From 489 To 509: How She Improved Her MCAT Score By 20 Points
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From 489 To 509: How Miriam Improved Her MCAT Score By 20 Points

Have you ever wondered how some students increase their MCAT score in such huge jumps?

We're talking 20 point score increases! We're talking 20 point score increases WHILE managing full course loads and a job!

Well in today's case study, you're about to hear from someone who did just that... 

We'd like to introduce you to Miriam Alghothani, a 509 scorer:

improved mcat score by 20 points

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With a 130 in Chem/Phys, you can bet we dug deep to find out how she studied for that section. But to start off, here are Miriam's top 4 tips to help you on your MCAT journey... 

miriam - improved mcat score

1 - "My biggest advice overall would be don't lose hope. It is very easy to do that, especially if all you do is study for the MCAT for an extended period of time." 

The most dangerous moment in MCAT prep which we pray you never experience, is the moment of 'losing hope'.

There is no reason to ever lose hope. Ever. If your MCAT prep is struggling, you just need to reevaluate your approach...

There's something you're doing that's holding your score down, or there's something you're missing that's not pushing your score forward. You simply need to figure out which it is. How? You already know what we're going to say. Invest in learning MCAT strategy. Proven strategy from people who have already made the same mistakes you're making - the same people who figured it out and got a top score.

2 - "Reward yourself with a day off every week or two, and do something you really enjoy."

YES! Studies have proven over and over that rewarding yourself with well deserved breaks always leads to greater motivation and success.

3 - "Don't talk about the MCAT to your friends who are taking it near the same time, because you'd always feel behind compared to them, stressing yourself out." 

YES! Top scorers generally stay to themselves. When you're talking to others who are studying for the MCAT, how many of them do you think are going to exaggerate about their progress? Could be intentional or unintentional, but we guarantee it'll happen.

When they're making huge claims and pretending to be doing so well, you'll be tripping out! Even if they're telling the truth, you'll still be tripping out! You've probably already experienced this. Don't blame them, it's kind of human nature for us to act this way...

On the other hand, if they're not exaggerating, they're complaining about the MCAT. How is all that negativity going to influence your perception of the MCAT? How is that going to affect your performance when you sit down to study? How will that impact your motivation to open your books?

Talking to others about MCAT prep is dangerous territory. We wouldn't recommend going there unless you're studying together, and only discussing MCAT concepts and not talking about subjective stuff like 'how good or bad the MCAT is'. 

We recommend if you're going to study with someone, let them know about these ideas so you're both on the same page. Better yet, introduce them to MCAT Mastery so you can discuss these strategies and help each other implement them 🙂


4 - "Don't share that you are taking the MCAT with too many people either because outside pressure can also be daunting. Be super confident, give it your best, because you have worked so hard up until this point!"

Agreed. Similar to the previous point, but it's a little different. If you're not talking about MCAT prep with others who are taking the MCAT, can you talk to people who aren't taking the MCAT? Just like Miriam, we'd recommend against it. People around you don't know how brutal this exam really is - they won't understand, and their advice will usually hurt more than it will help.

Plus, it's no fun when people keep asking you "How is studying going?", when the last thing you want to think about is the MCAT, when you're just trying to have a break from the MCAT!

These are simple but powerful points, and we hope you take them seriously.

Next, with a 130 in Chem/Phys, here's how Miriam said she studied for that section...


"That was the section I feared most, thinking it would be my worst section, which really motivated me to practice, practice, and practice more. I always thought that Chemistry and Physics would be the hardest because they were my least two favorite subjects. 

Additionally, throughout my undergrad major, I always worked very very hard and barely managed to earn A if I did. However, for the MCAT, I consistently scored highest in Chem/Phys during my practice, because I figured out that it was always the same concept tested in different words. The Organic Chemistry was always the same with different molecules. I learned to master the concepts before practicing and testing myself. 

I felt the same about the biochemistry section. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the physics and chemistry because a lot of the passages contain difficult info.  If you learn to brush the difficult concepts away, and focus on the main concepts that you have already established, you can get the answer right. 

My biggest strategy was not getting caught with the difficult equations and concepts of each passage. Many of the questions, even though they were passage based questions, could be considered stand alone questions. 

MCAT Mastery's strategy guide kept my confidence so high that I improved my already highest section in such little time, after having to write the MCAT a second time. 

I wish I focused more on the strategies I had available for the CARS section because they were helpful but maybe I didn't practice them effectively. 

With the B/B section, it was harder than expected and I was ready to be done at that point so I kind of lost focused. But then I picked back up in the Psychology/Sociology section and didn't get too focused on the small details like my Chem/Phys section." 


We also asked Miriam to speak more about her experience with CARS...

"My lowest section was CARS. It used to be lower, but I managed to bring it up by using the CARS Mastery Report. I followed the strategies by practicing each strategy. I would focus on one strategy for a specific passage. I did one passage, exclusively focusing on that one strategy I just learned, trying to see how that strategy plays out for real when writing the test." 

Lastly, if you're as curious as us, you want to know how much time it took Mariam to increase her score from a 489 to a 509! We asked her and here's what she said...

"It took me about three months of studying with a full load of classes, work and research; and then four weeks intense studying where MCAT studying was more than my full time job.

A lot of students wonder if they can hit their MCAT score goals while in school, while juggling other commitments... Our answer is always that it depends on you.

We know it's possible because we constantly see high scorers who manage to achieve their goals while keeping full time jobs or full class loads. It's all about if you're willing to put in the focused time and more importantly, if you're willing to put in the strategy that will more than double the effectiveness of the limited time you're able to put in...


"The Top Scorer MCAT Strategy Guide was so helpful in every aspect of my prep. The first time I wrote the MCAT, I hadn't heard of this strategy guide and rather focused exclusively on the content from The Princeton Review. I found myself getting caught up on small minute details that didn't really appear again on AAMC material or the real deal.

The strategy guide by MCAT Mastery honed in the idea that it's not all about content, nor is it all about small details. Yes that's important, but focusing on test taking strategy really emphasizes that you can pull off a high score.


You hear a lot of strategies from different places, but having it all in one area is so helpful, and you can easily refer back to it any time. The strategies also did not feel so robotic. They had a human element to them, especially in the way they were laid out, casual yet so effective and helpful.

The CARS strategy guide is very very effective as well, because it works out passage examples that trains you how to work out real deal passages. I am so glad I found this strategy guide to give me the confidence boost, reassurance, motivation, and inspiration to write the MCAT again and score much higher (after four week intense studying). The strategy guide also really helped minimize burnout!"


We're really thankful to Miriam for her kind words and for sharing her advice with the MCAT Mastery Community.

If you're scoring in the low 490s, if you're worried about your MCAT score, if you could really use a 10+ point MCAT score increase, then we hope Miriam's story gave you some inspiration and perspective on how achieving your score goals is more than possible...

You just need to implement the right strategies to your MCAT prep. Once you do this and notice your score increasing past 500, past 505, past 510, you'll know without a shadow of a doubt, that med-school doors are now open to you... and your doctor dream is truly about to begin...

But it all starts with studying smart for the MCAT.

You got this,

The MCAT Mastery Team
Your "MCAT Success" Mentors

About the Author MCAT Mastery

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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