There comes a moment in every premed journey where they are overwhelmed with not knowing how to remember everything for the MCAT.
We know because we've been there ourselves. Over the years, we've discovered many (extremely common) ways most MCAT writers are putting themselves at a disadvantage with the way they're trying to remember all the content.
The good news is that once all of these 'MCAT prep disadvantages' are taken care of, many find themselves remembering more content easily and see their MCAT scores increase as a result!
A lot of these MCAT prep mistakes are specific to the MCAT itself, others are specific to studying overall. Regardless, top scorers always addressed both types.
As a bonus, top scorers carried these insights with them to med-school, to dominate there as well. It is our knowing that once you understand and implement these insights for yourself, you too will be well equipped to do extremely well in med-school once you master the MCAT 🙂
With that said, in this article we want to cover a common study mistake we see a lot of students making when it comes to the way they try to remember everything for the MCAT.
How to Remember Everything For The MCAT Using The Power Of The "Spacing Effect" and "The Curve Of Forgetting"
Let’s say you have a goal to study for the MCAT for about 20 hours (for example) per week.
Some students will take that goal and study 6-7 hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Other students will study for 3-4 hours every day of the week.
They’re both studying approximately the same amount of hours, BUT those who are studying every single day will get the higher score. Why?
It’s because of the 'spacing effect'.
It basically means you need to spread out your learning to retain more information. Top scorers never crammed. They studied everyday to remember more.
Top scorers always advise that the stuff you did for your regular undergraduate exams, like cramming, won’t cut it for the MCAT.
For regular undergraduate exams, you could cram and that information would stay in your mind for the short-term, which means the next day you could take the exam and do pretty well. But when you cram, you forget all that information just as fast as you brought it in...
Literally in a few days, it’s gone. With the massive amount of content on the MCAT, there’s no such thing as ‘cramming for it’. You need to space out your studying strategically to maximize information retention.
This also pertains to the concept of the 'curve of forgetting' that scientists discovered in the 1800s. Here's an interesting fact to put this tip into perspective; when you first hear a lecture or study something new, you retain up to 80% of it... only IF you review the material within 24 hours!
However, this reaction is cumulative. Which means that after a week, you can retain 100% of the same information after only five minutes of review.
Knowing this, what if during MCAT prep, you spent a few minutes reviewing your previous day's study/lecture notes? What if you spent some time the following week reviewing all of last week's notes?
The Ineffective Study Habits Keeping Too Many Premeds Out of Med-School
For many premeds, after years of practicing inefficient studying methods (like cramming), it has become a habit.
They don't know any other way to study so when they see their practice test scores not improving, they're actually surprised. It doesn't make sense...
They doubt their potential. They blame the MCAT as being 'too hard'. They lose motivation. They lose confidence. They feel scared and worry about how they could possibly get the score goal they set for themselves to get into med-school.
The key, as most top-scoring MCAT Mastery students eventually realized, is to drop all of their inefficient study methods, and replace them with new, research-backed, smarter ones which are proven to yield the results they're aiming for.
Those smarter research backed MCAT study methods are what we’ve been passionate about providing students as they study for the MCAT - so that they could then take those great habits and apply them to med-school.
To make it easy for you, we’ve covered all our years of research getting all of those proven approaches to dominating the MCAT and med-school-type exams, in our step-by-step MCAT strategy programs which you can learn more about here.
The sooner you improve your methods to studying for the MCAT, the sooner you'll regain your lost confidence in yourself and your abilities. You'll realize that it was never about you and/or your potential to get into med-school, it was just about your approach.
That’s when you'll see your score hit that 510+ mark, and that’s when you'll know med-school acceptance is just around the corner 🙂
The MCAT Mastery Team
Your "MCAT Success" Mentors