Is your Bio/Biochem score suffering on the MCAT? Did you recently do a practice exam and were surprised at how low your Bio/Biochem score was? Do you need to increase it as soon as possible?
If so, you're in the right place...
Maybe you know all amino acids and most of the content, but you feel like something isn't connecting. Maybe you've asked people for advice and all you hear is "just do more practice passages". Maybe you're worried that you haven't taken a Biochem course and won't know how to do well in this section.
We've heard it all and we have your solution...
What you need are PROVEN tips, strategies, and thought processes on how to approach B/B passages.
Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of MCAT test takers increase their scores to competitive levels. As we research and interview 515+ scorers and their strategies they used to dominate the MCAT, we also single out those who score over 130 (we usually single out 132 scorers) in particular sections and try to drill down on the most powerful strategies they used for those specific sections.
In this post, we’re going to provide you with some of the most effective 130+ Bio/Biochem MCAT scorer strategies which you can apply right away to increase your B/B score fast and get over that 130 level yourself.
OK, so let’s begin…
Most top MCAT scorers keep notebooks. To increase your score in B/B, keeping a notebook could be extremely valuable...
In this notebook, top scorers generally keep a log of what they’re weak on. This is where you’ll make note of all the concepts you want to continuously practice and keep in mind.
When you go through your practice questions, note down the general topics that you got wrong. Some 130+ scorers watch videos on that topic in that same day, after they’re done practicing.
Another strategy is to look up topics as soon as you find out you go them wrong. Look them up, and create a flashcard at the same time. Eventually you’ll have a stack of flashcards, with your weakest topics, that you can constantly DRILL into your mind as much as possible.
[Flashcards are an amazing tool for MCAT prep. There’s a specific technique most top scorers use to make flashcards that have maximum efficiency on their studying. We cover this strategy, plus give you access to flashcards made by 90+ percentile scorers, in the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide. Feel free to check it out when you have the chance!]
Also in this notebook, it’s a good idea to have all your pathways. Many top scorers learn those pathways early in their MCAT prep.
Lastly, here’s the best use of this strategy: When you’re in the last month, last two months, or even the last few weeks before the MCAT, you have accumulated an entire notebooks worth of important topics, including concepts that are your biggest struggles. This is your opportunity...
Go over this ENTIRE notebook constantly – about once a week should be good. You can go over a chunk of pages each day over the week so that you finish the entire notebook by the end of the week.
It’s a good way to begin each day in fact, since you already know the information. Kind of like a way to get yourself and your mind ‘warmed up’. This is how you make sure you remember everything that you have the most likelihood of forgetting!
It might get boring or dreary, but by constantly practicing and drilling this information into your mind, you can be certain that you won’t forget it. This entire strategy of keeping a notebook has yielded perfect B/B scores, which you can achieve too.A 132 B/B Scorer Pro Tip: During the notebook review period towards the end of your MCAT, don’t just ‘read’ the notes. Try to use the notes as ‘cue-cards’ – as if you’re using the notes to give a presentation and teach the concepts like you’re a professor.
Professors always have the big picture in mind. If you can teach the material, you’ve mastered it. It might take longer to study this way, but it’ll be worth it. Here’s how to achieve the ‘big picture’ way of thinking that 130+ B/B scorers use...
During exams, pretend you have a whiteboard and draw diagrams. Remember, you’re a professor. How would you make sure your students REALLY understand it all?
Draw connections between pathways and amino acids, for example. Write down the steps on your scratch paper as you’re reading the passage. Make a kind of ‘flow chart’ so that when you get to the questions, you’re not re-reading the passage and feeling confused. Make it all into a story – once you get the hang of it, you’ll see how easy it is with subjects like Biochem.
To really master this skill of big-picture thinking so you can truly learn these concepts, we’ve seen top scorers recommend visualizing. The great thing about B/B is that you can ‘see’ a lot of what you’re learning, in your mind. This is especially valuable for descriptive (vs experimental) passages that you come across...
For example, let's say you get a biochem passage that’s a super dense pathway. First, make note or highlight important molecules and enzymes while perhaps drawing out the pathway (Note: some top scorers recommend drawing out pathways once a day so you can learn them really well, which will lead to a lot more correct answers on exams).
Next you can see if one molecule promotes or constrains a step – and that’s when you can imagine how one alteration can influence everything downstream. You can also visualize processes, like imagining chewing your food as it travels down the esophagus to the stomach. You can picture what the pancreas is doing. You can imagine the monosaccharide being sent all the way until you get to glycolysis. Such exercises help you understand and get beyond basic memorization.
The best part of using this strategy is that descriptive passages end up becoming fun to do! And if you’re an MCAT Mastery free community member, you know how much we emphasize having fun when studying for the MCAT, and how incredibly beneficial that can be!
In the beginning it might be a little hard to visualize, but it’ll get easier. If you’ve tried and found visualizing too difficult, don’t give up but feel free to find images and videos online that can make visualizing easier.
Keep in mind that sometimes passages will already have diagrams, in which case you don’t need to make any diagrams.
When you’ve hit this stage of being able to teach and visualize for this section, we can guarantee you’ll have already seen a substantial increase in your B/B score and you’re hitting 130+ levels.
Top scorers always keep in mind that the MCAT is testing you on the ‘big picture’. Which means it’s never about tiny details.
This is true not just for Bio/Biochem, but also for Chem/Phys. This confuses most students who are used to being tested on the details. Those are the same students who get incredibly overwhelmed with all the content they have to learn...
However, for those who come across our resources, we’re able to guide them and save them from months of wasted time learning irrelevant content and from all the negative emotional energy that comes from frustration, overwhelm, confusion, stress, etc., which only further hurt their scores.
For example, if you’re not prepared, it’s going to be scary when you take practice exams and you realize that the majority of passages are bringing up new content that you’ve never seen before! But if you had read through the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide, you’ll have had top scorers advise you in there to not worry when this happens, because the MCAT is mainly testing whether you can recognize the underlying ideas and concepts which question-writers are attempting to test!
Which is why we highly recommend getting all the top scorer advice you can get beforehand, as early as possible in your MCAT prep, so you don't fall victim to all the common, easy-to-avoid, score-dropping drawbacks that most average MCAT scorers deal with.
Remember, the key is to read through these passages without getting ‘mentally buried’ by all the details.
Before we move on to the next strategy, just wanted to direct you to an MCAT success story of Tanmay Patil, who not only scored a 96th percentile (130) in B/B, but also scored an overall 514 on the MCAT with just 3 months of MCAT prep!
In this article, he gives his best advice for how he studied for B/B and the MCAT in general so be sure to check it out once you're done reading this article! You can click here to read his case study.
A common technique top scorers use for sciences sections is highlighting strategically. We’ve talked about this previously here but it deserves a second mention. One of the best things you can do is highlight what you think they’ll ask you a question on...
For example, highlighting concepts like ‘competitive inhibitor’ or ‘knockouts’, etc., will direct your focus. It will also help you stay grounded and focused on the simple science. There is so much in these passages that is just placed there to distract you from the simple science (like vague genes and proteins). Highlighting key concepts and terms make you less vulnerable.
As you get to the answer choices once you’ve highlighted effectively, the answer choice often shows itself. With practice, this skill sharpens and you automatically develop a ‘sense’ of what question to expect. Which is why practicing can’t be emphasized enough for science sections.
At the same time, if you don’t know proper test-taking strategy but are zooming through practice tests, you’re being extremely inefficient. You’re essentially wasting practice tests. Which is why we always recommend that the smartest way to practice and master the MCAT is to FIRST become aware of the most proven strategies that have been used by top scorers to achieve competitive scores.
This is the idea that sparked the creation of the Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide, which is a collection of the best top scorer MCAT study and testing strategies in the world, condensed into an easy to read PDF format, that doesn’t take much of your (limited) time to go through.
If you're going to surmount an obstacle, instead of training blindly, learn from others who have mastered it first, learn how they prepared for it, then once you have some guidelines and structure, that's when you give it everything you've got!
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 1 - A lot of top scorers recommend looking at tables, images, equations, figures, and italicized terms first, so you can get a good idea of the topic and maximize your understanding. However, a lot also recommend against it! Some say to only refer to them if the question requires you to as they are sometimes placed there to distract you.
Our suggestion is to try out both strategies and see which one works for you. Depending on how much time you have, divide up your time trying out both ways. For example, if you have 3 months left, spend the first month using one strategy, the second month using the other strategy, and in the last month stick to the one which yielded the best results. Maybe you’ll realize what you like within the first two weeks, if so, just stick to that. Trust your gut but be logical in your process.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 2 - Never pick answer choices based on your own ‘outside’ knowledge. Try to always choose an answer that relates to the passage and what the passage mentions.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 3 - Make predictions before choosing your answer. Then, pick the best answer choices based on your prediction. Never look at the questions before making a prediction, unless of course, the question requires you to.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 4 - Be sure to know names of common enzymes and know their function. For Krebs Cycle step for example, know where in the cycle it fits. Know that isocitrate follows citrate.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 5 - Draw out all separate pathways a lot of times. Once a day is a recommended target. Know rate limiting enzymes and points of regulation.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 6 - Discover what inhibits or promotes enzymes and why. The ‘why’ is important because it helps you stay in ‘big picture’ mode.
130+ Scorer MCAT Bio/Biochem Tip 7 - What’s the best content resource to increase your B/B score? We’ve consistently seen top scorers recommend Kaplan’s Biochem book. Check it out.
You've studied hard for this section of the MCAT... It's time to study smart.
They're applying MCAT study and testing strategies that they know work for exams of this nature, that require you to think critically, and above everything else, apply your knowledge.
Do you believe that 90% of those who will be writing the MCAT with you soon, will be aware of these strategies for C/P? They won't, but since you now are, and if you apply them, that automatically will place you in the top 10%.
If you study smarter using unconventional MCAT study hacks, you'll have an advantage over the average premed who's struggling to increase his or her scores right now.
Time and time again, we come across the same advice from top MCAT scorers everywhere...
"Doing well on the MCAT is not about stressful studying, it's about smarter studying, it's about strategic studying."
It's about know what to focus on and what not to focus on. It's about going over practice tests in a way that most other students don't do. It's about knowing how to approach the passages, the questions, and answer choices, to constantly and strategically choose the right answer. And there's SO MUCH more to it...
We don't know how to say it more clearly...
Get and apply the MCAT prep strategies others have used to increase their scores by 10, 12, even 15+ points to achieve competitive scores and gain admission into the med-school of their dreams, so you can do the same.
You know what to do now. You don't need to figure out anything else. It's all been figured out and laid out for you in a straightforward, simple map that you can download as a PDF and start using right away.
The path to your highest MCAT score is available to you.
But we can only show you where it is...
You’re the one that has to walk through it.
You got this,
The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors
Every year MCAT Mastery helps thousands of premeds in achieving their target MCAT score goal so they can get into the med-school of their dreams. The dedicated team at MCAT Mastery accomplishes this by conducting ongoing research and paid interviews with 90+ percentile MCAT scorers, to bring you the most credible, most proven MCAT prep strategies on the planet.
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