and it was just contributing to my score not increasing.

It was starting to feel draining and frustrating because my scores weren’t increasing, and it affected me in the long run. My motivation to study was subpar. I was mad at myself and wasn’t really enjoying studying anymore. 

I started to panic and went all over Google searching for solutions and that's when I found MCAT Mastery.

Finding MCAT Mastery 30 Days Before Test Day

I subscribed to the Free Strategy Course and started getting emails from other students who have taken the MCAT - which I’d like to think was my turning point...

And that was only a month before my MCAT exam!

What really helped me in finding MCAT Mastery’s Strategy Course is that it helped me realize that I had the content, I had the knowledge, but I didn’t truly understand the MCAT itself. I also didn't understand, nor utilized test-taking strategies.

Real Success Stories from Real Students

The emails contained real success stories from students who’ve taken the MCAT, which gave me the boost I needed to push on with my MCAT prep.

First of all, these emails reminded me that I wasn't alone in having to deal with my frustrating MCAT score plateau. I realized that there are so many students who went through and overcame the same struggles as me and just knowing that gave me motivation to keep working harder. 

I also realized that the biggest contributor to my MCAT score plateau was that I wasn’t reviewing my tests as I should be. I would just see that I got a question wrong, write down the fact that it was wrong, and simply move on. 

When in reality, the most important part about the MCAT is your understanding of the questions that they’re asking, not so much about the content, but why the correct answer was right.

The MCAT Mastery Strategy course really showed me how to review the test, how to look over it carefully, and how to really spend time finding what’s wrong and why it’s wrong. It made me better at understanding the test and I’d like to think that’s when I saw my score boost back up to a 510.

Struggling with CARS and Overcoming It

This wouldn’t be a success story without struggles and my journey wasn't short of those. 

CARS was easily my hardest section to prepare for! In fact, I think CARS played a big factor in me hitting my MCAT score plateau.

That's why my big tip for CARS is to make sure that you’re studying it from the very first day that you start your MCAT prep.

They always say that the brain is a muscle, so you got to practice CARS every day. 

I once believed that you couldn't study for CARS and thought that it’s just you’re either good at it or you’re not. When I would take CARS practice passages, I’d get something wrong and then not review it or review it quickly and be like, “Oh this doesn’t matter reviewing in the end because it’s just not gonna matter. I’m never gonna see this passage again.”...

But I realized just how wrong I was from the CARS MCAT Mastery Course because it’s really about how you review your passages. It’s the same thing with templates about problems, you need to recognize the different problems and the different answers and how quickly you find your information from the passage, and how to read passages. 

In my case, I successfully found out that the best way for me to read passages was to go through and really focus on conjunctions. 

If the passage would say “but” or even sentence starters like “of course” or anything like that, I’d highlight it and go back to reading and literally see all the main ideas without all the extra nonsense words they’re including. This is where you can also see the different points of view that they’re providing. So that’s what I found that helped me the most with CARS.

*If you want a small taste of how top scorers analyze and dissect CARS passages in our courses, check out this blog post where we dissect a real AAMC CARS Passage*

The Importance of a Consistent Schedule

One of the things I can recommend is that you get into a schedule. 

I think it helps a lot because your mind will do better on scheduled days compared to trying to review on a random Sunday when you haven’t been studying. You just have less motivation and there's nothing more counterproductive than studying for the MCAT with no motivation.

So on some days when I wasn’t doing well in my studying performance, I would get some rest and then maybe take on another hour or two the next day.

I pretty much studied all summer. I started studying in June and took my MCAT in September, and what really helped me is that I tried to treat it like it was a full-time job.

I studied about eight hours a day, nine to five, and then had my weekends free. I logged about 400 hours to study, and I’d recommend that because it’s worked really well for me. 

I do know that a lot of people don’t have that kind of time commitment though, so as long as you get into a sort of rhythm, I think that’s the best way to go about it.

*If you’re looking for a place to start or need some help making a study schedule then you should give our top scorer MCAT study schedule guide a read!*

Focus on Practice Problems

If you’ve been studying content for about a month in, you should go ahead and focus on practice problems next. 

This is what I’ve found to be helpful in getting past my MCAT score plateau and increasing my score — to take as many tests and practice problems as possible because that’s how you’re going to understand the test the best. .

And of course, reviewing afterward is the next most important thing.

And because you have all the knowledge, learning more content will not add the points that you think to your tests. The points you can earn after all the content are based on your understanding of the test.

So do the problems, review them in-depth, and you’ll see your score increase dramatically in the last month. Like I did.

Don't Let the MCAT Score Plateau Get To you - parting words from Jon

It’s a long and difficult journey. It’s a roller coaster. But in the end, it’s something that we have to work hard for because we all want this very badly.

We all want to be doctors (or whatever it is you want to do) and the difficulties of MCAT are only speed bumps along the way. It’s very doable if you put your mind to it!

Read what other students who’ve taken the test have to say, take different advice from anyone because everyone has different things that have worked for them.

But I think in general, there would be a very common agreement that one of the biggest things is to understand the test more so than to just study only content.

Anybody can study content all day long and get a good score, but that’s what separates the MCAT from other tests. They’re trying to filter out the people who can only study the facts.

I really hope this is helpful and when you’re struggling, you look back on this and find motivation to move forward in your MCAT prep and overcome your MCAT score plateau.

If I did it, you can do it. So I wish you the best of luck and I’m sure you’re going to do great.

Make the most of the Tools that Jon used for his MCAT Prep

Hey, it's us, the MCAT Mastery Team, here again!

We hope you found Jon's MCAT journey valuable to learn from and motivate you to overcoming any of the hurdles that stand in the way of you acing the MCAT!

If you find yourself inspired by his MCAT journey and want to get your hands on the same resources he did, we got you covered...

The strategies in the ‘CARS Strategy Course’ and ‘Complete MCAT Strategy Course’, which helped Jon bounce back from his MCAT score plateau, are created and regularly updated by our highest scoring mentors with proven strategies that are the most efficient for increasing your MCAT score. 

We know how it is to feel stuck and frustrated during MCAT prep, but remember...

This will pass sooner than you think!

It might take some extra work, a new outlook, or maybe just some time to pass...

But eventually, you'll make it out on top because that's what resilient top scorers do (and yes that includes you)!

Hang in tight and don't let the temporary MCAT score plateau get to you.

You got this,

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors


The MCAT Mastery Team

About the Author

We're a team of future doctors passionate about giving back and mentoring other future doctors! All mentors on the team are top MCAT scorers and we all are committed to seeing you succeed in achieving your physician dreams ????  To help you increase your MCAT score to the competitive mark quickly, we have collaboratively created these self-paced MCAT strategy courses and are also available for one-on-one tutoring!


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