Tips for taking the MCAT
- Finish introductory biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry courses before taking the MCAT.
- Start preparing 3 to 12 months prior to the test.
- Study mainly from MCAT review books, using course notes and textbooks only as reference material. Personally, I don't think those expensive
MCAT prep courses are very helpful, unless you need study discipline.
- Ensure that you really understand the concepts, as opposed to memorizing facts. However, you will have to memorize some basic equations.
- Practice, practice, practice. Do as many MCAT practice tests as possible, ideally in simulated test conditions. Remember, no calculators.
Just before and during the test
- Get used to getting up early.
- Have a hearty dinner the night before.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Have a moderately sized, low-fat breakfast (don't eat so much that you are sleepy - fat takes longer to digest).
- Arrive early and relaxed.
- Have a moderately sized, low-fat lunch (don't eat so much that you are sleepy - fat takes longer to digest).
- There's no harm in talking to other examinees about the test during the breaks. Just don't get flustered or demoralized.
What to bring
- A sweater or light jacket in case the exam room is uncomfortably cold.
- Maybe a cushion if the seats are hard.
- Maybe ear plugs if you are used to having no distractions. You may be packed into the exam room quite tightly.
- Candy, fruit, or other high sugar snack to keep your blood glucose up (glucose fuels the brain).
- A packed lunch unless you intend to eat at a cafeteria, etc.
Doing the test
Keep track of time and pace yourself. If you get stuck on a question, flag it and go on to the next. If you have time at the end of the exam, you can return to that question. Similarly, flag any questions you are not sure about as you go along.