Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MCAT Practice Tests: The Right Prep Attitude

Most students prepping for the MCAT – or any one of those life-changing exams for that matter – stress over how their practice scores compare to that of the AAMC’s and the real MCAT.  Keeping track of your results from practice tests indeed define the extent and pace of your preparation before the “actual thing.” 

On the other hand, one essential thing that many students tend to overlook is the fact that confidence is also a vital test-taking element.  Oftentimes, how "easy" or "difficult" an exam depends on your endurance to focus on multiple passages, familiarity of the flow of the whole test, and knowing that you are up against random topics.

Doing practice full-lengths that simulate the real exam should prepare you with content knowledge, effective strategies, and a mindset that will keep you from panicking when faced with that infamous “verbal passage from hell.”

Results of the practice tests should be utilized primarily to identify and learn from your weak areas.  MCAT success entails acquiring the right strategies as well as addressing your errors.  Here are some important questions to ask in a post-test analysis:

  • Did I read the questions thoroughly?
  • Did I fully understand what the questions were trying to ask?
  • Did I have any idea what the passages were talking about?

Learn to feel comfortable with the real scenario.  Flunking the exam despite going through such and such prep materials is a common MCAT story.  Time constraint and “surprising” passages or questions can get the better of you.  Be ready to take on these major ego-busters and know that confidence and focus grow with constant practice.  Ideally, you should set aside one timed full-length a week before ‘the real thing.’ This should give you an opportunity to yet uncover some unexpected weak points.