Achieving a Perfect 528 Score on the MCAT: Tips and Strategies

Introducing the MCAT, the Medical College Admissions Test - a hurdle that premeds must overcome. The test is known to be more challenging, lengthier, and more crucial than any other test that students may have faced before, including the SAT, ACT, and finals. The test's complexity can be daunting, and it often leads to poor performance due to inadequate preparation. My name is Remo Disuza, and I am a virtual tutor who has scored a perfect 528 on the MCAT. I have made it my mission to help other pre-meds achieve similar success by sharing my test-taking strategies. In this article, I will discuss a few things that I wished I had known before starting my journey to a perfect MCAT score.

1.Start Preparation Ā 

I suggest that students take the MCAT during the summer before or when they apply for medical school, as it allows them to focus solely on studying without the distraction of classes. To ensure that they can remember what they study, I do not recommend studying for longer than six months. A good way to plan out study hours is to take a free diagnostic test and set a goal score, then calculate the number of hours needed to achieve it. Generally, studying for 10 hours a week for a month should increase the score by about 1.5 points. If students plan to study during the semester, they should make sure to lighten their course load as much as possible.

Personally, I took the MCAT on May 23rd and began studying during winter break. I studied during the spring semester while taking only 12 credits of easy classes, then studied full-time for four weeks before the exam.

The study timeline for the MCAT can be divided into two phases: the content phase and the test-taking phase. The content phase should last until about a month before the test date (or the first five months if studying for six months), and the last month should be devoted to taking full-length practice tests. It is important to devote at least two to three weeks before the exam to studying for the MCAT exclusively. The goal is for the test to feel manageable and not mentally draining on the day of the exam.

2. Self studying Vs Course by Mentor MCAT high scored candidate.

When deciding how to study for the MCAT, it's important to consider whether to use a prep program or self-study. Rather than paying thousands of dollars to a prep company, consider using the free videos created by Khan Academy, which were commissioned by the AAMC to teach content directly. Other prep companies may charge high fees to essentially repeat this information, albeit from a more distant source.

Personally, I utilized the MCAT Self Prep ecourse playlists, which consist of Khan Academy videos, and supplemented with Princeton Review content book reading for concepts I found challenging.

The most expensive options for MCAT prep are companies such as Kaplan, Princeton Review, and NextStep, which charge over $2000. For a more cost-effective option, consider seeking out mentorship from students who have scored 528 or utilizing smaller prep companies that offer condensed videos for $400-$999.

One of the biggest questions you may face is whether to use a prep program or self-study. But what if we told you that you could create your own study plan using the best resources out there, and all on your own terms? That's exactly what I did, and now I'm sharing my notes with you. With my MCAT Self Prep ecourse, you'll have access to my personally created notes, along with theĀ  videos that the AAMC trusts to teach you the content. And if you're worried about going it alone, don't be. I understand that everyone learns differently and that self-motivation doesn't always equate to success. That's why I've also included structure and guidance in my program, so you can tailor your study plan to your individual needs. Don't waste thousands of dollars on expensive prep programs when you can have access to the same high-quality resources for a fraction of the cost. Trust in yourself and in my MCAT Self Prep ecourse to help you achieve your best score yet.

3.Materials For PreparationĀ 

To achieve success in the MCAT, it is important to focus on doing your best, rather than achieving a high score. It's about recognizing your individual strengths and weaknesses and pushing yourself to exceed your own expectations. With that said, effective preparation is key to success. In order to start your MCAT prep journey, you need to equip yourself with the right resources. This includes purchasing the right books, taking practice tests, and utilizing the official AAMC material. Additionally, I have created some resources that I found helpful during my own MCAT preparation, which I am happy to share with you to supplement your studies.

4.Review BooksĀ 

When it comes to preparing for the MCAT, choosing the right review books can make a huge difference. While some students find review books to be incredibly helpful, others may not. It's important to keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another. Many students opt for the standard Kaplan books, which cover all of the main material for the MCAT. For those looking to score super high, the Princeton Review books provide added depth and cover lots of low-yield topics. However, these books can be dense and difficult to read. Additionally, some students find that the suggestions in the Princeton Review CARS book are not helpful. Despite these factors, review books are generally considered to be helpful resources for MCAT preparation. That being said, there are also free resources available online, such as PDFs on sites like PDF Drive, which can be a great supplement to your studies. Personally, I found the detailed Princeton Review books to be a good fit for me, but it's important to do your own research and find what works best for you.

5. Mock Tests For Self-Assessment.Ā 

Some students choose to supplement their MCAT study plan with third-party full-length exams (FLEs) in addition to the official AAMC practice tests. However, it's important to note that FLEs should only be purchased if you have extra time in your schedule. The AAMC practice tests are a great starting point and offer sufficient preparation for the MCAT. Practice tests are beneficial because they build test-taking endurance and increase familiarity with the MCAT format. Common practice test makers include Kaplan, Blueprint, Altius, and Princeton Review. It's worth noting that these tests are generally more difficult than the official AAMC tests. Kaplan's FLEs are the most similar in difficulty to the AAMC tests, while Princeton Review's are the hardest. Altius and Blueprint fall somewhere in the middle. It's recommended to buy Altius tests for practicing with greater resistance or Kaplan/Blueprint tests for practicing with a similar level of difficulty. Practicing with FLEs is highly recommended by top scorers as the best way to prepare for the MCAT.

6. From Best PreparationĀ last Days to the Test Day Real Game Experience.

After successfully completing the MCAT's required content and getting familiar with the AAMC's thought process, you may still struggle with timing on some or all of the sections. Improving your timing skills won't happen overnight, but here are four helpful tricks to manage your time more efficiently during the MCAT.

During the MCAT, you are allotted 90 minutes to complete 53 questions for the CARS section and 95 minutes for the other three science sections, with a timer displayed in the upper right-hand corner to show you the remaining time. While this timer can help some test-takers adjust their speed during the exam, it can also cause unnecessary stress for most of us. To make the timer a valuable resource instead of a distraction, a good strategy is to check it only three times during the test. For the science sections, the optimal pacing is to complete 20 questions in 30 minutes, and you can use this to check your progress after completing 20, 40, and 59 questions. As for the CARS section, with 9 passages to complete, you should aim to finish 3 passages in 30 minutes, and adjust your pace for the remaining passages based on how much time you have left at these waypoints.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up with the recommended pace, there are several strategies you can use to improve. The key is to experiment with different methods and find the one that suits you best. You may opt to read the passages more quickly, rely more on your instincts when answering questions, or skip some passages altogether (though this is not advised if you aim to score 510+). It is crucial to try out these approaches during practice sessions and determine which one feels most comfortable for you. Regardless of how much time you have left, make sure to scan the question stems quickly as they hold the most significant information in each passage, and understanding them correctly can earn you the maximum points possible, especially when time is limited.

The following tips can help you manage your time effectively. If you have less than 5 minutes of extra time, focus on the 1 or 2 problems that you had difficulty with instead of skimming through all your flagged questions. If you have 5 minutes of extra time, try to skim through all your flagged questions and focus on the toughest ones. However, it's best to spend an extra 30 seconds during the initial read of a question to avoid having to restart your thought processes. With 10-15 minutes of extra time, double-check every question, paying close attention to things like negative modifiers. For 20-25 minutes of extra time, go through every question again and re-solve any difficult or flagged ones. If you finish the Behavioral Sciences section with 30+ minutes to spare, slow down and take the time to double-check every answer and read the passage thoroughly to boost your score by at least a point or two.

To hone your timing skills, try breaking down your practice into 20 science questions in 30 minutes or 40 questions in an hour. Practice pacing and controlled rushing to build endurance, such as completing 12 CARS passages in 2 hours or 80 science questions in 2 hours. With enough practice, MCAT sections will become much easier to manage. If you're still struggling with timing, consider private tutoring options, as our tutors have also gone through similar experiences and are happy to share their expertise.

To maximize your MCAT score, take advantage of the 10-minute tutorial before each practice test, which walks you through the software's features. During your first practice test, familiarize yourself with these features, then skip the tutorial in subsequent tests. However, one strategy to boost your score is to use this time to create a reference sheet for test day. Write down memorization-heavy concepts like amino acid R groups or physics equations. Spend an hour before the test creating this list and practice copying it down from memory until you can do so effortlessly. Bring it with you to the testing center, and you can glance at it one last time before the test. This technique can be used during practice tests to simulate test-taking conditions, but it's important to know amino acid R groups like the back of your hand without the reference sheet.

When you arrive at the testing center, you'll notice the noise cancelation options and screen dimensions. Pearson testing centers provide two noise cancelation methods: over-the-ear headphones and earplugs. However, the provided headphones are often uncomfortable, so it's best to test both methods and decide which one suits you. We advise using the same noise cancelation method during practice tests to get used to it, but avoid using expensive headphones.

The MCAT is conducted on Windows desktops, so if possible, practice tests should be taken on desktop computers with a mouse. The test screen is square with black bars on either side, which makes CARS passages seem longer since more scrolling is required. Therefore, to simulate this effect, square your browser screen while taking practice tests.

During the MCAT, you are permitted to take 3 breaks throughout the day. These breaks come after your Chemistry and Physics, CARS, and Biology and Biochemistry sections, and last for 10, 30, and 10 minutes, respectively. To optimize your break time, it is recommended that you consume both food and beverages to fuel up. Think of the MCAT as a marathon, and refuel accordingly with protein bars and healthy foods. It's important to maintain consistent energy output, so avoid sugary foods which lead to physical and cognitive crashes. Each individual has different nutritional needs, so experiment with your break routine to find out what works best for you.

When it comes to caffeine, it's best to keep a consistent intake rather than consume large amounts before the test. Sipping on a caffeinated drink during each break can help maintain consistent caffeine levels. In addition, performing physical activities such as push-ups and jumping jacks during breaks can help increase blood flow and wake your body up after long periods of sitting.

The day of the MCAT can be very stressful, but it's important to stay calm and focused. It's common to have trouble sleeping the night before, but don't worry too much about it affecting your performance. Just try to stay excited and confident that you've put in the necessary work. When you arrive at the testing center, the check-in process is quick but thorough. Take your time and don't rush yourself. During the breaks, make sure to eat and drink enough to sustain your energy levels. Avoid sugary foods and instead opt for protein bars and real food. Use the breaks to do some light exercise, like push-ups, to keep your blood flowing and stay alert. Remember to use the restroom before starting each section to avoid any distractions.

After each section, take a deep breath and let go of any stress or anxiety. Focus on feeling relieved that you're one step closer to finishing the test. Don't let any previous sections negatively impact your performance on the upcoming ones. It's important to stay positive and confident throughout the entire test day. Remember that natural variation in test scores happens and your perceived performance may not reflect your actual score. Don't waste too much time deciding whether to void your test or not. Just let it go and move on.

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