Major MCAT Myths, Explained
Major MCAT Myths, Explained
The MCAT is one of the most important tests that many students ever take. The good news is that it’s widely thought about and widely discussed. The bad news is that there is a lot of wrong information circulating. Prepare for the test properly. Start by dispelling the myths.
The myth: The MCAT is a science test.
The truth: The MCAT is a thinking skills and reasoning test. You do need to know your science (biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology, and sociology), but that information is the context, the background. The real work in the MCAT is to use that information to figure out something new.
If the medical schools want to know about your science scores, they’ll look at your GPA. In the MCAT, they’re looking at your ability to reason under pressure.
The take-away: The MCAT isn’t a memorization test. You can’t prepare for it the way you’ve prepared for your other tests and exams (by memorizing vast amounts of information and practicing calculations).
You can start your preparations by reviewing concepts from your undergraduate sciences courses. The MCAT will challenge you to use that information, to apply these concepts in wholly unexpected contexts.
You need to work on critical thinking and time management.
The myth: Since the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section is considered to be the most important section, you can’t afford to get any questions wrong.
The truth: Perfection isn’t required. Seeking perfection isn’t even helpful. You can usually get one in four questions wrong, and still have a competitive score. If you only get one in five questions wrong, you can still generally score within the 80% percentile. If you bog yourself down on question after question, you’ll run out of time.
The take-away: Trying to get every question correct will cause you undue stress, and will slow you down. Remember that there is room for error, in every section. If you get stuck, then make an educated guess, and move on.
The myth: You can only study by revising your undergraduate courses.
The truth: This should only be the start of your preparation. Most students spend way too much time studying the science and not enough time practicing problem solving skills and test taking technique. Most MCAT questions don’t directly test your knowledge of basic concepts or your ability to make simple calculations. Instead, they require you to apply your knowledge and interpret information to find the correct answer.
The take-away: Revising the science should only be your first step. Even as you’re revising, you should practice, and you should develop MCAT test-taking technique. Learn how to read and evaluate the questions. Learn the strategies that will help you to triage, work through, and reason your way through the test.
The myth: The MCAT is like an IQ test; you can’t prepare for it.
The truth: The MCAT is a standardized test with predictable, logical patterns that can be learned and mastered through proper preparation, hard work, and practice. Even the Association of American Medical Colleges strongly encourages applicants to prepare for this important test.
The take-away: You can study for this test, although the main means of studying will be unlike anything you’ve ever done before. You should study the science, but you need to go beyond that. You’ll need to learn strategy, time management, and psychological tricks.
The main take-away: The MCAT is a major test, and you can learn how to approach it well. You can revise the material. You can learn strategies and technique to allow you to apply your knowledge quickly and well. To do this, you should contact the experts. Check out Prep101.