How to Win the MCAT Marathon
March 23, 2020
Are you prepared for the MCAT marathon? Many students consider the MCAT to be a marathon that tests mental stamina - your ability to endure the long hours of critically analyzing every word to ensure you didn’t miss anything. The MCAT is there not only to test everything you have learned, but also to test if you can pace yourself to win the race. Although numerous test-takers have said that the MCAT exam was easier than they initially expected, it is wise to prepare exceptionally well - just as a runner would for a marathon. There are numerous ways in which you can train for your MCAT marathon, including practicing full-length exams as well as building mental and emotional strength. That being said, it is essential to keep yourself healthy and determined so that you don’t lose focus earlier on in the race.
To give yourself the best possible advantage in the race to win admission into medical school, you should look at the goal objectively in order to determine the most effective course of action. As with any professional marathon runner, before any physical preparation takes place, a plan is set in order - this is no different for you. To begin a study plan, you must be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, which will aid in creating a study plan that allows for more time to work on weak areas, reducing time spent excessively on areas in which you are well-prepared. Nevertheless, using a small portion of your time to go through your strong areas will always be reinforcing and ultimately boosts your confidence for the MCAT exam. This skill of time management can be seen as the first step in creating the mentality of a medical professional. You can also consider using our 3-month MCAT Study Schedule prepared for you by our MCAT experts.
There is a plethora of resources out there at your disposal, from sites that provide specific information on how to prepare for the MCAT marathon, such as Khan Academy and the AAMC’s site, to our unique MCAT guide and practice tests. It goes without saying that these resources should be utilized to the fullest extent; researching and studying what may be asked in the examination is not the only recommendation, but also researching methods on improving the mental skills demanded in pursuing a medical career. For example, the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section of the MCAT exam requires a certain level of cognitive ability and therefore this is an area that can be developed and improved upon in more ways than one. So incorporating daily reading and daily practice is an important step in your preparation.
Doing practice tests is vital and can be seen as a cornerstone in the building of a strong understanding of the examination requirements. It can also provide a diagnostic function where strengths and weaknesses are identified. Practice questions give an insight into how the examination questions are phrased and structured to provide a familiarity when exam time comes; some successful examinees have gone as far as to recreate examination conditions as much as possible so that when writing the actual exams they feel more comfortable with the paper. Try taking those full-length practice tests “test day” style, so as to avoid early fatigue in the actual MCAT exam. (Don’t forget your ear plugs!)
You can look at preparation for the examination in terms of the bigger picture. It’s not all about study and mental ability, you must also condition your body, as this is the support system that will be providing a platform for your brain to achieve its maximum potential. Consider the marathon runner; he does not only exercise his legs for race day but makes sure all his bodily functions, such as metabolism, is working at their optimal levels - which in turn supports his legs and endurance. Therefore, it is essential that you find a balance between study, physical exercise and a healthy diet to be at the peak of your abilities and to find that winning formula.