MCAT preparation usually takes 3 to 6 months and some students prefer to study on their own while others prefer the support of an MCAT study group.
The benefits of a study group include the opportunity to share or learn new ideas, cover more material, lessen the chance of cramming and thus minimize test anxiety, and receive support.
But, not all study groups are effective. To ensure study group success, here are some suggestions:
1. To be efficient, choose at most six committed group members.
2. For a good MCAT study group, look for others who can balance out the background of the different members. If everyone you study with has the same arts or science academic background then it's easy to miss out on creative ideas, approaches or content.
3. Assign a facilitator every week to give everyone a chance to be responsible for the group. The facilitator ensures that everybody is prepared, the MCAT study schedule is followed and non-study related topics are discussed only after the session.
4. Study discussions can be limited to 2-3 hours. To ensure that the group covers all the key MCAT topics, check out this guide: MCAT Topics List.
5. Come to the study session prepared; ask questions, share what you know, respect your peer’s reasoning and do not interrupt whoever is making a presentation. Open communication and good interpersonal skills are essential in medical school and in your future medical practice.
6. Look out for good MCAT study techniques. Your peers may have study habits that you can adapt. And of course, they can even learn from you.
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