How to Make Your MCAT Preparation Personal
NOVEMBER 30, 2015
Preparing for the MCAT exam can feel stale, disinteresting, and at times restrictive. Pouring over pages of facts and formulas for hours can easily become frustrating. Enter your MCAT personal notes!
Writing personal notes while studying for the MCAT is a very important part of the review process. Your notes ensure that you avoid making the mistake of over-studying or under-studying. In addition, note taking maximizes the benefits of your content review, practice problems, and full-length practice tests. But, of course, you must first know how to take personal notes.
Content Review Notes
For each chapter you read during your content review, you should develop one to two pages of notes by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I know this already?
- Is this related to something else I read?
- Is this really relevant to the MCAT?
Your answers to these questions will help you focus note taking on the most relevant as well as new information. For example, if you notice a derivation of the Ideal Gas Equation, include that derivation in your notes if it is something new to you. Also, take note of keywords and concepts that you want to retain.
Practice Problem Notes
Practice problems are useful for applying information from your content review. However, practice problems also help you identify which concepts you may not completely understand along with techniques for arriving at an answer faster. This is why you should always read answer explanations thoroughly. Usually, that explanation will not only direct you to its corresponding chapter, but also intuitive reasoning and the process of elimination. These are great time-saving tips that you should add to your notes.
Full-length Practice Test Notes
Taking notes after taking a full-length MCAT practice test is essential. These notes will help you avoid repeating costly mistakes on future practice tests as well as the real exam. For this reason, you must review your full-length practice test notes before taking the next practice test.
Early in your MCAT preparation, you should read your notes from your content review, practice problems, and full-length practice tests two to three times per week. Then, in the weeks leading up to your test day, you should read your notes everyday. Research shows that reading your notes everyday improves information recall.
These notes will be your most precious review tool in the days leading up to the real MCAT. Good luck!