Thursday, November 29, 2012

Creating Effective MCAT Study Notes

Getting an excellent mark in the MCAT does not come from pure luck. Like every important endeavor, acing the test requires effective study habits.  Efficiency may vary depending on the person’s character, circumstances, and ability to cope with one’s priorities.  

Some prefer to compile notes after notes in order to feel confident that they have everything covered.  You can do so effectively by creating your own abbreviation systems like acronyms or mnemonics to easily memorize and understand important points. Make sure you always leave space for comments and additional notes later.  Most importantly, don’t just create notes for the sake of making it, but make sure to take time to study it.

Contrastingly, some would consider writing piles of notes to be a huge waste of time. In this case, flashcards and mobile apps could be your best study buddies. You can even create your own:

1)      Gather only the most important points or equations/formulas on a specific topic and write down each in a “flashcard” or post-it.

2)      Store notes in a mobile gadget. Smartphones today have built-in features for note-taking, so accessibility would not be much of a problem. For advanced and customized features, there are free and paid note-taking mobile apps, which can be easily downloaded from the internet.

Note:  learning the techniques of effective note-taking is easy, but actually applying them takes a lot of motivation and self-discipline. Assess your objectives and decide how much you are willing to go for that excellent MCAT score.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Five Steps to an Effective MCAT Study Schedule

Planning is core if you want to achieve something in any field. The same thing applies when preparing for the MCAT. While some students can breeze through the exam without spending ample study time (and still end up with exceptional marks!), the majority benefits most with a structured MCAT study schedule.

Of course, this important preparation tool needs to be personalized to suit your specific circumstance. Designing your own MCAT study schedule requires careful thought and assessment from your end. The following steps will guide you through this planning process.

Step 1: Determine your weaknesses and strengths. Consider your undergraduate training. If you don’t have a strong science background, then starting with the science review is ideal.  Otherwise, you can start with the verbal reasoning first.

Step 2: Rank the subjects accordingly based on difficulty, say one to five. If you find Organic Chemistry the hardest, then mark it as number one while the last number would be the subject you find the easiest.

Step 3: In this step, your academic grades play an important role. They are a good basis in deciding the amount of time you need for studying. Usually, candidates with science background and who averaged an A in all Science sections would only need three months preparation – even less. For those without science background, then extending up to six months would be ideal.

Step 4: Prepare your daily and weekly study guides. A minimum of 3 hours study time a day would be good. Select the most difficult, second most difficult subjects you have ranked and plot them in your schedule for two days a week. Make sure that you spend two thirds of your study hours reviewing your most difficult subject.  At least a month prior to your test day, do one or two realistic MCAT practice tests every week.

Step5: Make sure to stick with your study schedule no matter what.

You can download free templates of MCAT Personal Study Schedule at  Just sign up here for a free account: Sign-Up to