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One of the most common frustrations in MCAT prep is when you keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
We've all been there!
But why do they keep happening?
It's because we don't review and reflect on our mistakes properly.
We don't know how because we've never had to do so for an exam like this.
Which is why Arvind, 517 scorer one of our mentors, has created a video for you on how to strategically review and reflect on your mistakes...
So you never make them again and see your score improve on your next practice exam!
This is such a valuable video because he actually walks you through his very own MCAT mistake tracking worksheet:
Here's a snippet of what you'll learn:
- One key question to ask yourself for every question you get wrong
- How to reflect on every piece of content you review and every practice question you complete.
- How to compile those reflections into a daily reflection.
- How to compile those daily reflections to track your trends and common mistakes you find yourself making.
Take this in - you're getting an inside look at a 94th percentile scorer's MCAT prep process:
And if you want an inside look into the MCAT prep strategies, schedules, mindset and more of dozens of top MCAT scorers, then check out our self-paced MCAT strategy video courses.
How do you go about being self-reflective in prep?
Essentially, this entails is being extremely mindful of all your prep, and understanding the why behind all your mistakes.
For example, if you keep mixing up convex and concave lenses, you need to ask yourself if its because you're just having a bad day, or its it because you truly don't understand the difference and all this time you've just been trying to jam it in your head with the hope that it will stick? If its not obvious, that was literally me during prep.
Or, if you keep missing reasoning beyond the text questions in CARS, is it because you're pressed for time, or you just don't know where to look for the answers to these questions?
From a micro to macro scale, it entails first, reflecting on every piece of content you reviewed and every practice question you completed, second, compiling those reflections into a daily reflection, and third, compiling those daily reflections to track your trends and common mistakes you find yourself making.
Let's address the first stage first, and start with content review. Definitely check out our other video on how to use Anki for content review, as this approach allows you to continuously reflect on your understanding.
Lets pretend that you just learned about concave and convex lenses. Personally, these were one of the hardest topics on the exam because I kept mixing them up.
First, quiz yourself, asking yourself questions about the differences between the two. Then stop and think, "okay, did I completely understand that? Was I unsure about anything in particular? Maybe I called the wrong one convergent."
At that point, you want to ask yourself, "How am I going to make SURE that I don't mix that up again?" I'd just be like, ah convex lens starts with conv, so its GOTTA be convergent. BOOM. never mixing them up again.
On the flip side, if you just disregarded it as a "silly mistake" chances are, you're going to make that mistake again. Again, for a much more in depth take on efficient content review, check out our video on using Anki for content review.
In terms of practice questions, it is crucial that you keep a spreadsheet to track all your mistakes, while also tracking WHY you're missing those questions and WHAT KINDS of questions in particular you're missing. Let's take a quick look at how I organize my spreadsheet to ensure I did that.
Then, you want to take all this prep, content review and practice questions both, and fit it into a daily reflection. I had a column in my daily schedule spreadsheet for this reflection, and basically it would be a couple sentences about my day of prep. I would discuss mistakes that I made, content that I reviewed, and most importantly, how I FELT during my prep for the day. Did I feel like a wasteman clicking through YouTube videos, or did I feel like I was in my ZONE for the day?
A common thing I hear students say when I meet with them for tutoring, is "ah, yeah I didn't get through that many questions today." You need to ask yourself WHY? Was it because you got stumped on a particular piece of content and went on a side mission to figure out what this content was? Did you run into a particular question type that you struggled with more?
If you don't review these things on a day to day basis and put them DOWN on paper or computer, they will slip into the void, never to be seen again, and you'll keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
What you'll then realize, is you now have a way of tracking what exactly you did on particular days. So say last week you wanted to rip your hair out when you had a passage talking about fluids, but now, you consider yourself somewhat of a fluids god, you can TRACK that progress and make the realization that you're actually getting somewhere with your prep.
Or, if you struggled with finishing CARS passage on time one week, and you continuously tracked your progress, then one day you'll be able to happily say that it is no longer as much of a struggle!
In conclusion, I can't stress how important it is to actively reflect on your prep, or else you're going to find yourself re-reviewing things over and over again, and ultimately wasting precious time.
Lastly, we're proud of you for making the progress you have made.
Whether you see it or not, whether they say it or not, your hard work is inspiring a lot of people around you.
Keep going because once MCAT prep is over and you get that med-school acceptance, it'll ALL be worth it 🙂
(...and the hard work will continue in med-school )
You got this,
The MCAT Mastery Team
Your MCAT Success Mentors