The highest score you can get on the MCAT is a 528.
In this article, we're about to show you how you can go about achieving the closest score you can possibly get to that elusive 528. We're going to show you how you can achieve your maximum MCAT score.
Achieving your maximum MCAT score isn’t a result of just studying “harder” or studying more. It’s about studying better and studying smarter.
If you’re not seeing your score progress, it’s because there's something missing from the way you're studying for the MCAT, or there's something you're doing that's holding your score back.
If you want to get your score as high as it possibly can be, you need to raise the effectiveness of your current MCAT study habits, mindset, and strategies...
If you're like most premeds, the effectiveness of your MCAT prep is probably much below 70% and with some simple tweaks and changes to your MCAT prep style, you can maximize your efficiency, and consequently, your MCAT score.
In this article, we're going to cover proven ways to maximize your MCAT prep mindset, habits, strategies, and more, so that in the next week or two, you can start seeing tremendous progress...
"We are not taught how to learn in school, we are taught how to pass tests."
Top MCAT scorers realized that the MCAT is not like a normal undergraduate exam. If you’re reading this post looking for ways to 'improve your score', chances are you’ve probably realized that by now.
You’ve probably tried to raise your MCAT score by applying conventional study methods that have helped you succeed all your life, and are failing to see much or any improvement.
Most MCAT writers fail to realize that the MCAT is not just harder in the breadth of information covered and in how long it is, it’s also harder in the way the questions, passages, and answer choices are created. It’s harder in the way you’re required to think in order to identify the correct answers.
Which means you can’t study for it just like you would for a regular exam. Which means you have to
change evolve the way you study. All top MCAT scorers realized this; some realized it right away, some realized it after writing the MCAT twice!
The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll see your MCAT score hit new heights. The sooner you’ll feel the anxiety, frustration, and fear of getting a low MCAT score leave you for good.
We’ve interviewed and researched those who mastered the MCAT with top MCAT scores, with the sole purpose of extracting the most powerful MCAT score maximizing strategies, habits, materials, and more.
We mention this so you know that all of the MCAT score maximizing strategies we present to you on this blog, in our emails, and in our downloads, have been used and recommended by 90+ percentile MCAT scorers, and when you apply them to your MCAT prep, you can be sure you’re preparing for the MCAT in the smartest, most reliable way possible.
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. They’re both studying 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?
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.
We, as well as many other top scorers we've interviewed, would advise you to do the same - and as soon as possible.
The sooner you take this step, 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.
The sooner you discover and apply the MCAT study approach of previous top scorers, the sooner you'll see your score hit that 510 mark, and the sooner you'll know med-school acceptance is just around the corner 🙂
Chances are that you have MCAT study notes made from all the reading you’ve been doing. Chances are that as a study strategy, you’ve read those notes several times until it feels like you’ve got them memorized.
Then when you did a practice test, you couldn’t remember what you studied and didn’t do as well as you thought you would, even though you “know all the information”!
So what’s going on?
Once again, you’re likely using inefficient study strategies that have worked before but won't work for the MCAT. When you’re reviewing notes or books, you’re just practicing your skill in how well you recognize all that information.
When you’re reviewing material, you’re just ‘feeling’ like you understand the material, simply because you’re able to recognize it every time you review.
Studies show that we have cognitive biases like this that "trick" us when we’re studying, making us feel like we know the material when we really don't. Once you’re aware of these biases, you can study smart.
This is why so many premeds complain about how the MCAT is ‘not fair’ or ‘too hard’ or that they felt paralyzed during the test. The MCAT is not unfair or 'too hard', it can be conquered. You just haven’t been studying smart, like the top scorers before you did, to conquer it once and for all.
Instead of practicing the skill of recognizing information, you want to practice the skill of recalling information. One way to do this is to do a lot of practice questions as you study.
Another way is to teach or explain everything you study, such as different concepts, without any notes. If you can explain clearly, you have it committed to memory and you can be sure, you're not falling prey to known cognitive biases.
Have you ever gotten your ear flushed? Or ever had your ears ‘pop open’? It’s such an interesting experience because in that moment, you realize how ‘weak’ your ability to hear was all that time!
Ears get blocked so gradually that we don’t even know it. So we’re walking around thinking we’re hearing perfectly fine, until one day we realize how much at an "auditory disadvantage" we really were!
In the same way, you might think you’re using your brain perfectly fine, to its full potential, but what if we told you that you’re likely not?
What if we told you that you’ve most likely been losing your brain’s 'efficiency' so gradually that you haven’t even realized it? What if we told you that the effect you get from coffee should be your natural state? What if we told you that you're at a "cognitive disadvantage" and you probably don't even know how bad it really is?
What if we told you that if you were to get your brain's efficiency back to its normal level, you'd see your MCAT score automatically go up, quite dramatically?
How likely would you be to do whatever it takes to regain your 'cognitive advantage'?
Most of us are doing things to weaken our cognitive abilities because most of us are not taking care of our internal self. We're not giving our mind and our body the attention it deserves, yet we expect them to make all our dreams come true!
The health of your body is connected to the health of your mind, which is connected to the health of your MCAT score... And the health of your body depends largely on how you take care of it.
As a premed, this is elementary information but the question is, are you applying this information to your life? Do you care enough to apply it?
For example, probably the most obvious one, is getting enough sleep. How many times have you sacrificed sleep to get more studying or work done? It's a common habit for a lot of premeds...
When the hardest exam they've ever written comes along, sleep goes out the window!
We've seen this happen especially during the last month of MCAT prep, which is the most crucial for score maximization, which is where you want to truly be working at your maximum mental potential.
Another example is the food you eat, which has a profound impact on your cognitive capacity. When you’re studying for the biggest exam of your life, what kind of food choices are you making in your diet? How much water are you drinking?
Do you want the maximum advantage you can possibly get for this exam? If so, then you need to do everything in your power to make that happen. This is the mentality of 90+ percentile scorers.
They’re not geniuses. Most of them just do everything they can to maximize their potential. Which means doing the obvious like maximizing the capabilities of your physical and mental 'operating system'.
Here's how you can start putting this into action right away:
Firstly, if you stay up late and wake up early, think about what would be the ideal time for you to sleep tonight so you can get enough sleep. How much is 'enough'? The way you find out is by sleeping without an alarm and seeing how many hours it takes for your body to wake up automatically. Everyone's needs are different.
So tonight, maybe sleep 9 hours before you want to wake up - you might wake up in 6, 7, 8, or even 9 hours. Learn how much sleep your body wants so you can perform at your optimal level throughout the day.
Once you've decided what time you should be going to sleep tonight, set up an alarm on your phone for one-hour before your sleep time to remind you that it's time to wind down and do your night time routine so you can get ready for bed.
Secondly, go ahead and drink a full cup of water right now. Next, take a moment to reflect to see which meal of your day is usually the least healthiest. Think of an healthier alternative you can replace it with.
Usually our most unhealthiest habits are because of impulse - when we're extremely hungry, the last thing we want to do is go and 'make' food when we can just grab fast food. The key is to plan ahead. So plan for what you're going to do to replace your (upcoming) least healthiest meal.
We've researched and interviewed a lot of 510+ scorers and we've realized that the key to a 510+ MCAT score is to treat the MCAT like a game. In most emails, we're focused on how to play the game, today was a little different but important nonetheless...
Just like how basketball players need to understand how to play the game and the strategies behind it, they also need to take care of their physical capabilities, so that when game day comes, they're both physically and mentally ready to dominate...
Which is why whenever you're feeling overwhelmed during MCAT prep, we want you to remember this analogy of seeing the MCAT as a game and reminding yourself that it can be won.
You can get better at it...
And the easiest and fastest way to get better at it is to learn from those who have already mastered it.
Those who are pros.
Use their insights and strategies to make huge jumps in your progress and master it once and for all.
You only need to beat the MCAT once. You only need to win once. Make it count this time.
This is a quick tip, and maybe you've heard it before, but it's worth mentioning because if you're not doing this right (like a lot of premeds aren't) then this simple change in your MCAT prep schedule can have a tremendous impact on your score.
Top MCAT scorers generally don’t just focus on one subject per day. Instead, they maximize their MCAT score by covering multiple subjects each day.
So instead of just dedicating Monday for Bio, Tuesday for Psych/Soc, Wednesday for Physics, etc., you want to dive into each subject a little bit everyday.
According to studies on learning, by focusing on one subject you’re more likely to confuse similar information. Plus, if you haven’t touched Bio in five days, it just feels too foreign when you open the Bio book again.
When you’re in MCAT prep mode, nothing should feel ‘new and foreign’ because your goal is to get extremely familiar with all subjects.
What’s the biggest enemy of MCAT prep? Almost every MCAT writer experiences this...
You were probably feeling it before you found this article. For most premeds, it’s constant.
You might think stress is good because it gets you studying. But here’s the problem…
Stress hinders learning.
Research has shown that if you’re stressed for just a couple hours, corticotropin-releasing hormones get engaged which disrupt your mental system for creating and storing memories.
Think of how much you’re destroying your scoring potential with every hour you remain stressed. Again, top scorers are focused on maximizing their MCAT score, which means maximizing their cognitive abilities.
So what do top scorers do to minimize their stress? That's what we'll cover in the next few tips...
Our first recommendation is to start meditating. Meditating has been scientifically proven to have tremendous benefits like decreased stress, increased creativity, greater focus, and more.
Which is why it makes sense that a lot of top scorers mention how they meditated during MCAT prep and how it helped them keep calm and focused.
You want to meditate everyday, for 20 minutes ideally. If you’ve never meditated before, start with 5 minutes. Then increase it by 5 minutes every week.
How do you meditate? It's one of the most simplest things you can do.
Put a timer on your phone and forget about the time. It'll vibrate or ring whenever you're done. Then sit in a quiet place, comfortably, however you want, with your eyes closed, and try to focus on something 'steady'.
You can try to focus on a constant sound, your breath, the darkness when you close your eyes, anything that you can 'get lost' in.
When you realize you’ve started thinking about something, go back to focusing on the steady element you chose.
You might realize your mind went in a certain direction a few seconds later, or a few minutes later, it doesn't matter. Don't judge yourself. Don't be hard on yourself. Be happy that you realized it, and go back to focusing.
That’s it. That’s literally it.
Don't worry about thoughts too much. As long as you're 'trying' to focus, you're good. Even if you sat through the whole meditation, thinking 99% of the time, you will still reap a lot of benefits from it. So no matter what, it's worth it to do it daily.
With time, you'll get better and you'll be benefiting in ways that will baffle you and make you wish you started sooner.
Our next recommendation is to start exercising. Get your heart rate up daily.
Exercising has tremendous benefits, for the brain especially. Top scorers know this, as we're sure you do too, but they actually take advantage of it during MCAT prep, and throughout med-school.
When you do just a short workout, you flood your brain with nutrients and oxygen. If you exercise before studying, studies show that you can reap even more of the benefits because you’ll be more focused and primed for absorbing information.
Again, you can be smart with this as well. Choose something fun to do to ‘exercise’. Exercising doesn’t mean you have to lift weights. Some people find jumping rope fun. You can go for a run. You can play a game of basketball or any other sport for 30 minutes or more.
If you don’t want to waste time going to the gym, you can do bodyweight exercises at home. Regardless of what you choose to do, exercise is a really high leverage activity to maximize your high MCAT scoring potential.
Don't ignore it. Think of these activities, like meditation and exercise, as time invested.
When you invest in yourself by doing these beneficial activities, you're going to spend LESS time studying as a result, because you'll be performing at a much more powerful level than if you ignored these recommendations.
Another quick and common tip that's worth mentioning, because if it helps you, it can have a huge positive effect on your score.
You did it in high school and you were fine. You did it in university and you were fine. Don’t do it with the MCAT (or in med-school), because it won’t fly. We’re talking about multi-tasking.
There are a lot of studies that have shown how multitasking decreases productivity, makes it easier for you to get distracted, and actually drops your intelligence.
As you’ll see, top MCAT scorers are extremely protective of their mental efficiency (i.e. their intelligence) while prepping for the most important exam of their lives. Something like multitasking isn’t worth losing IQ points for this exam. Focus on one thing at a time during your MCAT prep.
Some top scorer tips: put your phone on airplane mode, keep your work area clutter free, turn off all browsers, programs, and tabs you don’t need.
You might see John lock himself in a room to study for the MCAT for 8 hours straight, and you might think that’s pretty impressive, but top MCAT scorers don’t usually do that.
The research shows that taking study breaks is absolutely necessary to maximize focus and productivity.
Isn't that’s great news? Breaks are good!
Sometimes students are so overrun with anxiety that their outlet is to just study non-stop, so they can feel like they’re being ‘productive’. That behaviour is the main reason most premeds feel ‘burnout’. You need to pace yourself.
Top scorers recommend using a timer or even a stopwatch that triggers you to take a break or to start studying again. In general, you want to take a 5-10 minute break every 40-50 minutes. These vary. Sometimes people take 5 minute breaks every 30 minutes or every 25 minutes. Find the variation that works best for you.
When taking a break, you don’t want to go straight to your phone or computer because it’s not an effective break unless your mind is completely at rest.
For more on this, check out this post we wrote about how top scorers maximize their breaks during MCAT prep.
As important as it is to create a smart MCAT score goal, once it’s done, top MCAT scorers are no longer focused on it.
While the average MCAT writer will judge themselves during MCAT prep based on how close or how far they are from their MCAT score goal, top scorers have a different definition of success...
They’re focused on the process, on the learning and on the effort. Top scorers are focused on the journey.
If a mountain climber kept looking at the peak of the mountain while climbing, she would get incredibly discouraged incredibly fast. Each step higher would be burdensome.
The temptation to procrastinate and cut corners, and rationalize those actions, would be greater. You’re climbing this mountain, just stay focused on the climb.
Enjoy learning everything you’re learning. You don’t need science to tell you (even though it does) that when you enjoy what you’re reading, you learn better.
Find this stuff interesting. It’s going to be useful to you as you go on to be a doctor. If you want to be the best doctor you can be, approach learning this material with enthusiasm.
Even CARS. You’re going to be reading a lot in this path that you’ve chosen, and understanding the author and approaching arguments with a critical mindset is going to serve you tremendously.
Also, learning about Psych/Soc can be really interesting and can be incredibly valuable in developing your emotional and social intelligence, which is essential if you want to be a good doctor. Embrace it.
MCAT prep can be one of the most frustrating experiences of your undergraduate years.
There are times when you feel stupid during this process. There are times when you feel angry.
Worst of all, there are times when you feel doubtful and scared when you think about your future and if you're going to be able to get into a med-school that's right for you.
As the days progress and you get closer to your MCAT test date, these feelings amplify and as we've discussed, severely hinder your learning and potential for getting a competitive score.
They've made it this way to figure out who is thinking in a certain way, not to see how well you can remember information.
You're not dumb. You know how to study and memorize. The key to this exam is in the way you approach it.
The way someone who's thinking in that certain way they're looking for, would approach it. Which means the key to your success, to your med-school future, is to use same approach that those who mastered the MCAT used.
When you use their approach, you'll naturally start thinking like a top MCAT scorer...
You'll start seeing through the question writer's traps. You'll start recognizing which answers actually answer the questions. You'll automatically pick up on the main idea of passages... And there's so much more.
This is the fastest hack that can improve your MCAT score by 10 points or more in less than a month. We've seen it happen over and over again.
Think about it…
How does someone score a 520 on a 7.5 hour long exam which covers years of science material, plus CARS, PLUS a sociology and psychology section? How does someone achieve this with only a few months of studying?
Again, they’re not geniuses...
90+ percentile MCAT scorers are problem solvers.
They just figured out a particular way of studying for the MCAT, that enabled them to 'think' in a way that made their score shoot up.
There comes a moment when you apply these same top scorer MCAT strategies, where it just 'clicks'. That's what we want for you.
We want it to click for you as soon as possible! Because the moment it happens, there's no stopping you.
We know this to be true because for more than five years, we’ve made it our goal to dissect the "MCAT study mindset" of the top MCAT scorer.
Top scorers have taken the time and energy to problem solve and come up with the best strategies for MCAT prep, and are more than willing to give back to the community by sharing them with us.
We’ve decided to compile those strategies from all our research and interviews, and create the ultimate MCAT prep system which you can download here.
Using these top scorer MCAT study strategies save you energy from having to figure it out for yourself.
It saves you time from avoiding mistakes, doing what works, and from potentially having to rewrite.
It also saves you money from having to write again, and having to resort to expensive tutoring from self-proclaimed MCAT experts and gurus.
If dozens of top MCAT scorers recommend the same strategies, you can bet that those strategies work and are worth your time to implement to maximize your MCAT score.
Lastly, if you ever find yourself doubting your abilities when you see a lower than expected MCAT score, just remember that you've made it this far. You're smarter than you realize.
We hope we've inspired you to implement the tips and recommendations in this article, so in a year, or even a month from now, you'll reflect on who you've become and you'll see an evolved version of yourself...
Someone who is on a guaranteed path to changing lives for the better.
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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