The MCAT Computer Interface, Explained
Many athletes practice positive visualisation: they picture their race, and they see themselves winning. You can do the same thing as you’re studying for the MCAT: you can picture the test, and you can see yourself achieving a highly competitive score. Whether or not you believe in positive visualization, the process of picturing all aspects of the MCAT will help you to be psychologically ready.
The MCAT will be very different from any test or exam that you’ve faced before. Find out as much as you can about it before you sit down to write, so that you can tweak your study strategies, and so that you can prepare yourself both mentally and physically.
Go in to your MCAT as ready as you can be. First, you should get used to how the MCAT will be presented.
What does the screen look like?
You don’t want any surprises or shocks on the day of the test. Prepare yourself for what you’ll see when you sit down to write.
- The screen is split in two; the passages appear on the left, and one question at a time (with corresponding answer choices) appears on the right.
- A counter in the lower left-hand section counts down the time for each major section.
- At the bottom of the screen appear the following options: previous, mark, review, next.
What can you do on the screen?
Prepare yourself for what you can and can’t do on the MCAT, as opposed to in a regular paper exam.
- You can highlight text in the passages by clicking and dragging the cursor over the text.
- You can strikeout answer choices by clicking over the text to cross out the answer.
- You can flag questions you want to revisit later by clicking on the “Mark” button.
- You can review the section as a whole by clicking on the “Review” button to bring up a screen that lists all the questions and their status (of “answered,” “unanswered,” or “marked”).
- You can review a periodic table by clicking the button above the question.
How should you prepare for the computer interface?
Reading off a computer screen is more exhausting than reading off paper. When you read from a paper, a light source bounces off the paper and is reflected into your eyes. When you look at a screen, the light isn’t reflected; it’s direct. You need to train your eyes to get used to reading from a screen for long periods.
Reading off a computer screen is also slower and more difficult. It’s 10% slower than reading off paper, and it’s more difficult to complete a close reading (i.e. to read to pick up and remember the important details). You’ll need to train yourself to read closely from a screen.
How should you prepare for the MCAT itself?
The best way to be prepared is to practice. Of course, the best way to practice is to work with experts. The instructors at Prep101 understand the MCAT experience, and can help you to strategize, to prepare yourself, and to practice. Go to Prep101.com for more information.