Laura J. Collins

To keep from “getting arrogant,” Laura specifically set aside time for reviewing content in her strongest areas. Repeated practice helped her overcome her weaknesses and reinforce her strengths.

Undergraduate institution: University of Texas at El Paso
Major: Biology, with Biomedical Concentration
Exam score: 512
    Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems: 129
    Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems: 128
    Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior: 128
    Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: 127
Time spent preparing: 40 weeks, 1–3 hours a day.

Overall study approach

I used the AAMC Practice Exam 1 and Flashcards, Khan Academy, textbooks and notes from my classes, the MCAT section of McGraw-Hill® Physics, a Kaplan® overview book, an Examkrackers® book for the CARS [Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills] section, and an MCAT question-of-the-day email service.

I studied by section and reviewed content as needed. So, for example, I’d do CARS for a day. Even if it was a strength, I didn’t want to get arrogant, so I set aside a day for that section.

Top tips for preparation

  1. Don’t procrastinate. Start studying.
  2. Make sure to study at least an hour a day, even through midterms and finals.
  3. Do as many practice tests as you can.
  4. Even if teachers skip passages in your classes in school, treat every section like it’s for the MCAT and read and study it.

Traps to avoid

  1. Don’t focus too much on content review. There are so many things that you don’t know are part of it.
  2. Don’t get too psyched out about the test. I know a lot of people who studied very well, but as the MCAT got closer, they got more and more anxious about it.

What types of exam prep were the most useful?

The Khan Academy was the most useful resource. I did every single practice passage they had.

Did you encounter any challenges or obstacles, and how did you overcome them?

I had a hard time with the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section. I’d do Khan Academy passages and get all the answers wrong. I just studied more and did as much as I could. I looked at different resources, asked people, talked to peers, and talked to my mother since she loves math. I think practice helps, because I was able to approach this section in a different way.

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

Not really. I’d recommend that people read. I read a lot of books in general and that helped me read quickly.


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