How To Get A High MCAT Score: 510+ Scorer Strategies To Decode MCAT Questions & Passages

Getting consistently low MCAT scores and feeling confused, frustrated, worried, and stressed during MCAT prep is the result of one simple but crucial failure on your part…

Your failure to use the correct MCAT study strategies.

If you know someone who scored high on the MCAT, they had a strategy.

Whether they actually know it or not, they were using techniques and shortcuts that most others weren’t using, which led them to getting a competitive score.

At MCAT Mastery, we provide you with the secrets 510, 515, and even 520+ scorers used to master the MCAT.

In this article, you’ll discover:


  • The first most important top scorer strategies you need to focus on to get a high MCAT score.
  • Strategic ways you can approach the 3 different types of questions you’ll see on the MCAT. 
  • The 3 characteristics that separate top scorers on the MCAT and those who have to re-write.
  • stethoscopeWhy the MCAT was created to defeat you and how you can see beyond it’s sneaky strategies and tricks.
  • A step-by-step approach on how you can strategically find the right answer for passage-based questions.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a newfound perspective on how to conquer the MCAT and achieve your competitive MCAT score that gets noticed by med-schools.

With that said, let’s begin…

Introduction: Understanding MCAT Question Structures

After speaking to top scorers of the MCAT, one of the key pieces of insight you’ll receive is that during MCAT prep, in order to get a high MCAT score…

You need to understand yourself extremely well (how you study, your timing, your weaknesses, etc.) AND you also need to understand the MCAT extremely well.

You need to not only know how to study and prepare to win, but you also need to know how the MCAT was created to defeat you.

The average MCAT writer forgets to really understand what he or she is up against. This prevents them from getting the high MCAT score that’s necessary to be competitive for med-school.

A great quote comes to mind…

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Our other articles and resources were created to help you understand yourself and how you can evolve your MCAT studying habits. But in this article, we’re more focused on helping you understand the MCAT and how the questions were created so you know how to approach the questions strategically (like a top scorer would).

By the way, we highly recommend bookmarking this page, or printing it, or making notes, or just doing something to keep these steps with you through MCAT studying and practicing. Don’t just rely on your memory. There’s no point in obtaining knowledge if you don’t act on it.

With that said, there are mainly just 3 different types of questions you’ll find yourself answering on the MCAT.

Knowing how to deal with each one will allow for great improvements in your MCAT score.

The 3 types are:

The “Do You Know Your Stuff?” Question Types

The “Can You Apply What You Say You Know?” Question Types

The “What Did I Just READ?!?” Question Types

Let’s start with the first one…

How To Approach The “Do You Know Your Stuff?” Question Type

These questions will test you on how familiar you are with the subject at hand. They will test how well you remember the content.

It’s mainly about memory here.

At times they’ll be detailed questions, other times they’ll be straightforward.

Your strategy here is to figure out two things:

1 – What related information do I know about this that can be useful to me?

2 – What is the main concept or the main equation here?

If you can’t remember, don’t sit there trying to remember. That can take up a lot of precious time. Instead, try to eliminate as many answers as you can. Pick one, and move on!

Lastly don’t worry, because these will never be way too detailed or way too specific for you to answer.

How To Approach The “Can You Apply What You Say You Know?” Question Type

This is where critical thinking comes into play.

Sometimes this question will require you to use general concepts that you already know, other times they will give you the concepts in the passage itself.

What they want to know is how you apply those concepts.

The strategy here is to solve the problem presented, one part at a time.

Your strategy is to figure out:

1 – What context do I have right now? What do I know for sure?

2 – How do I use this information, along with the concepts I have, to break this question up into individual components?

As you successfully break it up into individual pieces as suggested here, you will be able to answer this difficult question with more ease.

Again, don’t worry because they won’t ask extremely difficult, complex, and detailed questions and assume you know everything about the concept. They know you’re not an expert, yet.

How To Approach The “WHAT Did I Just Read!?” Question Types

These are the questions that were designed to throw you off.

Worded with confusing terms, you’ll feel like the question writer woke up that morning and decided to screw over everyone answering that question.

But relax, if you had that “aaahh” reaction, that’s exactly what the test creators wanted.

They wanted to see if even while you’re thrown off, are you still able to stay focused?

Those who remain focused, will eventually realize that the question isn’t as hard as it seemed initially.

Here’s the strategy for answering these type of questions…

1 – The first strategy here is to stay calm.

2 – Identify the confusing words meant to throw you off and set them aside in your mind.

3 – Identify the key terms, the ones that really matter.

4 – Relate those key terms to concepts you already know about.

5 – You’ll understand what the question is really asking and you’ll realize that in its essence, the question isn’t that difficult.

6 – Identify the question itself as Question type #1 or #2 from above, and take the appropriate strategy.

Top Scorer Step-By-Step Approach To Answering Passage Based Questions

Once you understand how to strategically approach the different types of questions you’ll see on the MCAT, the next important strategy you want to consider is how to strategically approach passages.

Keep in mind that there are many powerful and proven strategies that top-scorers recommend in order to properly approach passages.

Here’s one highly recommended step-by-step approach:

  • Skim through the passage and try to identify what the main theme of the passage is.
  • Skim through the passage again and make note of any important equations and figures.
  • Read through passage carefully and as you read, begin coming up questions that you think will be asked of you.
  • Underline or highlight any information you come across that makes a conclusion or contrasts thoughts.
  • Underline or highlight any keywords.
  • Summarize the main points and equations of each paragraph in your own words, briefly. 
  • Classify the question.
  • Is it a content-based question (“Do You Know Your Stuff?”)
  • Is it a critical thinking question (“Can You Apply What You Say You Know?”)
  • Is it a confusing question (“What Did I Just Read?!”)
  • Once classified, use the appropriate strategy for that question type.
  • Try to guess what the answer will be (better yet, try to guess what the answer choices will be as well).
  • Look at the answer choices. Is your predicted answer there? If not, go back to Step 5.
  • Choose the answer that matches your predicted answer.

Your Next Steps To Achieving A Promising MCAT Score and Get Med-School Attention

The sad truth is that if your MCAT score isn’t high enough, med-schools don’t look at any other aspect of your application.

The MCAT acts as a filter, telling med-schools if they should even bother looking at your application that you’ve worked years putting together.

What that means is you can’t afford to not have a competitive and impressive MCAT score. It determines everything.

Studying in the way you’ve always studied for a test won’t cut it. The MCAT was designed to break those same study habits that every premed has developed going through the same undergrad schooling.

You need to do something differently. And that is approaching the MCAT from a different, more strategic, more smarter angle than everyone else.

That’s how top MCAT scorers do it. We know because that’s our sole purpose at MCAT Mastery – to figure out how top scorers achieve competitive scores and show you what they did.

And as we’ve demonstrated and constantly repeated throughout this post and throughout our blog, it all comes down to strategy.

Strategies that include secret techniques, question analysis breakdowns, proven frameworks, memorization shortcuts, high cognitive performance tips, passage reading hacks, and so much more…

Top scorers know that content is important to MCAT success, but not having proper strategies to approach passages leads to inefficiency and not being able to finish the exam on time.

Plus as you’ve seen, top scorers also understand passage-based deduction strategy. They understand strategies on how to take apart an MCAT passages the way AAMC (the creators of the MCAT) want you to.

You’ve seen a small sample of how effective that can really be (wait until you see the effectiveness of everything else we have for you…)

On the other hand, not approaching MCAT prep without applying the right strategies leads to huge disadvantages like…

Writing the exam at really slow speeds, scores not moving on practice exams, finding the material much harder than expected, not retaining information, lacking clarity on how to approach certain sections, not being able to apply your knowledge, silly mistakes, and so much more.

Most premeds are suffering from all of these things at the same time! We can’t even imagine the level of frustration and anxiety that would lead to.

Plus such emotional states can even further cloud your judgement, clarity of thought and decision making process, making it impossible to choose the right answer consistently.

We wanted to do something about this. We wanted to bring back your confidence, and passion for becoming a doctor that you’ve dreamed of becoming for years now.

If you had a map to get to your goal destination (a high MCAT score), how much more confident would you feel? How would you feel if this map showed you the shortcuts that top-scorers used to get to the same destination?

We have that map for you.

It took us months (with ongoing improvements over years) to gather all our top MCAT scorer research which includes the best of the best strategies for dominating the MCAT, and compiled them all into one downloadable guide.

The MCAT Mastery Strategy Guide.

Remember, what distinguishes a high MCAT score from a low one is not only based on how much you practice or many hours and days you spend studying.

It’s whether or not you’re apply powerful, proven strategies.

Once you get this guide and apply the strategies within it, you’ll know that your upcoming MCAT test date is going to be the LAST time you’ll ever write the MCAT.

You’ll leave your MCAT exam, ready to celebrate with your closest friends. Not because the MCAT will be done, but because you’ll know you killed it.

You’ll know med-school isn’t far now.

How do you know if this MCAT strategy guide is really for you?

At the beginning of this article, I asked you if you’re determined to conquer the MCAT. I asked you if you’re willing to do everything in your power to make that happen and get a high score…

Imagine not getting a competitive MCAT score and wishing you did everything in your power to not let it become a reality…

Lastly, we truly hope you take advantage of not just the guide, but all our other resources and articles on our blog. We’re proud to say that we have some of the best hacks for skyrocketing your MCAT score that you won’t find anywhere else.

Good luck and keep in touch!

You got this,

MCAT MasteryYour MCAT Success Mentors

Click here for details on the MCAT Mastery Strategy Guide.

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!

You may like our other recent posts:

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


Free MCAT Strategy Crash Course!

In these 4 free videos, you will learn from four 95+ percentile MCAT scorers (518, 518, 520, 522), MCAT tutors, and MS1's, on what's keeping your score lower than it could be, what to start doing to raise it, how to gain confidence in your MCAT prep journey, and proven strategies on how to leverage practice exams to skyrocket your score beyond the 515+ mark.