Joshua L. Morris

Joshua was pursuing a master’s degree in physics when he changed course and decided to attend medical school. As a result, he had to create a self-study plan for sections he did not have much background in—particularly psychology and sociology and the subjects covered in the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems section.

Undergraduate institution: University of Texas at El Paso
Major: Physics
Exam score: 517
    Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 131
    Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 132
    Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 128
    Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 126
Time spent preparing: 3 months of casual studying and then 4 months of serious studying, about 8 hours a day.




Overall study approach

For the first few months, I focused on one or two sections a day, using Khan Academy videos, practice questions, and other online materials to fill in gaps. As it got closer to my test date, I moved to an MCAT exam–specific approach using the AAMC Section Bank and the two full-length tests to reinforce the material I had been studying. I particularly focused on sections that I had the least experience in: the PSBB [Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior] and Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems sections. All this was supplemented by a healthy dose of practice in CARS [Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills] passages.

Top tips for preparation

  1. Put the rest of your life on hold to study, because it is important.
  2. Practice, practice, practice!
  3. Get the AAMC materials. They were the most helpful to me in preparing for the test.

Traps to avoid

  1. Don’t take the MCAT lightly; make it your primary focus: treat it like a full-time job.
  2. Don’t let distractions take over your study time (phone, Facebook, etc.).
  3. Don’t take any section lightly, especially CARS!

What types of exam prep were the most useful?

I prepared by using all of the AAMC resources and Khan Academy videos, as well as introduction to psychology podcasts that I could listen to while commuting. I thought the AAMC Section Bank was very challenging and very rewarding.

What challenges or obstacles did you face, and how did you overcome them?

For me it was breadth versus depth of material. I hadn’t taken some of the relevant courses so I was forced to fill in the blanks on my own. I had to give myself time to learn it, drill on it, and then reinforce it with dedicated practice.

Is there anything that you would’ve done differently to prepare?

With my strong science background, the biological science and physical science sections were easier to prepare for, so I focused a little too much on them. Taking a psychology course within a year of the MCAT would have helped me more thoroughly learn the material needed to score well. My biggest regret was not spending enough time preparing for CARS—it was the most difficult section for me by far.


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