So you’ve decided to take the MCAT, congrats! You may be thinking to yourself, now what? Sure, you have the test day figured out but what are the next steps that you take?
For all tests that you have taken up to this point in your life, you may have thought the cramming for 12 hours a day was the best course of action. Maybe you will want to follow the tried and true advice of “take a TON of practice tests” or “start studying three months before your test date.” Or perhaps you want to go through all 109 of these study tips and make sure you do every one. That’s all fine and dandy, but it is unlikely that you have ever taken a test as important as the MCAT is. That means that you may want to mix up how you approach it.
That’s all fine and dandy, but it is unlikely that you have ever taken a test as important as the MCAT is. That means that you may want to mix up how you approach it.
Here are five unconventional MCAT study tips for you to try out before your big test day!
1. Make a “Study Calendar”
Like I said, the MCAT is different than any test you have ever taken so before you even start studying, making a study calendar is a great idea. Here is a quick process to help you out.
- Start with required commitments like classes, volunteering, and work
- Add in friend and family commitments like weddings, birthdays, and baby showers
- Next, add in your study blocks. These are 2-3 hour chunks dedicated to MCAT studying
- Add in exercise and stress-relieving activities (we will touch on this in a second)
- Make sure you have sufficient breaks and travel time included in your schedules
It can be a tough task convincing yourself that an hour of working out is better than studying, but you need to. It has been studied and proven that exercise is good for your brain. It helps you learn and remember better. For those of you who are still skeptical about taking time to exersise, try reading while riding a stationary bike or while running on a treadmill.
Meditation is difficult to do. How can you clear your mind completely when you have so much going on? But, meditation is a great way to remove stress from the daunting task of preparing for the MCAT.
4. Get 8 Hours of Sleep a Night
Here is another tough one for people to understand. You may view sleep as something that you need to do, but it is a waste of time. It is often forgotten how important getting a good night’s sleep is. It will help you retain the information that you learned that day. Check out this study done by Columbia University on the effects of sleep deprivation.
5. Train Your Brain To Be Ready At 8 A.M.
Establishing a good routine is part of the MCAT studying process. Try waking up at 6 or 7 in the weeks leading up to your test day. This will get your body and brain accustomed to being ready to go at your exam time.
Bonus:Do NOTHING The Day Before The Test
Don’t lay in bed all day and literally do nothing, but don’t do a lot of things that are test related. Do stuff that makes you happy and puts your mind in a good place. The reasoning is that since there is only 24 hours until test time, you already know what you need to know. The last day should not be for learning new material. Take no more than an hour to review your notes.
Image taken by Mer Chau from Flickr.